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                            Busseto, Italy
                                   October 3, 2002
                             Teatro Giuseppe Verdi

Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Astrid

Busseto proved to live up to all our expectations and more. Our reservations werefor I Due Foscari Hotel for 2 nights. Several men handled the reception desk there during our stay but only one looked just like his father, tenor Carlo Bergonzi. I believe that son manages the hotel. I asked him if he was Carlo's son and he smiled a big yes. When I inquired if he too was a singer he said "only in the shower".....he further said that he has a brother who is a dentist and he does not sing either. The singing ability had not been inherited. Carlo, now 78, still holds master classes in Busseto, and in fact will teach one in a few weeks. We enjoyed our stay there so much and things could not have been more convenient to shopping and the theater which is next door. And by the way....for those of you who love fashion....this country town is not like a USA country town. They only have a few stores but they are chic and have great clothing offerings etc., Worth a stop.

We had planned to arrive the day before the big event just to be sure things were okay with the tickets etc., Of course I hoped to catch Andrea rehearsing since this place is off the beaten path but rumors said he had decided to practice with the orchestra elsewhere.

Harry had hoped to take some video inside the theater but that did not happen....it was closed. So.....it just became a day of looking about the main street, the hotel, running into fans here and there, and also excitedly picking up our wonderful tickets. It was great to meet Pamela and Rosie with whom we had been dealing for so many months. Until those tickets were in our hands we just couldn't believe it. I have always wanted to be in the front row. So far I had been able to get very good tickets a number of times but never the front row. Front row for this was (in my mind anyway), even better than his usual concert because this was to be an unmiked venue. I knew in my head that these were front row but just had a hard time realizing it until they were in my hands.

Along the main street and outside the teatro there were big beautiful colorful posters with the teatro's own Verdi logo with scenes from his various operas . And then there were some smaller store windows with handbills....a foot wide and about 18" long, featuring the ornate and Verdi logo again, and the program on these was listed too. Until that very day...we had not heard of the augmented plans for the program. Until that very day we only knew this would be a recital. I was happy with that. I figured that Andrea and a pianist was sufficient for the tiny teatro. As long as Andrea was the star of the show why should one need more? Well....we were floored to learn that the recital had become a full concert. Not only an orchestra with Marcello Rota conducting, but a full symphonic orchestra. We wondered where these musicians would be contained?  With our seats just a few feet back from the stage edge and only 10 seats wide, where was there room for so many players?  There is no orchestra pit under the stage. Andrea was also not going to sing alone but had added not one but two sopranos....and a baritone as well. Should we be thrilled or dismayed? Did this mean less Andrea and too much of other artists? A chance to study the program allayed our fears because we could see who was slated to sing the various numbers.

We began to meet some friends as the hours ran along, and the atmosphere was becoming exciting.

I must tell you that this small town is not well known by most persons in Italy. When we would tell people our plans they invariably asked in wonderment just where Busseto was. At least these days there is not an Italian who does not know Bocelli. And most have great admiration for him. They also usually asked us how we had learned of this small event when they had not heard about it.

The day of the concert arrived and seemed to just zip by. Everyone not already in town began arriving and hanging about, hoping for a glimpse possibly of their star. Chairs were set up outside the theatre. Then a huge screen was set up in front of it as well. People associated with the theatre say this is unusual....they could only remember one time this had been done before. But this way many townspeople were able to catch the show outside. Sound technicians began testing equipment. We heard some singing but it was not Andrea so we continued visiting. All the doors and windows were open to the balmy day. Someone began to worry that the concert was being amplified inside as well as outdoors. Luckily, that was not the case however.
Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Renate II

All of a sudden Andrea arrived and strode up to the entrance. Not long after that we could hear and see him on the screen as well as others singing, as techs adjusted the equipment. It is my understanding that he had spent time earlier that day practicing in Parma with the orchestra so there was only a little to do here.

His hair was all fluffy and long and very full, but not at all messy. Not slicked back as it has been lately. No bangs either, but wavy and handsome. (sigh) And his voice boomed outside. Wow. I was so excited now that I did not really want to eat a thing. Sometimes I get a little hungry after the concert is over but do not want to eat and go to bed with a full stomach. In this small town I expected most places would close doors except for liquor and that was about true. So...we did go to a small spaghetti restaurant and I tried to contain myself. But my heart was over at the theatre. Finally we entered the hallowed halls.

You cannot imagine how tiny the theater is. And it is beautiful. All just like on the website that had the interior shots of it. There is a curtain in red plush but it was not used. In fact the entire theater stage including the part that would usually be the backstage was all open and there was no baffling or anything like that. All the stage workings could be seen inotherwords. Lights, ropes, bare black walls etc., This was because the entire area was going to be filled with musicians! A full symphony orchestra. Amazing.

