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Buffalo, New York
HSBC Arena
November 30, 2002

I recently had the privilege of attending my first Andrea Bocelli concert in Buffalo New York. I've admired Mr.Bocelli and his music for over three years now, so this was a great thrill for me. I asked for this as my Christmas gift this year, and in a family with three boys, my husband gladly agreed with me on my "chance of a lifetime" night out!

Living in Southern Ontario, our closest scheduled concert opening was in Buffalo New York. A friend of mine spoke of a previous concert two years ago in Toronto, but not hearing of anything in our area, we decided this year to attend the concert at the HSBC arena. Our excitement built as the day approached and it is only a two and a half hour drive. It was a blistery, cold night so we tried to arrive early enough to have a chance to get our seats in case the building was "packed."

The HSBC arena was a very fancy "hockey" stadium which converted nicely into a concert hall! I was amazed to see a concession area with popcorn and drinks, yet finding our seats, we passed through a lovely restaurant above the stadium. I have never seen a nicer stadium with multipurposes! Our seats were in the 200"s and slightly disappointing with a distance to the stage, but my husband and I both brought decent binoculars. I was happy to notice the overhead projecting screen above.

I had no idea what to expect at this concert, but being familiar with Andrea's music caused me some excitement with its near approach. The air seemed charged with expectation by those around me. Suddenly the lights went down and all stood to sing the National Anthem with a giant flag on the overhead screen. Following that, the World Festival Symphony Orchestra, and conductor Steven Mercurio performed an overture from La Forza del Destino, beautifully done and a prelude to a wonderful night! The overhead screen showed Mr. Mercurio's excitement and emotion which was evident to all! Another nice feature was the intoductions to each song on what appeared to be song sheets with each title projected above.

Mr. Bocelli with Lidia Baich (violinist) accompanying him entered, and began "Aranjuez" from the Sentimento album. His voice seemed to send shivers amongst the audience as his clear strong notes rang out. There was no shred of apprehension in his voice, or any sign of stage fright. It was clear he enjoyed himself and that was evident by his wide smile!
Not knowing what to expect, I was swept up into this amazing performance! I truly love the beauty of this song, almost a baroque style, and Ms. Baich performed beautifully on the violin, while Andrea did a perfect job of capturing its strength and intensity to perfection! I was utterly amazed at the power in his voice which was noticeably stronger than I ever heard before. He puts his heart and soul into each song! I was also happy that they wore wireless mic's to project the sound due to my distance from the stage, as I'm sure others were too. We had the ability to see fairly well with our binoculars, but when tired, we could gaze at the overhead screen which showed many closeups of the performers capturing their facial expressions and emotion. Andrea then performed "Sogno d' Amore" with Ms. Baich to absolute perfection. Its music is hauntingly beautiful, and extra special because Andrea has re-written it with more suitable words. It was very moving.

Andrea was dressed in a charcoal-black suit and shirt, tailored, simple. His hair was like many newer pictures show...longer and curly, slightly grey, but nice. He seemed relaxed with his hands at his side most of the night and none of the previous nervousness appeared. His voice seemed to ring with power and control, sending a thrill amongst the crowd! Lidia Baich (violinist) was dressed in a pretty, sparkly fitted purple gown, her light blond hair down, striking beside Andrea's dark appearance. She's a very talented violinist, and I was thrilled to be sitting there, competely enraptured and wishing the night would never end as they exited. The whole experience seemed surreal!

Next, Ms.Maria Borsi (soprano) entered, wearing a pretty, black fitted gown, and began to perform "O Mio Babbino Caro" to perfection. I had never heard her perform previously, so I was excited and happy to hear how well suited her voice is to Andrea's style. Her voice was lovely, high notes flawless, and her face showed much expression.Her radiance was completely captured in the overhead screen. She drew much applause, well deserved.

Andrea then entered and began to perform one of my favorites, "Panis Angelicus." In the beginning of the piece, he was clasping his hands together as if in prayer, not terribly noticable, but at this my tears started to fall! He sang to absolute perfection, his voice full of depth, and easy to see from my overplay of video, "A Night in Tuscany" much improved (if that were possible!) The next song...another favorite of mine, "E Lucevan le Stelle," was performed by Andrea. I think a pin could be heard to drop in the arena. It was almost deathly quiet except for the strong notes of Andrea's smooth beautiful timre. He seemed to carry emotion which was captured overhead, and completely sang with his heart which caused many sighs among us! The whole building seemed to shake with this rendition!

Intermezzo was a nice "breather" between songs and exits. The orchestra and Mr. Mercurio was a class act and wonderful to watch. My husband took pleasure in giving me a running commentary through his binoculars which I thought was great! I couldnt focus on the musicians other that those wonderful top performers in front of me! I was thankful for the presence of the screen and even from the distance I was in, I could clearly make out the expression on the performers faces, and the capturing of Lidia's beautiful violin playing.

