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December 21, 2014

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Photos: Holiday traditions in L.V. — Magical Forest, Bellagio display, Ethel M … and Andrea Bocelli

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Andrea Bocelli, with music conductor Eugene Kohn, performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013.

Andrea Bocelli at MGM Grand on Dec. 7, 2013

Andrea Bocelli, with music conductor Eugene Kohn, performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Andrea Bocelli at MGM Grand: 2013

Italian-born tenor Andrea Bocelli performs at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is a much-anticipated, end-of-the-year holiday tradition in the Entertainment Capital of the World, and he didn’t disappoint alongside music conductor Eugene Kohn, guest artist Heather Headley, soprano Svetla Vassileva and guest artist Le Div4s (because there are four of them, natch) at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night.

Bocelli gifted the arena audience — many of the women were dressed to the nines; there were quite a few (presumably real) furs — with 2 1/2 hours of opera and a few unexpected standards, breaking during a 20-minute interval and performances by Vassileva, Headley, Kohn with his full orchestra and a large choir.

Bocelli’s evening setlist, similar to his past two performances at MGM Grand Garden Arena, included pieces from “Manon Lescaut,” “Romeo et Juliette” and “La Traviata.” He diverged from his program, throwing in one of his favorites by Pietro Mascagni, and he had Kohn jokingly apologize on his behalf for all the high C’s in a selection from “La Fille du Regiment (The Daughters of the Regiment)” by Gaetano Donizetti.

Also part of the evening: “Mamma” and “Funiculi, Funicula.” It was the post-interval, second half of the evening that was familiar and crowd-pleasing. When Headley, the Tony Award winner for “Aida,” took the stage and performed a gorgeous and stunning “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” she received the evening’s first ovations.

But the star of the night was Bocelli — with his “Ave Maria,” in which he played the flute; “Amazing Grace,” sung in English; and “Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful),” performed in Latin. He performed in English “I Found My Love in Portofino” from his last album and “When I Fall in Love” with Headley.

For the encore, which novice (or exhausted?) audience members missed in rushing for the exits, it was Elvis Presley’s “Love Me Tender” — “because we are in Las Vegas,” he quipped; “New York, New York”; “Time to Say Goodbye” with Vassileva; and “Nessun Dorma.” (“The Prayer” with Headley would have been phenomenal, but it was not to be this evening.)

Bocelli provided an elegant evening at the opera with thousands of people in an arena that Beyonce ruled as Queen Bey the night before. Bocelli followed in line with fellow male headliners at MGM Grand who donned a tuxedo for the evening: Michael Buble and Justin Timberlake. Stylish attire for an evening of style.

Thanks to contributing photographer Tom Donoghue and Las Vegas Sun photographer Steve Marcus for their photo galleries, and be certain to check out Robin Leach’s fabulous recent interview with Bocelli.

Fantastico, Signor Bocelli! Until next time this year.

Don Chareunsy is senior editor for arts and entertainment of the Las Vegas Sun.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

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