Jackie Evancho has performed at venues across the U.S. and abroad, but Sunday night was the 11-year-old's first major concert for the hometown fans in Pittsburgh. She wowed them.
Hundreds of fans started gathering outside of the Benedum Center hours in advance of her 5:30 p.m. sold-out performance with the
Actor Tom Cruise, former Steelers player Franco Harris, children in their Sunday best and fans still dressed in their Steelers-themed garb from Sunday afternoon's game filled the seats at the downtown theater.
The Pittsburgh Opera Orchestra and Chorus performed four songs before Jackie came on stage in a red-and-white dress and performed “Lovers” from House of Flying Daggers.
She continued with “Ombra Mai Fu” from Xerxes, “The Lord’s Prayer,” and “The Impossible Dream” from Man of La Mancha.
It was then that Jackie finally addressed her hometown.
“You guys have been a great audience. I’m so thankful to you—you have been great so far,” she said.
She then introduced “To Believe,” a song written by her uncle, Matthew Evancho, and arranged by David Foster and Nicholas Dodd.
“This song means so much to me,” she said.
Jackie ended the first part of her performance with “O Mio Babbino Caro” from Gianni Schicchi before a 20-minute intermission.
The singer from Richland Township gained international stardom in the summer of 2010 when she was the runner-up on
Her following has grown ever since.
Alex Moss, known as “Sempi Ternam” on Jackie’s Facebook page, came in for the concert from Columbia, SC, a drive of more than 600 miles. His name comes from the lyrics of the song “Pie Jesu.”
“This is my sixth Jackie concert and I am as excited as if it was the first,” said Moss a few hours prior to the concert.
Al and Rita Vento of Whitehall received tickets as a gift. The Ventos followed Jackie’s journey on America’s Got Talent and were excited to attend.
When asked if he was a fan prior to the concert, Al Vento said, “I think everyone in Pittsburgh is a fan.”
Although Al has season tickets to the Steelers, he gave those tickets to his grandsons so he could attend the concert with Rita.
“I could have gone to the game, but I would have been worried about missing part of the concert,” he said. “This was really worth it.”
Rita said after the first set of songs, “She is amazing. It is hard to believe that voice comes out of that little girl.”
After the break, several opera members of the chorus accompanied by the orchestra performed five songs. Juan Jose de Leon, a tenor who performed “O Sole Mio,” received a standing ovation.
When Jackie came back on stage dressed in a white layered dress, she performed “When You Wish Upon A Star” from Pinocchio followed by “A Time for Us” from Romeo and Juliet, “Angel” and “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera.
While there were some fans like Moss, seated in the front row, who gave Jackie a standing ovation after every song, she also received a full-house standing ovation at the end of her performance.
“It meant so much to me to perform for my hometown, Pittsburgh,” said Jackie. “Without you all, I wouldn’t be here.”
To her great delight, the crowd gave her another standing ovation.