Busseto proved to live up to all our expectations and more. Our
reservations werefor I Due Foscari Hotel for 2 nights. Several
men handled the reception desk there during our stay but only
one looked just like his father, tenor Carlo Bergonzi. I believe
that son manages the hotel. I asked him if he was Carlo's son
and he smiled a big yes. When I inquired if he too was a singer
he said "only in the shower".....he further said that he has a
brother who is a dentist and he does not sing either. The
singing ability had not been inherited. Carlo, now 78, still
holds master classes in Busseto, and in fact will teach one in a
few weeks. We enjoyed our stay there so much and things could
not have been more convenient to shopping and the theater which
is next door. And by the way....for those of you who love
fashion....this country town is not like a USA country town.
They only have a few stores but they are chic and have great
clothing offerings etc., Worth a stop.
We had planned to arrive the day before the big event just to be
sure things were okay with the tickets etc., Of course I hoped
to catch Andrea rehearsing since this place is off the beaten
path but rumors said he had decided to practice with the
Harry had hoped to take some video inside the theater but that
did not happen....it was closed. So.....it just became a day of
looking about the main street, the hotel, running into fans here
and there, and also excitedly picking up our wonderful tickets.
It was great to meet Pamela and Rosie with whom we had been
dealing for so many months. Until those tickets were in our
hands we just couldn't believe it. I have always wanted to be in
the front row. So far I had been able to get very good tickets a
number of times but never the front row. Front row for this was
(in my mind anyway), even better than his usual concert because
this was to be an unmiked venue. I knew in my head that these
were front row but just had a hard time realizing it until they
were in my hands.
Along the main street and outside the teatro there were big
beautiful colorful posters with the teatro's own Verdi logo with
scenes from his various operas . And then there were some
smaller store windows with handbills....a foot wide and about
18" long, featuring the ornate and Verdi logo again, and the
program on these was listed too. Until that very day...we had
not heard of the augmented plans for the program. Until that
very day we only knew this would be a recital. I was happy with
that. I figured that Andrea and a pianist was sufficient for the
tiny teatro. As long as Andrea was the star of the show why
should one need more? Well....we were floored to learn that the
recital had become a full concert. Not only an orchestra with
Marcello Rota conducting, but a full symphonic orchestra. We
wondered where these musicians would be contained? With
our seats just a few feet back from the stage edge and only 10
seats wide, where was there room for so many players?
There is no orchestra pit under the stage. Andrea was also not
going to sing alone but had added not one but two
sopranos....and a baritone as well. Should we be thrilled or
dismayed? Did this mean less Andrea and too much of other
artists? A chance to study the program allayed our fears because
we could see who was slated to sing the various numbers.
We began to meet some friends as the hours ran along, and the
atmosphere was becoming exciting.
I must tell you that this small town is not well known by most
persons in Italy. When we would tell people our plans they
invariably asked in wonderment just where Busseto was. At least
these days there is not an Italian who does not know Bocelli.
And most have great admiration for him. They also usually asked
us how we had learned of this small event when they had not
heard about it.
The day of the concert arrived and seemed to just zip by.
Everyone not already in town began arriving and hanging about,
hoping for a glimpse possibly of their star. Chairs were set up
outside the theatre. Then a huge screen was set up in front of
it as well. People associated with the theatre say this is
unusual....they could only remember one time this had been done
before. But this way many townspeople were able to catch the
show outside. Sound technicians began testing equipment. We
heard some singing but it was not Andrea so we continued
visiting. All the doors and windows were open to the balmy day.
Someone began to worry that the concert was being amplified
inside as well as outdoors. Luckily, that was not the case
All of a sudden Andrea arrived and strode up to the entrance.
Not long after that we could hear and see him on the screen as
well as others singing, as techs adjusted the equipment. It is
my understanding that he had spent time earlier that day
practicing in Parma with the orchestra so there was only a
little to do here.
His hair was all fluffy and long and very full, but not at all
messy. Not slicked back as it has been lately. No bangs either,
but wavy and handsome. (sigh) And his voice boomed outside. Wow.
I was so excited now that I did not really want to eat a thing.
Sometimes I get a little hungry after the concert is over but do
not want to eat and go to bed with a full stomach. In this small
town I expected most places would close doors except for liquor
and that was about true. So...we did go to a small spaghetti
restaurant and I tried to contain myself. But my heart was over
at the theatre. Finally we entered the hallowed halls.
You cannot imagine how tiny the theater is. And it is beautiful.
All just like on the website that had the interior shots of it.
There is a curtain in red plush but it was not used. In fact the
entire theater stage including the part that would usually be
the backstage was all open and there was no baffling or anything
like that. All the stage workings could be seen inotherwords.
