It was last week my sister and I were generously invited to attend Jackie Evancho’s concert in Waukegan, IL at the grand Genesee Theatre. Jackie Evancho super-fans Colin Rooker and Jim Wood had two extra tickets and it wasn’t until the very day of the concert (May 19, 2017) that we were able to confirm we were attending (my brothers are in high school and have track practice each day after their classes).
After a number of hours of driving, our parents, my sister Tatiana Marie, and I met up with several other Jackie Evancho fans at the “17 North Bar & Grill” for dinner.
Much to our surprise when we got to the venue, we ran into a lot of old friends & fans that we had met last summer while performing at Festa Italiana in Milwaukee, where Jackie Evancho had a headlining concert.
Coincidentally, Friday night we surprised Agne G. and her mother, as they didn’t know we were coming... not that we did either. Tre Principesse joins up in North Chicago. Last minute decisions are how our family rolls and that can make for some great times!
As best we could tell the seats in the Genesee Theater were around ⅓ or so of the way filled and my sister and I were seated next to each other in the 2nd row on the Left Center Orchestra of the stage While my parents along with Len Rausch, Agne G. and her mother Sandra were seated on the Right Center Orchestra of the stage.
The stage itself as follows, Peter’s grand piano was stationed on my left. Located directly behind Peter’s piano in a semi-circle where the 8 player string orchestra each in pairs of twos on risers. On the stage floor there was an arrangement of electric candles at various heights and depths and two Roman pedestal risers for a fresh floral bouquets. On the back wall was an approximate 12’ x 16’ video screen for the full concert effect.
- The Impossible Dream
- The Way We Were - Barbra Streisand Story
- Medley w/stories
- O Mio Babbino Caro
- Time To Say Goodbye
- Think of Me
- When You Wish Upon A Star
- The Prayer
- Peter Kiesewalter: Marriage of Figaro Overture
- Somewhere Over The Rainbow
- May It Be
- All Of The Stars
- Music Of The Night
- 10. Safe & Sound
- Peter Kiesewalter: Carmen Entr'acte
- How Great Thou Art
- We’ve Only Just Begun
- Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
- My Heart Will Go On
- Nessun dorma
After her rendition of “The Impossible Dream”, she told a brief personal anecdote about listening to Barbra Streisand around the house, that her Mother loved Barbra Streisand, and that Barbra was a big inspiration to her, then she broke into the song, “The Way We Were”.
She thanked her fans for allowing her to continue to perform onstage; as this was the place she wanted to be more than anywhere in the world. Thank you so much!
As a nod to her younger days when Jackie was known for singing such songs as “O Mio Babbino Caro”, “Time To Say Goodbye”, and “The Prayer”, she performed an approximate 12 minute: Early Hit Song Medley of the below songs, around one minute and forty-five seconds of each song, telling brief stories about how each song was important to her and her career, this was done between each selection.
- O Mio Babbino Caro
- Time To Say Goodbye
- Think of Me
- When You Wish Upon A Star
- The Prayer
Jackie then took a short break and her musical director, pianist Peter Kiesewalter played his own unique, upbeat, and modernized version of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro Overture”. Jackie then returned to the stage to sing Judy Garland’s hit song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and she repeated a phrase from “The Wizard of Oz”, “There’s no place like home,” and she said that she felt most at home onstage.
She then sang “May It Be” originally by Enya, from “The Lord of the Rings”. The audience especially liked this song and I noticed a few people around me tearing up. Jackie has a very light tone and style of singing, her voice is that of a rather light soprano this evening, as was evident in Ed Sheeran’s hit “All Of The Stars”. Jackie sang it well, but the audience did not appear to recognize the song and they didn’t appear to really “get into it”.
However, the same can not be said in the case of the song that followed, “Music Of The Night” from “The Phantom of the Opera”. The audience easily recognized that song and around half of the audience gave her a standing ovation. Jackie then said, “I’m going to leave you alone now so go do your thing,” then came a 20 minute intermission.
At which time, we joined Agne, thus re-uniting the group “Tre Principesse”. Along with our parents went to take some special pictures of the lovely interior of the Genesee Theater.
