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Classical 101

Andrea Bocelli as Romeo. Gnashing of Teeth.

Loud were the wailing and gnashing of teeth when a video surfaced of Andrea Bocelli in rehearsal for Gounod's Romeo et Juliette at Genoa's Teatro San Carlo Felice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2itr4DGht8 On the one hand, you don't argue with success. In terms of sales, Andrea Bocelli is a huge success. His blindness adds poignancy to an admirable physical presentation. He is musical. He works hard. He is sincere. Put him in pretty clothes with a mike in Vegasesque reviews and believe me, there's plenty to enjoy. People laughed at Jerry Vale. And spare me the crossover mantra. Caruso recorded popular songs, plus Cohan's Over There (second verse in French, don't ask me why). Adelina Patti would come out dripping with diamonds to sing "How I love to sit in my homely thatched cottage",  and then demand her usual fee: US$5,000.00 in gold. Take THAT, Lady Gaga. On the clip provided here we see Bocelli surrounded by attractive young artists. He's conducted by Fabio Luisi, de facto music director of the Metropolitan since Levine's illness. Bocelli is surrounded by credibility to which he brings undeniable star power. But okay, here's the deal: the voice is unsupported. He lacks an operatic technique. At some point he probably made a choice: pop sen$ation or pretty good opera singer. He chose sensation. Good for him. But the physical mechanism doesn't function to project un-amplified over an orchestra and chorus. The real beauty of his voice is lost as he strains to be heard.  He does himself no favors. Fabio Luisi (the other Fabio) had to go online-while rehearsing Gotterdammerung in New York-to say that Bocelli brings with him box office clout and an entrée to young people. Clout he has, and talent, but the entrée is more to my late mother and "the girls" who would flock to see Liberace back in the day. Liberace recorded Chopin and Tchaikovsky. Bocelli sings Verdi, Puccini and Gounod. These composers will endure.  Bocelli's voice may not.