The orchestra was nice of course but I was anxious to clap my eyes on Andrea. Soon enough he appeared and sang "Ah la  paterna mano." It was so strong. And it does sound different to be there right in front of the breath emitting from his mouth. Every little quiver in the voice. I was in heaven. Next came the baritone. I am unfamiliar with Otello but he was good to listen to and had all the facial expressions and emotions to really do it convincingly. Strong voice. Well received. Then thrill thrill thrill......goosebump time.

Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Renate II

Andrea comes out again and this time it is with the young soprano he sang with in Denmark,that he chose from the classical contest in SanRemo, Maria Borsi. she was dressed in black satin, with spaghetti straps and interesting tightly fitted cut. The dress was complimented by a matching black stole. She was a very good soprano too, with a strong clear voice. Does all the effects beautifully. However I still like Ana Maria Martinez the best with Andrea's voice.  Anyway, they sang "Viene la sera" and it was just perfect. Oooh I love that song. And she seemed very relaxed with him this time and more sure of herself and her performing. This was about 14-15 mins and was well received by the crowd.

You would have enjoyed music by the orchestra for La Forza del destino next came next. It is long and pretty. Then Borsi sang solo....."Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. This went over very big too and she was excited and pleased by that. The first half of the evening finished with a long and exciting trio from Act one of Il Trovatore. For this there was AB, Borsi and Gazale the baritone. I just love these lengthy, meaty opera numbers where they are singing an entire scene.  Makes you wish AB could have his Il Trov come out sooner. So hard to wait for these items when you know full well they are complete.

The last half of the program opened with "E lucevan le stelle" by Bocelli. That was a surprise since he ususally has the orchestra play first. He did this so expressively. Makes one wish for release of that opera. I had tears when he sang this. Now came the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by the orchestra. Then Gazale sang an aria from Rigoletto and an orchestral number from Nabucco by the orchestra. I thoroughly liked watching the violinists. Very dramatic. Very talented.

Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Astrid

Now there was a new piece.....from Otello....a duet from Act One, "Gia nella notte densa." I am totally unfamiliar with this operaand was so surprised he chose this because he has said in the past this was one character he probably would not care to portray. However, we all know he doth change his mind from time to time. Bocelli and Borsi sang this and it was dramatic and beautiful. Now of course I must bone up a bit on Otello so I get the full picture. Andrea truly is in top form now, you
might say.....at the top of the game and in peak health and fitness. Whatever was eluding him before seems to have vanished and he may simply feel more self assured these days. Life is good. He smiles easily again. The final number on the program was the greater part of Act 3 of La Bohme. For this you need both Mimi and Musetta, so even though Musetta's part is smaller in this act, it adds a lot to the mood when she finally joins the singing by the group. This continues something like 20-25 or more minutes. A big treat!. It may be that Andrea, who is always doing things a bit differently than we expect, is branching out now and will incorporate more lengthy operatic combinations. Maybe he thinks his audience is ready for ever more opera....and is seeing how these longer bits are accepted by the public?

For encores he did the "Brindisi" from Traviata and at the end of that, finally, amid much clapping, yelling and foot stopping galore, AB and Borsi gave us the waltz from Merry Widow. The format for this was the first time Andrea has chosen to include so many other personalities in his concert. Will do this format again? I find I really enjoy having him do a larger chunk of various operas by incorporating these elements. Duets are so mesmerizing and here my heart runneth over because there was the trio, and later still another quartet. I just love the 'ride'.

Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Astrid

They were brought back again and again for bows and Andrea smiled broadly. Near the end of the second half of the concert, foot stomping was added to the clapping and cheering. Sounded like a thundering herd descending. Shouts of 'Bis, Bis' were heard amid numerous 'Bravo',' Brava' 'Bravi'.

Busseto, October 3, 2002 - thanks to Astrid

At the end as we rose to leave it was with reluctance; why couldn't it happen all over again? We still had one surprise though because there was a small press conference in a side room of the theater. Andrea was elegant as he floated in to take a seat and waited for a few questions from local reporters. Anyone who wished to could take photos at this time; and I am big on enjoying photos others take! Too soon this was over and he was striding down a sweeping stairwell. He smiled a lot as he descended too, and that is always his best 'side.'

Even after it was over we continued to enjoy a nice balmy evening. We strolled over to the main street for cappucino and gelati......that, and liquor were what was available at that hour. Joy and smiles on the faces of all. Three hundred persons shared a unique experience here in this tiny place. Such a few. I dream of another such opportunity, but realize it will be a long time coming.

Carolyn Parsons of Colorado
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