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1997 German Tour
Leverkusen (Cologne)
July 13
Schloss Morsbroich

by Renate

In June, July and August 1997 A.B. toured over Germany. Except one concert they were all open air, mostly situated in a park of one of the many beautiful old castles you still find in Germany. They were supposed to be the marvelous scenery for some unforgettable concerts.Unfortunately the weather wasn't too good during all the time, and often the spectators instead of enjoying a warm summer night had to struggle with rain and cold, sitting there dressed up in wardrobes for a solemn event all wetfrom rain. That way it happened at least in Koblenz, Aachen, Baden-Baden and Dresden. But nevertheless people enjoyed themselves, warmed up by the incredible might of Andrea's voice.

I had the pleasure to visit four of his concerts.

The first concert I saw happened close to my home-town Cologne on July, 13 in Leverkusen. There is an old Castle called Schloss Morsbroich. They never had produced concerts in such a size up to then, only some small summer events with about 200 people in the castle yard. Now they had invited Andrea Bocelli, who was well-known in Germany after his farewell song for Henry Maske, the most beloved German boxer. As I went to buy my tickets there, the lady told me that they were going crazy, getting phone calls all day long from people, who wanted to buy tickets. She didn't know Andrea Bocelli yet and asked me, if he was something so special, and I said "O, yes, you will see..."

The day of the concert was hot and sunny first. They had cut the huge lawn behind the castle and provided about 10,000 folding chairs. I myself had bought one of the cheapest tickets. O what a mistake! Soon, I realized that I wouldn't see Andrea bigger than a fingernail, if I would see him at all. When there were bigger people sitting in front of me, I couldn't see the stage at all, because the lawn was all flat.

I forgot my annoyance when I heard Andrea sing the first notes. I looked up to heaven and felt like being there. As Andrea is a tall man, I could see his head at least, when I could have a glimpse between all the heads in front of me.

He sang almost the same repertoire as he does now in America and was accompanied by at least three sopranos during the whole tour. In Leverkusen there was the soprano Liliana Marzano and Marcello Rota as conductor.

After the intermission I refused to sit again at my bad seat in the backrow and stood at the side, from where I could see the entire stage finally.It was illuminated by changing colors, which changed from pink to violet and yellow and green. But that lightshow was nothing against what nature was performing during the last part of the second half. There were thunderstorms all around Cologne now, mighty and very light flashes lit up the heaven beyond the stage in very short intervals. No thunder to hear at all. I was fascinated! What spectacle would have better suited  Andrea's incomparable voice than the furious dance of silent flashes?

Unfortunately not all of the spectators were as fascinated as I was, but started to panic and leave the concert before it ended. As many people got up in the first rows once again it was impossible for me to see the stage. I still wonder if Andrea realized the early leaving of the people. He couldn't know that there were heavy thunderstorms rolling in, as they were all silent...I am sure they didn't want to disturb the beautiful singing...

I almost was the last one who left after "Time to say Goodbye," and had become obsessed.  I had to see him soon again...



July 18
 by Renate

...I had become obsessed, I had to see him soon again.

My chance to do it was already booked that time. Already in March, I had read in a magazine that there would be the only concert in 1997 in Germany in Baden-Baden on July18. I bought my tickets immediately and planned a little journey to this southern spa town, which is famous for its long tradition in helping ill people by its healing sources. Only about six weeks later they started to promote the rest of the tour in the mass media. A Baden-Badener newsmagazine explained the visit to their small town by Andrea this way: "On July 10th, 1996, there was a performance of a still unknown Italian singer at the Baden-Badener casino. This time we hardly sold the 1000 places, but people who saw the concert were enthusiastic. So the singer was booked for the following year again. This year no promotion was needed for the performance of the tenor. The news about the concert ran like a bush-fire. The name Bocelli was sufficient for the decision: There I have to go! What had happened ?...." We know very well what had happened. In the meantime, the unknown Italian tenor had become famous by "Time to Say Good-bye" in Germany.

Thus the small producer in Baden-Baden had the pleasure to have made a contract with a man who he would have hardly had the chance to get after the career explosion. So they decided to do the concert on a huge meadow outside the town, the "Klosterwiese," where they put 5000 comfortable chairs and the possibility to sit on the side lawn for 30 DM (about $16). If the weather had joined the game, it would have been an absolute highlight to sit there under the stars in a valley, surrounded by green hills all covered with trees. But the weather... after an all rainy day we decided to leave our dressy clothes in the suitcase and instead we unpacked jeans, sweaters, boots and rainwear. A good decision, although we appeared to be the only ones who went there dressed as it if were a rock-concert. At least we were among the few who didn't get wet down to their underwear. It didn't stop raining all the concert long and it was a rather new experience to hear the well-known songs mixed up with the permanent dripping on the hood. They didn't even make an intermission after the first part, because it would have been impossible to leave the seat without having it flooded immediately by rain.

