Butterflies & Angels

This past July took my husband and I to Lucca, Italy for something that has been on my bucket list for some time and that was to see a performance of Andrea Bocelli.


The evening was a spectacle, an extravaganza of opera, ballet, song, dance, and artistry.  From the great sculpture conceived by renowned Uruguayan artist Pablo Atchurgarry entitled Mariposa de la Vida to the setting of Teatro del Silenzio in the beautiful Tuscan hills of Bocelli’ hometown of Lajatico, it was more than a sight to see.  The hills did come alive with the sound of music.  Not simply good music, music of greatness.


 From our perspective Andrea Bocelli is the best singer in the world today.  His voice is mellifluous (from mel ‘honey’ + fluere ‘to flow’).  His performance together with his guest singers, dancers, and musicians, brought tears to my eyes not once, but three times.


Witnessing shear and utter beauty, I felt the same way as I had when I stood in front of the statue of David in Firenze (Florence).  I was awestruck by Michelangelo’s creation.


An excerpt from the Program event entitled ‘Mariposa’, meaning ‘butterfly’ in Spanish, written by Bocelli:


Wonderful and helpless, in their flawless grace and intrinsic fragility, they feed on the natural sweetness of creation.  It is said they have been on earth for a hundred million years, even though at times they live for no more than a few days.  Whether diurnal or nocturnal, they live silently.  They do not sing or wound.  You do not feel their weight when they land on you.  If anything, they are prey but never predator.  And, above all, they fly.  And by flying, they distribute life, in concert with the water and the wind, multiplying beauty….


Once again, beneath the gallery of the Tuscan sky, the same excitement in joyfully doing the honors and welcoming so many friends, on stage and in the audience, grows in me.  Every person who crosses its threshold is equally the star of this midsummer sonorous magic.  To each of them I dedicate my grateful thoughts and song, in the hope that wonder will be renewed and that, from shared art, the feeling of flight will spring forth in the hearts of those present, light, and powerful, like a butterfly, like music, like life.


Mission accomplished Andrea Bocelli.  Thank you for one of the most emotional, musical performances I have experienced.  I’ll never forget this evening.  I remain so, so grateful.


When we arrived at our hotel in Lucca the day before Mariposa, our room faced a building with posters promoting the Robbie Williams concert that was to take place outside the walls of Lucca, a short distance from our hotel.


I didn’t know of Robbie Williams until I moved to the UK.  He had been a founding member of a British Boy band called Take That.  Take Who?  I didn’t know them either.  My UK connections may find this surprising as Take That and Williams are music icons here.


Why? An excerpt from quora.com answering the question, “Why didn’t Robbie Williams find greater success in the US?”


First, a little background: I was 23 in 1995, the prime of my life and music, of course, was everything for people that age. I am 100% born and raised in the USA on both sides of my family for generations. I’ve never lived anywhere else in the world. So, I consider myself 100% “American” as they say. I’m also white. Having said that, Robbie W. was pushing out songs during the 90’s. So, I was an objective listener. I can say when his music first came out on the radio, the lyrics to his songs were awkward and lacked creativity/imagination. He sounded like a bad George Michael knock off and his face looked like a very weird version of Sean Connery. Like he was young but old at the same time. I just remember being in high school at that time and thinking how weird he looked. Not ugly, not attractive, just weird. Then he sounded extremely corny and just looked too old for the age/demographic for which his music was directed. Here in the USA sometimes we don’t fully understand British humour and certain cultural mannerisms which Robbie Williams projected excessively. We just didn’t “get him”.”


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 Take That never took off either like they did in other markets.


Since Williams was performing in Lucca, I thought it might be high time to see what all the fuss was about.


What I am about to write may offend some Williams fans and that is not my intent.  As ever, we see people through our own lens of the world.  I am simply sharing my point of view.


He began his concert by introducing himself as “Robbie F****ng Williams!”.  He then stated the evening would be entertaining for the audience but therapy for him.  He confessed his bitterness with Gary Barlow being the lead of Take That and he never getting the chance.  He shared one of their first videos, where the band was naked, lying on a floor in a circle, a woman was wiping their butts with a wet mop.  He freezeframed on his butt.  He then spoke of his years of sex and drugs with his butt on the screens.


I wondered if his approach was because it is now in vogue to talk about one’s mental health in the UK.  Was he attempting to be progressive?  Was he attempting to be comedic?  Suddenly he announced that he is now a happy man, married 17 years with four children.  What?


When he did sing the audience cheered and sang along.  I found myself singing along to Angels.  The man can sing.  There is no doubt.  Curious about this unique performer, I observed his flamboyant body language.


His act disturbed me.  He came across as a deeply insecure brat searching for praise to add meaning to his life.  A far cry from the evening before in the Tuscan hills, I was struck by the difference between the two shows.  I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to stay for the entire concert.


My decision was made was when I went to the portable toilet amongst the rows and rows of unisex outhouses without lights.  I maneuvered myself to find the toilet seat.  Luckily, I had tissues in my purse (I never travel without tissue) as there was no toilet paper.  After my pee, I sat up only to find my butt was dripping wet with other people’s urine.  That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.


While no fault of Williams, my wet ass was a metaphor for the performance I witnessed in front of me, disturbing.  We left immediately and made our way back to the hotel where I promptly took a shower.


BTW, Bocelli’s portable toilets were well lit replete with sinks and soap for washing one’s hands.  I had to resort to using my own tissue at the end of the evening.  Concert Organizers of the world, “WHEN IT COMES TO TOILET PAPER, MORE IS BETTER!”


In fairness to Robbie I did a little research via YouTube to learn more about the man.  Although not my cup of tea as a performer, I was intrigued because he’s found celebrity, monetary success, and familial happiness despite his demons.


In an Australian version of the news show 60 Minutes, he told his interviewer that he sabotages himself, that he has a disease that wants to kill him, and it’s located in his head.  His challenge is to deal with what goes on between his ears.  Other interviews I found focused on his mental health struggles.  Despite this he has had more number one hits than any other British Artist.  Impressive stuff.


What showed up on stage for me was his struggle with himself, the dark side of his soul.


What showed up when Bocelli took the stage was joyousness and radiance.


Would I  have enjoyed William’s concert in my 20’s?  Probably.    I was just a caterpillar who had not found her wings.  I was a party girl who had absolutely no interest in opera or ballet.  I wasn’t wise enough to carry tissues in my purse.


With age comes wisdom and for this woman, discernment.   Knowing what we don’t want is a tool to knowing what we do want.  It doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong.  It’s about knowing what’s right for you, what you need to fill your soul with joy.


#bocelli #robbiewilliams #italy #tuscany #lucca #music #dance #starlightskies #toiletpaper #perspective


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