September 21, 2009
My Andrea Bocelli Story  #no 3
submitted by Wendell Baatjes, South Africa


I do not remember what date this occurred but one early evening June (my wife) called me into the TV room and asked me to please look and listen to “this guy” singing. It happened to be Andrea Bocelli. I cannot even remember what it was he was singing. For some strange reason I was not all that impressed (yet). When Andrea was done I left the room and that is where it ended. Believe it or not but I just forgot all about it.

May I first of all say that the only other tenor I ever was interested in was Mario Lanza. And even as a kid I was very fond of his singing. And through the years I always liked to come back and listen to his singing. I still do this and have several of his recordings.

A few years later after  the incident with my wife in the TV room I paid my daughter a visit in Johannesburg where she was resident. Johannesburg is 2 hours flying time away from Cape Town.  Noelene, my daughter, was working in Pretoria which is about 1 hours drive away from Johannesburg. Quite a distance but long enough to listen to a full CD.  One morning Noelene asked me to go with her to her office and I agreed. Just as we drove away from her home she put a CD into the player of her car and the most stunning voice I have ever heard suddenly filled the early morning mood. It was brilliant! “WHO IN HEAVEN’S NAME IS THAT”? I asked. ” It is Andrea Bocelli Dad” she replied. “What CD is that”? was my next question to her.  It was “CIELI DI TOSCANA”. I asked  “Hey, but you were a Michael Jackson fan. What happened” ? She simply replied “No more Dad. My taste for music has changed dramatically over the years”.

I was hooked with Andrea on the spot and the ball started rolling. And did I enjoy the ride. As soon as I got back home in Cape Town I bought the recording of “Cieli Di Toscana”. That was the beginning of one the most pleasant and rewarding journeys I have ever been in my musical career. I went back to the music shop that I was dealing with and bought all of Andrea’s CD that they had in stock and have kept up to date with them ever since. I now pride myself with the fact that I now have all of Andrea’s CD’s and DVD’s. “Look and Listen”, the music shop I buy my CD’s from already know that the minute an Andrea Bocelli CD hits their shop they must phone me. And they have been very good with this ever since. I never miss.

I also started digging into Internet and other literature because I really wanted to know what it is that make this man “tick”. Up till now I have been unable to find his book “The music of Silence” and am still looking.

I am a musician and a classical pianist. Because of this I have also acquired a few of Andrea’s Music Score albums. Not a lot as they are exceptionally expensive here in South Africa. What I also find very interesting to do is to play a CD of Andrea and accompany him from the score on the piano. My favourite in doing this is the Bach/Gounod version of Ave Maria from Andrea’s album “Sacred Arias”. And if I really tune myself in properly it feels like I am right with Andrea. I have a CD player situated right on top of my piano especially to do this. This exercise is very challenging but I do it. Andrea is dead on target with every single note or rest on the written score and never misses or makes a mistake, so you have to study the written music really well. He is really very professional and a genius. For this, one’s piano must be dead set in tuning and I make sure that mine is. 

I have often wondered whether Andrea ever experiences “stage fright”. Because he has good reason to have experienced this. I have watched the DVD of Sacred Arias very closely and in watching became very aware of something that has paramount importance. In a situation like that, with a full orchestra, a full choir and a conductor behind him Andrea is faced a tremendous responsibility. Everything depends on him. I do not think that it is really the conductor who takes the leading role. I think Andrea has to lead them all, the conductor, the orchestra and the choir. The conductor is faced with a reverse situation in that he has to follow Andrea very closely and Andrea does not follow him but is consoled with the fact that he knows the “score” indeed very well. Now that is one enormous responsibility.  One responsibility that will make me want to run away!

Have you ever listened to Andrea’s opera album “Verdi”? Andrea does something there which is very tricky and almost impossible and I have never heard anyone get this right before. Not even Mario Lanza. Listen to the way he ends off with “Celeste Aida”. He delivers the final note and pulls it down gradually into nothing without any hesitation or extra breath. And they did not have to practice this over and over for him to get it right as I believe and have read. Andrea did it with the very first take. Andrea can change the colour of a note in the middle of a phrase without taking a breath.

I have one dream and I certainly hope that it will come to reality one day. That is to see Andrea in concert personally. I also would like to meet him. That would give me the greatest joy in my life. I do not think that this dream of mine is too farfetched. It can come true.

Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share my Andrea experience with you.

God bless you.


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