It began with the Ferrari and Maserati supercars parked seductively on our way into the concert. Red and white Vespas flanked the stage. On came the orchestra, the men with red ties, and the women with red and black aprons. Behind them pennants glowed in national colours. "Viva Italia" indeed.
The Queensland Pops orchestra gave us Rossini and Vivaldi, and then Anne-Maria made an entrance. Her warm rich soprano effortlessly encompassed an Italian version of "The theme from the Godfather". Horn and flute came next – Armin Terzer and Domenica Taraborelli in virtuosic displays of brilliance with Rossini's "La Danza" and Roziak's "Italian Medley". Three tenors next – a group called "La Forza". In crossover music these days there is a tendency, even if the songs are originally in English, to translate some of the lyrics into Italian – Katherine Jenkins is a prime example of this – and La Forza followed this trend, with a beautifully harmonized part-English, part-Italian rendition of "Knights in White Satin" and Frank Sinatra's "My Way". Greg Moore (a member of La Forza) has a beautiful lyric tenor, which brought back many romantic memories with passionate renditions of Granada and O Sole Mio .
Predictable, familiar music, maybe, but none the worse for that. That was what we had come for. We were confident, too, that it would be performed by excellent musicians – and it was.
And so it continued in the second half. An even more dramatic entrance by Anna-Maria La Spina. Unashamed celebration of old favourites with an Italian flavor – Rossini's "William Tell", "La Donna e Mobile", "Carnival of Venice", "Finiculi Finicuala", "You Raise Me Up"(in Italian and English) concluding with "The Prayer" and - you guessed it - "Nessum Dorma".