13 April 2009 Popular tenor Andrea Bocelli this evening performed at the Sanctuary of Montenero, Livorno, to raise funds for the church which was damaged during record rainfall in February this year. His appearance was a surprise for Livorno, since it was only announced two days ago, after Tuscan-born Bocelli apparently contacted the sanctuary to offer to help in the appeal for funds.
The concert was scheduled for 7pm, and by 6pm the 1000 seats set up in the Sanctuary square in front of the large screen were already occupied by people eager to witness this rare event. Andrea Bocelli arrived with his wife just before seven and was quickly whisked into Montenero's church. Seating inside the church is limited and on this occasion was limited to dignitaries and invitation holders. A few dozen people were allowed to stand at the back, while the rest of us watched the performance on the screen set up outside.
Andrea was accompanied by pianist Carlo Bernini, his brother violinist Enrico Bernini, and soprano Arianna Franchi. Their performance included Schubert's, Gounod's and Mascagni's Ave Maria.
At the end of the concert, which lasted about an hour, Andrea came out into the square to thank the audience, unperturbed by a sudden shower of rain. He apologised and made a joke about the poor acoustics, promising to return when the church has been fully restored. We look forward to that.
The internationally acclaimed tenor is due to start a tour in South America in a few days' time.