Bocelli fans demand money back after he sings opera aria

Bocelli fans demand money back after he sings opera aria


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2018

From the Daily Mail, an irrefutable source for culture and the vox populi:

British tourists who paid £1,400 to watch ‘world’s most beautiful singer’ Andrea Bocelli performing his hits in Italy complain after getting a ‘boring’ opera about an obscure poet instead…

Rather than the tenor’s greatest hits, the performance was an opera about an executed French poet that few of the audience had heard of.

Anita Lowe, 62, who went on the 11-night excursion with husband, Christopher, 63, said she broke down in tears because she was so disappointed with the event. She complained to tour operator, Leger Holidays, but is furious they have offered just £350 compensation.

Read on here.

The opera, btw, was Andrea Chenier.



  • V.Lind says:

    Not your fault as the DM headline says the same (not a reliable source of information as a rule, even if the stories correct their sensational headers) but the £1400 was for an 11-day cruise of Italy including this Bocelli “concert.” The cruise organisers are at fault for not describing the event as an opera — it was clearly enough described by the sellers,and was apparently sold out — Andrea Chenier is hardly obscure to most music lovers. But it was clearly not what these people would have wanted so to that extent they were misled, and deserve compensation.

    But £350 strikes me as generous — I doubt the unit price of the block-booked tickets was as much — and the passengers had the rest of their cruise. How much did they want?

    That their tastes are TOWIE is their own business, and their own inability to just relax and let the music work for them was completely absent in the disappointment over not hearing Ed Sheeran (whose name somehow never gets mentioned here in Canada but I gather he is flamingly popular). They were given false expectations by the cruise people, who either can’t read a promotion for a musical event past the name of its star or who deliberately misled their passengers (I imagine the former as there is little percentage in the latter — cruises get a lot of repeat business).

    I once had to review a Bocelli concert — it was at the height of his vogue, in the year after the Romanza concert came out. I took a friend who was a fan — never hurts to hear a second opinion in the car. I felt her restlessness, and that of the audience, as he sang one (relatively obscure) opera aria after another, and a few Italian art songs outside the common awareness of his Canadian audience. He did not sing anything from Romanza, even Con te Partiro, which was a lovely song till Sarah Brightman got her hands on it. He was nicely received, but he left a disappointed audience there too. I have never objected to him a a popular singer, including hymns — it IS a pleasing voice — and I wondered then if that audience was just let down at not getting what they expected or if they detected that as an opera singer he was not of the front rank.

    So Mrs. TOWIE may have a point, though not precisely the one she made. I have no idea if his Andrea Chenier was any good. But I know my review all those years ago would have been warmer if he had stuck to his strength!

  • MacroV says:

    My snotty, elitist disdain for the Bocelli phenomenon made me initially unsympathetic to the plight of these folks. In fact they might have gotten a better deal by hearing real singers.

    OTOH, I do believe in truth in advertising, and the tour company certainly should have known whether this was a full-fledged Bocelli extravaganza as opposed to a staged opera with a Bocelli cameo. But for 1,400 quid for an 11-day tour – Bocelli or no Bocelli – seems like a pretty good deal. So just how much “loss” should they be compensated for?

  • C Porumbescu says:

    Before we start laughing at ignorant Popera fans: we once booked Joshua Bell to perform Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. We received an angry letter from a punter who had “paid to hear an evening of Joshua Bell” and was indignant that Bell “had appeared for less than half the concert”. He was particularly angry at having to “sit through a long boring orchestral piece in the hope that Joshua would re-appear, but in which he did not play once”. The piece to which he was referring was the Eroica.

    • V.Lind says:

      You occasionally get that from orchestra subscribers who do not understand the difference between a symphony and a concerto. Or that most — not all — concerts are shaped with an intro piece or pieces, the concerto with the guest artist, and a symphony. They’d be astonished to know that by the time the symphony is under way and they are peering to see where the Joshua Bells are, he or she is back at the hotel on his/her third vodka skyping with the family.

      • Alex Davies says:

        Or possibly sitting in the audience listening to the symphony! I’ve recently been to concerts where Christian and Tanja Tetzlaff and, on another occasion, Hilary Hahn have joined the audience for the second half of the programme. I don’t know whether that’s Joshua Bell’s style though!

