Up with People has been entertaining audiences around the world for more than 50 years, yet a recent performance with Andrea Bocelli will go down as one of the more memorable evenings in our history. Bocelli’s wife personally invited Up with People to perform at “Teatro del Silenzio,” his annual charity music festival at an outdoor amphitheater near his hometown in Italy.
It was such a great display of what makes Up with People so special. A select cast of alumni gathered for a week of rehearsal in the US, jumped on a plane to Italy to perform in front of 15,000 people in 104-degree heat — and loved every minute of it. Performing with the Maestro in support of his world charity made it even more amazing!
A Night to Remember
Up with People opened the event with an 8-minute medley of dances from around the world to celebrate this year’s theme, Canto della Terra, which means “Songs of the Earth” in Italian.
“It was spectacular,” says Terry Adams, Up with People’s Vice President for Advancement. “It was an opportunity for us to make the connection to a very international audience while celebrating the many cultures of the world.”
The mission of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, distress due to illness and social exclusion. Every year, the Maestro invites international artists to his hometown in Tuscany to celebrate and support the work of the foundation.
“It was such a great fit for us,” says Up with People CEO Dale Penny, noting that our touring casts have donated more than 3 million hours of community volunteer work over the years to help advance people and causes worldwide. “There’s such a wonderful connection between our mission, what we represent, and what our cast members represent in the world.”
Whirlwind Week of Travel
The cast of 20 Up with People alumni came together to rehearse in Denver, but that was just one of their responsibilities. “Most of them were here to help kick off the staging of our newest world tour,” says Penny. “Then they flew to Tucson, Arizona where we were having our annual alumni reunion, with more than a thousand people from 22 countries in attendance.”
They performed at the reunion, then boarded a plane for the long flight to Italy, where they were greeted by Bocelli and the huge crowd at the outdoor amphitheater. They took the stage three times before the night was done: the opening number, another high-energy dance performance in the middle of the show, and the grand finale with the Maestro himself.
“They worked their tails off,” Penny says with pride. “And when they weren't working, they were out exploring Florence and having a great time.”
It was the performance of a lifetime for the cast members, and an outstanding opportunity to expose Up with People’s energy and purpose to a new audience.
“They created a really extraordinary professional performance," Adams says. “And to see them do it with no sleep and in 100-plus degree heat, and the spirit with which they did it is just the epitome of Up with People.”
After the concert, Andrea Bocelli and his wife Veronica hosted a private dinner, inviting six couples from Up with People to wind down at their home.
“I think the dinner started at 12:30 and got over around 3:30 am,” Adams says, still excited about the opportunity to discuss the show — and Up with People’s mission — with the rest of Bocelli’s guests. “It was a pretty intense, wonderful evening, and we were very fortunate to have 12 seats at that table.”
Penny is extremely proud when he looks back at the evening. “To be on an international stage like that and to see Up with People performing at that level,” he grins, “it was a great, great memory.”