September 6, 7, 8, 9, 2006
Avery Fisher Hall, New York City
3 reports by Cami, Gloria and Winnie


Andrea Bocelli's September 9, 2006 , performance at Avery Fisher Hall was to my ears everything Andrea and his loved ones, fans, and other admirers could have wished. My mother and I sat high up on stage right so that our view was of the top of Andrea's head. Yet his voice carried--strong, beautiful, expressive, and true--at all points in the concert. From our vantage and listening point, he was never overpowered by the orchestra and was the master of every note.

I was first attracted to Andrea's voice by its rich ability to communicate, and this quality is even more pronounced now, almost nine years after I first heard the opening phrases of "Con te partirò." Hearing his voice unamplified yesterday was a gift to remember for the rest of my life. He conveyed a sense of being entirely present in the musical phrases and lyrics, which were supported by clear diction, amazing breath control, and an impressive range that is so lovely at all points it should warm the coldest heart and draw the most indifferent listener into the heart of the music.

Hearing the (to me) unfamiliar Verdi orchestrations by Berio and then the work by Steven Mercurio that began the encores was a magnificent experience. At the same time, hearing my favorite Bocelli piece of all times--"Vaghissima sembianza"--and having the concert end with a powerful and perfect "Di quella pira" were also infinitely happy moments.

After his last encore and curtain call, Andrea left the stage with his characteristic friendly wave. I hope he left the stage aware of how outstandingly he had sung and feeling great satisfaction with his Lincoln Center concerts.

If anyone--fan or critic--had trouble hearing Andrea in Avery Fisher Hall, it was entirely the fault of the hall and not of the singer. Because of the good acoustics in my inexpensive perch, I can vouch absolutely for this statement.

I hope that any in the audience who felt some disappointment because of the unfamiliarity of much of the program will reconsider their reaction and focus instead on the amazing good fortune of being witnesses to the ever-expanding dimensions of Andrea's voice.

And that voice truly is exceptional in its quality and significance. If some critics are unable to appreciate his voice fully, it is certainly because they are unable to think beyond the narrow confines of the checklists they use to judge performances. They are unable to recognize, understand, or welcome qualities that signal a unique and profound talent who touches not only the mind and senses but also the soul.

by Winnie Hayek


When I told family and friends that I planned to attend all four Andrea Bocelli concerts, I got a few raised eyebrows.  "Are the concerts all the same?" I was asked.  I assumed they would be, but rationalized that there might be some variation over the four evenings.  The truth was, however, that I couldn't imagine being in the same city where Andrea would be singing, and not attend.  I had to be there!

New York City was an amazing experience for me--a small town gal from northern Michigan.  I am not usually drawn to big cities, and to be honest, I might never have visited the Big Apple had Andrea not been singing there.  Central Park, the Metropolitan Art Museum, Lincoln Center, Times Square...what a mind-blowing experience--almost impossible to convey to those who have never been there.  The main focus of every Bocelli concert is always his singing, but there is so much more to every event.  Exposure to new music, visiting new places, gathering with old and new friends--all of this adds to the excitement.  All of the sights, sounds and smells of this "city that never sleeps"--the hustle and bustle, the lights, the traffic, the street vendors, the artists, the musicians, the magnificent diversity.  And then, in the midst of all this delightful craziness that is New York, each evening at Avery Fisher Hall, two hours of sublime beauty!

The Verdi songs were unfamiliar to me, and I think probably to most of us.  But these were songs that Andrea had chosen for this event and they were obviously special to him--he had worked very hard on them and he wanted us to hear them!  Over the course of four evenings, the songs began to take hold in my heart--by the 4th night I could almost hum along--although I wouldn't have dared.  The audience was obviously enchanted by our tenor--he held them in the palm of his hand.  The fact that he was called back for four encores and received a standing ovation on each of the four nights, singing these songs that most had probably never heard before, said a lot to me about his ability to communicate. 
Just a little bit about the Verdi songs...To my ears they sounded very challenging.  The last song in the first grouping "L’esule" (The Exile) had a thrilling high note which Andrea sang with gusto! The last song of the second set "Brindisi" (A Toast) was one of my favorites—a bit more up-tempo than some of the others, with a lot of vocal agility required. Again Andrea sang with energy and vigor. Many times we have heard him float a high note at the end of a song, but his first encore, another Verdi song arranged by Steven Mercurio ended with a deep rich low note, which he seemed to hold forever. It demonstrated another aspect of his voice and was just thrilling to hear!

