- November 7, 1999
- Now we've heard them all, the opinions of the experts
about Andrea's operatic debut in the United States in
Werther at the Detroit Michigan Opera Theater last
week. Mr. Berberger (Financial Times), Mr. Johnson
(Detroit News), Mr. Stearns (USA Today), Mr.
Tommasini (New York Times), and other colleagues not
mentioned, managed to make me feel criticized as part
of the audience. So I part, for the first time, from
our principle of not using our site for personal
opinion. You can also look at this as a criticism of
the critics. Maybe you will be interested to hear the
voice of the public for once.
- Here we stand now, all we ignorant people, with our
enthusiasm, we so-called fans of a singer who should
not be allowed, in your eyes, to step on an opera
stage because for purely technical reasons he has not
(yet) fully developed to meet the demands of a tenor.
We, who give standing ovations, get dismissed like a
bunch of dumb chickens who don't know anything about
these matters, and therefore have no business in an
upper crust opera house. It was always the privilege
of the "upper class" to meet there. Whether they
always entirely understood what was presented to them
is doubtful, but at least they gained some knowledge
over time, which perhaps the opera novice doesn't
possess yet. What they would never do is to start to
applaud, full of admiration, in the middle of an aria
- which is what happened on Sunday in Detroit. Oh
well...in this case criticism is appropriate. Point
well taken. Next time we'll know better.
- However, all these people are here at the opera now, a
place at which many never even dreamt to find
- Why are they here? Not to hear a tenor with 25 years
of experience who routinely sings Werther, about whom
here will never be any doubt that he will interpret it
exactly as Massenet (or perhaps even Goethe) had
- No. The ones, and I belong to them, are here to let a
man open the portals of an until now closed world of
opera music, an ambitious artist who, with his own
enthusiasm, succeeds where no one else could. He
transmits with his voice - trained, strong,
technically mature enough or not - exactly the
feelings, when listening to this "old-fashioned"
music, what many other tenors before him could not.
There are people present who have listened their
entire life to pop and rock, and now suffer along with
a Werther from a previous century, and who, instead of
laughing about the old-fashioned story of the suicide
of this unstable young man, feel for and with him.
- And the other ones, one of which is our friend Astrid
Eywo from Vienna, a passionate opera fan for decades,
who did hear the opera many times in other opera
houses like the Vienna Staatsoper or London Covent
Garden, sung by so-called celebrities, who landed in
Detroit to hear Werther finally sung by this voice
that the critics would love to dismiss. Andrea
Bocelli's voice gives them the feeling that a dozen
other tenor voices, even oh-so-beautifully skilled,
- That's why they were all here - for the feeling, not
for the technique, and not for sensationalism or
voyeurism. Nobody stood around concerned during the
first intermission, as one of the above-mentioned
believed he saw. We were touched, not shocked...you
can be silent, even as a fan. We were overwhelmed by
the wonderful achievement of a man who would not, thank
God, let any boulders who were thrown in his way
during his lifetime stop him from doing this.
- We should also mention those who just went to the MOT
to see an opera as they usually do, those who never
heard of someone named Bocelli, and were simply
astonished that the house was packed that day. I asked
some of them, "What do you think of the tenor?" And
they thought he was just fine.
- So what makes you criticize him so harshly?
- Does he
earn too much for you, who earn good money for your
criticism? Can you, in a land where basketball players
earn millions, and other singers get 13 million
dollars just to appear for one evening, say a word?
They earn good money...so what? Not to mention that
Andrea Bocelli gave his fee to charity.
- Does it bother you, experts of the high "C" and the
breathing technique, that it's a latebloomer from
Italy who doesn't do it so perfectly in your eyes, who
brings new people to the stale world of opera, and
that these new people are not always people who belong
to the elite and intellectual circles who frequent the
opera houses until now? Why can't you be happy with
that? The world changes, and we with it.
- Is it eerie to you, Mr. Critic, this person with all
his enormous inner strength, which is expressed by his
incomparable voice? For us he widens the horizon,
gives us indefinable happiness, true pleasure, and new
friends. Jump over your own shadow and see with your
heart; because as we know, one only sees well with the
heart, and maybe you'll understand a little of what
Andrea Bocelli gives us, and why we fly thousands of
miles to experience his Werther. I don't regret any of
these miles from Cologne to Detroit, nor one dollar
that this craziness cost me, because what I received
in return cannot be weighed in money - two wonderful,
unforgettable performances of Werther with an
incomparable Andrea Bocelli and the realization that
still, in this day and age, one can follow his dream
if he doesn't become discouraged.
help: Margret Valladares, Michelle Morgan, Astrid Eywo)
- clic here to read a letter to the editor of the USA Today
(in Nov 1999)