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Uncasville, Connecticut
Mohegan Sun Arena
November 23, 2002
 

By NanZ

Mohegan Sun Casino Hotel in Connecticut is a modest version of Mandalay Bay…Vegas less the pomp, the rich and the outrageous. The arena has the typical multi-tiered setup around an oval floor, and though it is sizable, it felt oddly cozy. My family and I sat polar opposite the stage in the balcony. The incline was too steep for my comfort, but once the festivity commenced, the drop was forgotten. This was a night to hold onto, a show that ran almost as smoothly as do Bocelli’s transitions, with only one momentary screech from an otherwise perfect sound system and a light show that did not distract from or interfere with the tone of the concert. There was a professional air about the performers, but nothing was stolen from Bocelli’s legendary ability to communicate with his audience. Terms were intimate and Bocelli was in his finest form, with no outward signs of nervousness, moving about and using his hands more than usual, seemingly pleased throughout the evening with his performance, as well he should have been. He forewent a tie and was dressed neck-to-toe in black, looking svelte, Italian and devilishly handsome. We were treated to live feed of the performers on the big screen rather than any canned Andrea and romantic scenes of Tuscany. My favorite moments were the off-center shots in which the violin could be seen playing as he sang. Arranged in overlay, I thought this would make for an ethereal "Sentimento" video.

"Sentimento" fare provided some truly rapturous minutes. Bocelli opened with the wonderful mood piece, "Aranjuez," which set the tone for a deeply moving concert. Other works performed from his new CD were "Plaisir d’amore," "Occhi di fata," and "Vorrei Morire," which was my favorite. Though not duets by strict definition (neither voice with voice nor instrument/instrument), in other respects, they were…Andrea and the solo violinist, Lidia Baich, in the physical sense (and she was quite a physical presence)…Andrea and the strings, in the aural sense…Andrea and the heartstrings, in the deepest sense. No soprano could serve as intimate a partner to Bocelli as does the violin…sad, sweet, haunting, playing upon emotions, making one acutely aware of outer stillness and inner pain. Boohoo. For this kind of music, Bocelli was created. It was obvious that he thought of these pieces in the collaborative sense, and I suspect herein lies the reason for this more exclusive Bocelli showcase. May he go through the entire orchestra in like fashion, instrument to instrument. I could have listened endlessly, but I left the concert sated, satisfied with each and every selection and not once grumbling over too little Bocelli.

"Sentimento" aside, my favorites of the evening were "E lucevan le stelle," which was one of the most beautiful renditions Bocelli has given any aria…stunning…"Core ‘ngrato," a song that made me want to be Caterina so he would sob miserably over my loss, and as was the case with last tour, "My Way," which went further still beyond expectation. He fills every nook and cranny with feeling, with an obvious understanding of the lyrics, seemingly connecting it to his life, and disturbingly connecting it to the listener. This should be recorded, though he may want to review the lyrics as written first.

Every other piece of Bocelli’s in the proper program was wonderful: "Because," which amuses me because he fits in the lyrics by the skin of his teeth and pleases me doubly because it is a sentimental favorite of the singer’s, "O sole mio," "Marechiare," and "Panis Angelicus," one of the familiar numbers that brought home the improvement Bocelli has made in the short span of his career, start to present, and tour to tour. The man does not rest on his laurels.

The soprano Maria L. Borsi has some splendid vocal qualities and is extremely animated when she sings. I was mostly taken by how pretty her voice is, above and beyond her accomplishment. In sharp contrast to Bocelli, you could often hear her breaths, but nonetheless, I was enthralled by passages and impressed with all her arias. When paired with Bocelli in "O soave fanciulla," their voices melded perfectly, and though comparatively as beautiful as "Gia nella notte densa," I more particularly enjoyed this latter lengthy duet. On this unusual night of varied musical forms, it was only toward the end of "Gia nella" that I realized how open was my craving for something operatically more substantial. With this, that hunger was fed.

Encores of the evening were "My Way," in which Andrea played piano, "The Prayer," and Melodramma," with Andrea on the flute, all of which were sung beyond earthly investment, and last but not least, "Con te partirň," which loosely translates to "time to Count The Profits." This is the signal that the fat lady has sung and you may as well begin fighting your way out of the building. Ms. Borsi joined in on the climax, ending a special concert on a perfect note, the finest close of a Bocelli concert I have had the pleasure to attend.

Steven Mercurio conducted the affair, and as always, his was a dramatic and playful stage presence, giving Bocelli kudos and cues, prompting the crowd to clap along with "Brindisi," ably taking the helm. At one point, he came traipsing across the stage as if he were exhausted, playing upon the absurdity of all the entrances and exits of the four star players, himself included. I believe he conducted four orchestral pieces, including his original "Mercurial Overture," and was enthusiastically received by the audience.

The night was a hairsbreadth away from perfection, the spoiler the audience’s responsibility to bear, a strong mix of men and women, many of whom reverted to the annoying practice of screaming and clapping over the tail of Bocelli’s songs. With ample time available between pieces to honor the man, it confuses me as to why people would cheat themselves of a single note. If ever there were a performer who merits a close ear, it is this perfectionist. I pray this was one night’s deviation and not a resurgence of a trend best abandoned. Still, of all the concerts I have attended (and I know I always say this), this was the night of nights.

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