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Sinatra Stirs Audience With His American Dreams

September 28, 1986

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ Frank Sinatra, returning to sing in the land of his parents for the first time in 24 years, carried his audience on a nostalgic trip through an American ″supermarket of dreams.″

The 70-year-old singer turned on the charm and the verve, willing away the ghosts of Italian performances past and repeatedly bringing 9,000 spectators to their feet Saturday night.

Millions more - lacking one of the $71 to $360 tickets to the Palatrussardi tent-theater on the edge of this industrial city - watched the 85-minute concert live on television.

″Sinatra hasn’t grown older at all,″ said Alda Diuri, a 40-year-old fan from Bergamo, north of Milan. ″He’s a legend. He can’t grow old.″

There was a hint of gravel in his voice when he sang in a low whisper, ″my last goodbye,″ from ″What Now My Love,″ and some of his highest notes seemed strained. The hair has silvered and thinned and the boyish face that inflamed passions now is slightly puffy.

But when he boomed out ″New York, New York″ in tones that soared above his 40-piece orchestra he showed the ″king-of-the-hill, top-of-the-heap″ magic that still thrills his fans.

″If I closed my eyes and just listened, it was the same Frank Sinatra I’ve always known and loved,″ 31-year-old ski magazine writer Luisa Ossola said after the concert.

Starting with ″Fly Me to the Moon,″ Sinatra whipped through 21 of his hits, pausing only briefly to take a few sips of mineral water. He elicited cheers from the audience, which included Premier Bettino Craxi, when he said in Italian:

″I’m American, I’m also Genoese and Sicilian, but this evening, I am a Milanese.″

Sinatra, paid $175,000 for the one-night concert, flew back to the United States on Sunday.

His no-nonsense march from one tune to the next disappointed some who had expected more affection, perhaps a lingering touch. He was, after all, born to a Genoese mother and a Sicilian father.

″Irresistable,″ wrote La Stampa critic Lietta Tornabuoni of Sinatra’s performance, ″but also ... so hurried and stingily hasty as to disappoint desire.″

Yet speed and service are part of Sinatra’s ″supermarket of dreams,″ according to the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera, which compared him to a buffet destined for ″the universal consumption of a supermarket.″

To many, Sinatra, the son of a fireman from Hoboken, N.J., is an incarnation of the American dream.

Said Antonio Marino, an Italian businessman who like many in the audience was in his 50s, ″He sings of the beautiful things about America.″

After Sinatra’s last performance in Milan, on May 25, 1962, he vowed never to return to Italy because of constant, often violent encounters with the media and crowds who taunted him about his broken marriage with actress Ava Gardner.

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