Andrea and Ms.Borsi then appeared and began "Gia nella notte densa" from Otello. This was one of the most moving performances of the evening, almost transporting us all to an opera. Maria's (Ms. Borsi) and Andrea's voices melded perfectly in harmony, strong at first, almost scolding, then soft, ending in a beautiful, romantic climax. Maria slowly inched to Andrea, and as he gently touched her arm, she came to him, taken into Andrea's arms, her head and hand on his chest. Lifting her head, they were both singing in each others arms, faces together, almost close enough to kiss, so sweetly finishing the final notes. It was
breathtaking, and again, gasps could be heard! The whole house reacted to the beauty of this song, all on their feet! After Ms. Borsi departed, Andrea apologised for his english and began "Because." I vaguely remember this somewhere from my childhood, and enjoyed Andrea's clear english. He shouldnt worry, for he is easy to understand. It was beautiful! Lastly, the first part was finished with "O soave fanciulla," another beautiful moving piece, voices again melded in perfection.This was finished with their high notes seemingly hanging in mid air, then holding each others hands, it slowly ended. Another wild applause form the audience! I began to wonder if they were now totally spent, but I think we needed a break to come back to reality!

The intermission started, with 15 minutes to give my husband and I time to try to get better seats! I think my husband wanted to try to make my evening more wonderful, so he attempted a few times to plead with ushers for better seats. Due to the weather, there were many empty seats on the floor, but I guess the ushers wouldn't budge for fear of others wanting the same treatment. We gave up quickly and went back to where we started,content to continue on as we were. I was still greatful for the screen and when tired of the binoculars, could watch alot of expression and closeups. There was nothing like the sound, sending shivers up my spine, and a complimenting light show. But, it was truly a wonderful show in every way and we couldnt wait for the second part!

The second show was just as wonderful, starting with the Mercurial Overture. Mr. Mercurio has a way of moving the crowd and his musicians! As Andrea and Lidia (Ms.Borsi) entered, he introduced Lidia stating that "It is her birthday, and she is now legal drinking age!" Andrea began to sing happy birthday to her, and all of us as well, turning Lidia into complete shyness. They began to perform another one of my favorites..."Occhi di fata," with its beautiful haunting melody, Andrea's lovely voice and Lidia's talented violin. There is nothing like the combination of this talented tenor and the sweetness of the strings. It is hard to hold the tears back listening to the soft ending of this song! Listening to the sweet sound on the stage almost transported me to another world! Then, together, they performed "Musica proibita," which was just as lovely. I bought Sentimento weeks previous to this concert and am happy I did, so they weren't foreign to my ears.I appreciate how Andrea has a variety of music, yet each piece is distinctively his own, seemingly carrying his heart and soul!

As Andrea exited, Ms. Borsi appeared and performed "Je veux vivre," another stunning piece, her beautiful high notes flawless. Following a perfect rendition, Andrea appeared on his own and began "Marechiare," of which I am not familiar. It was again perfect and I wondered how he could continue at the pace he was going without being totally spent, holding notes, even high ones so long! He carried every emotion to the full which was captured overhead, and could project every word to the listener. Following this, Mr. Mercurio and the orchestra performed the fantastic overture from William Tell. This was done again with perfection, my husband enjoying the variety in this song, as Mr. Mercurio jumped around with (the sound of faded Bugs bunny memories)! Another standing ovation!

Andrea appeared again and performed a moving "Core' n grato," his voice again strong and again powerful. He didnt seem to show too much strain with the breaks between his performance and was so moving to hear. He seemed to sing effortlessly, yet with emotion flowing though him. Next he performed another favourite, "O' Sole Mio," I think better than ever recorded! The crowd went crazy again! This was followed by "Brindisi" with Andrea and Ms.Borsi, and the wild clapping of the crowd encouraged by Mr. Mercurio! I think at one point we even managed to almost throw off their notes! Somewhere before the end, Andrea performed "The Prayer" in Italian...but I cant remember where and when. He did a flawless job as usual, and cutely said "Guide us by Your grace" between Italian words! .

At this point, the crowd was on their feet, wanting more and and none wanted an end! I know exactly what it feels like! It appeared the show was over and flowers were brought out for all. While appearing to exit, as the others did, Andrea suddenly produced a flute from behind the flowers and began to perform "Melodramma." At this my tears started to fall again because its one of my favourites! I was thrilled to hear him bring out an "older" piece with a beautiful intro between words on the flute, and I think he captured every heart. The sound of his flute playing was sweet and flawless. I was amazed that Andrea is so musically gifted and plays everything whether voice or instrument with stunning perfection! His voice continued as strong as at the beginning of the performance.

Speaking of the next encore, I was so taken up that I dont know what it was! I Remember it being something from Romanza, but I can't recall its title...only it was beautiful! Following this, with all on their feet, the stadium was dark and only the thunderous clapping could be heard. I began to make out the appearance of a keyboard being wheeled in, and when the lights were on, we saw Andrea seated at it, playing "My Way." He sang in perfect english and I was amazed at how much his voice sounded like "ole blue eyes", except with an accent! The house was reeling with the beautiful sound of his voice following that perfect rendition,and all jumped to their feet to cry for another encore! Finally, all came out to finish with "Time to Say Goodbye," and Andrea sang the
majority of the verses with Maria Borsi accompanying him on the final verses. This was the last emotion we would capture in Andrea's voice and Maria's face, and all came to an end.

The thunderous clapping continued, but there was to be no more. As the lights went on, I could hear a women gasping to her friends,"Oh my, oh my, so beautiful" as she stood to leave. It became quiet again, and as I went to use the washroom before leaving, women were still sighing in the line! I have been to concerts and many ballets in the past, but this experience was truly the "night of nights"...far beyond compare! Andrea gives a top performance, and all involved put on a show that reaches the heart of every music lover! I would have only one wish, that a video could be made of this concert series,so that others can share this wonderful experience!

Elizabeth Schnell
Kitchener, Ontario
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