On Wednesday evening, K Rusom’s ice cream shop was catering to a very different clientele. Young students, ladies dressed in regal saris and Parsi families crowded around to catch a quick ice-cream sandwich before Zubin Mehta began his performance at the Brabourne Stadium with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra as well as opera singers Maria Katzarava and the internationally renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli.
Mehta performed for a crowd of 8,000. “You know, this isn’t Zubin’s first time at Brabourne,” says Shyam Khansaheb, a 72-year-old consultant for a chemical engineering firm who was there from Chembur. “He performed here in 1994 with the Israel Philharmonic. I wish I could have seen that.”
As the concert got underway, many moved to the public stands — at Rs 500 a seat, these are a considerable distance from the action, but provide a 180-degree view of the grounds.
The show kicked off with a piece by Verdi, followed by pieces from La Boheme, and an opera composed by Puccini. Katzarava and Bocelli duet performed songs including O MIo Babbino Caro, or Oh My Beloved Father, from the opera Gianni Schichhi by Puccini. The two singers at one point broke off from the song to dance around the stage briefly.
The concert marked the last of three conducted in the city by Mehta as the first part of a multi-country celebration ahead of his 80th birthday.
Sneh Sunil Baxi, a 22-year-old chartered accountant came from Kandivli. He left for the concert — which began at 8 pm — at 4.45.
“I studied the piano for six years till I gave up to focus on my studies,” he said. “I love Mehta, and this is one of the best orchestras in the world.”
There were also those for whom Mehta was not the star attraction. “I am here for Bocelli,” said Maya Kumar, a 34-year-old architect from Malabar Hill.
The concert concluded with two standing ovations, two encores and a rousing rendition of the Happy Birthday song by the orchestra for their conductor.