- The Power of the Voice
Di quella pira set the tone—Andrea threw down the gauntlet and
answered his own challenge. It was solid, secure, ringing. The final
high C—right on the mark and held just long enough to make a
statement—did what every tenor intends it to do . . . it knocked
our collective socks off!! From that first moment on, Andrea never
lowered the bar.
He was in fine voice and he knew it. Again and again, there was a
generous share of high notes nailed and held—in Di quella pira, of
course, but also in Because, in the challenging and emotionally
intense duet Vicino a te, and the equally dramatic and romantic O
soave fanciulla. One after another, Andrea struck a chord with the
audience. Many around me seemed to be experiencing their first
Bocelli concert, and I heard awed comments: "incredible"
"unbelievable." One young woman a few rows below us was so
galvanized by the climax of Nessun Dorma that she launched herself
out of her seat, arms thrust skyward, and whooped as if her favorite
team had just scored the winning goal!
It seems to me that in every concert some aspect of Andrea’s voice
comes to the fore, one quality from among the many that stands out
from the rest—the burnished beauty, the soft-as-a-whisper high
notes delicately spun, the melancholy undertone, thrilling high
notes hit dead on. But in this concert, it all seemed to coalesce.
Andrea laid the whole magical spectrum out before us, perfect and
confident. And he seemed so at ease, often keeping finger-snapping
time, smiling a lot, and interacting comfortably with the soprano,
Patrizia Orciani. His ease was most apparent with the "pop"
encores (Dell’Amore Non Si Sa, Sempre O Mai, and My Way) that
seemed to flow so easily from him it made me want to laugh with
pleasure. The chorus was another welcome dimension throughout this
concert. They "accompanied" Andrea in the most literal
sense of the word—they kept him company up there, and he seemed to
like the interaction of their supportive presence, particularly in
the high-spirited In tanto amici qua and the light-hearted Funiculi,
It is impossible not to be captivated by Steven Mercurio, that
"crazy conductor" as Andrea has affectionately dubbed him.
Watching him conduct the William Tell Overture (the only
substitution in the program, by the way), it seemed for all the
world as if Steven was literally flinging notes from his fingers
into the orchestra . . . like the god Zeus launching lightning bolts
into the ether, one after the other in an electrifying pace. His
unflagging energy was contagious and served Andrea well, as always.
I think probably everyone has an aria or song that they could listen
to Andrea sing endlessly. One of these for me is Torna a Surriento.
He seems to include it in nearly every concert performance, and each
time I listen to hear the subtle shadings of difference, how he
might vary emphasis on a word here or there, sometimes lingering on
one or another (no one can caress the word "tesoro" with
his voice like Andrea). This time, his rendition was so beautifully
melodious and the yearning he infused so real that the great big guy
sitting in front of me was weeping openly and leaped to his feet in
appreciative applause as Andrea completed the final filigree of
notes, distinctly perfect, in rapid succession. Me, I melted
completely when he sang Tu che m’hai preso il cor. That much
concentrated beauty must be illegal. Yes, I know, we have heard
Panis Angelicus and the Schubert Ave Maria over and over. But Sunday
night they were dedicated to the memory of Giovanni Paolo II. These
are songs Andrea has sung for il Papa, and the soulful beauty that
our tenore poured into these two sacred arias this night wrapped us
in quiet benediction...
Recently, many have talked thoughtfully of the need for some change—for
Andrea to explore new material in these concerts. It is certainly a
valid and practical consideration, and it is always beneficial to
expand one’s horizons. But here is another thought. When songs are
repeated, they acquire a history. Each of us has a store of memories
we bring to these concerts, both those uniquely ours from personal
experience and those forged in our hearts by Andrea. Ave Maria for
example conjures for me the image of Andrea singing beneath the
astonishing, matchless blue of the ceiling in Santa Maria Sopra
Minerva in Rome—and also the heartache amidst the ruins of the
World Trade Center, an Andrea shaking with cold and emotion. For the
woman next to me at Continental Arena, who wept quietly throughout
this sacred aria, there were clearly intensely personal memories of
her own. Andrea’s voice has this power . . . .to touch us at our
deepest core, even if we have heard it all before.
Sunday night there was for me one poignantly perfect moment. Cinema
Paradiso. (If you haven’t seen this movie, rent it now.)
Accompanied by this achingly beautiful theme, the final moments of
the film played out on the huge screens in Continental Arena. The
old projectionist, who has died, had spliced together every scene
censored by the local priest from the movies shown in his small
Sicilian town. Every forbidden romantic embrace, every passionate
kiss, every tender moment cut from the films he has distilled into
one continuous stream of love…a final legacy from the old man to
the child grown to manhood who had befriended him and has returned
for the old man’s funeral. The full impact of the old man’s
labor of love is reflected in the rapt face of his friend as he
watches the images. It was, I thought, the perfect metaphor for this
tenor who touches our hearts so effortlessly. Image after image from
Andrea’s past performances—labors of love—play out on the
screen of our mind’s eye, and the whole is a gift from him that is
ongoing. Once again, for this latest offering, we say to him,
profoundly and simply, "Grazie."
- An unforgettable concert in East
This was by far, the best concert I have ever attended. Andrea's
voice was in such superb form, he even admitted that "finally
my voice was in good shape to sing!!!" This is such an unusual
statement coming from Andrea who demands so much of himself and is
almost never completely satisfied with the way he performs, even if
a crowd of 20,000 say he was incredible and swears to the contrary.
Friends, this time he simply outdid, outperformed himself! You
should have heard this roaring crowd. It was something simply
unforgettable. If before you thought a concert was near perfection,
this time you could say that this concert simply achieved perfection.
Not only was Andrea in superb form, but also the lighting was
perfect, the sound coming from the speakers at the right level, and
the soprano, the conductor and the orchestra were simply in unison.
In midstream, Steven felt compelled to change his program and
decided to go with the William Tell overture, which was also the
best he has ever conducted, receiving an incredibly long standing
ovation. He was in seventh heaven! Patricia Orciani's rendition of
the aria "Un bel di" from Butterfly was very moving and
sang with both tenderness and passion, receiving also extended
Honestly, I feel it is impossible to find any fault whatsoever with
anything that happened last night at the Continental Arena. Not to
mentioned my perfect 3rd row dead center seat! This concert will
stay in my memory till I die. No one can complain that the
repertoire hasn't changed. The 5 new additions were dynamite
performances and "Nessun dorma," especially, will go in
the annals of history as possibly the best come back aria of our
beloved Tenor. The crowd exploded, all standing on their feet. His
last note was given with such an unbelievable control and extension
that the audience could not stand it any longer and cut him off, to
my sadness, otherwise, I truly believe he would still be holding it!
The soprano's effort to match was evident. Their rapport was lovely,
but their interpretation of "Vicino a te" aroused the
public's feelings and received a heartfelt standing ovation. We had
4 encores, each one given to us as a real gift of how Andrea was
feeling at that moment, completely happy with himself and his public.
"My Way," by far the best he has performed, and even
"Con te partirò" sounded like a totally new song for many
of us because we felt it was given with heart in hand.