Friday, 9 March 2012

Bocelli Brings Bahrain Back- Spring of Culture

"You are the Warmest Audience in the World"

Andrea Bocelli

He moved us from highs to lows and back again.  With an unbeatable grace and the most stunning of smiles, Andrea Bocelli made our hearts sing as his voice bellowed into the night sky.

Singing to a sold out crowd gathered at a custom-built ampitheater at the Bahrain National Museum, Bocelli left us humbled and entranced as he performed for almost 2 hours including four encore runs to an audience that was on its feet.

I hadn’t ever attended an opera although I listen to Bocelli’s music regularly, and when I heard he was performing in Bahrain, I knew that I couldn’t miss the show simply because of who he was.  I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it but wanted to be able to say that I have seen Bocelli live.

This review is written impromptu; he went so beyond any expectations I could have ever had of him that I have been moved to write. I cannot do justice to the performance in words, but will share what I can.

Set against triumphant music by the State Hermitage Orchestra, and the liveliest and most jovial conductor I have ever seen, Eugene Kohn, Bocelli’s voice has a way of entering your soul and moving your very core. He sang a number of classics, including Ave Maria, La Boheme, La Traviata and Romeo and Juliet, and then towards the end, his signature Con Te Partiro, Vivo Per Lei, Mamma.  

A performance of "Mamma" - Image courtesy of @RshRsho

Image courtesy of @RshRsho

He sang a duet of Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling in Love, and during an encore performance, Frank Sinatra’s New York New York.

The audience was so enraptured in his voice that even those songs that people knew the words to, they didn’t dare sing along of fear that they would miss hearing that over-powering Voice.

The concert included Soprano singer Paola Sanguinetti and Guest Artist Ilaria Della Bidia, whose voices perfectly complemented his songs and his mood.  But even they seemed to be constantly aware that their job was to complement, and not for a second did the attention divert away from that Voice.

Image courtesy of @AdelMaymoon

The performance was indescribable, you didn’t have to be a Bocelli fan—or even an opera fan—to enjoy and appreciate it. The production, with three projection screens and the most elegant lighting and shooting – with the exception of a really weak sound system during the first half of the show—was beautiful, and the setting, against a full moon sky, a lovely breeze and, according to Bocelli at the end of his performance, the warmest audience in the world—was enchanting.

The State Hermitage Orchestra- Image courtesy of @RshRsho

Bocelli’s stage presence is hard to describe: his posture is perfectly straight, his face full of concentration but he sings without the harshness that you normally see when opera singers are straining.  He is assisted on and off the stage by the conductor, and this is when you realize that this man cannot see the audience that he is performing to;  he cannot see the spell-binding effect of his Voice. This is when you realize that this man’s gift is all the more profound and humbling.   And yet despite knowing that he cannot see our reaction, we gave him four standing ovations, and he came back four times to perform encores for us again.

He interacted with us through his Voice, his amazing smile, the rejoicing music, and then told us it was his first time in Bahrain, and we were the warmest audience in the world.  And we interacted back.

Bocelli and Kohn in action- image courtesy of @RshRsho

I am always amazed at concerts like these with stars who are masters in their work coming to Bahrain to share their gift.  And I think sometimes they are also surprised that Bahrain audiences know their music, and in Bocelli’s case, you could feel that this elevated him and towards the end he was celebrating us right back.  For us, this concert was a symbol of what Bahrain is; we were there to be uplifted, to enjoy a taste of culture, and to be part of a larger event that has developed into a necessary part of our annual calendar that not only entertains us, but that defines us.

Image courtesy of @AdelMaymoon

I’m not going to cover anything about organization here, because as expected, once you experience the performance, all else becomes irrelevant.

Thank you Spring of Culture team for this fantastic choice and opportunity. 
And a special thanks to @RshRsho and @AdelMaymoon for letting me use the photos they took at the concert!

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