BWW Review: ANDREA BOCELLI at Capital One Arena
As a reviewer you hear lots of advance hype about a particular show or performer before having your own experience. Much of the time the hype doesn't live up to the end product.
Selling over 90 million recordings opera singer Andrea Bocelli was definitely one of those performers who I had heard a lot about before seeing him perform live at Capital One Arena. I of course was familiar with some of his recordings but nothing prepared me for what I was about to witness. Here is a case where the hype not only lived up to the end product it exceeded it at least twenty fold. Bocelli stepped out onstage and flat out held around 20,000 concertgoers spellbound with his ringing tenor in a concert that included some of the most beautiful arias ever written.
The program started off with Maestro Eugene Kohn conducting a full orchestra and choir in a rousing rendition of "March of the Toreadors" from Bizet's Carmen.
Immediately following this, Andrea Bocelli took to the stage and started us off with "O, Souverain" from Massenet's Le Cid. His totally pure sound made me understand why millions flock to see him perform all over the world.
A few other highlights from Bocelli's solo turns included "La donna è mobile" from Verdi's Rigoletto, and "Mamma,Quel vino è generoso" from Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana. His "Nessun Dorma" by Puccini is bar none the best interpretation of the Turandot aria I've ever heard.
Bocelli's concert was a class act from beginning to end but this proclamation was not just limited to Bocelli himself. We were fortunate enough to have some extremely talented guest artists along for the ride as well.
Soprano Nadine Sierra is a recipient of both the prestigious Richard Tucker Music Foundation and Beverly Sills Artist Awards. Sierra graced the stage with her gorgeous rendition of "Je veux vivre" from Gounod's Romeo et Juliette. She then performed with Bocelli on the "Balcony Scene Love Duet" from the same opera. Nadine Sierra could very well be the next generation of soprano that will follow the likes of Renee Fleming and Kiri Te Kanawa to become one of the world's finest opera singers. Her voice quality and stage presence was that good.
Former American Idol contestant Pia Toscano might have seemed like an odd choice for a guest artist in what is basically a classical concert. Here you have a singer that is a cross between Idina Menzel and Celine Dion. In other words her sound is big and belty. Toscano started off with a song that is considered by many (myself included) to be a big joke of a song from the 70's. I am speaking of course of Eric Carmen's overwrought and full of angst little ditty called "All By Myself". As good as Toscano sounded singing it I found it very jarring to hear it in a concert alongside Bizet, Verdi and other classical greats.
Toscano then redeemed herself as she paired with Bocelli on Axel and Vaccarino's "Return to Love" which can be heard on Bocelli's latest recording entitled Si Forever. The two also created audible bliss on Sartori's "If Only" and "Canto della Terra".
The number also featured ballet dancers Brittany O'Connor and Jordi Caballero who were also featured in Bocelli's stirring and moving rendition of Schubert's "Ave Maria". The fine solo violin work of Caroline Campbell added even more emotion to the aforementioned piece and can be heard on Bocelli's Sacred Arias recording. Ms Campbell's superb solo turn was "Gypsy Medley" from Ziegeunerweisen by Saraste.
The physical design of the concert enhanced rather than distracted. Photos of the landscapes of Italy and of Bocelli at various stages of his career were projected behind.
Let's face it, many people think that opera is a singer with very little expression parking and barking on a big stage. Bocelli and company tore down every myth there is about opera and gave the audience an unforgettable evening. They are doing the impossible in that they are taking the opera form and making it accessible to many people that think the genre is only for the hoity toity.
I urge you to try and see Andrea Bocelli in concert nest time he comes to DC. The closest spot to here is Madison Square Garden in NY on December 18 and 19 if you can get there. Everything you've heard is unequivocally true about "The World's Most Beloved Tenor".
Bravo Mr. Bocelli! I believe!!!
Running Time: Two hours and twenty minutes with one intermission.