Toronto, Ontario, Canada
 Air Canada Centre
October 18
, 2005
Kurt Browning's Gotta Skate
It has been amazing to be able to see Andrea two times in one year, in the
same city (Toronto) and in the same venue (the Air Canada Centre) and for
such completely different musical events!

When I first sat in my seat (so much closer to the stage this time!!) I was
dismayed to see the piano situated so that the player's back would be toward
me.  Last year's televised ice skating show featured Andrea sitting at the
piano for most of his performances.  I felt some hope, though, because the
telltale wooden T was nailed into the floor at centre stage, so maybe Andrea
would stand out front for some of the songs.

I was wrong.  He stood centre stage for ALL of his songs!!  The piano wasn't
for him this time.  I was so HAPPY to not have to look at his back for two

So picture this setting:  a huge ice surface with the sponsor's name
(SMUCKERS) printed under centre ice. (Smuckers makes really good fruit jams
and preserves.) At one end of the ice is the stage with the piano to one
side, and a small orchestra with strings, some brass and percussion at the
other side. The stage is backdropped by sections of white curtains against a
black background with lights that look like a starry sky.  Very pretty.

The skaters included:  Kurt Browning; Elvis Stojko; Brian Orser; Jamie Sale
and David Pelletier; and Shae-Lynn Bourne (all from Canada); Two Italian
skaters: Carolina Kostner and Silvia Fontana; Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen
from the USA and Steven Cousins from Great Britain.  This was an AMAZING
group of skaters to see in one venue and I can't say enough about how
energizing and fun it was to watch them perform.  I've only ever seen live
figure skating of this calibre once before so was not sure what to expect.
WOW!!  They actually distracted me from watching Andrea while he sang.  I
didn't think that was possible.

I was a bit disappointed that Andrea was only featured in six songs, but if
you would have asked me to guess which six he would sing, I'd have only
gotten one right.  Andrea was accompanied in two duets by New Zealand's
Hayley Westenra which was an awesome combination of voices, even when she
sang Time to Say Goodbye with Andrea, instead of Sarah Brightman. You could
not hear her on the last note at ALL, but who's complaining? Not me. My last
Andrea Bocelli concert experience had me in the highest and farthest seats
from the stage, so the sheer power of Andrea's voice was only a hint under
the amplification. On Tuesday, it felt like he actually vibrated my head
from the ears out - singing the end note past the microphone's capacity.

Shall I spoil the surprise and tell you what else they sang?  Vivo Per Lei -
with Hayley singing in English. I didn't expect that at all and it was

He also sang a new song from his new album coming out early next year.  I
couldn't tell you what it was called or what it meant, but, I look forward
to getting the album and getting to know it better.  More surprise songs?
Yes. We heard Voglio Restare Cosi.  I leaned over to my friend and said, "I
can't believe I'm hearing this LIVE!"  I hope that the broadcast sound
quality is better than last year's offering, because this was beautiful.
Andrea added touches to the song that really emphasized that he has a total
pop sensibility and musical flexibility that is even broader than you could
guess from hearing his pop albums (above and beyond his performance on A
Night in Tuscany.)

Two complete and utter surprises were "It's Impossible" and "I can't help
falling in love with you."   I knew, theoretically, that Andrea could sing
this kind of song - his encore in April's concert of Frank Sinatra's "My
Way" emphasized that.   The man can sing whatever he wants.  He really can.

Things you won't see on TV:

The announcer from NBC sports, when he introduced the grand finale skate to
"Time to Say Goodbye" mispronouncing Andrea with the North American feminine
for Andrew (pronounced ANN'dreeya.)  I think we ALL, including Andrea,
Hayley, and the skaters, had a moment's shock at that mistake.  We got to
stay around and watch him re-tape that intro.

You won't see that the ladies had a few rough moments on some of their
jumps.  Those were re-skated.

You probably won't hear Kurt Browning state with great enthusiasm and awe
that while one of the other men was skating, Kurt, who was standing just
outside of the curtain near the ice, could not HEAR the skating since the
music was so full and live and wonderful.  And you probably won't hear Kurt
say how nervous he was to be skating with Andrea singing for him.

You probably won't hear the Canadian audience moan loudly at hearing that
their own CBC will not televise the performance until March 8, 2006!  Awe
come on!! I'm still moaning.  Loudly.

You probably won't see Veronica leading Andrea out to his spot on stage when
they introduced the live songs and then retrieving him when the songs were

And most fortunately (or possibly not), you won't hear Andrea make fun of
himself and re-introduce "It's Impossible" for a re-skate because he made
"many mistakes" and didn't "know the song very well."  He got some of the
English parts of the song confused and out of order - but never broke the
musicality and timing of the song for the skater. (Some of it was in
Italian - I have no idea of it's accuracy.)  The second time was like having
an encore, though, and again, Andrea showed, more than ever, his vocal
versatility.  I can hardly wait for you all to hear it.

Janice Ruppenthal
Ottawa, Ontario Canada

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