It was a joy for me to hear his real voice unamplified, in a lovely concert setting.  In every way, he seemed confident and in control, strong and beautiful.  From the first note to the last, the first concert to the last--it only got better!  I sincerely hope that eventually there will be a recording of this concert so that everyone can hear and understand how beautifully he sang. 
It was also a privilege to hear the NY Philharmonic and to witness the style and sensitivity of conductor Asher Fisch.  Of the orchestral pieces I was particularly drawn to "Preludio sinfonico," a lovely Puccini song that I had not heard before. There were many smiles from the orchestra members, who truly seemed to be enjoying the experience. Andrea showed his appreciation for them by his own applause on numerous occasions.

As I rode the train homeward, I pondered my wonderful New York experience.  I had that fulfilled and joyous feeling that always follows a Bocelli concert.  Tears welled in my eyes -- tears of gratitude for some very special friends -- tears of gratitude for all of the wonderful experiences I have had because of Andrea Bocelli -- tears of gratitude that I am one of the fortunate ones to hear him sing.

One of the critics, puzzling over Bocelli's popularity, used the word "metaphysical" to describe the attraction.  I would suggest another word that would be more appropriate  --  "authenticity."  Andrea Bocelli has a beautiful voice and works every day to improve.  When he sings he gives 100 percent--he sings with passion, he sings from the heart.  He is genuine -- the real deal!  From his heart to our hearts...We hear you, Andrea!  On recordings or in person--in a hockey arena or in a concert hall--we hear you!  Pop or classical--we hear you!  Thank you for using that wonderful God-given instrument.  Keep on singing--we will be there!

