He sang for Pope John Paul II. He sang for four U.S. presidents. On Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center he sang for more than 12,000 people, some drinking Coors Original from plastic cups.
Kicking off his world tour in Denver, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli mixed Verdi with Sinatra in a night of music as diverse as the age and attire of his audience. Bocelli’s stop was in support of his upcoming album “Passione.”
Instead of a beautiful arched opera house, Bocelli sang before plastic seats and jumbo LCD screens in an arena named after a soft drink. It’s music that once only shook the world’s most famous opera houses. Now, Bocelli’s voice finds its way into a sports arena that hosted Taylor Swift days before.
There were no real surprises on this night at the “pop-era.” Bocelli’s fame has hinged upon a heavy accent, good looks and an ability to deliver some of the most beautiful music ever written in any language he wants to. Bocelli sang in Spanish, French, Italian, German and English.
Bocelli sang classics such as “Granada” (Agustín Lara, 1932) and the greatest hits of Giuseppe Verdi, including “La donna é mobile” and “Libiamo ne lieti calici” also known as the “Drinking Song.”
Meanwhile, the Colorado Symphony and Chorus gracefully supported Bocelli throughout the night. Conductor Eugene Kohn even guided Bocelli, who has been blind since the age of 12, on and off stage. In quite the romantic Bocelli fashion, he was also supported by soprano Maria Aleida, 2004 American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino and Caroline Campbell who provided a actuated violin solo.
Fantasia sang a solo version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” and then teamed up with Bocelli for a soundtrack-worthy “When I Fall in Love.” Aleida was a mainstay of the evening, but most notably provided the female lead for the encore “Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro)” (Francesco Satori, 1995).
Bocelli is at his best singing in Itilian. His second encore consisted of a version of “New York, New York” which he recored as a duet with Tony Bennett in 2011. Unfortunately, the song was lost on the Denver crowd and it missed its mark without the elder Bennett.
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.