Gig Review - Andrea Bocelli

Gig Review - Andrea Bocelli

We all know that the music industry makes most of its profits in the run-up to Christmas, but even so, November 12 seems a bit early to be wearing paper hats and breaking out the mince pies. But in Andrea Bocelli’s mind, at least, the festive season is already raging. The second half of the show was peppered with elderly Yuletide chestnuts roasting on the open fire of Bocelli’s lush orchestral and choral accompaniment, with videos of snowy Alpine scenes for good measure. Coming back onstage to sing Silent Night, Bocelli had changed from a black jacket into a white one. “This is my way to wish everybody merry Christmas,” he explained.

Otherwise, the programming of the concert reflected the somewhat split nature of Bocelli’s career. He’s a mad opera enthusiast who yearned to be an operatic tenor – and in fairness, he has sung tenor roles in full-scale opera productions, unlike other crossover acts witlessly hailed as “opera stars” – but has found his true métier with weepy middle-of-the-road balladeering, which sends his followers into raptures. Otherwise sane adults are reduced to blathering on about Bocelli’s tonsils being “touched by God”.

None the less, Bocelli had boldly packed part one with operatic arias, and not always the most obvious ones, either. Ah, La Paterna Mano from Verdi’s Macbeth and Meco All’Altar di Venere from Bellini’s Norma are splendid pieces and Bocelli found his way around them capably enough, and without the schmaltzy quavering he affects elsewhere, but his voice will never possess the vibrancy and “ping” of a Pavarotti or a Franco Corelli. Besides, the whole point of singing pieces like this is undermined by performing them in a 20,000-seater arena through a sound system that made parts of the orchestra sound as if they were using hacksaws instead of violin bows, and sent a persistent echo bouncing off the back walls. A tip of the hat, none the less, to soprano Sabina Cvilak, who tackled Puccini’s Un Bel Di Vedremo confidently enough to make you want to hear her do it in an opera house, and joined Bocelli for an ambitious attempt on the Mario, Mario duet from Tosca.