by Gloria Morkin


Dream Come True…Proprio cosi’
We drove from Washington to New York in a steady, unrelenting, dismal downpour. What were we thinking? In the course of the year, we had traveled from Wales and Verona, to Las Vegas, to Naples, to the Hollywood Bowl, and now we were here in the pouring rain on the road again. This time for Andrea’s four concerts in New York—yes, the SAME concert ALL four nights…we had become weary and defensive about repeating it to our progeny, relatives, and friends. Really, what were we thinking? The surrounding gloom and rhythmic sound of the windshield wipers made me pensive, and the answer slowly played itself out in the reviewing memories of the past year. We had shared so much with Andrea…. hearing him in stirring duet with Bryn, seeing him relaxing into the first totally pop concert at Lake Las Vegas, witnessing the proud debut at the hallowed Teatro di San Carlo, and helping to affirm that coronation from 18,000 at the storied Hollywood Bowl. The chance to share this new milestone in his career was difficult to resist. We had covered a lot of ground in one year, but in a way this was the longest journey of all, and maybe the biggest leap for Andrea. It was clear from the first moment it was announced that this debut at Avery Fisher Hall with the New York Philharmonic was monumentally important to him. When else had he impulsively posted to the forum of his Web site with such an effusively exultant outpouring from his heart about this most significant moment in his career—this "dream come true."
I don’t know why it had never hit me before—this was not the first time we had been to Lincoln Center—but Wednesday evening as we approached the arts complex for the concert, it suddenly struck me——maybe it was something about the slant of the setting sun reflecting on the raucous fountains plashing in the center of the square, and the milling crowd gathered in little groups of animated conversation. Anyway it seemed just then that Lincoln Center was the New York equivalent of an Italian piazza…a gathering place of the musical arts, this grand open space bordered by the great halls embracing the little community of music lovers congregating there—this night for Andrea.
It was clear that all associated with Avery Fisher Hall were aware that this concert had sold out in four days…from the security guard, to the bartender, to the ushers—they seemed to be suitably impressed and enjoying the excitement and the camaraderie with the fans. Captain Sheldon, the head of security stationed at the front door, struck up a conversation as he helped us in and was astonished that we had driven all the way from Washington, DC. Hey, I said, that was nothing. We had a friend who had come all the way from Austria!! For so many, it really was something of a pilgrimage to the musical center of the universe for this moment—Texas, Colorado, Michigan, Washington state, Pennsylvania, Virginia, New Jersey, Louisiana, Florida, and the world…Austria, England, and even Singapore, a 32-hour trek for a woman I met sitting in front of us in the second row at the first concert.
The program announced that the concert would be 1½ hours long with an intermission. The symmetry of the performance was different for a Bocelli concert: orchestral piece, four romances, orchestral piece, intermission, orchestral pieces, four romances, wild applause, encores, more furiously wild applause!! (OK so that last part isn’t so new for a Bocelli concert.) The orchestra opened with the familiar Overture to La Forza del destino, throbbing with energy and, well, forza! Every instrument was distinct within the whole, yet blended perfectly to produce a luxurious richness and crisp precision I had not experienced before. Under the baton of Maestro Asher Fisch, the pacing was driving and precise and very powerful. It was a fitting introduction to accompany and enflame our growing anticipation for the moment when Andrea would make that first thrilling appearance on stage and we could extend that first greeting to him. This opening night we gave Andrea the gift of every ounce of support our hearts and souls could muster! He looked trim and serenely handsome in his perfectly tailored tails, white shirt, vest, and bow tie, and the shiny, flattering silk cummerbund. But, save for a brief smile, it was a quite serious Andrea standing before us opening night. The smiles that flickered briefly across his face from time to time during the first set of four romances seemed almost a half-hearted effort at self-encouragement, as if he was thinking that he still had a long way to go to work his way through all eight pieces. However, after intermission, his initial jitters seemed subdued, and Andrea sang more strongly. In fact, the nervousness did not seem to bother him on any of the following nights
These romances of Verdi are colorfully described little vignettes of life and of the characters, feelings, and experiences that peopled his artistic mind and yet seem so universally applicable. With each new hearing of these songs, my appreciation grew for what Andrea was doing to carefully craft each of them. There were memorable vocal moments that stood out for each—In solitaria stanza opened the first set of four, I wondered if the anguished words matched Andrea’s throes of nervousness. Il poveretto describes a pauper, a proud soldier forgotten by the country he once loyally defended, now reduced to begging. To illustrate the scene, Andrea momentarily struck a slightly military stance and coaxed such ardent respect from the phrase "la mia patria" (my country). And at the end when he sang so plaintively "un soldo" (a penny), I couldn’t imagine even the cruelest miser denying him. The darkly passionate thoughts of Il mistero (The Mystery) encompassed the richness of Andrea’s lower range. The way he caressed the very last word, "nobil cuor" (noble heart), still reverberates in my mind. L’Esule (The Exile) had an extended introductory musical interlude that mimicked the sounds of nature described in the song—gentle breezes, rippling waters, and a white moon bathing all in light. The sound of the violin section was especially lush here. When Andrea finally seamlessly intoned the first two lines, sweetly high and melodic and then lower, it sounded exactly like silver moonbeams flowing out from him over the hillsides. Spellbinding. It was in this piece too that he perfectly colored the word "soave" (sweet) to match the meaning…so exquisitely beautiful, and then the yearning wistfulness in "pianto" that truly made this word weep. There were many moments like this from him in the successive concerts.
Like the Verdi romances, Preludio sinfonico, which closed the first half of the concerts, was a New York Philharmonic premiere. The longest orchestral offering at 11 minutes, it is the kind of music that washes over you and commands your complete surrender. This piece builds to a brilliant crescendo and release in a burst of tone, then diminishes gently to a tranquility that glows with reverence. This final part of the work immediately brought to mind a memory of the tranquil lakeside setting at dusk in Torre del lago, Puccini’s Tuscan home. The ending felt like a benediction that the audience was loathe to disturb with applause. In fact, it cast this same spell every night, and there was a breathless hush for several seconds before that first flood of appreciative applause went out to the musicians and their conductor. Their final two pieces that opened the second half of the concert, Prelude to Act III of Manon Lescaut and the achingly beautiful Intermezzo from Cavalleria rusticana brought appreciative applause. The Manon shimmered with exquisite violin passages, and if there is a human being on earth who can resist the emotional power and unsurpassed beauty of the Intermezzo, they must be hard-hearted indeed. The musicians stood for a well-deserved bow and smiled at the enthusiasm of the audience.
