Another Bocelli concert seemed a bit extravagant. After all, Jack and I had already made plans to travel to Bologna in January to see Andrea in Werther. But the lure of the voice is hard to resist. And with our daughter a new resident of NYC, we had another strong incentive to make the trip.
Heavy rain had been predicted for the day that began for us in Leesburg, Virginia, at 5:30 AM. But high winds had swept the clouds away, and the sun was shining by the time we approached the Holland Tunnel and caught that first glimpse of Lady Liberty in the New York harbor. A late lunch . . .well prepared, shared in elegant surroundings, and astonishingly reasonable . . .put us all in a receptive mood. A twilight walk down 5th Avenue turned out in extravagantly festive Christmas glitter further set the stage for a glowing night with our tenor. We were decidedly in a "New York state of mind"
by the time the taxi left us at Madison Square Garden.
We took our seats early and watched as "The Garden" filled. Because this was New York, there were celebrities . . .Gina Lollobrigida walked by, clad head to toe in a white fur coat and glitzy fitted dress. Robert DeNiro was in the front row. Rumor had it that David Schwimmer was in the audience. I guess also because this was New York many concert goers were arriving well after the scheduled 8:00 starting time, and Regis Philbin, who said he had just been backstage with Andrea, was sent out as a surprise guest to stall for time with a little pep talk. As if we needed him to tell us that "Andrea would raise the roof with his voice tonight!"
Although we have been to many concerts, that first moment Andrea takes the stage is still electrifying. He opened with a strong and impressive interpretation of a Verdi aria that is new to his repertoire, "Ora e per sempre." Immediately, it reaffirmed what we saw and heard a year ago . . . Andrea seems more confident, more secure, the voice full and controlled across the range. Many songs in the program were familiar: "Panis Angelicus" "Torna a Surriento"—each time as he began, the audience seemed to welcome them as old friends with applause of recognition and approval. But despite the familiarity, now and then a new detail would make us sit up and take notice . . .the trills in the "Brindisi" seemed far less tentative, "Occhi di Fata" was more than usually warm and emotionally urgent than I ever remembered it . . . "E lucevan le stelle" more heartfelt….the poignant high, soft, sweet note near the beginning held just a little longer this time, the quiet gasp of sadness and regret at the end more pronounced and anguished. In English, Andrea stated that he was dedicating "Because" to his recently departed maestro, Franco Corelli. At the song’s climax, he reached inside himself and smoothly but powerfully unleashed that impossible final note dead on! Perfect. There was only one program change: he sang "Aranjuez" rather than "Vaghissima Sembianza." But we were the winners either way!
Steven was, as always, relentlessly supportive and wildly energetic. That William Tell "Overture" is such a guy thing! The synergy between Andrea and Steven is delightful to witness. Faithful friends.
The encores for this concert were the ones we have come to expect and hope for by now. There are some things I think we never tire of hearing—I’m sure for each of us these may be different. For me, "The Prayer" always melts my heart (oh, fine, it downright makes me cry), and Andrea’s rendition this night did not disappoint. But I’m willing to bet that "My Way" is, universally, the song we all wait to hear. Of course it came, after a crescendo of appreciative and pleading applause. And of course, when it was finished, the applause reached another crescendo more deafening than the first. But this time I realized something was different. Andrea remained at the keyboard. He and Steven exchanged a quick collaborative glance, and THEN it began….the unmistakable vamp….then those familiar words—"Start spreadin’ the news…" in his best American Sinatra accent!!
The crowd erupted in an even wilder
response than before. Eileen, Gloria, and I instantaneously exchanged
glances of gleeful disbelief…"NEW YORK, NEW YORK"!!!! A Bocelli world
premier for us! It was glorious! We listened in a collective BEEEEG GRIN
stupor as Andrea worked his way to the finish—"King of the hill…Top of the
heap" ATTA BOY ANDREA!!! We reacted beyond all reason. THE Garden, THE
tenor, THE city….it all came together—and it was magic!!!
We left the venue rather late and kibitzed through the nearly empty echoing lobby with our own version of "New York, New York" It’s hard to get that song out of your head under normal circumstances, but tonight…. Out on the big portico was a street musician with a small plastic flute. He was quietly playing the theme from "The Godfather." Still wrapped in the aura of the concert and in a benevolent mood, Jack tossed a donation in the hat and asked the guy if he could play "New York, New York." The familiar lively notes were his immediate response, and when we boisterously joined in with voices hoarse by now from the night’s unrestrained vocal support of our tenore, the flute player enthused "All right!" and continued his accompaniment. It was a moment.
As we walked on to the parking garage, the
flute’s simple notes trailed behind us—"New York, New York." But all I was
thinking of was that pied piper of Tuscany . . ..
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