The Jakarta Post
Sing your heart out: Tenors Alin Stoica (left), Jenish Ysmanov (second right) and Marco Miglietta (right), along with soprano Elisa Balbo sing for Luciano Pavarotti. (Ciputra Artpreneur/File)
Indonesian composer and pianist Ananda Sukarlan has said on a number of occasions that many Indonesians still see classical music as an inaccessible art form that is suitable only for a segmented audience.
“If you Google ‘classical music is,’ [the autocomplete feature] will generate phrases like ‘classical music is for snobs’ or ‘classical music is dead,’” he said.
However, the Pavarotti Forever concert held on Nov. 26 at the Ciputra Artpreneur cultural center in Lotte Shopping Avenue, South Jakarta, proved that such beliefs were untrue, and showed that the genre has the ability to move its listeners on an emotional level, regardless of their musical taste, age or background.
The concert featured four singers, tenors Marco Miglietta, Jenish Ysmanov, Alin Stoica and soprano Elisa Balbo, who were backed up by renowned pianist and Pavarotti’s longtime friend, Paolo Andreoli.
It was part of a world tour to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Pavarotti’s death.
The legendary operatic tenor was born in Modena, Italy, on Oct. 12, 1935, and passed away on Sept. 6, 2007.
Pavarotti successfully introduced opera music to a wider audience, particularly through his collaboration with composer Giacomo Puccini, when he sang Puccini’s aria “Nessun Dorman” (Nobody Shall Sleep) at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, which was hosted by Italy.
In line with Pavarotti’s legacy, one of the objectives of Pavarotti Forever is to mainstream opera and classical music among a wider Indonesian public.
“Some modern musical expressions have their origins in opera. Take musicals, which originated at the end of the 19th century in the United States. Therefore, it is important to share our [Italy’s] experiences in creating certain musical genres, like the opera, to Indonesians,” Italian ambassador to Indonesia Vittorio Sandali told The Jakarta Post.
To honor the cultural ties between Italy and Indonesia, Ananda made a special appearance at the concert to perform a composition he had written called “I Wish Pavarotti Had Met Marzuki,” a tribute to great musical minds, like Italy’s Pavarotti and Puccini, as well as Indonesia’s Ismail Marzuki.
Fusion play: Indonesian pianist Ananda Sukarlan plays his composition 'I Wish Pavarotti Had Met Marzuki' during a recent tribute concert honoring legendary Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. (Ciputra Artpreneur/File)
The composition was inspired by Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” and Marzuki’s “Melati di Tapal Batas” (Jasmine on the Borderline).
Ananda played pentatonic scale patterns — with which many Indonesians are familiar from hearing gamelan (traditional orchestra) — in a heavy bass line with his left hand, with variations of both songs interwoven throughout the piece to create a beautiful musical tapestry.
The intense and haunting performance left the audience breathless — as if they were afraid to breathe lest they broke the spell cast upon them by the composition. True enough, it was not until the end of the performance that the audience drew a long breath.
A melancholic sentiment, meanwhile, enchanted the audience and left them in awe during the rendition of “Parigi, O Cara,” (We’ll Leave Paris) taken from Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata.
In it, singers Balbo and Miglietta touched the audience through their nuanced vocals, carrying listeners through the highs and lows of love.
The aria, the last act of Verdi’s opera, tells the story of two lovers being reunited after a long separation, which is why it is bittersweet. The piece also came alive with Balbo’s theatrical skills as he showcases intense emotions through facial expressions.
Gratitude: Luciano Pavarotti’s wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, holds a bouquet of flowers at a tribute concert for her husband. (Ciputra Artpreneur/File)
The mood shifted a bit when the tree tenors came onstage. Miglietta, Ysmanov and Stoica performed a number of uplifting arias, such as “Granada” by E. de Curtis and “Torna a Surriento” (Come Back to Sorrento) by Puccini.
A feeling of connecting with a transcendental force was evoked when the four singers formed an ensemble to perform Verdi’s “Va, Pensiero” (Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves), which almost sounded like a solemn church hymn.
The wildest and loudest cheer from the audience came, obviously, when the performers carried on with the late Pavarotti’s most popular numbers: “Nessun Dorma” and “O Sole Mio” (It’s Now or Never).
Concertgoer Betty Siagian, who is a longtime Pavarotti fan, wept during one of the arias as she was thrilled to hear her favorite song — popularized by the late, great singer — being brought to life.
Pavarotti’s wife, Nicoletta Mantovani, said that the late singer, who visited Bali 1994, loved the nature of Indonesians, who always seemed happy and cheerful no matter the hardships they faced.
Indonesia had left a great impression on the late singer, she added.
“And maybe he actually came here again to be with us tonight during the concert, who knows?” Mantovani said.