Photo by Love Imagery

Michael Amante LIVE! at the PNC Bank Arts Center: “A Diplomat for Love”

by Shelley Bromberg, msbrom.com

Even though it’s a dreary day this Tuesday, May 23, 2017, it doesn’t stop thousands of New Jersey’s devoted fans from coming out to the PNC Arts Center to hear singer, Michael Amante. Perhaps these people are privy to knowing what an incredible singer and performer he is, and for those who weren’t sure, they are about to find out.

Termed “The people’s tenor” by Tony Bennett, Amante is best known for being a versatile artist. The New York Times writes that Amante has “both the voice and charisma of a cross-over star.” Not only does he excel in classical music, but he can also belt out the standards, contemporary, and Broadway along with the very best of them. And today, Amante will lead his followers on a musical journey that will include opera, musical theater, and even eighties pop.

Today’s performance is the second offering in the Garden State Arts Foundations’ 2017 “Senior Concert Series,” which offers free concerts to New Jersey residents aged 55 and older. Since 1984, the Foundation has offered complementary performances to our states’ senior citizens.

As we take our seats, the stage is set with an impressive array of musical instruments including a full-sized grand piano, a percussion station with drums and vibraphone, a horn section, and bass. Judging from this set-up, we can tell today’s musical performance will be stellar!

First up is Ronald Gravino, the Vice President of GASAF’s Board of Trustees, who encourages the audience to take some time one day to visit the nearby New Jersey Vietnam Era Museum. Gravino also thanks the sponsors of the foundation; the sponsors include Live Nation Entertainment, PNC Bank, Sirius XM 60s on the radio, the Princeton Public Affairs Group, and the Sills Cummis and Gross law firm, in addition to contributions from individual donors. According to Gravino, “No federal, state, local, or Garden State Parkway toll money” is ever used to fund these performances.

Amante immediately takes the stage singing Blood, Sweat & Tears, “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.” Dressed in a long black jacket with gold embroidery and black slacks, Amante quickly sets the tone for a gripping and moving experience. The audience cheers and sings along:

You made me so very happy,
I’m so glad you came into my life.

Upon the song’s conclusion, Amante states, “I’m your musical guide, Michael Amante. Have you seen me before?” To this and for the performance, the audience bursts into a strong applause. Amante further explains that their presence today represents “freedom and safety” - they are not shying away from attending a concert. This comes in light of the tragic news the night before when 22 concert goers were killed in a terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.

Continuing on, Amante reveals that his father flew in WWII for “peace and safety” and that he sees himself in a similar role as a singer and performer, and that he wants to be “a diplomat for love.

Not surprisingly, Amante’s professional experience includes musical theatre. Upon his performance of Leonard Bernstein’s “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story, Amante reveals that he enjoyed playing Tony and creating a “sense of anticipation.” He also uses his voice with a special dramatic flair and strong emotion singing Andrew Lloyd Webber’s, “The Music of the Night” from Phantom of the Opera as the audience listens intently:

You alone can make my song take flight, help me make the music of the night.

For those seeking some of opera’s best arias, Amante does not disappoint. His performance of “Core’ngrato” is incredible; the sheer power and resonance of his voice bring the audience to their feet with strong applause. Other notable operatic numbers include “Malafemmena” and his most noteworthy finale, “Nessun dorma,” which elicits a standing ovation and wild applause from the crowd at the show’s conclusion.

We had the chance to catch up with some audience members after the show. Loretta from Berkeley told us, “I think this concert was very good. When he sang from Phantom, I love that. I also apppreciate the work that the foundation does.”

Cheryl from Toms River states, “I loved this concert. This man has a beautiful voice and amazing breath support.”

We also had a chance to catch up with Amante. When asked how he enjoys performing in New Jersey, Amante shares that he loves the energy. “I have more energy (here), whatever I bring to them, “they always give more back to me.”

Clearly, based on the love shown from the audience and his love for them, Michael Amante is a diplomat for love.

To learn more about Michael Amante, visit his website at michaelamantemusic.com. For more information about future Garden State Arts Foundation shows at the PNC Bank Arts Center — including the Osmonds on June 13 and the US Army Field Band and Soldiers’ Chorus on June 29 — go to gsafoundation.org.