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2001
Las Vegas
March 24
Mandalay Bay Resort


by Janet in AZ

We knew it would be a special experience but not how special! Last night, we saw Andrea Bocelli and Cecilia Gasdia give a tremendous performance in concert at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada. They were accompanied by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marcello Rota.

This special event really began for us as soon as we arrived at the airport. The city was clearly ready for Andrea and very eager to show him off to all who were visiting or passing through. Everywhere we looked, there were "larger-than-life" images of the handsome tenor on giant posters or video billboards. He was at the airport, along the Strip, and at the Mandela Bay. The images were the of the cover photo from the Verdi CD and clips from prior performances.

The Mandalay Bay pulled out all the stops for this event. As we entered the hotel to check into our rooms, we were greeted by the biggest and most beautiful "welcome mat" I've ever seen! There, in the front of the lobby entrance, was a huge woven carpet which read "ANDREA BOCELLI." Inside, a sweet aroma filled the air. The lobby was decorated with thousands of deep red roses. Beautiful long-stem ones in large vases on grand tables and thick garlands of roses hanging down in spirals from the ceiling. We even received one long-stem red rose each from the registration clerk. There were also tasteful gold fabric banners which read, "One Night, One Voice." When I commented on all this to the clerk, he replied, "Yes, I think we have done more for Mr. Bocelli than we did for the Three Tenors." As well they should!

The Event Center was huge (we were told 12,000 seats) and filled to capacity. Even the seats behind the stage were sold out! There were numerous large video screens which projected images of the performers on stage and, during certain numbers, faded in and out with scenes from the Arias and NIT videos. (Including the clip of Andrea riding his horse in the surf.)

The concert began with the orchestra playing the overture to La Forza Del Destino. The audience applauded appreciatively but you could tell from the restlessness of the crowd that the anticipation was mounting to see Andrea. As he appeared and approached the microphone, the crowd gave him a rousing welcome and burst into loud and sustained applause. This he acknowledged with a smile so big and bright it outshone the lights of Las Vegas!

Andrea began with a powerful and convincing "Di quella pira." His voice was agile and strong and the high "C" at the end was brilliant. He sang with great confidence and energy. This would set the tone for the rest of the concert.

He sang several numbers that were new (to me, at least). Among them were "La mia letizia infondere," "Tra voi, belle." and later on, "Marechiare" and "O' surdato 'namurato." It was good to hear a different repertoire and they were beautifully done. The audience was clearly pleased but seemed to be a bit slow warming up with their response. It was not quite as enthusiastic as I expected. I wondered if it might be because of unfamiliarity with the selections or perhaps the fact that the first three sections seemed to be primarily reserved for high rollers and VIPs, many of whom might be hearing Andrea for the first time. In any event, it didn't take long and half way into the first hour of the performance the crowd became much more expressive.

Cecilia was lovely in a slim fitting, charcoal/silvery beaded dress. She sang "O mio babbino caro" and then "Vissi d'arte." The latter was especially beautiful. She sang with much drama and expression.

Andrea and Cecilia appear to be good friends and to enjoy performing together. In their first duet, from Tosca, they whispered to each other, smiled, and occasionally held hands. Their voices blended well and they were wonderful together.

Next, it was the orchestra's turn to shine and that they did! Maestro Rota's style was somewhat reserved and formal but he certainly was able to get a lively, brilliant performance from the orchestra with "Farandole" from L'Arlesienne. It was absolutely beautiful.

For their last selection before intermission, Andrea and Cecilia performed a duet. I had hoped for "O soave fanciulla" as the program indicated but was not at all disappointed with the substitution of "Brindisi."

After the intermission, Andrea raised his wonderful performance to an even higher level. His "Ave Maria" from Cavalleria Rusticana and "Domine Deus" were sung with great reverence, depth, and richness. His interpretations were more varied in emotion and the contrasts from forte to pianissimo were incredibly beautiful. His "Santa Lucia Lontano" was emotion packed. It was soulful and passionate -- contemplative then dramatic. The crowd went wild.

Cecilia joined Andrea to sing "Tace il labbro" from The Merry Widow, which the audience really enjoyed. It was followed by the orchestra which again distinguished itself, playing a bright, crisp rendition of "Slavonic Dance" by Dvorak that really made you want to dance!

Andrea followed with several Neapolitan songs. The first, "Marechiare," was mysterious and beautiful. He was in top form and his voice was smooth and rich. He also sang "I'te vurria vasa" and "O' surdato 'namurato." Both were very moving.

Cecilia performed two more solos. "Non ti scordar di me" and "Tu, 'ca nun chiagne." The latter was exquisite! Her years of experience performing on stage really showed here as she performed with great dramatic interpretation.

For the final selection, Andrea and Cecilia performed "O Sole Mio" and they received a standing ovation. After they waved and left the stage, the thunderous applause and shouts for more from the audience brought them back. First, Andrea appeared and sang"The Prayer." Then, "Con Te Partir," which became "Time to Say Goodbye" once Cecilia came to join him. There were bursts of applause and shouts of appreciation and affection throughout both songs and the crowd gave them two more standing ovations.

After the lights came up and the orchestra began to leave the stage, the crowd seemed to linger, not wanting the evening to end. At least not so soon.

          


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