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MUSIC REVIEW

Bocelli rises over season’s syrup

By Scott McLennan
Globe Correspondent / December 6, 2010

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Holiday concerts, with their shopworn songbooks, can lead the best of singers into a trough of treacle. Andrea Bocelli, however, navigated his spellbinding talents through a program that celebrated the season without getting snowed in by it.

Bocelli’s two-set concert at the TD Garden last night saved the Christmas songs for a well-paced sequence in the show’s latter half, and he filled the rest of the program with what he does best, namely casting classical and operatic pieces with his signature tenor.

Singing so close to the North End, where all things Italian are adored, Bocelli would have had to go out of his way to blow this shot. Though the Garden was not packed, the sizeable house showered the singer with several ovations.

After conductor Eugene Kohn led the orchestra through the “Hallelujah Chorus,’’ Bocelli emerged for a transfixing “Where’er You Walk,’’ a lush piece that created nice contrast against the spirited interplay between voice and strings in the subsequent “La Donna è Mobile’’ from “Rigoletto.’’

Violinist Anna Tifu was Bocelli’s first guest, taking center stage to dazzle with the fantasy sequence from “Carmen.’’

A curtain behind the orchestra and chorus doubled as a movie screen for scenes from the various operas Bocelli drew pieces from. Part of the first set had halting moments but ended strongly when soprano Alexia Voulgaridou joined Bocelli for the love duet from Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly.’’ The two stellar voices seemingly pushed each other and fell into each other for a dramatic performance that did not need its visual aids to convey its meaning.

The second set was more casual, with Bocelli belting out crowd-pleasers such as “Mamma’’ and “Funiculi, Funicula.’’

Bocelli began the holiday sequence with a resonant “Blue Christmas,’’ a song that also featured powerhouse singer Heather Headley. A children’s chorus accompanied Bocelli for a lighthearted “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.’’ And with “Angels We Have Heard on High,’’ Bocelli captured the solemnity the season represents for some.

Bocelli and his guests fully endeared themselves with the popular “My Prayer’’ and “Time to Say Goodbye’’ performed as encores.

Scott McLennan can be reached at smclennan1010@gmail.com.

ANDREA BOCELLI At: TD Garden, last night