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GREAT PERFORMANCES: Andrea Bocelli Live In Central Park

Soprano Pretty Yende joins tenor Andrea Bocelli in a free concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn.
Courtesy of 2011 WNET/ Joseph Sinnott
Soprano Pretty Yende joins tenor Andrea Bocelli in a free concert on Central Park’s Great Lawn.

Encore Sat., Nov. 27, 2021 at 8 p.m. and Sun., Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. on KPBS TV + Nov. 28 at 5 p.m. on KPBS 2 / On Demand

Accompanied by the New York Philharmonic, under the direction of music director Alan Gilbert, the spectacular event was Andrea Bocelli’s special gift to New York City. Award-winning journalist Paula Zahn is the evening’s host.

Widely regarded as the most popular Italian tenor in the world with more than 70 million albums sold, Bocelli was joined that rainy, windswept evening by pop stars Céline Dion, Tony Bennett, Chris Botti and David Foster, and from the classical world, bass baritone Bryn Terfel, sopranos Ana María Martínez and Pretty Yende, and violinist Nicola Benedetti, along with the Westminster Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Joe Miller. Bocelli presented a varied repertoire that includes well known arias, fan favorites, and some new surprises.

Andrea Bocelli: Live in Central Park: Preview

The night began promisingly as the setting sun cast a golden glow on the New York skyline, but as Maestro Gilbert struck up the portentous strains of Verdi’s "La Forza del Destino" overture, a light but steady rain fell over the crowd of some tens of thousands of New Yorkers, and those who had come much farther, to see him. Though umbrellas were raised, and a chilly wind began to blow, fans were swept up in the beauty of the music and the presence of their idol.

“In spite of the rain and cold, you are heroes,” Bocelli assured the adoring crowd.

The first act of stirring operatic selections including Verdi and Puccini favorites gave way to more popular fare in the second including duets with Celine Dion and Tony Bennett.

Andrea Bocelli and Tony Bennett Perform "New York, New York"

The program:

  • La Forza del Destino Ouverture - Alan Gilbert, New York Philharmonic
  • “La donna ė mobile” (Rigoletto) - Andrea Bocelli
  • “Di quella pira” (Il Trovatore) - Andrea Bocelli
  • “Va Tosca! (Te Deum)” (Tosca) - Bryn Terfel, Choir
  • “Ave Maria ‘Ellens dritter Gesang’” - Andrea Bocelli
  • “Vicino a te s’acqueta” (Andrea Chenier) - Andrea Bocelli, Ana Maria Martinez
  • “Au fond du temple saint” (Les Pêcheurs de Perles) - Andrea Bocelli, Bryn Terfel
  • “O Soave Fanciulla” (La Bohème) - Andrea Bocelli, Pretty Yende
  • “Libiano ne’lieti calici” (La Traviata) - Andrea Bocelli, Pretty Yende, Choir
  • “Home on the Range” - Bryn Terfel, Choir
  • “En Aranjuez con tu amor” - Andrea Bocelli, Nicola Benedetti (violin)
  • “’O Sole Mio” - Andrea Bocelli, Choir
  • “Once Upon a Time in the West” - Andrea Bocelli
  • “More” - Andrea Bocelli, David Foster, Chris Botti (trumpet)
  • “Volare” - Andrea Bocelli, David Foster
  • “The Prayer” - Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, David Foster
  • “New York, New York” - Andrea Bocelli, Tony Bennett
  • “Amazing Grace” - Andrea Bocelli, Choir
  • “Time to Say Goodbye” - Andrea Bocelli, All Cast, Choir
  • “Nessun Dorma” (Turandot) (encore) - Andrea Bocelli, Choir

Before the concert, Bocelli nostalgically reflected, "I cannot help but smile when thinking about the upcoming concert in Central Park. It was my father's dream, and my father was right, because my artistic path would have been entirely different without the strong and sincere embrace of this extraordinary city where everything is possible, even when it seems impossible. My father will not be there, but I can count on his blessing and his kind and gentle smile to give me courage. My mother, sitting in the front row, will feel my father, too, and they will be together again just like when I was a little boy performing on the fireplace steps. Perhaps they had secretly dreamed that I might have the opportunity to perform in New York City, and maybe right here in Central Park."

Since GREAT PERFORMANCES introduced American television audiences to Bocelli with 1997's Romanza concert, Bocelli has been featured in a notable series of GREAT PERFORMANCES specials, including "Sacred Arias," "Amore, Vivere," "My Christmas and American Dream," his spectacular "Statue of Liberty" concert from New Jersey's Liberty State Park.

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Credits:

GREAT PERFORMANCES is a production of THIRTEEN for WNET New York Public Media, one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers. "Andrea Bocelli Live in Central Park" is directed by David Horn. For GREAT PERFORMANCES, Mitch Owgang and Andrea Cotromano are producers; Bill O’Donnell is series producer; David Horn and Filippo Sugar are executive producers.