I wonder how many people out there remember the very first time that they heard Andrea's voice and remember how it touched their hearts and changed their lives forever. I suspect that there are millions!
For me, it was a rainy, winter Sunday, about seven years ago. I was in my dining room, sewing a ball dress for my daughter, and I had the TV on in my lounge, just for some background noise. I heard this unbelievably beautiful voice singing and I had to go and see who it belonged to. (It was, I think, the original BBC programme about Andrea's rise to fame) . Like William, I had been a passive listener of music all my life, but no voice had ever spoken to me or touched my soul as did Andrea's.
From that moment I was under his spell.
It has been a journey, the last seven years, in which Andrea's music has been of enormous comfort to me; through kidney failure, dialysis, a transplant and many other health issues and family problems. I always find great solace in listening to his voice. Today, I am healthy and happy, working full time as a special needs teacher and Andrea's music remains an essential part of my daily life- it calms and relaxes me and reminds me always that perfection does exist in this world.
I have been lucky enough to see Andrea in concert, on both his trips to New Zealand. I remember leaving the theatre after his first concert, feeling absolutely stunned and wishing that those moments could have lasted forever. In 2007 I travelled to Italy to spend time with my daughter who was studying in Florence, and had hoped to see him in Andrea Chenier in Sicily, but unfortunately he did not, in the end, perform that role. I am saving very hard to attend his concert in Lajatico in 2010!! This will be a dream come true, seeing him perform in his own country.
How can you thank someone who has introduced so much pleasure into your life - a love for classical music, for opera, for other artists (Corelli, Pavarotti, Laura Pausini). He has also inspired in me a love of travel, of Italy, the desire to learn the Italian language, and to live a life of courage, gratitude and thoughtfulness.
A truly inspirational man.