Wachovia Center
April 3
, 2005

Philadelphia, April 3, 2005, thanks to Joyce!

Andrea Bocelli’s concert at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia on Sunday evening, April 3, 2005, was the pinnacle of the nine Bocelli concerts that I have attended so far. If you consider the remarkable heights that each of these concerts has reached in its excellence and in its effect on me, you will begin to understand the power of Sunday night’s performance.

Here are ten of the dozens of impressions that will stay with me:

1. How exciting it was to have that huge audience join the chorus and orchestra in the national anthem, which opened the concert. The audience was rapturously engaged all evening, and Andrea clearly felt the support and appreciation he was receiving.

2. From the first notes of his first aria—“Di quella pira”—Andrea showed he was in complete mastery of the occasion. Then the rhythm of “In tanto amici qua,” from Cavalleria Rusticana, conveyed such energy that I felt as though, if he fully let that energy loose, the aria and all of us—the musicians and audience—would leave earth’s gravity. One of the musical events of a lifetime was underway.

3. The concert had everything! I loved Patrizia Orciani—not only her voice but also her acting ability. When she and Andrea began “O soave fanciulla,” the transformation in her bearing from that in “Vicino a te,” from Andrea Chenier, was dramatic, and she immediately became the innocent Mimi. I loved the warm and unaffected way that she interacted with Andrea throughout the concert—she showed her pleasure in performing with him and her admiration for his success in the individual pieces. The New York Choral Society was also a wonderful addition, adding depth and an extra measure of polish and excitement to the program. The Hartford Symphony, under Steven Mercurio’s direction, was equally magnificent. I especially enjoyed the intermezzo from Mascagni’s Guglielmo Radcliff.

4. Andrea’s English in “Because” and “My Way” showed his ability with the language—the words flowed smoothly and clearly, without even momentary awkwardness. I noticed another type of smoothness in the light, seemingly effortless trilling notes in “Brindisi.”

5. I likewise noticed the beautiful way that his hair draped over his right temple and then curled around his ear. From my seat, not too far away from the stage, I saw his left profile (also very pleasing), but he was frequently shown close up in right profile on the large screens.

6. Andrea was confident and commanding in his stage presence and delivery. His voice is powerful and his technique precise, but his voice has lost none of its sweetness and beauty.

7. Andrea is unique among singers in the degree to which he is consciously present in the experience of each note and word he sings. His concentration on the memories and meanings evoked by each passage shows in his subtle but constantly evolving facial expressions, as well as in the rich expressiveness of his voice.

His unparalleled involvement in the music he performs and ability to share his sense of that music with the audience are also apparent in the small but meaningful changes from performance to performance in tone, phrasing, and dynamics. Sunday night, I especially noticed his almost whispered—and therefore even more intense—“No, oh no” in “My Way.” (“My Way” was the third of four encores. The other three were “Dell`amore non si sa,” “Sempre o mai,” and “Time to Say Goodbye.”)

8. My mother attended the concert with me, and afterward she said, “He has a beautiful voice, but I’m especially taken by the human being who is expressed through that voice.” When I mentioned that some critics seem to miss the heart, the persona within the music, she said, “How can they listen and not hear it?”

9. After Andrea sang “Because,” my mother said, “He outdid himself on that one!” “Because” had been sung at my parents’ wedding, just over 60 years ago. We were both touched by Andrea’s performance of the song and by its meaning to us. We lost my father in August.

10. Before Sunday night, the last time I had heard Andrea sing “Nessun Dorma” live was October 18, 1998, in Washington, D.C. That night had been my parents’ 54th wedding anniversary, and we three had gone to the concert together. Back in 1998, as Andrea sang “Nessun Dorma,” a Metro train rumbled beneath the arena. As he sang “Nessun Dorma” this past Sunday, I understood I was hearing the voice of the world’s most wonderful tenor in his prime.

Winifred Hayek
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