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Washington DC
MCI Center
June 15, 2002

Washington DC, June 15, 2002 - thanks to Corina

by Cami

E’ lucevan le stelle
. .

And so we came again to where it began for me—this huge arena in Washington, DC. From 1998 to 2002, literally through mille lune, mille onde, you have led us, Andrea my friend. For me, it has been into the world of opera, the charming task of learning your language, the delightful adventure of knowing your stunningly beautiful country and countrymen, and the rewarding privilege of forming friendships that have grown well beyond a common interest in a Tuscan tenor.

Around us this enormous arena is filled. I can attest to the crowd’s diversity. This night, I know, have come my Italian teacher, herself Italian (who knows a good tenor with impeccable diction when she hears one); a friend from my Italian class, a gentle man of Italian descent, whose children knew precisely what gift would honor and please him for Father’s Day; my sweet friends and indescribably awesome husband beside me who have shared the "Bocelli adventure" together over the years; the little girl behind us with her parents, who say she has been phonetically singing with Andrea’s CDs since she was 2 and who tonight is learning to shout "bravo" with all her little might; the "newbies," a couple to my left who have never been to a concert , but she has seen Andrea on that white horse and they have been to Italy (and by the time we get to intermission you know by the rapt look on their faces that their real journey has just begun!); the beaming white-haired woman sitting across from me craning from her decidedly less-than-five-foot height to catch a glimpse of this man who has brought everyone in front of her to their feet for the umpteenth time; my friend who, with us, made the crazy, spur-of-the-moment decision to travel to Verona to bask in a real opera with Andrea in the lead on stage before us . . .I could go on and on. They are all here, drawn by this extraordinary man.

But I digress. What about the concert?! From the first note, these arias tell us that Andrea has continued to hone his technique—but there is something else. Somehow from within, Andrea is forging power and emotion in a new level of strength. It is compelling . . ..and it is fascinating to watch and feel the audience collectively come to him. You know that overused phrase "commands an audience"?! Andrea’s voice lifted these people out of their seats time after time, because the urgency of the emotional power and energy it communicates quite simply made it impossible to sit! If I begin to describe each aria and song, we will be here forever. Others have already done so. I will convey a few of the highlights for me: Vesti la giubba is startling—such dramatic power from our tenore! . . .the Aranjuez is hauntingly elegant and, again, emotionally powerful . . .there was no Ombra mai fù this night, but I forget the disappointment when he substitutes E lucevan le stelle—the first aria I ever heard him sing live . . ..the heart-stopping duet from Butterfly is literally breathtaking, really, I swear I wasn’t breathing at all for the last two minutes, and judging by the collective gasp and cheers let loose from the audience at the climax, neither was anyone else in that enormous hall (we needed intermission to collect ourselves) . . .Vaghissima Sembianza won my heart completely the first time he sang it at SOL, with its lilting, sweetly romantic melody that Andrea captures perfectly with the timbre of his voice . . .his Marechiare is wonderfully masterful, Torna a Surriento is wistfully, intensely nostalgic, O sole mio a beautiful arrangement by Mercurio that leaves Andrea in the limelight in full voice that reflects the love of his "terra natale" but pairs him beautifully with Ana Maria in the familiar refrain . . .the Brindisi (with trilling nicely done, thank you) tells us the main part of the program is finished . . . (old friends, these songs). Throughout, I don’t believe I have ever seen Andrea’s face more expressive. He seemed completely immersed in every one of the pieces. Somehow, he seemed more relaxed, more confident. He was very nearly chatty too, apologizing shyly for his English, disarmingly assuring us that he will only inflict "a few notes" of flute playing when he introduces Melodramma, which leads off the encores.

. . . the encores. We all knew what we had been waiting for . . .and then it appeared. The PIANO was being rolled center stage. The crowd went wild. Andrea took his place behind . . ..and was transformed. Mr. Pianoman! Then, the first notes of My Way. You have to say it over and over and over, because it is the only way to say it—he OWNS this song . . ..because he owns what this song has to say. You can hear it and feel it. It is inescapable. It is phenomenal. HE is undeniably phenomenal . . ..when he finishes, the crowd unleashes a tidal wave of appreciation. They know that this is quite simply, an extraordinary performance moment.

Here it is in a nutshell. No other tenor in the world could sing My Way AND the duet from Madama Butterfly the way Andrea Bocelli did Saturday night. PUNTO! Andrea talks about speaking two languages in music. He actually speaks three—pop, opera, and sheer courage.

Continue to follow your way, my friend. We will continue to walk beside you.

Forza Andrea!


There is a postscript to this introspective review. Sunday afternoon , in the emotional aftermath of the concert experience, we had some errands to run. I found myself at a popular discount store surveying a counter laden with books, quietly humming the last Andrea melody that had been playing in the car. (You can’t just break away from a concert cold turkey!) A burly black gentleman stood beside me, and together we were digging through the piles of books. As it will frequently happen, we simultaneously reached across each other to pick up an item, and he took this occasion of shopping intimacy to say to me "Excuse me ma’am, but are you always this cheerful?" I couldn’t help but reply, "Well, I don’t know, but last night I was at the Andrea Bocelli concert, and the music is still in my head!" I was immediately internally chiding myself about such undisciplined gushing, when to my utter astonishment, at the mention of Andrea’s name, the gentleman lit up and enthusiastically responded, "I sure wish I could have been there. I have ALL his CDs, and I play them over and over. I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with that." Who would’ve guessed! I looked into this smiling face, an unexpected amico, and I said, "Sir, Andrea Bocelli would be delighted to hear it." Indeed, I am certain he would. Bravo Andrea!

