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Andrea Bocelli sings with Fresno Philharmonic

A dimmed blue light lights the background of the stage, violin bows gracefully moving up and down while the trombones recited warm up scales. As the newly formed Fresno Grand Opera Orchestra, under the conduction of Steven Mercurio, preparing to accompany the legend of new age opera singing, Andrea Bocelli.

The music, produced sweet sounds of “La Fleur Que M’Avais Jette” from the famous opera Carmen. Andrea took his stance at center stage only to open his mouth and let out the most clear, sweet, and perfectly tuned voice I have ever heard from a human being. The event took place in the 2,600 seat Saroyan Theater in downtown Fresno, Dec. 8. This is by far the smallest venue in the six city Christmas-time U.S. tour.

This year the Fresno Grand Opera was able to bring to Fresno one of the most well known opera singers of all time. Bocelli, being the best selling Italian artist of his day, overcomes an impaired sense. He suffers from blindness but in return produces the best use of another sense, his voice.

People arrived from many different states to experience one of the greatest voices of all time. Women, all dressed is black evening dresses and men in dapper tuxedos graced the lobby before the show having no notion of what to expect from such a great artist in their presence.

Accompanying Bocelli on his “My Christmas” tour 2009 was none other than the famous composer, David Foster. Writing numerous Bocelli songs, he played many of them on the piano never ceasing to praise the artist after the last note of each piece.

To partner Bocelli’s beautiful voice were two women of two very different backgrounds and lives. One, Ana Maria Martinez, a highly trained opera singer from Puerto Rico. The other, Courtney Bloody, David Foster’s own assistant.

At the last moment an Australian soprano, who was supposed to be singing along side Bocelli, became ill and quickly to fill in was the beautiful, sweet, Bloody. Never did she think that in her job description of an “Assistant” with typing, getting coffee, and sound board operation would include preforming with Andrea Bocelli. For having almost no musical training, Bloody did a wonderful job filing in for the sick soprano.

During the show, the audience was nothing short of amazement. I for one, was completely blown away by the range and clarity of such a powerful voice. My family and I have been listening to Bocelli’s music for years. My mother admires him most out of everyone in our family, and when she bought the tickets we had no idea what to expect.

I had been to operas before but never anything so extraordinary as this. The first time he opened his mouth the sound that arose was the most exquisite thing I had ever heard. The man I had admired for so many years was just feet in front of me singing at full ability not missing a note or cue.

The second act consisted of some favorite Christmas carols arranged by David Foster. One particular favorite was “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Andrea’s face instantly lit up when local children joined him on stage to complete the song’s innocent nature. The children looked up at him as if he was their hero. A genuine smile overcame his face from begining to end of the entire song.

What I love most about Andrea Bocelli is how his impairment is never the first thing I think about when I hear his name. Looking at his closed eyes the whole concert I never once thought about his seeing disability. I was so focused on his voice that nothing else matters or exists. He makes everything look completely effortless as though the notes of the music float out of his mouth on wings.

The concert was the most amazing live preformance I have ever attended. It made me think about what the world would be like without the arts. I praise people like Bocelli who have magnificent gifts which they have decided to share with the world.

For more information about the Andrea Bocelli My Christmas tour 2009 please visit andreabocelli.com or fresnograndopera.org

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