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Auburn Hills, Michigan
Palace of Auburn Hills
December 1, 2002

Auburn Hills MI, December 1, 2002 - thanks to Gloria! 

I had just seen Andrea Bocelli perform in Chicago in June, and I have a sort of unofficial rule for myself--one concert per year. But when I found out he would be coming to my home state of Michigan I knew I would be making an exception. The last time he sang in Michigan was his 1999 performance of Werther at the Detroit Opera House, about one month before I discovered him. I would not miss him this time!

The weather in Michigan can also be a significant obstacle this time of year, and with a winter storm warning in my hometown, I made the four hour drive downstate on Friday, two days before the concert, just missing the worst snowstorm of the season.

The weather in the Auburn Hills area wasnít perfect but at least I was there! One by one, my friends arrived on Saturday, a group of ten "veterans" gathering for the pre-concert vigil. Saturday night was spent eating, drinking Bocelli wine, watching Bocelli videos, and what else--talking, talking, talking about Bocelli! As the weather outside went from bad to worse, we tried to put aside thoughts of Andrea being snowed in, in Buffalo!

Concert day arrived with decent weather and we breathed a sigh of relief. It was going to happen! We met for an early dinner at a very nice Italian restaurant nearby, but for many of us, eating was the last thing on our minds. Remembering long lines outside other arenas, we planned to get to The Palace early and sit in the warm car until the arena doors opened, but to our surprise, we were able to get in immediately.

My first stop was at the souvenir stand to check out the latest Bocelli memorabilia--Sentimento CDs of course, new coffee mugs, key rings, and a T shirt with a picture of Andrea that is to die for! Then into the arena to find my seat. I was expecting to be seated in the fourth row, but an additional VIP row had been set up so my row 4 became row 5. I was not about to complain however, because I was very close to the center--just about perfect!

My anticipation continued to build as concert time approached. My mood went from giddy to quiet and reflective, thinking how fortunate I was to be there--feeling like the luckiest person on the planet!

Since 9-11, Conductor Steven Mercurio has begun each concert with the National Anthem. An American flag was projected onto a large screen directly behind the orchestra and everyone stood and sang. The opening orchestral piece was the Overture from La Forza del Destino by Verdi. Steven was his usual energetic self, and I particularly loved his "Mercurial Overture" which opened the second half of the concert.

Andrea was escorted to center stage by violinist Lidia Baich and together they performed "Aranjuez," which Andrea has said is one of his favorite arias from the "Sentimento" CD.  His passion for this song came through in every note, and even though I had heard him sing it in Chicago, this time the violin added even more depth and drama. Ms. Baich was very serious and intense, and her skill on the violin was amazing.

Throughout the concert, Andrea seemed relaxed and at ease. His hands were loose--no sign of the clenched fist. He frequently moved about on the stage, turning toward the violinist or the conductor, then back to center. I think the wireless headset has given him some real freedom, and since he continues to use it, it must be to his liking. Even more than that however, I sensed an inner freedom. He looked wonderful--greying hair combed back, trim, mature, confident, smiling often. There was a sense of serenity about him, a quiet confidence and energy. He just seemed very comfortable on stage, very much at ease with himself and his voice.

Auburn Hills MI, December 1 2002 - thanks to Chris

His voice! What can I say about his voice that hasnít already been said! His deep, low notes as at the beginning of "E lucevan le stelle," his beautiful, sweet, soft high notes as at the end of "Occhi di fata," and those powerful, explosive sounds when he goes for the big ending as in "Because." He can do it all, and he does it more beautifully than anyone!

I loved his duets with soprano Maria Luigia Borsi. It is always interesting to see Andrea interact with different singers, and he seemed to have an excellent rapport with Ms. Borsi, their voices blending beautifully. The duet from Otello was wonderful. I love to hear Andrea perform new arias. "Gia nella notte densa," while not as sweet as a Puccini aria, was very dramatic and intense, and ended with the two in each others arms. But we also got the sweetness of Puccini. "O soave fanciulla" from La BohŤme was thrilling and the last note seemed to hang in the air forever. The audience could not hold back and began to "ooooh" before they had even finished. It was truly breathtaking.

Large billowing fabric sheets hung over the stage in three giant panels, giving me the impression of a sailing ship, carrying me along on an exciting journey. Colorful lights flashed and sparkled and the giant screen projected close-ups of the performers throughout the concert, as well as announcing each song in elegant script.

Auburn Hills MI, December 1, 2002 - thanks to Carole

As a flute lover, I have always wanted to hear Andrea play his flute. Although he played at several concerts during the June tour, he didnít in Chicago. When it came time for the first encore, I saw him say something to Steven. When Steven stepped off the podium and walked into the orchestra, I knew he was getting a flute! What a lovely sound Andrea has--almost as pure and sweet as his voice--as he played the little interludes for "Melodramma." When the keyboard was wheeled out I knew I would be experiencing another first. When Andrea played and sang "My Way" it brought the house down.

Particularly moving for me was the obligatory "Con te partirÚ." I have been amused at Andreaís diplomatic answers when asked about that song. "What can I say?" he says. Or "It is a gift to the audience." This song was my introduction to his voice, and even though I have probably heard it more than enough, and Andrea has probably sung it more than enough, the reaction of the audience never ceases to amaze me. People just love this song! What was so touching for me this time however, was not the audience reaction, but the reaction of the young soprano, Ms. Borsi. With the big screen projecting every expression, about halfway through the song there was no doubt that tears were streaming down her face. This extraordinarily gifted artist was obviously touched by Andrea's singing of this song in the same way that thousands of ordinary fans have been. If she had not already won me over with her voice, she certainly did with her tender heart.

I can think of few experiences in my lifetime that bring me as much joy as listening to Andrea Bocelli sing. Time stands still for me when I am experiencing Bocelli live and in person. Basketball arena or concert hall--it doesnít matter. I forget about everything and everyone except the man on the stage and the beautiful sounds coming from his mouth. It
is as if there is nothing else--I forget about any personal problems, the world situation--I forget that Iím thirsty, or that the chair is uncomfortable. Nothing else exists. No one else exists. For two hours Andrea Bocelli sings for me! And in those two hours there is only beauty and love.

The weather in Michigan turned bitter and cold, and the storms moved in again. It was comforting to know that Andrea had flown on to the warmer climate of Miami. As we headed for our homes, our hearts were filled with song and warmed by the memories of our weekend together. Already we were planning and dreaming of the next time.

On this Thanksgiving weekend I am filled with gratitude for this incredible gift. My message to Andrea would be simple this time--Thank you for singing!

--Gloria Morkin
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