I could not have been happier when I discovered that Italian pop tenor Andrea Bocelli was coming to Singapore late last week, and I could not be more ecstatic knowing that I was invited to see his performance.
Bocelli’s performance was for an event titled “YTL Concert of Celebration 2010”, sponsored by YTL Corporation, a Malaysia-based business conglomerate that gained a reputation for holding free concerts, from 1994.
In 2003, some 40,000 people attended the Three Tenors; Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo and the late Luciano Pavarotti, in a concert sponsored by in the world heritage city.
In 2005, for its 50th anniversary, the company staged a concert with British tenor Russell Watson headlining, accompanied by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra at Sentul Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For this year’s celebration, the company presents Bocelli, who shares the bill with Australian pop singer Delta Goodrem, Slovenian soprano Sabina Cvilak and the acclaimed flutist maestro Andrea Griminelli. Backing their performance was the Singapore’s Philharmonic Orchestra and Chamber Choir with guest conductor Eugene Kohn.
Around 4,000 guests flocked the venue with political heavyweights from over Southeast Asia including Singaporean President S.R. Nathan and luxury hotelier Christina Ong, one of the wealthiest women in the world.
After a grand opening of an overture from Carmen by the orchestra, Bocelli began the show, his first in the city state, by performing one of the most famous arias from Verdi’s Rigoletto: La donna e mobile.
Goose-bumps started as a result of hearing the clarity of his voice and the perfection of his pitch. There is something divine about it.
The first half of the show included the rendition of famous arias culled from popular operas such as Tosca, La Boheme, Il Trovatore, La Traviata and Faust, performed in succession by Bocelli, Cvilak and the choir.
Bocelli delivered an impeccable performance that night but Cvilak, with her flawless vocals that almost eclipsed Bocelli’s. The two, however, created perfect stage chemistry.
Griminelli also impressed us with his brilliant flute especially when he played Ennio Morricone’s memorable tunes from The Mission: Gabriel’s Oboe.
After a brief intermission the concert continued with lighter and fun selection of mostly Neapolitan music. The second-half began with a performance from two of the choir’s members singing Andrew Llyod Weber’s Pie Jesu.
The show’s arrangement possessed originality by reversing parts such as the counter tenor singing the young boy’s part.
Bocelli came back on stage with a duet with Griminelli and the choir singing Neapolitan tunes such as Mamma, Vieni sul Mar, Granada, Funiculi, Funicula and many others.
Again, Griminelli impressed us with his solo performance in Czardas and Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee.
Approaching the end of the gig, Goodrem appeared on stage performing a duet with Bocelli, singing classics such as Con Te Partiro (Time to Say Goodbye), warmly received by concertgoers with a thundering applause.
To wrap up the night’s performance, Bocelli gave an encore with King of Rock Elvis Presley’s hit Can’t Help Falling in Love. He also performed another duet with Goodrem for The Prayer.
We all heard the song a million times at wedding and church performances but it is a different experience when sung by the original singer.
Just when we thought that the show was over, the choir and orchestra surprised us with Hallelujah from Handel’s Messiah complete with fireworks.
The next day, local newspapers in Singapore reported that more than 8,000 spectators watched it on a jumbotron in the Botanic Gardens. It was one of those unforgettable moments.