Lights, ropes, bare black walls etc., This was because the
entire area was going to be filled with musicians! A full
symphony orchestra. Amazing.
The orchestra was nice of course but I was anxious to clap my
eyes on Andrea. Soon enough he appeared and sang "Ah la
paterna mano." It was so strong. And it does sound different to
be there right in front of the breath emitting from his mouth.
Every little quiver in the voice. I was in heaven. Next came the
baritone. I am unfamiliar with Otello but he was good to
listen to and had all the facial expressions and emotions to
really do it convincingly. Strong voice. Well received. Then
thrill thrill thrill......goosebump time.
Andrea comes out again and this time it is with the young
soprano he sang with in Denmark,that he chose from the classical
contest in SanRemo, Maria Borsi. she was dressed in black satin,
with spaghetti straps and interesting tightly fitted cut. The
dress was complimented by a matching black stole. She was a very
good soprano too, with a strong clear voice. Does all the
effects beautifully. However I still like Ana Maria Martinez the
best with Andrea's voice. Anyway, they sang "Viene la
sera" and it was just perfect. Oooh I love that song. And she
seemed very relaxed with him this time and more sure of herself
and her performing. This was about 14-15 mins and was well
received by the crowd.
You would have enjoyed music by the orchestra for La Forza
del destino next came next. It is long and pretty. Then
Borsi sang solo....."Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et
Juliette. This went over very big too and she was excited
and pleased by that. The first half of the evening finished with
a long and exciting trio from Act one of Il Trovatore.
For this there was AB, Borsi and Gazale the baritone. I just
love these lengthy, meaty opera numbers where they are singing
an entire scene. Makes you wish AB could have his Il Trov
come out sooner. So hard to wait for these items when you know
full well they are complete.
The last half of the program opened with "E lucevan le stelle"
by Bocelli. That was a surprise since he ususally has the
orchestra play first. He did this so expressively. Makes one
wish for release of that opera. I had tears when he sang this.
Now came the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by the
orchestra. Then Gazale sang an aria from Rigoletto and an
orchestral number from Nabucco by the orchestra. I
thoroughly liked watching the violinists. Very dramatic. Very
Now there was a new piece.....from Otello....a duet from
Act One, "Gia nella notte densa." I am totally unfamiliar with
this operaand was so surprised he chose this because he has said
in the past this was one character he probably would not care to
portray. However, we all know he doth change his mind from time
to time. Bocelli and Borsi sang this and it was dramatic and
beautiful. Now of course I must bone up a bit on Otello so I
get the full picture. Andrea truly is in top form now, you
might say.....at the top of the game and in peak health and
fitness. Whatever was eluding him before seems to have vanished
and he may simply feel more self assured these days. Life is
good. He smiles easily again. The final number on the program
was the greater part of Act 3 of La Bohème.
For this you need both Mimi and Musetta, so even though
Musetta's part is smaller in this act, it adds a lot to the mood
when she finally joins the singing by the group. This continues
something like 20-25 or more minutes. A big treat!. It may be
that Andrea, who is always doing things a bit differently than
we expect, is branching out now and will incorporate more
lengthy operatic combinations. Maybe he thinks his audience is
ready for ever more opera....and is seeing how these longer bits
are accepted by the public?
For encores he did the "Brindisi" from Traviata and at
the end of that, finally, amid much clapping, yelling and foot
stopping galore, AB and Borsi gave us the waltz from Merry
Widow. The format for this was the first time Andrea has
chosen to include so many other personalities in his concert.
Will do this format again? I find I really enjoy having him do a
larger chunk of various operas by incorporating these elements.
Duets are so mesmerizing and here my heart runneth over because
there was the trio, and later still another quartet. I just love
They were brought back again and again for bows and Andrea
smiled broadly. Near the end of the second half of the concert,
foot stomping was added to the clapping and cheering. Sounded
like a thundering herd descending. Shouts of 'Bis, Bis' were
heard amid numerous 'Bravo',' Brava' 'Bravi'.
At the end as we rose to leave it was with reluctance; why
couldn't it happen all over again? We still had one surprise
though because there was a small press conference in a side room
of the theater. Andrea was elegant as he floated in to take a
seat and waited for a few questions from local reporters. Anyone
who wished to could take photos at this time; and I am big on
enjoying photos others take! Too soon this was over and he was
striding down a sweeping stairwell. He smiled a lot as he
descended too, and that is always his best 'side.'
Even after it was over we continued to enjoy a nice balmy
evening. We strolled over to the main street for cappucino and
gelati......that, and liquor were what was available at that
hour. Joy and smiles on the faces of all. Three hundred persons
shared a unique experience here in this tiny place. Such a few.
I dream of another such opportunity, but realize it will be a
long time coming.
Carolyn Parsons of Colorado