ANDREA BOCELLI: THE WORLD’S BEST TENOR

Andrea Bocelli is the most talented popera star i n the world. An Italian tenor noted for his unique blend of opera and pop music.

By MARIANA MEJIA

Andrea Bocelli was born on September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, Italy. He is the son of Alessandro and Edi Bocelli. His family lived on a farm and sold farm machinery and made wine for a living. Andrea Bocelli also has a younger brother named Alberto Bocelli. Alberto and his mother still live on the farm to this very day after their father, Alessandro Bocelli, died in the 2000s. Andrea Bocelli’s younger brother wanted to fuel his own passion, like his older brother, who fueled his passion through music, and Alberto wanted to fuel his passion to become an architect, but when his father died, he had to give up his dream and continue with the Bocelli family’s century-old wine business, a business that had to be led by a Bocelli at all times.

Andrea Bocelli demonstrated a love and passion for music at an early age. While being raised on a farm, he was exposed to opera as a child simply because it calmed him down. He learned how to play the piano, flute, saxophone, guitar, and drums as a young boy. At around seven years old, he could recognize the voices of great singers of those times and even tried to sing like them. Early on, he even participated in music competitions and performed small concerts at school and at family gatherings. His parents were very proud and encouraged his musical talent, even though he was born with poor vision (congenital glaucoma) and completely lost his sight after a soccer accident when he was only 12 years old. “I cried, but only for a short while. I then set aside any form of self-pity and decided I needed to be positive and optimistic about life, finding ways to explore it. This did not affect in any way my musical training. People may perceive it as my main issue, but it never was and never is,” said Andrea Bocelli. Although, this incident was very tragic in nature. His blindness didn’t stop him; it instilled in him a special kind of sensitivity and added depth to his personality, which is often reflected in his music today.

Not being bothered by his lack of sight, he studied law at the University of Pisa while singing at piano bars and nightclubs throughout Italy to finance and further his education. He worked as a state-appointed attorney for a year before deciding to pursue a musical career, and he studied voice with tenor Franco Corelli in the late 1980s. In 1992, Bocelli’s breakthrough began when he was asked by Italian pop star Zucchero Fornaciari to record a demo tape of “Miserere”, a song that was intended for the renowned vocalist Luciano Pavarotti. But Pavarotti was so impressed by Bocelli’s voice that he encouraged Fornaciari to use Bocelli for the song instead of him. In the end, Pavarotti and Bocelli became friends and performed “Miserere” together, which became Europe’s smash hit. That was the beginning of a spectacular career that opening up more opportunities for him to team up with some of the best voices in the business. In 1993, he was then signed to a record contract after a scout heard him sing during a party. Then, in that same year, he accompanied Italian rock star Zucchero on his European concert tour, singing sand duets with him as well as solo sets. He performed at a concert at the Teatro Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia in December.

As a singer on the rise, Bocelli competed in the Sanremo Festival in 1994 and won top honors in the newcomers’ category. That same year, Bocelli released his first album in Italy, Il Mare Calmo Della Sera. He scored a major hit in Europe a short time later with Bocelli (1995), which featured “Con te Partiro.” The song later became a popular duet with Sarah Brightman as “Time to Say Goodbye,” which appeared on his 1997 album, Romanza. Andrea has worked with the likes of Luciano Pavarotti and Sarah Brightman, and has sung for the Pope. His 1995 self-titled album, Bocelli, was sold so well in Europe that in 1999, Sogno became an international hit song and album. Bocelli is still one of the world’s most popular singers today. With “Sogno”, Bocelli cemented his status as an international singing sensation. The hit record included a duet with Celine Dion on the song “The Prayer.”

THOUGH HE CLAIMED OPERA AS HIS FIRST LOVE, BOCELLI MIXED ARIAS WITH POPULAR MUSIC ON HIS RECORDINGS (A GENRE REFERRED TO BY THE PRESS AS “POPERA”) IN AN EFFORT TO EXPAND HIS AUDIENCE BASE.

