In 2011 a barely 11 year old Golden Child calmly stood on an outdoor stage, her silken curls glistening in the spotlight. David Foster introduced the next and final song of this “one girl” concert – a concert that had left her audience spellbound. Then he said the magic words “Nessun Dorma” and there was an audible gasp from the audience, but the child, Jackie Evancho remained serene. I must say, there is always something so soothing to me in watching Jackie “just be.”
Foster departed from the stage entirely and the orchestra began the opening stanza..
Then Jackie closed her eyes, opened her mouth and sang the first few notes. That was all it took to know, to feel in your bones, that this would be a great and commanding performance…and it was. I did not see her perform this concert live. I had to be content with the video only. I have watched this one performance over and over in the last four years. It always sweeps me up and gives me the knowing I am watching a very special moment in history…in time.
Jackie would perform Nessun Dorma repeatedly throughout 2011 – always masterfully – but that Dream With Me night was above and beyond. Not necessarily because she sang it better then, but it was one of those rare moments in life when it all came together – everything just hummed and moved together – to create perfection.
After 2011 she never sang Nessun Dorma again – until a few days ago.
Her fans have waited and hoped for such a moment. Jackie’s new conductor, Peter Kiesewalter has recently been playing his own arrangement of Nessun Dorma during Jackie’s off-stage time. This had inspired several of Jackie’s fans to post on her official forum their deep desire to hear her bring this song back into her repertoire.
On April 23rd in Shippensburg, PA, Jackie decided to please her fans with an impromptu, walking on stage at the last part of Peter’s piano version of Nessun Dorma to sing along with it. The arrangement is not meant for a vocal, but Jackie was not trying to do some masterful performance. It was a happy and loving gesture toward her fans, whom she so loves and wishes to please. She trusts her audience to accept her as she is in the moment, and they certainly did with this snippet of her great talent…a talent not only of voice, but in her ability to capture hearts no matter how informal the performance.
I snatched this You Tube comment by Dave Kanak on the Shippensburg Nessun Dorma…
Jackie technically, has already outdone her previous majestic performance of ND. She went from the key of B, that I could even sing it to, up where the Big girls and boys, true classical and opera singers, the Big time Key of D, finishing with a beautiful controlled vibrato high B.
So what was it like from the audience? Here I quote from an excellent review by Sean Daley, whose seat allowed him to see off-stage left, where Jackie entered. Peter Kiesewalter was playing Nessun Dorma…
Jackie seemed to position herself behind her dad facing out to the stage.. there was a “readyingness” to the movements.. then her head peered out (but well off stage), as though to look at the front row or rows.. she ducked back in.. then peered out a second time.. and ducked back in.. in retrospect, I suspect to gauge if anyone was looking off stage, probably wanting to protect her “surprise” as long as possible, before having to position herself to stand off stage ready to walk on..
and… then… she stepped out from behind her dad… into my view as I watched off stage… but she was still well off stage, but facing the stage.. it was a readying pose – standing straight, arms down, shoulders back, head and chin up.. the song was still a long way from being over.. my good ness!! – she’s got her mic in her hand..!! O-MI-GOSH..!! – SHE IS GOING TO SING..!!! this is unbelievable..!! realization was hitting me..
and she still hadn’t started.. but she was ready.. and then, still in silhouette, well off stage, with Peter still playing, Jackie raised her mic.. and her voice was simply the sweetest sound imaginable.. and others seemed befuddled – because they hadn’t been watching.. and still, she hadn’t appeared.. but her voice and the moment were heavenly..
and… then… she… strode… on… to.. . the… stage… and there was an audible audience gasp.. and the very air began to radiate.. there was a glow and crispness to her outline.. she seemed to bend the space around her.. you could see the waves of light drawn to her.. she was at the center, space rippled wherever she moved.. she was in command of the elements.. there was power in her presence, but smoothly wielded with ease.. and she looked so happy and triumphant.. and she beamed as she sang.. and Peter was smiling.. and we were enraptured.. and at the glorious conclusion, we rose in unison to proclaim her magnificence.. and as we finally quieted down – this amazing 15 year old girl simply happily giggled her thank yous..
I have seen Jackie live many times, and seen and heard her sing many songs, but never Nessun Dorma live.. the videos of her singing Nessun Dorma have always blown me away of course.. indeed Jackie first “found” me singing the last half of Nessun Dorma nearly 4 years ago on her PBS Special.. but nothing – honestly nothing has ever compared to the sight and sound of her that Shippensburg evening – it was electric..
Here now. Ladies and Gentlemen is the only video posted (to date) of this event. The sound quality is poor, but nevertheless captures Jackie’s radiant voice and the reaction of the audience to this long-awaited return of Nessun Dorma. I am hopeful she will perform it again soon…with an arrangement that is created for her.
For those reading this who may have never heard or seen Jackie’s 2011 Dream With Me PBS Concert (actually some people have not!).