Deh Pietoso, Oh Addolorata (Oh Have Pity, Oh Mother of Sorrows) began the second set of four romances, with a very definite emotional input from Andrea. It seemed to touch him deeply. The next two songs, Il tramonto (The Sunset) and Ad una stella (To a Star) seemed the sweetest and most melodic of the songs, but still described experience fraught with weary longing. On the whole, Verdi’s eight songs are rather relentlessly melancholy, lonely, and full of heartbreak and sadness. Possibly Ad una stella was my favorite with its lilting memorable melody and beautifully executed trills from Andrea. The Brindisi is a really captivating and jaunty drinking toast. The last of the eight songs, each time Andrea came to it, he smiled and thrust out the words with energy (relief at the end?), although I felt he had the capability to give it even more. This was also definitely one time (there were others) when I felt the orchestra could have held back in volume. It’s hard to compete with blaring horns, but Andrea held his own.
That first night, the concert ended with decisively warm applause that climaxed in a somewhat tentative standing ovation spearheaded by the most avid fans. Andrea quickly returned to the stage and announced the first of what would be four encores. He quietly introduced each with simply the name of the composer and the name of the piece. First he offered Non t’accostare all’urna (arranged, as Andrea announced in Italian, by the Italian-American Steven Mercurio). This afforded Andrea an opportunity to show us a tenor trick I had never before experienced…a final note, certainly at the lowest end of his range, masterfully held in a strongly reverberating depth of passion. I almost think he included it just so he could sing low for a long, long time!! Our applause level indicated that we were pretty impressed too. Two more encores followed: Occhi di fata and Vaghissima sembianza. These familiar songs—a bit like old-fashioned valentines—show off the irresistible and compellingly romantic and wistful sweetness of Andrea’s voice. The applause grew warmer and more ardent after each one. Clearly we didn’t want to let him go. But when Maestro Fisch took the podium for a fourth encore and Andrea announced, nearly inaudibly, that with the strength that was left to him ("la forza che mi rimane") he would sing Di quella pira, there was an audible gasp from the audience…well, OK…specifically from me…followed by my unbidden exclamation of disbelief "Are you kidding me?" that escaped before I could stifle it. Andrea heard it and laughed. And indeed he wasn’t kidding me or anybody…sing it he did, strong and clear. And when the stirring music caught the audience up, and when he finished with the thrilling high C hit dead-on, the 2700+ in the hall surrendered to him—every last one from top tier to the floor— and they shot to their feet in immediate adulation. Oh you crazy tenor!! The broadest beaming smile was not enough to express the feeling of that moment…only gleeful laughter would do. The sense of something historic happening for him was in the air. People kept turning their heads to capture the full sweep of the scene around them while the whole house maintained the unbelievable sustained applause that acknowledged the glory of it!!
By Friday’s concert, the reviews of opening night had hit the papers. It would have been grand to report that the critics finally gave Andrea his due. They did not. If the Little Prince will allow me to borrow a few of his words, perhaps it is only with the heart that one hears rightly. What is essential is inaudible to the critics. I only mention this because if Andrea had read any of the reviews, he didn’t let it get to him. He has the heart of a lion. One more time, he came out to the fans who clearly loved him, he stood tall, visibly took a long breath, and began his tenor job again. His proud response was to redouble his efforts and pour out more intense feeling and strength into these final two performances. Each song now seemed even more emotionally powerful. He physically leaned into the notes, moved with rhythm, and seemed animated now with the sheer pleasure, more than the responsibility, of singing. Once, I think it was after Il tramonto, he lit up with a big smile that seemed to say he liked the way that one turned out just fine.
We had thought that nothing could top the exhilaration of the incredibly enthusiastic response opening night, but it seemed that Saturday’s audience stood by Andrea with redoubled intensity. (Had they too seen the reviews?) I have been to many performances…both concert and opera. I don’t think I have ever experienced adulation at the end of a performance like that final night at Avery Fisher Hall. During the course of the evening, just as it had happened for each of the previous nights, the applause was warm and generous. But Saturday, the standing ovations were already freely bestowed at the second encore. And by the time Andrea had found the holy grail of tenordom, that easy high C of Di quella, well, I’m not sure I have the words to describe what happened next. The whistles and shouts and cheers continued unrelentingly and crescendoed until Andrea came out again. Everyone knew that he had already given it all, but we somehow didn’t have the heart to let him go. It was madness, wild exuberance. The sound was physically palpable. It was the one phrase the critics got right: "a sea of approval"! He left the stage and, still, there was no let-up until he came a second time. Up in the tiers I could see Zarin Mehta, President and Executive Director of the New York Philharmonic taking it all in. One box over to his right was Sarah Ferguson, with Patrizia Orciani, the soprano, and her husband. All grinning and applauding wildly. Lorin Maazel was there as well. But in the second row behind them, face radiant with her loving smile, Veronica stood, as she had each night when Andrea took the stage, and beamed to him below. Then he walked off—but not before giving us that now signature final wave and the broadest grin he could manage.
From the first jolt of the opening chords of La Forza del destino just four days before to the triumphant thrust of that last high C of Di quella pira the final night, this had been an emotional journey. As we were quietly leaving Avery Fisher Hall with thoughts of the extraordinary man who had worked so hard this and every night to give us the gift of his music with every fiber of his being, I glanced up and noticed on the wall something I had somehow missed before. It was the photograph of a proudly distinguished but benevolent-looking gentleman. There was a dedication below that read:
Avery Fisher
Wise, elegant, gentle, caring
Lover of classical music, his lifelong philosophy was to give back to the world what music had given to him.
It seems to me that Mr. Avery Fisher might well have been a man who would have been proud to welcome Andrea Bocelli to the hall that bears his name with a warm, knowing smile and a firm handshake. Kindred spirits. And, it seems to me, that Mr. Avery Fisher would have appreciated the gift of music that Andrea gave in this place, with all his heart, to those who had come.
by Cami McNamee
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