Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli thrills the audience at the most expensive concert Bangkok has ever staged.
World-class Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed his first concert in Thailand on Sunday night and for those who could afford the tickets, it was a night they will always remember.
After several unsuccessful attempts in the past by many concert organisers to bring him here, the organiser of the Fresh Air Festival finally beat the odds, staging a sold-out “Magical Night with Andrea Bocelli” at the Royal Paragon Hall.
That this would be no ordinary concert was underlined from the very start with the Royal Anthem performed live by an orchestra of some 50 musicians and Thai singer Kittinan Chinsamran, who is well known among “The Voice Thailand” fans.
The visually-impaired Bocelli, 57, was greeted with long and loud applause when he was led onto the stage by maestro Carlo Bernini, who conducted a 131-strong backup team of orchestra musicians and chorus singers from many Asian countries.
The audience fell immediately under his spell as his powerful voice flowed and ebbed on a string of arias by Verdi, Puccini and Gounod, as well as contemporary numbers written by such well-known composers as Grammy Award-winner David Foster and Italian Francesco Sartori.
Foster also joined the concert, playing the piano and joking with the audience. He was involved with most of the show in the second half of the concert, often providing the backing for “American Idol” winner Katharine McPhee, 14-year-old “America’s Got Talent” winner Jackie Evancho, Cuban soprano Maria Aleida, “Thailand’s Got Talent” winner Maneepatsorn “Myra” Molloy, and classical-pop cross-over guitar duo Carisma.
Myra sang Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s “Som Tum” while McPhee performed “Echo”, a composition by His Majesty the King.
Bocelli sang some 20 songs during the concert, most of them in Italian, including “Besame Mucho”, “Brindisi”, “Granada”, “Funiculi Funicula”, and “Conto Della Terra”. Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was the only song he sang in English as part of an impressive duet with McPhee.
The two-hour concert was slightly flawed by some mysterious noises that occurred during the performance of a few songs. A faulty microphone was eventually found to be the cause and it was quickly removed.
Staging the concert cost a staggering US$4 million (more than Bt120 million), a record high for Thailand, according to the organisers. Tickets, priced at Bt12,000 and Bt25,000 each, were among the priciest for a concert in this country. And for those who could afford it, concert tickets with gala dinner were also available at Bt1 million and Bt1.5 million a table, working out to more than Bt100,000 for each person.
The encore was a highlight of the concert, with Bocelli waiting until he returned to stage to perform two of his best known songs “The Prayer” and “Time to Say Goodbye” (or “Con Te Partiro” in Italian), in duets with McPhee and Evancho respectively. He also sang “La Forza del Sorriso” (“The Power of a Smile”), the theme song for the 2015 World Expo in Milan, Italy.
Before that though, he performed “Nessun Dorma”, from the final act of Puccini's opera “Turandot” in a grand finale that won long applause and loud cheers.