Michael Amante a Tribute to Pavarotti (and Amante)!

February 22, 2010 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Elisabeth Slater, that copperheaded club journalist, goes to see the Michael Amante Tribute to Pavarotti for Metro Jacksonville and brings back a report from the show.

Review of Michael Amante concert: A Tribute to Luciano Pavarotti

Michael Amante strode out onto the stage after the orchestra opened the show with a medley of familiar opera tunes. He wore a coat with tails but neglected to wear a tie, leaving the neck unbuttoned. The impression was that of casual elegance – polished but hollow, an impression that carried through the show.

Amante performed A Tribute to Luciano Pavarotti at the Times-Union Center’s Terry Theater on Feb. 18. He was accompanied by an orchestra led by Ron Abel.  

The theater was nearly full with an older crowd that looked to be 60 and older. There was one high school age-looking couple, and me, under 60.  The Terry Theater, which seemed like it would be as cozy as a box of sardines, provided rather spacious seating. The sound of an orchestra with drum set was just right and did not overpower the audience in the small space.  It was my first time in the Terry Theater, and I was surprised that even though it seemed small with the walls so close, there was more room between rows than in Jacoby or Moran

The Amante show was the only performance at the Times-Union Center that night. To walk through the grand lobby and not pass hundreds of folks in line for concessions or merchandise, or waiting to enter the Moran Theater or Jacoby Hall, was a different kind of theater experience. It felt like the Amante crowd was a secret club using the Center for a purpose all its own.

Amante opened the show with “The Way You Look Tonight,” that standard from the great American songbook. Amante knew his crowd and catered to it when he wasn’t telling the audience just how fantastic he is.  

Upon introducing “More,” he said, “this is a song Luciano Pavarotti didn’t record, but he happened to like to hear me sing.”

Amante’s vocal range and the quality of his tenor were undeniable. His stage presence was strong, but, for the Jacksonville show, he lacked emotion in his delivery.  

Woven between the opera arias and Italian love songs were stories from Amante, about Pavarotti or others. He told of having dinner with Sophia Loren once, after which she kissed him on the lips. “I didn’t wash my face for a month,” he said.  

The audience certainly enjoyed Amante. Cries of “bravissimo!” were frequent, especially after the arias so prominent in Pavarotti’s repertoire, from Puccini’s “Tosca” and “La Boheme” and Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”

Amante’s Italian songs were a hit as well, with “O Sole Mio” in particular. Throughout the evening, the singer encouraged the audience to join him in song, “just as long as you sing in my key.” In “O Sole Mio,” he gave the audience an opportunity to lead the tune in the second chorus, when he stopped singing. The crowd got lost and quieted; perhaps they knew they could not live up to Amante’s greatness.

The crowd reacted enthusiastically when he announced “Maria” from “West Side Story.” The delivery brought goosebumps – it was the closest he came to including emotion in his performance. For the rest of the show, though, there was as much expression as if the concert were broadcast on television.

The final notes of “Nessun Dorma” were hardly out of Amante’s mouth before he was bidding thanks and good night to the audience and off the stage. And before the audience had a chance to call him back for an encore, he had returned to stage. It smacked of expectation.

Amante sang the songs of a well-loved tenor in tribute to the late performer. He had the casual elegance, the stories and the vocal range, but he lacked the charisma of Luciano Pavarotti. Amante got people in the door with Pavarotti’s name, but at the end, it was only about Amante.  

His parting words for the night were, “Tell somebody you love them today. You can start with me.” Mr. Amante, you seem to have enough love already.

Michael Amante will perform around Florida during February on the Tribute show, as well as performing at an Italian American festival.

Elisabeth Slater

A youtube clip of Amante singing This is My Beloved.