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ANDREA BOCELLI U.S. TOUR
By Iride Aparicio

Photos by Ron Koch
      ANDREA BOCELLI
     Tenor ANDREA BOCELLI and Conductor EUGENE KOHN

SAN JOSÉ, CA— The United States Tour of Italian Tenor ANDREA BOCELLI started majestically at the HP Pavilion in San José, California, on November  23rd  with a one-night concerto featuring Cuban soprano MARIA  ALEIDA and guest artist Welch Mezzo-Soprano KATHERINE JENKINS, the most prolific classical cross-over artist. The music was played by  The LOS ANGELES FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA, which is composed of the finest studio recording musicians in the United states, and was conducted by EUGENE KOHN. Included in the program were  the members of SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY CONCERT CHOIR,  Directed by  DR. JEFFREY BENSON.

Inside the  Pavilion, a large screen over the stage showed  a projection of the golden-bathed skyscrapers of downtown San José at night, with their lights on. Standing to their left of the buildings, towering over them, was a large picture of the tenor, dressed in a white shirt, jacket and tie, smiling, holding a microphone in one hand. Written  in big letters over the blue sky were the wordsANDREA BOCELLI CONCERTO, ONE NIGHT IN SAN JOSE".

Written on the program were BOCELLI's words explaining "The Responsibility of Talent": “I don’t think one decides to become a singer, It is decided for you by the reactions of the people around you.” The reaction of the people around him on that night, was love and admiration. Every seat in the Pavilion was filled.

The two-part concert felt short. It left those hundredths of  fans who wanted to see him and  hear him sing, in person, wanting for more.  A reason was that BOCELLI was “in voice” that night. When he sang, he let the audience hear his operatic arias in a deeper-sounding timbre of voice, a more fluid tone, and a new vocal technique which permitted the singer to expose the richness of his lower tones and slide up his scales smoothly reaching his higher notes with masterly, with ease without forcing their sounds in his throat.  On that night, BOCELLI’s voice sounded lovely.

The first number in the program was  Herold’s ( 1791-1833)  ZAMPA OVERTURE from the ópera of the same name, a multi-rhythmic, multi-tambre orchestral piece which displays the sounds of the different  instruments. In parts, one hears each instrument clearly in slow tempo, while in others all the instruments seem to run from Lento  to Prestissimo until  all seem to burst into a explosion of sounds. The piece ended in a fugue, with the  theme jumping from one group of  instruments to another. At the bang of the drum, the rhythm became faster and faster simulating a group of horses in  gallop. It was a good opening number, well directed and played masterfully by the orchestra.

Dressed in a black tuxedo, tenor BOCELLI entered the stage and was received with applause.  Silently, he walked to the center and began singing Donna Non Vidi Mai (I had never seen a woman like this) from the Opera Manon Lescaut de Puccini.  His tone was full, powerful, yet mellow in sound. It was a good interpretation. The aria  was followed by  the aria Di Quella Pira from Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

In her Ah Je veux vivre from  Roméo et Juliette Cuban Soprano MARIA ALEIDA,  a resident artist at The Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia,  gave the audience a thrill when she sang masterfully an aria from Gounod's opera, as scenes from the opera were projected on the screen. For a concert,  it was  a very expressive rendition of the aria, using the correct pauses. The high tones of the soprano had the sound of a flute, specially singing her melismatic  (groups of notes moving up and down the staff at great speed) passages. She hit her highest notes with the softness of a flying bird taking off.  Beautiful to listen to, also and from the same ópera, was Ange Adorable, her duet with BOCELLI.

On his part, the tenor gave us an excellent rendition of  Ah Leve-toi Soleil (I leave you alone) from the same Opera, made more dramatic by the projection on the screen of the tenor, dressed as Romeo, and ALEIDA, dressed as Juliet, in her tomb, at the moment she awakens from her sleep and discovers that Romeo, thinking that she was dead, had drank poison.

The  best aria  the soprano sang on that night was O Luce di quest’anima from Donizetti’s Linda di Chamounix. The aria allowed ALEIDA to display the beauty of the tones of her lyric timbre and demonstrate her mastery in vocal technique as her voice slided up  and down the scales hitting the high notes with ease, delighting the audience.

MARIA ALEIDA
Cuban soprano MARIA ALEIDA in BOCELLI’s U.S. TOUR IN S.J.

Tenor BOCELLI ended the act with lively dynamic rendition of Brindis from Verdi’s La Traviata enhanced by the voices of the  SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY CONCERT CHOIR.   

By the lenght of the applause, we could tell that the audience loved the second act which began with another magnificent orchestral ouverture and included several of BOCELLI’s Italian songs:  Mama from “Incanto” written by C.A. Bixio and B Cherubini, which he sang with projections of  photos of famous mothers (Sophia Loren among them) holding their babies in their arms. O surdato ‘nnamurato (Oh soldier in love) also from “Incanto” this time sang with projections of soldiers in uniform marching, kissing and embracing girls and Funiculi Funiculà also from “Incanto” but written by Turco and L. Denza, with projections of Italians walking through Italy’s streets,  eating Italian food and dancing a tarantella,

Special guest, Welch Mezzo Soprano KATHERINE JENKINS, the world’s most prolific crossover artist, interpreted a good solo that night in a warm-tone and sang a beautiful duet with the tenor as the English words were projected on the monitor behind the stage.

After the duet of the Merry Widow Waltz de F. Lehar, with projections of the Opera in the screen, showing a party where the guests aredrinking champagne and dancing, the concert turned religious.

During this part BOCELLI, considered one of the most loved recording artist in the world, sang Ave Maria from Schubert, with projections of a large statue of the Virgin Mary inside a church. The song could have felt more reverent if the tempo of the music had been slowed down a little to give it more feeling. With a projection representing the inside of a gothic cathedral, BOCELLI sang a powerful “Adeste Fideles,” a traditional Christmas song, accompanied by the choir and ended the concert.

The applause was so long, that the tenor was encouraged to sing three encores:New York, New York” which he sang in perfect English, with projections of  New York City  and himself in different N.Y. places,  projected in the screen, his theme song Con te Partiro”  and  “Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot which sounded marvelous. 

We need to add that the applause, which continued for a few more minutes, and the bravos at the end of the concert were our way to say: “Thank you, tenor BOCELLI, for opening your U.S. tour in SAN JOSÉ.”

Announced on the big screen that night was also the founding of ANDREA BOCELLI FOUNDATION (ABF) which intends to work so that each individual and community can express itself to the utmost of its possibilities, exceeding it own limits. For more information about the foundation go to: www.andreabocellifoundation.org