Thanks to Cool Mum attending Casa Barilla at the right time, we had 2 VIP tickets to the Andrea Bocelli concert in Central Park on Thursday. However, we were in a bind. The concert was starting at 7:00pm, which is conveniently the Cool Boys’ bedtime.
We debated leaving them with friends, but decided not to. We didn’t want Cool Baby to miss out on an only-in-New-York kind of cultural experience, and Cool Mum was confident that she could keep Newbie happy. With that problem settled, we only had to deal with a cold, rainy forecast.
We settled into the VIP line into the park amidst a light rain around 4:00pm. There was a good chance that the concert would be canceled if the weather didn’t improve, so the organizers waited an hour before letting people in. I was already thankful for our VIPness. I’d passed the general admission entrances on both sides of the park, and they were each at least 10 blocks (half-a-mile) long.
Once inside, we saw how blessed we were to have these tickets. The concert was on the Great Lawn, which clever readers will deduce is a big grassy area. General admission attenders set up beach towels on patches of wet grass. We had chairs in the area in front of the stage. Our seats weren’t that close, but we were thankful that they were seats.
A big perk: free food! Barilla gave us large bamboo bento boxes with pasta salad, prosciutto, chunks of hard cheese, salad, balsamic sauce, and a pack of cookies. Plus, they handed out drinks, rotini, prosciutto-mozzarella-tomato panini, and chocolate wafer cookies. Barilla has effectively secured my pasta-buying loyalty in perpetuity.
The food made the time before the show fly by. The New York Philharmonic took the stage, the lights came on, and the show started. So did the rain.
For me, the first hour was a test of patience, set to the one of the finest musical experiences in the world. As Bocelli and his golden-voiced friends sang, I grunted while wrestling with the umbrella to keep the boys dry as the rain came and went. Being sensitive to the listening pleasure of people around us, I winced every time Newbie belted out a ‘DADA!’ Even worse were the women behind us who would not stop talking about how so-and-so would love to be there and the exciting uses of the bamboo bento box.
A 20-minute intermission was announced, and the audience groaned. Like many people, we weren’t sure if we could put up with another hour of this. Some of the rows around us emptied. We decided to stick it out, and we’re glad that we did.
CB crawled into the stroller and fell asleep under the protection of the rain cover. I moved to another row away from our chatty neighbors. And most importantly, the skies cleared, and a nearly full moon shone through the clouds over Manhattan.
The 2nd hour of music was loaded with treats: songs in English, guest spots by Celine Dion and Tony Bennett, and Andrea’s trademark hit, “Time to Say Goodbye.” It made the prior five hours of waiting and wet weather worth it.
And on the long walk back to the car, there was only one way CM and I could cap off such a rendezvous with high culture:
Here are some clips from the concert, which will air on PBS in December.