He was even criticized by some of his reviewers as being too lightweight to be taken seriously by the opera world. Bocelli nevertheless performed in The Merry Widow in 1999, singing three arias, and made his American operatic debut later that year in the title role of Jules Massenet’s Werther at the Michigan Opera Theatre.

Soon after, more popular albums soon followed, including 2001’s Cieli di Toscana and 2006’s Amore, which included guest appearances by Christina Aguilera and Stevie Wonder; the holiday collection My Christmas (2009); and the live album Concerto: One Night in Central Park (2011). Bocelli even reached the top spots in the pop album charts all over the world and registered worldwide sales of over 10 million copies. And back on March 4, 2006, he was awarded a Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic and was also rewarded with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for recoding at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on March 2, 2010. Then he was nominated for Best New Artist at the Grammys—the first time a classical musician : STARS had been nominated for that category since 1961. In 2013, Bocelli started to collaborate with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado on his album Passione. The multi-lingual album has songs in English, Italian, French, and Spanish. He also joined forces with Placido Domingo and Ana Maria Martinez for the movie Manon Lescaut (2014). In 2015, Bocelli released Cinema, his 15th studio album. The tenor had longed to create an album of his favorite movie songs, originally performed by singers such as Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza. But the album also features duets with well-known artists like Ariana Grande and Nicole Scherzinger.

That same year (2015), he sang “The Lord’s Prayer” before Pope Francis in Philadelphia during the pontiff’s historic visit to the United States. For that time being, he did a review for Times Magazine and said, “Having the chance to sing again in front of the Holy Father, for whom I have deep and sincere devotion, offering my humble contribution as a fervent Catholic, is a great honor for me.” St. Augustine notoriously reminds us that singing is an extraordinary form of prayer. And this is my goal, my purpose, and my joy: to pray together. ” In past interviews with reporters, Bocelli has also mentioned that Catholicism has always been first in his life. I do not think anyone can ever do anything without the help of God. But continuing with Bocelli’s collaborations, he collaborated with Ed Sheeran in late 2017 to record “Perfect Symphony,” a version of Sheeran’s ubiquitous hit “Perfect.” The English pop singer also co-wrote the track “Amo soltanto te” for Bocelli’s October 2018 studio release, Sì. Around that time, Bocelli sang this at the royal wedding of Britain’s Princess Eugenie, and the following March, he delivered another personal performance during a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

EVEN THOUGH ANDREA BOCELLI HAD CAPTURED FOR YEARS A LISTING IN THE GUINNESS BOOK OF WORLD RECORDS, AS HE SIMULTANEOUSLY HELD THE NUMBER 1, 2, AND 3 POSITION ON THE U.S. CLASSICAL ALBUM CHART.

His personal is very interesting; he has three children, two children with his ex-wife, Enrica Cenzatti, and one child with his current wife, Veronica Berti. Bocelli married his first wife, Enrica, in 1992. The couple had two sons, Amos (born on February 22, 1995) and Matteo (born on October 8, 1997), before separating in 2002. That same year, Bocelli met Veronica Berti, who became his manager. The couple welcomed a daughter, Virginia, on March 21, 2012. They were married in March 2014 in a ceremony in Livorno, Italy. Along with his marriages and his pride and joys, his younger son, Matteo Bocelli, and his daughter, Virginia, are singers and are following in their father’s footsteps.

Due to the coronavirus, many other tours and productions featuring Andrea Bocelli that came out this year have been difficult. For example, on Easter Sunday 2020, with the pandemic looming, Andrea Bocelli live-streamed his Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope concert from Milan’s Duomo cathedral. Accompanied by organist Emanuele Vianelli, Bocelli sang traditional favorites songs “Ave Maria” and “Santa Maria” inside the empty cathedral, before heading outside to close his mini-concert with “Amazing Grace.” On February 14, 2022, on Valentine’s Day, catch Bocelli at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida for his Andrea Bocelli 2022 Tour, where fans from all over the world will come to see his spectacular, tenured voice. Rumor has it that this tour will excite both his fans and Andrea Bocelli, especially after a long period of staying indoors and from watching him live through a rough pandemic year. A true Valentine’s Day special for his fans!