But who cares for the rain, when he is lifted up to higher places beyond the thick clouds by Andrea's voice. His magic let me forget the water running down my nose and the mud that the chair gradually sank into. I was enchanted again by the "O soave funiciulla" he sang with Liliana Marzano again. This time Marcello Rota conducted the local Baden-Badener Philharmoniker and not the Belgian Nuovecento Orchestra as usual on the tour.

Here, as opposed to  Leverkusen, where he at least thanked the public, Andrea didn't speak a word. A female announcer introduced the several pieces, which were all the same as in the other concerts, except one: Andrea sang with a local baritone, who was by chance also the producer of the concert, a male duet from LaBoheme, "O Mimi, tu pi non torni." I didn't hear Andrea sing this before and after that again. He never sang with a male partner, as far as I know. But here he and Marc Marshall did, because of Andrea's special wish. The announcer said that the idea was born when they had met for supper the evening before the concert. The listeners were absolutely enthusiastic and didn't stop applauding in spite of the hindering plastic covers they had all bought to hide beneath.

The concert ended with "Time to Say Goodbye" and the last drops of rain. People were all wet, but happy and stayed a long time on the drying "Klosterwiese," talking about the concert, while having a good glass of Baden wine. So did I, and began to dream of "my" next concert.


August 16
Schloss Borbeck


by Renate

...So did I and began to dream of "my" new concert.

For this I had to wait almost a month until August 16th, when he returned to the so-called "Ruhrgebiet," an industrial zone of Germany, where you also can find some lovely little castles. This time finally the weather showed how nice summer also can be in Germany. About 11,000 people gathered on the meadow behind Schloss Borbeck in Essen, enjoying the evening sun and a glass of champagne. Unfortunately those on the folding chairs in the last rows had no chance to see the stage at all.

This time my husband and I refused right from the beginning to sit there and claimed a better place on the side. From here I could enjoy, not Andrea's face, his smile, his "eyebrow-dance"... to perceive this, I was to far away, even when using binoculars...but the unforgettable sight of the whole stage with the huge trees behind it. All was colored by the magic light of the changing spotlights: violet illuminated trees swinging in the mild summer breeze to Andrea's incomparable "Che gelida Manina". Tears of joy filled my eyes hearing that and looking up to the huge full moon, which seemed to stop and stay just right above the stage to listen. Andrea was at his best, the orchestra "Il Novecento" was conducted by Andrea's friend Carlo Bernini this time, and the soprano Stefania Donzelli gave a "Mi chiamano Mimi" I won't forget my lifetime.

All in all this concert's atmosphere was far beyond belief. People left silently after the usual "Time to Say Goodbye" encore, touched almost as if they were leaving a church, as if they were soaring two feet above the ground. Earth had lost its gravity.


August 31
Oberhausen Arena
by Renate

I had another highlight to look forward to. Fortunately, at the last minute Andrea had added one indoor concert to the German tour. At the very end there was an event scheduled Oberhausen's Arena on August 31. One more ultimate occasion to experience these overwhelming feelings again, which can't be oppressed, when you hear this unique voice on earth.

No need to struggle with the weather this time, but also no castle, no trees, no moon and no lightning, only the sober atmosphere of an ice-hockey sports arena. Don't ask me about the decoration, the people or the orchestra. My ears and eyes were all concentrated on this very tired looking man on the huge stage. No hello, no introduction again, he just began to sing. The sound was ten times better than at the three outdoor concerts I had visited before. The voice could enter the heart immediately, without being spread up into the air by the wind, without being vanquished by the dripping of the rain and without being disturbed by the moaning of the people in the backrows, who couldn't see the stage.

I was a bit distracted from listening though, by Andrea himself. This time was the first time he appeared on stage without a scarf. Oh, how he fiddled all the time at his pockets, at his sleeves, finally even at the collar of his tux. No Andrea, it doesn't help! There is no scarf this time! He surely must have suffered about that. When he returned on stage after the orchestral intermezzo of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut," there was the black and white checkered scarf around his neck again and his hands holding its ends. Finally. No more distraction from the voice.I enjoyed it, swallowed it up deep into my soul, well knowing that this was the last time for a while.

As it was the last concert, there was a surprise. Two conductors changed: Rota and Bernini. And for the first time, Andrea spoke to the audience at the end of the concert. In English he thanked the orchestra and all others who had been with him on this long tour, who had suffered "in the cold and in the rain, and he admitted that they were all very very tired now, longing to go back home.

That's how he is, this Andrea Bocelli: no pretenses, no keep-smilings, no false promises. He says it just the way he feels.

Maybe it is his honesty that raises his voice from the thousands other tenors' voices. Even when you're no specialist of music, if you don't know anything about high C's and strettas, you feel the honesty of that voice that comes right from the heart of a man, who never would sing well, what he didn't feel deep within.
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