One more thing. I can’t let the opportunity pass without paying tribute to my husband Jack, who walks patiently and steadfastly at my side (even when I make him cringe with embarrassment at my unbounded enthusiasm!) and has made every bit of this adventure possible. He is undeniably the most generous-hearted friend and love that anyone could ever have.

Washington DC, June 15, 2002 - thanks to Corina

by Eileen

The concert this evening at the MCI Center was an extraordinary experience for me. I was last in this venue in what seems like a lifetime ago, almost four years, in October 1998. And so it was inevitable that the performance tonight should play out before me as a study in contrasts… Andrea Bocelli, then and now. How far he has come! From the tentative, at times shy performer four years ago to the resolute Tenore that stood before us this evening… his artistic evolution is simply astounding. Then he was so reserved, his stage fright almost palpable… now he is confident, at times expansive in demeanor, totally in control. Although he gave a fantastic performance in ’98, tonight his vocal prowess was jaw-droppingly amazing… his top notes secure, ringing, and held impossibly long. Previously, he stood stock still throughout the performance, even in duet with the soprano… tonight the left fist remained unclenched and his posture was so relaxed. And in one of the indisputable highlights of the evening, while singing "Viene la sera" with Ana Maria, he gestured, he reached, he touched, he became Pinkerton.

How far the audience has come! In ’98, it was well into the second half before the crowd finally warmed up… tonight, we were engaged and wholly invested from the first note. I remember back then longing for a word from him, any word, but none was forthcoming. This evening he spoke to us several times and so easily, as if to longtime friends. In introducing "Because", he explained that he was attracted to the song since hearing it as a child sung by Mario Lanza. He predicted that we would recognize it and then, with the only touch of shyness of the evening, asked that we forgive his English. When he came out for Melodramma with flute in hand, he quipped, "Don’t worry… it is only for a few notes!" He generously thanked the orchestra, Ana Maria and Steven, stating that the latter was "the most crazy conductor I know!" When the piano was rolled out onto the stage and he took his seat, he told us he had a special surprise. He said this with an expression of such expectant anticipation, one that I realize I must always have when I am about to give someone the perfect gift. Which, of course, is exactly what Andrea did. Although it was the penultimate song of the evening, his "My Way" was undoubtedly the ultimate cohesion of artist and audience that I have ever experienced. If there could be a more appropriate anthem for the personal journey of Andrea Bocelli, I defy someone to name it!

Yes, Andrea… you did it your way. During all the years preceding that last concert in this venue and throughout those since leading up to tonight, you have never compromised your artistic vision. And the fruits of that oftentimes difficult stance are the innumerable fans like me, whom you have led to the joyous discovery of the music you so love. Andrea Bocelli then, now, and in the future… an extraordinary musical progression, a wonder to behold.

by Diane

Our evening started with dinner with about 18 or so other Bocelli fans. Carole made all of the arrangements and she did a great job. We had nice conversation and of course most to the topic was Mr. Bocelli. I was getting oh so excited.

My husband and I had arrived in DC on Friday evening from Pittsburgh. Bright and early Saturday morning we walked to the MCI and "scoped" out the route. Three blocks down and one over. Great choice for a hotel accommodations.

We got to the MCI after a quick after dinner walk and I sent my husband immediately on a quest to find the room where the NIAF reception would be held. I need to know these things in advance and John is just the guy to ease my preconcert nerves.

Before the concert began I was sitting on the end of my chair waiting for the start and I spotted Michele Torpendine and Carlo Bernini, I was oh so shy but wanted to ask for one of them to get me Mr. Bocelli's autograph or even just say hello to them or have them pass a postive greeting on to Andrea. But, I didn't and later in the evening as I watched others with their programs autographed, explaining they stopped the duo, well regret no, just a lesson I will remember for next concert.

The moment arrived and Steven Mercurio started the evening off with the National Anthem. I stood with my hand over my heart and filled with pride as the Arena erupted with song. So moving. Then Andrea made his entrance. He was accompanied onto the stage by a very beautiful woman. He took his spot and the evening began. In my opinion, Mr. Bocelli was in exceptional form. His voice was full and he sang with such ease. He just filled the entire arena. He looked wonderful and his voice was more than brilliant. Andrea played the flute for Melodramma he even explained that he would only play a few notes, as if anyone would object. He played the keyboard for My Way and announced this was a little surprise. LITTLE? I was on my feet! He openly thanked the wonderful Orchestra that so aptly accompanied him and Andrea clapped several times for them. He thanked Steven and Ana Maria. He seemed so confident, so at ease, looked wonderful
and sounded even better. I lost track of the standing ovations he received. He shyly acknowledged each one with a thank you. I heard him hold notes for My Way that would have others on their knees. And with TTSG he was gone.

The NIAF Reception was very nice and Mr. Bocelli was joking and seemed to be in a very light mood. He asked us to remember Italy in the upcoming World Cup. He teased Michele, saying he wanted his manager to come up and say a few words since he is learning English. When someone translated this to Mr. Torpendine he jumped about a foot backwards fearing the worst and it got a big laugh and Andrea would just not give it up. It was a funny moment. Mr. Bocelli was ever so gracious and stopped and smiled and just frosted the cake for about a hundred or so of his fans who had already enjoyed the most wonderful concert ever.

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