        • Chris Clift says:

          I played on an orchestra tour in Germany, when during one performance the violin soloist, having performed something like Bruch’s First Violin Concerto in the first half, sat in a violin section and played the symphony in the second half.

        • Cyril Blair says:

          Yes; after hearing Alisa Weilerstein in the first half of a program, I looked up right as intermission ended to see her slipping into a seat at the end of my row.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    To be honest, I’d be outraged to have to sit through anything that Bocelli had to sing. Nice guy, overrated talent.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    That may be a good answer to the tired argument that someone like Bocelli could help with opera audience development.

  • Bruce says:

    From the linked article:

    “In a letter the firm apologised but insisted it ‘must categorically stress to you that we, like many other independent visitors of the performance, were not made aware that the concert was due to be an opera, as naturally we would have made you and your fellow guests aware of the information.

    ‘Nonetheless… I am truly sorry for the prolonged disappointment you have been caused by the performance of Andrea Bocelli, and if you believe you have been misled by Leger Holidays.’

    A spokesman for Leger Holidays added: “We are particularly concerned regarding the disappointment our customers have experienced and we are liaising with our guests individually.”

    So yes — as others have noted, the cruise company should have done a little poking around to find out just what they were selling to their customers.

    On the other hand, you can safely bet that the company putting on the performance put Bocelli’s name in the biggest font on all the advertising (much bigger than any other singer or the name of the opera, or probably even the fact that it was an opera).

    On the other other hand, you sort of can’t blame them for not being aware that Bocelli was going to sing in an actual opera. He doesn’t do it that much as far as I’m aware (and hasn’t gotten great reviews when he has), and even his superfans seem to have been unprepared for such a possibility.

  • John Rook says:

    ‘A full-blown opera with wigs’

    Whatever next?

  • Tony says:

    The reactions of the disappointed punters does bring to mind Auberon Waugh’s comment on Bergman’s film version of Zauberflote in Swedish being shown on British TV on Boxing Day 1975. Perhaps the tour operators shared Bron’s idiosyncratic sense of humour.

  • David A. Boxwell says:

    We don’t want no fake opera singers singin’ real opera, OK? We want them tunes like Mario Lanza sang, Gran loved him. We prefer Demis Roussos, OK, but that blind fella is OK, too, so long as he we can sing along with him.

  • Jjim says:

    What on earth are these people doing travelling? Can’t handle a surprise or change of plan without bursting into tears? They should be at home with the curtains drawn watching OXO ads on TV.

  • PB says:

    ‘If it was La Traviata or Verdi or something it would have been better, but it was a classical opera that no one knew anything about.” Oh well….. you live and learn…..

  • Jim says:

    What on earth are these people doing travelling? Can’t handle a surprise or change of plan without bursting into tears? They should be at home with the curtains drawn watching OXO ads on TV.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    The situation does drip with a certain amount of irony but hey, who is being the more provincial here? Bocelli has a pleasant enough voice, not at all suited for unamplified opera in my view and that of others, but pleasant enough for the songs he does OK with and some popular and the not-so-taxing arias.

    So this audience was angry that they were charged full freight to hear, not what Bocelli does best, but what he does worst. Seems to me they are not provincial but actually quite discriminating, within their tastes. The provincial ones are those who think he’s a real operatic tenor.

    If Andre Rieu is what you want to hear, then certainly you do not want to learn he’s decided to conduct Pierrot Lunaire that night. (He’s a well enough trained violinist and musician to get through the piece, I suspect.)

    • Bill says:

      Actually, I might consider buying a ticket to see Andre do Pierrot Lunaire (or L’Histoire du Soldat), just out of curiosity! His regular stuff I’m content to watch for free the next time PBS is having a pledge drive.

      I’m not convinced the audience members on the tour were charged “full freight” if they are getting an 11 day trip included! Sounds like the compensation offered was much more than the actual fraction of the trip package the tickets represented. I should think that if you didn’t care about having the Tuscany adventure, you could just get a plane ticket and see Bocelli sing somewhere for much less than the price quoted!

