East Rutherford
Continental Arena
April 10
, 2005


East Rutherford, April 10, 2005, thanks to Corina!

The Power of the Voice

Di quella pira set the tone—Andrea threw down the gauntlet and answered his own challenge. It was solid, secure, ringing. The final high C—right on the mark and held just long enough to make a statement—did what every tenor intends it to do . . . it knocked our collective socks off!! From that first moment on, Andrea never lowered the bar.

He was in fine voice and he knew it. Again and again, there was a generous share of high notes nailed and held—in Di quella pira, of course, but also in Because, in the challenging and emotionally intense duet Vicino a te, and the equally dramatic and romantic O soave fanciulla. One after another, Andrea struck a chord with the audience. Many around me seemed to be experiencing their first Bocelli concert, and I heard awed comments: "incredible" "unbelievable." One young woman a few rows below us was so galvanized by the climax of Nessun Dorma that she launched herself out of her seat, arms thrust skyward, and whooped as if her favorite team had just scored the winning goal!

It seems to me that in every concert some aspect of Andrea’s voice comes to the fore, one quality from among the many that stands out from the rest—the burnished beauty, the soft-as-a-whisper high notes delicately spun, the melancholy undertone, thrilling high notes hit dead on. But in this concert, it all seemed to coalesce. Andrea laid the whole magical spectrum out before us, perfect and confident. And he seemed so at ease, often keeping finger-snapping time, smiling a lot, and interacting comfortably with the soprano, Patrizia Orciani. His ease was most apparent with the "pop" encores (Dell’Amore Non Si Sa, Sempre O Mai, and My Way) that seemed to flow so easily from him it made me want to laugh with pleasure. The chorus was another welcome dimension throughout this concert. They "accompanied" Andrea in the most literal sense of the word—they kept him company up there, and he seemed to like the interaction of their supportive presence, particularly in the high-spirited In tanto amici qua and the light-hearted Funiculi, Funicula.

It is impossible not to be captivated by Steven Mercurio, that "crazy conductor" as Andrea has affectionately dubbed him. Watching him conduct the William Tell Overture (the only substitution in the program, by the way), it seemed for all the world as if Steven was literally flinging notes from his fingers into the orchestra . . . like the god Zeus launching lightning bolts into the ether, one after the other in an electrifying pace. His unflagging energy was contagious and served Andrea well, as always.

I think probably everyone has an aria or song that they could listen to Andrea sing endlessly. One of these for me is Torna a Surriento. He seems to include it in nearly every concert performance, and each time I listen to hear the subtle shadings of difference, how he might vary emphasis on a word here or there, sometimes lingering on one or another (no one can caress the word "tesoro" with his voice like Andrea). This time, his rendition was so beautifully melodious and the yearning he infused so real that the great big guy sitting in front of me was weeping openly and leaped to his feet in appreciative applause as Andrea completed the final filigree of notes, distinctly perfect, in rapid succession. Me, I melted completely when he sang Tu che m’hai preso il cor. That much concentrated beauty must be illegal. Yes, I know, we have heard Panis Angelicus and the Schubert Ave Maria over and over. But Sunday night they were dedicated to the memory of Giovanni Paolo II. These are songs Andrea has sung for il Papa, and the soulful beauty that our tenore poured into these two sacred arias this night wrapped us in quiet benediction...

Recently, many have talked thoughtfully of the need for some change—for Andrea to explore new material in these concerts. It is certainly a valid and practical consideration, and it is always beneficial to expand one’s horizons. But here is another thought. When songs are repeated, they acquire a history. Each of us has a store of memories we bring to these concerts, both those uniquely ours from personal experience and those forged in our hearts by Andrea. Ave Maria for example conjures for me the image of Andrea singing beneath the astonishing, matchless blue of the ceiling in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome—and also the heartache amidst the ruins of the World Trade Center, an Andrea shaking with cold and emotion. For the woman next to me at Continental Arena, who wept quietly throughout this sacred aria, there were clearly intensely personal memories of her own. Andrea’s voice has this power . . . .to touch us at our deepest core, even if we have heard it all before.

Sunday night there was for me one poignantly perfect moment. Cinema Paradiso. (If you haven’t seen this movie, rent it now.) Accompanied by this achingly beautiful theme, the final moments of the film played out on the huge screens in Continental Arena. The old projectionist, who has died, had spliced together every scene censored by the local priest from the movies shown in his small Sicilian town. Every forbidden romantic embrace, every passionate kiss, every tender moment cut from the films he has distilled into one continuous stream of love…a final legacy from the old man to the child grown to manhood who had befriended him and has returned for the old man’s funeral. The full impact of the old man’s labor of love is reflected in the rapt face of his friend as he watches the images. It was, I thought, the perfect metaphor for this tenor who touches our hearts so effortlessly. Image after image from Andrea’s past performances—labors of love—play out on the screen of our mind’s eye, and the whole is a gift from him that is ongoing. Once again, for this latest offering, we say to him, profoundly and simply, "Grazie."

Cami McNamee

East Rutherford, April 10, 2005, thanks to Corina!

An unforgettable concert in East Rutherford!

This was by far, the best concert I have ever attended. Andrea's voice was in such superb form, he even admitted that "finally my voice was in good shape to sing!!!" This is such an unusual statement coming from Andrea who demands so much of himself and is almost never completely satisfied with the way he performs, even if a crowd of 20,000 say he was incredible and swears to the contrary. Friends, this time he simply outdid, outperformed himself! You should have heard this roaring crowd. It was something simply unforgettable. If before you thought a concert was near perfection, this time you could say that this concert simply achieved perfection.

Not only was Andrea in superb form, but also the lighting was perfect, the sound coming from the speakers at the right level, and the soprano, the conductor and the orchestra were simply in unison. In midstream, Steven felt compelled to change his program and decided to go with the William Tell overture, which was also the best he has ever conducted, receiving an incredibly long standing ovation. He was in seventh heaven! Patricia Orciani's rendition of the aria "Un bel di" from Butterfly was very moving and sang with both tenderness and passion, receiving also extended applause.

Honestly, I feel it is impossible to find any fault whatsoever with anything that happened last night at the Continental Arena. Not to mentioned my perfect 3rd row dead center seat! This concert will stay in my memory till I die. No one can complain that the repertoire hasn't changed. The 5 new additions were dynamite performances and "Nessun dorma," especially, will go in the annals of history as possibly the best come back aria of our beloved Tenor. The crowd exploded, all standing on their feet. His last note was given with such an unbelievable control and extension that the audience could not stand it any longer and cut him off, to my sadness, otherwise, I truly believe he would still be holding it!

The soprano's effort to match was evident. Their rapport was lovely, but their interpretation of "Vicino a te" aroused the public's feelings and received a heartfelt standing ovation. We had 4 encores, each one given to us as a real gift of how Andrea was feeling at that moment, completely happy with himself and his public. "My Way," by far the best he has performed, and even "Con te partirò" sounded like a totally new song for many of us because we felt it was given with heart in hand.

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