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MEN Arena
February 24, 2005


I read on the official site that Andrea is coming to Manchester. Oh, I just can't afford to buy a ticket. But then I think to myself, supposing he doesn't come again, just supposing - well, you can guess, I have to buy myself a ticket just in case. A very good and kind friend (J) has her birthday on that day, so I decide to buy her a ticket as her present. Because of all the info on the sites I manage to get two wonderful seats and that just makes me more excited about the concert, but I have not told J, as this is to be a surprise!

Well, on the night, J and I meet up for an early dinner. She thinks we are going to see a film. When I spring the surprise on her she is ecstatic. What a handsome man, what a lovely voice. Oh yes, what a surprise. I laugh, because I know all this already and I also know what a treat we are in for.

The MEN in Manchester was run as well as usual and we take our seats. J by now is so excited and me too. The overture plays and then Marcello Rota leaves the stage for what seems like an age of anticipation and comes back with Andrea. Andrea positions himself and I must say he looked so nervous. (In fact he was kicking the markers all the evening.) But the orchestra begins to play and out of the mouth of this gorgeous, well dressed, handsome man comes the most beautiful voice. J is absolutely bowled over on the first note and I know that despite an amateurish orchestra, we are going to have a good evening. I can't say I like Ms. Sanguinette's voice very much, (and we did see rather a lot of her) but she did interact well with Andrea and when Rodolfo asks Mimi about their return from dinner, Andrea turns to the audience and gives a cheeky look and smile and we all enjoyed the humour. Towards the close of the performance he spoke to the audience as well, which was so appreciated. As the evening wore on and Andrea started to relax and let his shoulders start to drop just a little and the fist unclench, the voice became sweeter and stronger and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Then we had a lovely rendition of "O Sole Mio" before "Brindisi," which of course brings sadness because the concert is close to its end and the bouquets are being delivered.

Andrea was so well received. The usual absolute silence while he sang and the cheers and stamping at the end of each song and the deafening applause at the close. Andrea comes again and twice more until TTSG is played and that really is the end and our Tenor leaves the stage with a wonderful smile, a wave and knowing that the whole audience is not only applauding for all their worth but also they are standing to salute him.

P.S. I had arranged to meet two more friends who were to take us home. They too had never see Andrea before and were stunned by him. Just loved him to bits and talked over and over about that lovely lovely voice and the attractive man it emanates from. Three more converts and if we could have just had a decent orchestra and may be Steven Mercurio to conduct, the near perfection of Andrea's performance could have been turned into perfection.

by Suzan Connolly
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