Bocelli in Royal Opera House Muscat
been four days since Maestro Andrea Bocelli's inaugural performance
in the Royal Opera House Muscat. His tender, heavenly voice is still
echoing everywhere I go--the impression
he left is felt ubiquitously here. Oman is still beaming because of
Mo. Bocelli's music.
Bocelli's visit was magical from the start. The moment his plane
landed in the jewel of Arabia, Muscat, heaven widely opened its
doors, resulting in clouds forming and later blessing us with light
rain. This could have been perceived as a bad omen somewhere else
but here in the Arabian desert, rain is a sign of hope, joy and
immediately we knew we were in for a treat!
was joyous, my students, my friends, my family. I knew it was
because we were in the presence of a very special legend. Who would
have thought ten years prior that Muscat, Oman would host Mo.
Bocelli singing for Omanis in Italian style (this was the title of
his performance). I, for one, did know. The moment I was introduced
to the magic of classical music through the Maestro I knew in my
heart that I would one day be welcoming him to Oman. This became
especially true after I repeatedly missed his performances in
Washington, DC and New York; even though I was close by, I was doing
research and unable to attend.
a true Arabian fashionista, I wanted to mark this joyous occasion
with pampering myself with the most gorgeous Arabian red gala gown,
killer golden pumps, and brand-name bag wherein I kept my camera,
notebook, interview questions, and digital taper-recorder handy, in
case I were to be called to meet Mo. Bocelli as I have requested.
somebody else got the exclusive interview. My heart broke a little
upon hearing such devastating news, because who would have been
better to welcome the Maestro to Oman than an avid Omani fan whose
life has been changed because of his music and voice? Missing that
interview hurt but having been in touch with the kind people of Mo.
Bocelli, I had hopes that somehow this would work out. Mo.
Bocelli’s team was so nice to me, from the promoters to the
webmaster of his fans’ website, that I believed my dream would
come true of not just being in his presence close-up as he was
performing but also of shaking his hand and telling him how much I
love his music and voice. So I gave the list of questions I had from
Omani fans, along with my phone number, to his people in case his
time permitted him to speak with me.
said they would see what they could do and I waited in anticipation.
alas the phone didn't ring. And as the hours kept slipping away
until his performance, people kept telling me "well perhaps it
was not meant to be." But I refused to lose hope. So I bought a
cup of Italian coffee and took out my prayer book and just like that,
one hour before I was due at the RPH Muscat, I kept praying silently
as I drank my Italian coffee. "Please God show me that dreams
do indeed come true."
the seat I was given by the promoters was a very good one, I had the
chance to get an even better seat. I sat only a couple of feet away
from where the Maestro and his orchestra were going to perform. Then
the magic began.
one had expected, not even Mo. Bocelli I am sure, judging by his
beautiful smile throughout the performance and afterwards, that
Omanis and expats would give Mo. Bocelli so much love, so much
applause, so much gratitude, so much joy, and so many standing
ovations--it even went beyond what I had expected. Later, word back
stage was that Mo. Bocelli's performance even outshone Placido
Domingo's earlier performance. I know Mo. Bocelli is loved
everywhere but Oman was different. I have never seen so many sore
hands from applauding so much, or so much joy in Oman.
was indeed a magical night.
just like that, after the performance was over, the very kind Omani
Opera Board director, H.E. Dr Rawya Al Busaidi, took me backstage to
thank the Maestro in person for such a treat. When I was in his
presence and as he shook my hands, I thought of nothing but that
dreams indeed do come true and that prayers do indeed get answered,
if they come from the heart.
have no photograph to mark the event, but those few personal seconds
with the Maestro and the whole performance during which I was close
enough to see each and every line on his face and each and every
expression of joy as he sang for us, will forever be cherished in my
it was a blessing that I didn't take a picture (I did not want to
bother the Maestro after he generously sang for us for two hours):
Now I have no choice but to remember – truly remember -- the
experience. The way the Maestro kept mouthing Shukran (Thank you in
Arabic) over and over. The way he whispered encouraging words to the
soprano singing next to him. And once, when our applause continued
for over two minutes, the way he shyly pointed to us to stop, while
smiling a joyous smile as the very talented and kind conductor
looked at him and us in joy too.
was then I turned to one of the board members and said: Aren’t you
glad Mo. Bocelli was able to come?
there was this magical moment: As Mo. Bocelli was at last leaving
the stage, he stopped and decided to give us one last bow. This bow
happened to happen right in front of me, so with joy I bowed back to
him and said in my heart: "Thank you and God bless you for
making me believe."
I arrived home, I found an email waiting for me from his good people
saying that the Maestro has answered a few of my questions but since
we were running out of time, some were given only in Italian. Here
are three answers from the Maestro himself:
your music/voice makes me
fall in love each and every time I listen to you. Now I realize at
this stage in my life that love is the most important emotion one
could have. This whole experience of not being able to get tickets
to your inaugural performance in Oman and then being met with so
much kindness from your fans in Oman and outside and from the people
that work for you, I wonder: What does love represent to you and how
would you define it?
is the driving force of the world: without love there is no life
and, I would hazard to say, there is no music either, because also
music is love; whether one gives it or whether one receives it as
a gift, it is always and only an act of love.
Carmen is my favorite Opera so I have to ask: why did you choose to
do a recording of Carmen? And it is such a beautiful recording that
my five year Omani niece, Noor, loves it as much as I do.
fell in love with Carmen when I used to listen to the great
performances, in particular by Corelli, and by seeking out all the
various different recordings available I became something of an
expert and so I tried to sum up this experience and to bring
something personal to my interpretation of the role but without
distancing myself too much from tradition because in my view it is
always important to follow tradition, especially when it comes to
After conquering the world with your voice and music and bringing
East and West together, what is your dream for the next ten years of
years ago I learned from my mentor that one cannot make serious
plans more than twenty-four hours in advance and I have always
followed this precious advice which is also matched by the words of
a famous Italian film director who once said: “We have many plans
for the future; it’s a pity that very often our future has such
different plans for us.”
tells me that despite some people telling me that I wasted a rare
opportunity by not taking a photograph with Mo. Bocelli, I do know
that I will get a second chance: because of my love, my passion and
my belief that prayers do get answered, I know I will meet the
Maestro again and next time, I will just grab my camera and say
you Mo. Bocelli for the joy you brought to us in Oman and the joy
you keep bringing people all over the world. Thank you too to each
and every person who was kind and supportive of me in securing Mo.
Bocelli’s invitation. Thank you for the fans who showed me much
love. Because of this out-of-this-world experience, I am a better
and more joyous person. Most importantly, I finally believe.
Najma Al Zidjaly, Muscat, Oman