Much like when I went to Jackie Evancho’s concert in Milwaukee (at Festa Italiana 2016), many people in the audience recognized me, which is always an interesting occurrence. The classical crossover genre of music fans is very tightly-knit and I heard people saying, “Oh, there’s Anastasia Lee !” all night long. My sister, Tatiana Marie, also received similar comments. My sister told me, “The reason everyone recognizes you is because you’re short and you’re wearing a red dress.” Singers generally have signature colors or styles they wear onstage and it hadn’t dawned on me until that moment that I was wearing “my signature color”.
After around twenty minutes of taking photographs and signing autographs with Jackie fans who also support the three of us, all went back to our seats for the beginning of the 2nd half of the concert.
As you may know, Singers in our genre are expected to wear long gowns or elegant formalwear, at least one long gown at some point during a performance and the dress changes do indeed make a performance more interesting. Different dresses add various looks and colors to the stage. My parents tell me that from where they were seated they could see Jackie backstage with her father talking and joking around between each set of songs.
After the moving rendition of “Caruso” she performed Taylor Swift’s song “Safe & Sound” from “The Hunger Games”. It was evident that Jackie really enjoys performing this song and has an accompanying video on the big screen behind her showing the footage from Jackie’s professional music video for the same song.
Jackie discussed her thoughts about songwriting before she performed her original song “Pedestal” with just Peter Kiesewalter on the piano. I understood the meaning of the song very well and I knew this song obviously meant a lot to her, but the audience didn’t seem overly moved. Actually due to the median age of the concert goers, they more than likely did not understand the song's "meaning".
Once again, Jackie left the stage briefly and Peter Kiesewalter then took over with his modernized version of the “Carmen Entr'acte” which definitely re-enthused the audience.
Jackie re-entered the stage and told a very personal story about her Great-Grandmother’s love for “How Great Thou Art” which she then performed. Her voice was extremely strong and definitely soared in this song. This gospel classic allowed her to show off her soaring high notes. She received a rousing standing ovation for that song. A real fan favorite! She then performed Karen Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun” as a tribute to her sister Juliet.
The next song definitely moved the audience; the classic Don McClean hit “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”. My Dad loves this song by Jackie and she performed it very well. Jackie spoke about her own artwork prior to the song and she said that Vincent Van Gogh was also an inspiration to her.
Next she would perform Celine Dion’s gigantic hit “My Heart Will Go On” from the movie “Titanic” and this was one of my favorite songs of the night and judging by the reaction from the audience I have to assume it was a real highlight of the evening for many in attendance as well.
Following “Titanic”, Jackie performed her closing number “Lovers” from her album “Dream With Me”. The orchestration behind her in this song was very powerful and this song was also an audience favorite for the night and she received a standing ovation.
When my sister and I were younger we went with our parents to the Moscow Ballet’s performance of “Swan Lake”, when they were touring the United States. Our parents gave us a couple bouquets of roses to give to the Prima Ballerina when she took her encore bows. We all walked downstairs from our balcony seats, walking up to the stage, and we personally handed the star prima ballerina the roses while she was receiving an incredibly lengthy standing ovation from an audience of thousands. When the ballerina saw my sister and I, she called us over (she had to pull me over as I was/am rather shy), the ballerina thanked us, kissed our hands, accepted the flowers, and my sister and I skipped back to our seats. Feeling as though we had been touched by the Queen.
That is how such an exchange should go. I don’t believe for a minute that Jackie had anything to do with the little girl being sent away, I don’t even think she saw the event take place as I know from experience, when stage lights are in your eyes, you honestly can’t see anyone in the audience. However, I hope in the future events such as these are handled more gracefully and delicately.
(Note - Jackie & her Team are looking for the young girl to Correct the Oversight.)
Jackie left the stage and then returned to perform her encore of “Nessun dorma” which the audience also loved and she received another standing ovation. Overall it was a great performance, Jackie sounded lovely, and her high notes were definitely “on pointe” that night.
Jackie thanked her audience and fans once again, as well as Peter Kiesewalter, the String Orchestra and her Sound Engineer.
All in All it was a Excellent Concert with Wonderful Friends.