      Then again, who hasn’t taken a trip to Italy only to face some disappointment because of a strike, renovation, etc. Understandable that if you went expecting him to just stand there singing all night, seeing him sing different music and only for part of the evening could be disappointing. But surely if you’re willing to spend that much time and money to hear the guy sing, you should get some enjoyment out of hearing him sing! What next, a complaint that someone didn’t enjoy a Yuka Wang performance because she didn’t wear the dress in the PR photo on the webpage when they bought the ticket? 🙂

      I agree that the tour operator should correctly advertise what is on offer. They failed on that, but made what seems to be a sincere attempt at compensation.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Hey…I went to see Yuja Wang in concert the other day. And I was really disappointed that she wore a long dress. The others who joined me, the men anyway, were disappointed too (somehow their wives didn’t mind). The only consolation was that she tripped over her long dress in her high heals.

    • Alex Davies says:

      I would love to see what would happen if André Rieu performed Pierrot Lunaire at one of his concerts.

  • Elaine M Brignall says:

    I was at the so-called concert……..opera. Over 7000 people there, half walked out after Act 2. Hope his Managers told him. A great disappointment and a great deal in ticket cost etc. Started over an hour late and had in total a ten hour drive to contend with. A total waste of my Birthday present.

  • Mark Henriksen says:

    They wanted Andrea Bocelli but they got Andrea Chenier. Was the 1,400 just for the show or for the 11 day excursion? If the later, then I would say they made out like bandits getting 350 back.

  • Alex Davies says:

    I had something of the opposite experience when I went to my local cinema to watch Jonas Kaufmann: Under the Stars, featuring Anita Rachvelishvili, Jochen Rieder, and the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin, and billed as ‘famous arias and timeless Italian songs’. I had not unreasonably expected that it would mainly be ‘famous arias’ with a few ‘timeless Italian songs’ for good measure. What we actually got were three tenor arias, one mezzo aria, and one operatic duet, two orchestral extracts from operas, 15 ‘timeless Italian songs’ for tenor and/or mezzo, and two orchestral extracts from film scores. I have to say that I was not at all disappointed. It made me realise that my knowledge of ‘timeless Italian songs’ is for the most part woefully inadequate and made me resolve that I should probably try to spend more time listening to this excellent repertoire. It was also a sheer pleasure to hear Kaufmann singing so beautifully. I’ve been somewhat disappointed by recent live Kaufmann performances of serious repertoire, e.g. Wagner, and it was simply a delight to hear him on top form, albeit not in repertoire I had been expecting.

    So while I have some sympathy with these people feeling that they had paid for one thing and got another, they perhaps could have viewed it as a learning experience as I did with my (admittedly somewhat less expensive) trip to the cinema. What does puzzle me, as others have said already, is the scale of the compensation. Surely the concert component of the tour package cannot have amounted to as much as £350.

  • Lachera says:

    Here in Italy we hope that a good no-deal Brexit will take care of these cases by forcing those Britons to stay home.

    • Nikki Avis says:

      Well said… the heathens.
      I had tickets for that concert and it clearly said it was Andre Chenier on the website when I booked….. just saying

    • Alex Davies says:

      So, you live in a country where 13% of GDP, 15% of employment, 8% of exports, and 4% of investment is dependent on the tourist industry, and you are hoping that Brexit will prevent British tourists from visiting your country.

      • Lachera says:

        If British tourists are more a nuisance than an asset, let them stay home.

        Listen, fellows: I know too well Bocelli concerts at his home village. They have plastered a couple of provinces with their billboards, it was on the back of buses, it was on every website. Everybody within 200 km. was aware he was going to sing Andrea Chenier, even if they do not care at all about him or opera. The thing is such a success that £1400 may be the price of a single front row place – don’t ask me how they sell at that price but they do; it may take a couple of hours to get out of the venue, as the tens of thousands of visitors back up completely the few country roads. Here they come these two fellows that pretend they didn’t know Bocelli was singing Andrea Chenier, and they want Barbra Streisand even if her name is nowhere. Either they are a couple of morons that did not care at all to inquire what they were buying, or (more likely) they are taking us all for a ride.