So sorry this is a long time coming, almost two weeks afterward! But the jet lag had hit me more than expected and we were so busy and exhausted by the time we got back to our rooms at night, we just went to bed, as we usually had to get up early to catch a train to somewhere! Lol!
Friday, July 1, 2016
Ok, it was finally set to begin! It was about 9:20p and dusk was just about getting ready to set in. There was a slight breeze blowing, about 80 degrees and just the most gorgeous evening you could ever want for an outdoor concert. The lights illuminating the Santa Croce Cathedral were amazing, changing colors from blue to gold to red. You could feel the buzz of anticipation of the audience. It was packed. There were empty seats here and there, but when you looked behind you, all you saw were a sea of faces, waiting for the concert to begin. The lucky persons that lived in apartments around the piazza were waiting as well, literally, hanging out their apartment windows, waiting for their “free” concert to begin!
They started pretty much on time…we saw the orchestra line up from the left of the stage and they walked out. When they were seated, Placido walked out as well. The crowd roared with applause. I wondered where the guys were? The orchestra played the opening symphony and the audience responded with appreciative applause. Ok, here come the guys!!! They walked out so calm, and so beautiful, in their tuxes. Some said they could tell they were nervous. Maybe a little fidgeting from Ignazio? They stood there, in front of their music stands. Hanging on fearfully, until the orchestra sounded the first notes. The prelude to Nessum Dorma started to play and they opened their mouths. Out came these magical notes! Gianluca started the song, then Piero, then Ignazio. Ignazio gave Piero a friendly and reassuring pat on the shoulder before it was his turn to sing. Sounds never before heard from our guys…the audience was immediately mesmerized by their voices. Placido was doing his best conducting both the orchestra and the guys! It must have been difficult for the guys to have to watch Placido, as they are not used to having a conductor – they just do their own thing, but they dutifully followed the conductor. When Ignazio sang his last part in the song, he gets this serious, almost scary look on his face and his eyebrows point down in an angle – kind of like watching a cartoon character’s eyebrows when they get angry! The power and passion put forth by Ignazio was just incredible! His face filled with emotions as he sang those last notes. They also had an adult choir for a few of the songs, one being Nessum Dorma. The guys politely turned to watch the choir when they sang. The last few phrases were sung and it was over. You could see the guys breathe sighs of relief and more shoulder and arm touching going on! Maybe they were trying to convince themselves that this was really happening? The crowd was on its feet almost before the song was over. It was just the first song of many on that magical night in Florence, so many, gathered around the beautiful Santa Croce.
Unfortunately, I did not see “anyone” except for Ercole, running around taking a few pictures. Couldn’t see much being in the 3rd row….and I was kind of in the middle. I did not tape the first few songs, as I wanted to enjoy the concert. I also forgot to bring my extra battery, so had to conserve it. I did take some pictures, but was very disappointed, as they came out blurred a bit, even as close as I was. I did, later, decide to tape several of the songs. By the end of the concert, my battery was at about 16%, so I had to be very choosy on what I taped.
They sang a few more songs, then they took a break so the orchestra could play a few as well. Then came their solos. I truly don’t remember whose was first, but I think it may have been Gianluca. As many have already said, he was positively magnificent! His elocution was perfection. The song he sang, I believe it was called “La Danza?” was the perfect song choice for him and he certainly delivered. You could tell how proud and happy he was when he was finished! Smiling from dimple to dimple. It was truly amazing he could sing with such speed and alacrity and hit all the right notes, too! Of course, I probably wouldn’t have known if he’d hit a wrong note?
Many of us, I believe, were a little surprised in that Ignazio did not sing “La Donna Imobile…” as that was the song he credits to having sung as a child. But instead he sang another song – Una Furtiva Lagrima. I was not that familiar with this one, but of course, it was awesome! It was a lot of fun watching Ignazio’s eyebrows while he sang – it was like he became another person when he was singing those songs?
They said there were supposed to be lots of surprises! To be honest, I really thought Jose Carreras would have shown up. If he was there, no one pointed it out. The one surprise that I did think was pretty cool, was that Placido sang Non ti scordar di me with the 3 of them. That, was a real treat and surprise for me.
Yes, since this was a live show, there were a few flubs here and there… in the beginning, they forgot they were supposed to speak English! I believe Piero started speaking and then Gianluca reminded him it was supposed to be in English. Then they ask Placido to say something and Placido responds in Italian. Piero says, “that was Italian…” Lol! Then he repeats it in English! Gianluca was introducing a song and said something wrong and said it again. It will be interesting to see what they keep and cut from the PBS DVD. I am surprised they did not announce in the beginning that this was a PBS special, like they did for Pompeii. I think they briefly mentioned it at the end, along with Sony Latin.
When they sang the “real” version of Torna a Surriento, I’m sure Ignazio had a really hard time keeping still, since this is the song they have all the fun with during their regular concerts. But he kept it under control!
There were no breaks and the concert was almost 2 hours long, although the guys did not sing constantly. The orchestra had a few solos as well. Every so often, Ignazio was being “Ignazio” trying to have a little fun here and there, conducting the orchestra and choir and flashing that brilliant smile. Yes, ok, you all know I’m a little biased here…
Some of the most enjoyable parts were hearing them sing some of the songs we already knew they sang, like Mamma, and a few others. It was interesting to hear how their voices had matured since they had first sung them at the Detroit Opera House video – “Take Flight…”
A bit of a disappointing surprise was when Ignazio was singing “Tonight” and we were just waiting, with anticipation for him to hit those few high notes and he didn’t! I’m thinking… ok, here it comes, I’m waiting… ahh, ooh. He didn’t sing it… I guess he was saving his voice for the other songs.
One other surprise was definitely Adeste Fidelis. Gianluca shouts “Buon Natale” everyone!
At the end, Placido complements the guys and says they should really consider singing more opera type music. I’d say, I have to agree! I mean, anyone can sing “pop” music! Although, it wouldn’t matter to me what they sang, even rap, I would buy their albums!
It’s their voices. Their voices are the magic – it doesn’t matter what they sing. The expressions on their faces when they sing; that is the magic. For a split second, I think Ignazio looked right into my eyes; that was magic. The songs they sing into our hearts and souls is not an illusion, but a pure mystery, to never be solved, no matter how many times we see them perform their tricks for us!
Alas, to many, it may seem like tricks they perform with each song, making it look seamlessly simple. However, we know how much passion and hard work they put into each performance they give. Night, after night.