“If I’d known he would bring the high notes, I would have brought more stuff,” said Renee Fleming of Andrea Bocelli, as the two opera superstars sang together for the first time ever at “Remembering Pavarotti,” a benefit concert for pancreatic cancer research at the Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Sept. 25.
Bocelli and Fleming staged a sing-off of sorts during the concert’s encore as Bocelli launched into the crowd-pleaser “La donna è mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto.” “This is the competition now,” Fleming said to laughs, as she countered with Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro.”
The concert featured eclectic selections from opera favorites including Bizet’s “Carmen” and Verdi’s “Otello” and “Aida” as well as Ennio Morricone’s “E piu ti penso” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” to which Fleming encouraged the audience to sing along.
L.A. Opera general director Placido Domingo shared memories of the evening’s honoree, his fellow tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who died in 2007 of pancreatic cancer. “His voice was unique,” Domingo said. He also joined Bocelli and Fleming for a fun encore of “Non di scordar di me” and took the baton from maestro Eugene Kohn.
After the singing, guests settled in for a gala dinner. Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, George Schlatter and Jack Nicholson were in attendance. Bocelli left early with his wife and daughter to sing “The Lord’s Prayer” for Pope Francis in Philadelphia on Sept. 26.
Proceeds from the concert and gala dinner, chaired by Dr. William Isacoff and Barry Tucker, will go towards pancreatic cancer research at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.