I am writing from the plane that is bringing me back home, where I will hug my sons Amos and Matteo, where my relatives and close friends are waiting for me, but also my beloved horses and the flavors and aromas of the Marian month, a time in Italy when nature is rejoicing, in which life triumphs in all its beauty and softens and instills hope even in the most tired hearts.
Behind me Seoul that “Land of the morning calm” where I gave the last concert of a tour that started, almost two weeks ago, in Mumbai, on the occasion of my Indian debut. Adrenaline is still rushing, to the point that I cannot sleep. My mind is crowded with many events, public and private, many meetings that will turn into sweet memories.
I am pleased to share them here, starting from a very vivid image, not from the stage, but as a spectator, in the audience, next to Zubin Mehta and his wife Nancy, while on the limelight were performing the very young choristers, and instrumentalists of the “Mehli Mehta Music Foundation”. Our encounter with India could not be more cheerful, thanks to the enthusiasm and skills of a multiethnic army of young musicians educated to beauty, that Veronica and I were able to applaud as soon as we landed in Mumbai.
This is one of the many philanthropic realities, resulting from the generosity of one of the greatest orchestra conductors, precisely Zubin Mehta. In the past days, for his eightieth birthday, I had the privilege to celebrate him, singing in concert, just in Mumbai, his hometown. And it was nice to see his surprise (and soon after, his emotion) when all of a sudden the orchestra, not giving ear to his baton, started to sing, instead, the classic “Happy Birthday”.
After the charming Indian experience, festive, fascinating and also a bit surreal (because of the enormous “Brabourne Stadium” – the Indian Temple of Cricket – that hosted the concert), we flew to Abu Dhabi, where we received the embrace of those extraordinary people and found a summer temperature. Taking advantage of some free hours, some friends have given us the thrill of living a sunset in the desert… And so we have felt the vertigo of a boundless and timeless place, that has always been, for Jesus Christ as for many other mystics, conceived as a space for meditation, where to rediscover oneself.
Running through the dunes with our little Virginia, has brought us back to when, many years before, Veronica and I had visited the desert with Amos and Matteo, at that time young kids…and joy has mixed with nostalgia, to the point that we have decided to return soon there, all of us together, among those sandy hills.
Before the following stop, the tour has provided a twenty four hours break that, (let me tell you a little secret), we have used to visit Oman, a nation of incredible natural beauty. In Muscate, I have taken my first swim of the season in a clear blue sea, but I have also had the opportunity to make new friends.
After twelve years I have been able to meet once again the Filipino community and I was astonished by their kindness, I have been able to dive into the heart of a megalopolis like Manila, chaotic yet hospitable, appreciate people who still live their Christian faith with enthusiasm and pride (something that in Europe is not so frequent to happen).
One more great Capital of the East, another amazing welcome: Tokyo has remained in my heart, creating the firm intention to get back there soon, and the regret for a very short stay because of the tight commitments of an agenda that, in the end, has taken me to Seoul…Where – a couple of hours ago – I have closed with a flourish, feeling euphoric at the idea of sharing emotions with an audience so involved, but also because, I confess, of the joy to perceive “the smell of home”, just like my beloved horses that, when they smell their stables from afar, they gallop with even more enthusiasm!
In Korea, our friend Sumi Jo wished us the best of luck…she, who was engaged in Italy, right as I was engaged in her country. Sumi the famous soprano that I will soon meet, sharing the stage, for an event that I cannot yet mention, but that will soon be announced.
Speaking of great artists, I would like to thank my travel companions, the conductors that were at the helm of the orchestra, Zubin Mehta, Carlo Bernini and Eugene Kohn, soprano Maria Katzarava, with whom I have shared all stages, the pop guests Balqees Fathi, Christine Allado, Sarah Àlainn and Ilaria Della Bidia. Finally a special thank you to the flutist and close friend Andrea Griminelli: despite my being, on such an occasion, a very poor student and a modest performer, the flute is an instrument I love and I am never tired of playing, listening to, and accompanying at the piano. Not only art, but also the cheerfulness of Andrea and his passion for life, have remarkably made easier the moments of tiredness which may arrive during any tour.
And here I am, once again in the clouds, galloping home, with my heart full of gratitude towards life and towards He who created it, feeling indebted with many people that I have met, and that have given me their time and their affectionate listening. Just like you, who have been so kind as to listen to me, sharing my comments, waiting to meet again in person, for a handshake, in a theater, or on the notes of a song.