25 May, 2018
If God could sing, he would sound a lot like Bocelli
Andrea Bocelli is a world famous pop star, a refined and versatile opera singer and a passionate, committed humanist with a voice which combines the power of the heroic tone with a tenor’s grace, strengthened by an unusually polished timbre
A legend of Andrea Bocelli’s caliber cannot be artificially designed. People simply recognize his talent and choose him. This is what happened, in an apparently well-matched but perfect context, the Italian singing competition Sanremo in 1994, because the childhood of a legend follows a course that breaks tradition. Since then, the tone of his voice has brought gentleness to the world and his fame has increased exponentially. ‘If God could sing, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli’: even Celine Dion’s famous comment is a clear, unadorned testament to the artist’s legendary status, as well as the perception of a God given gift. That voice, that melancholic and at the same time radiant tone, unrivalled in interpreting the love song, a matchless expression of earthly desire or heavenly love. ‘I don’t think one decides to become a singer, it is decided for you by the reactions of the people around you’. Andrea Bocelli has had to come to terms with having two all-encompassing gifts. The first is a specific timbre, which has become his signature, full and powerful, versatile to the point that he can range from the belcanto to the furor of verismo, from the sacred repertoire to the popular ballads. The second is more intimate: life led Andrea Bocelli to developing a different ability when he lost his eyesight during adolescence. This privation amplified his extraordinary and unique sensitivity, which transcends all boundaries, causing him to excel in his interpretation of lyrics and in his perception of the subtleties of musical expression. A Tuscan, like Puccini and Mascagni, Andrea Bocelli was born in 1958 at the family farm in Lajatico, amongst the vineyards of the Pisan countryside. His parents must be given credit for having encouraged young Andrea’s musical talent, allowing him to start studying the piano from the age of only six years old.
Later his musical passion extended to the flute and the saxophone, but it was in his voice that Andrea discovered the ideal instrument. This was the beginning of a formative process which would produce Bocelli, the star, ‘a modern but old fashioned tenor’ (as he likes to describe himself). There is something miraculous about the parallel track, along which Andrea Bocelli’s career developed. In 1996 Con te Partirò (and later its arrangement as a duet with Sarah Brightman with the title Time to say Goodbye) was heard in every corner of the world. The Bocelli phenomenon was talked about everywhere: an artist whose explosion into the recording world – with an album entitled Romanza – was breaking all records. At the same time, Andrea embarked on his operatic adventure, carefully managing of his voice. In Torre del Lago, in the summer of 1997, Bocelli performed parts of Madame Butterfly and Tosca, and also the aria dei 9 do from La fille du regiment, which received a standing ovation. Andrea performed at the Arena in Verona in 1999 for the first time, where he was applauded by an audience of eighteen thousand. Same year, he made his debut in the United States in Massenet’s Werther. At the same time, his album Sogno was released, which included Andrea’s duet with Céline Dion of The Prayer, which had already won the Golden Globe Award and was subsequently nominated for an Oscar. From here on, the Bocelli legend, supported by huge record sales, was unstoppable. ‘It is only with the heart that one can see clearly. What is essential is invisible to the eye’ wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery… and the essential, in the career of an opera singer, can be found in his discography.
In Bocelli’s case it is by his recordings that his voice can be guaranteed to be kept constantly current for generations to come. Meanwhile, the annual meeting at the Teatro del Silenzio, the joyful and prestigious summer concert event performed in the spectacular natural setting of the Tuscan hills in Val d’Era, acquires a reputation that makes it an unmissable event for a wide international audience. Andrea Bocelli himself is honorary president and co-founder of the project. Among the guests who have appeared with him on the stage of the stunning open-air amphitheatre are Placido Domingo, Josè Carreras, Lang Lang, Sarah Brightman, Zucchero Fornaciari and many others. Bocelli continues in his tireless concert and lyrical activities, constantly extending his repertoire. He interpreted an extremely complex Lieder program – the Notte Illuminata, receiving an incredible 20 minute standing ovation. On the pop music side, his highly anticipated album Passione in 2013 immediately shoot up to the top of the International charts, remaining in the billboard 200 for over two months. The album includes some of the most beautiful love songs of all time including, furthermore, duets with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado. Having always been convinced that solidarity is the only intelligent response to inequality, Andrea Bocelli has been one of the protagonists of several important events related to philanthropy and to the support of the disadvantaged throughout the world. His foundation is at the forefront at an international level, through intervention programs aimed at overcoming the barriers generated by poverty, disability and social exclusion, because, as claimed by its founder: ‘we are all brought into the world to be happy, and we all have a right to happiness. This is often not possible due to the hindrances created by unfair societies and communities, because of the walls put up by ourselves and our limiting beliefs’.
Photos by Intimissimi