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By now everyone should know about the Andrea Bocelli concert in Altos de Chavon. Everyone has heard how wonderful a performance it really was – and it really was an exceptional performance. Over all, one could easily say it was among, if not the, best performances in Altos de Chavon. But there is a bit more to say than just that, quite a bit more.
While there was a lot of commentary about many aspects of the concert, with a few vented frustrations about so and so, a few quips about this and that, I must say that in all the years of going to concerts, this was among the most organized and most impactful performances, if perhaps only from my humble point of view. I’m sure some will disagree with me on this, but it is most likely that this is a result of them having missed part of the performance as they where busy checking in on the kids, chatting with those around them or simply responding to emails. Nevertheless, when all was said an done, it was a performance like no other. Bravo Bocelli, bravo!
As it was clear that some folks where unaware, Andrea Bocelli is an Italian tenor, which I’ve personally considered an opera artist of the highest caliber. Many it seems, know him for some of his work in the operatic pop genre, not fully wanting or perhaps capable of enjoying his full talents as an operatic tenor. I have no doubt that the deep and rich depth Mr. Bocelli’s voice bellowing out into the amphitheater managed to impress even those unfamiliar with his work. Not one to leave his audience unhappy, it seems that Andrea Bocelli could sense that the crowd was craving a little Latin love – thus proceeding to impress everyone with a beautiful rendition of “Besame Mucho”.
In addition to the principle performance, there was a side show at play – one in which it appeared that the First Lady, Dr. Margarita Cedeño de Fernandez, appeared to be the focal figure. While we are not sure about the details involved, it seems that the First Lady had purchased, on behalf of a charity she supports over 400 tickets to the performance, which where resold at a significantly higher value. The proceeds of the sale of these tickets, we have heard, are being donated to charity. Regardless of this, it appears that there were many unhappy with the First Lady’s initiatives, which was clearly communicated by some in the form of loud booing. Countering the booing where also claps of support. While personally finding this an inappropriate venue for political bickering, it was both interesting yet awkward to be actively thrust into the middle of something that usually stays in Santo Domingo, the pages of the local news papers and watercolor talk. With the intermission and political interlude over, everyone sat down again and prepared to enjoy the rest of the show.
Living in Casa de Campo does from time to time leave one feeling a slight starvation for culture, art and music. This concert was the cure. With the full National Symphony Orchestra playing at the top of their game, it was an incredibly satisfying experience, which explains why there were SEVERAL standing ovations – one for each of the six or seven encores he performed, each better than the last.
Skipping back a day, I was fortunate to be strolling around the Marina Casa de Campo, just passing the Emilio Robba store, when I happened to bump into the maestro himself. It seems that after having had dinner at the Beach Club by Le Cirque, with a close friend of his, Sirio Maccioni, apparently Mr. Bocelli, his lovely wife and the group he was with decided they wanted to ‘see’ the Marina. This is how I got to meet him, as he was ‘seeing’ the Marina. While he may be blind, I have no doubt that he experienced more than most, being keenly aware of those around him and all the was happening. I was most surprised by how soft-spoken he was, wondering how anyone was going to be able to hear this man in the amphitheater, I would soon realize that his voice, like a finely tuned machine, could be summoned at a moments’ notice and be heard miles away.
In summary, it was a distinct pleasure not only to have met this great artist, but to have had the honor of being able to shake his hand and be told off, in a friendly and somewhat teasing way, about my inability to speak Italian. At the end of the day, it was a thrill to have met the man who would, the very next day, shower upon so many, a voice that one would expect to hear coming down from the heavens.
All in all, it was a most pleasant way to spend a Thursday night, sitting under the stars in a 5000 seat open air amphitheater, listening to arguably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, tenors alive today.