York City, Tuesday, June 11th. Andrea appeared at noon today at
Trump Plaza, a very small plaza in front of the Trump skyscraper
that houses CBS on Fifth Avenue, for CBS's Early Show Summer
Concert series. The open-air concert on the plaza was taped and
should be shown next week. Although it is an outdoor public
space, only holders of CBS tickets could be close to the stage.
As luck would have it, one of Sue's co-workers at school also
works for CBS and is familiar with Sue's admiration for Andrea
(he eats lunch with Sue and he has the normal number of ears).
He generously provided tickets for Sue, Iris, and Nellie, so
that the three of us were able to stand in the front and second
rows center--right up against the stage, only a few feet away
from Andrea. This was Sue's and Iris' first time ever to see
Andrea live and certainly we never dreamed we would see him so
close to us. So we are sorry if you expected an intellectual
appraisal or a cool and dispassionate journalistic or critical
analysis--you are not going to get that from this concert
How can we put such an experience into words? Seeing right in
front of us that dear face, a face at first shy and nervous,
then that sweet smile, or lighting up when he laughs, his eyes
laughing too, while we gazed up at this tall, towering teddy
bear of a man and listened to his beloved voice live!
We will try to recall as many details as possible. This was a NY
summer day at its notorious worst: high heat, heavy humidity,
and an ozone alert in the morning that warned all people with
respiratory problems and/or allergies to stay indoors. Andrea
appeared at the plaza accompanied by Carlo Bernini, who
conducted the small orchestra, and by his assistant manager,
Cristina Gelsi. Andrea was wearing a thick white scarf,
indicating he still has bronchitis, as he did a few days ago at
the Chicago concert. He wore a long white shirt over black pants
and--in some strange error of judgment--a leather jacket. By
mid-concert, the stage area was in the full sun and 90 degree
heat and Andrea began to sweat a lot in his leather jacket. They
stopped the concert and the make-up woman wiped his face with a
little towel. It took them some time to locate her, while each
of us was ready to volunteer to run up there and do it!
There were problems with the sound system and Andrea, the
perfectionist as always, wanted them to be fixed. He sang 3
songs altogether, but he ran through a rehearsal of each one
softly first for a check of the sound system before singing it
completely at full volume. The songs, all from Cieli di
Toscana, were "Mille Lune, Mille Onde," "L'Incontro," and
"Il Mistero Dell'Amore."
There was also a brief interview with Andrea. We could only hear
parts of it. Our view was partially blocked by the cameraman at
this point and we concentrated on trying to see Andrea. The
interviewer asked him many of the same questions he has been
asked so many times before about opera and pop. However, at one
point, when Andrea said that he had many friends who did not
like opera, and therefore for them he sang pop, part of the
audience--including us--burst into yells of "No! Opera! Opera!"
At that point, Andrea paused, smiled broadly, and said, "But I
also have fans who like opera," and we all yelled again, "Yes!
Opera! Opera!" And he smiled again. We were watching the way his
eyes laugh sometimes when he really smiles.
Because he had not had any rehearsal on this stage and was first
setting foot on it, Andrea seemed nervous and uncomfortable at
the beginning. he gradually relaxed and smiled more and more.
The audience was very warm and enthusiastic, with much yelling
and applause, and he responded directly to it several times,
saying "thank you" softly in English.
We'd like to emphasize that he was not lip-synching at
any time. In fact, he changed one line of "L'Incontro," the
second repetition of "E restai davanti a lui per un po," and he
changed the way he sang some of the words/notes of "Il Mistero
Dell'Amore." In spite of his bronchitis, and the intense heat,
he sang with as much or more volume than ever, his voice as
strong or stronger than ever, and he held the last note of each
song longer--it seems to us--than we have ever heard him do
before (and the audience went wild each time). What is more, he
seemed to be playing with his voice on certain notes, even more
than you hear on the Cieli di Toscana disc, holding a
note and playing with it. So the songs sounded somewhat
different from the way they sound on Cieli di Toscana,
and better in some instances. Hopefully, all 3 songs will be
broadcast and we can all check out these things.
Before he recited his poem for the rehearsal of "L'Incontro,"
Andrea turned to the crowd and said endearingly, "Don't laugh"
(at him reciting). When he finished singing it complete for the
televised version, the audience applauded and yelled for so long
that he couldn't start the last song for a while. He looked a
litle embarassed, as he often does when people applaud him for a
long time, but he was also smiling, he obviously liked it. Carlo
"punched" Andrea encouragingly a few times during the concert.
The crowd was still yelling for an encore while Carlo thanked
the orchestra and took Andrea offstage. Andrea turned and smiled
one last smile at us all as he left.
We met fans from New Jersey and Atlanta, Georgia, and told them
about bo.de, BocelliOnLine and BocelliChats and about Andrea's
discs. None of them knew about Cieli di Toscana, although it's been out since
October. Due to lack of publicity, we are still meeting fans who
do not know about the Cieli di Toscana disc, DVD, or
video. They were all thrilled to hear about these and about
Andrea's other discs and were eager to get them. The concert
started late and the woman from Atlanta muttered that she would
miss her plane back home and she didn't care either.
As for us, a dream that we didn't even dare to dream just came
true. It was as if we had been gazing at an angel in a poster on
our wall and then seeing that angel appear as flesh and blood
right in front of us, and watched and heard him overcoming all
the hardships around this concert--just as he has overcome the
hardships of the past months--to create a wonderful experience
for everybody present.
Iris and Sue