Andrea Bocelli in concert in Milan
“I remember in all the euphoria of the next day, a reporter jokingly asked me if at that time they could expect one of my concerts to be in space, maybe be, or on the moon! Andrea, 63 years old next Wednesday, tells me from her Italian seaside villa.
Bocelli is a serious man with a strong religious faith, but he laughs easily, especially when he remembers the day he thought he had to act out in a crowded Wembley stadium during the Princess Diana memorial concert in 2007.
“It was my first time singing The Music Of The Night and unfortunately I hadn’t been able to learn all the words – my diary was very busy at the time – so I asked my wife Veronica to ask me through the headset.
During the performance, she was rushing to the control room but was stopped by security guards who became suspicious and did not believe her very agitated explanations.
“Eventually everything cleared up, but I was in a cold sweat, thinking I should act out, in front of cameras halfway around the world and with composer Andrew Lloyd Webber a few feet away. from me, behind the scenes!
Blinded at 12 in a freak football accident, Bocelli doesn’t like to talk about his disability. “I cried, but only for a short time,” he said. “I then put the self-pity aside and decided that I had to be optimistic about life. He learned braille, read music and play the piano.
Driven by pure talent, Andrea has sold over 150 million records and replaced “Big Lucy” (Pavarotti) as “The Voice of Italy”.
Celine Dion once said: “If God had a singing voice, he would sound like Andrea Bocelli”.
Bocelli on stage with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra
The star’s love for opera began in her childhood in Lajatico where her father Sandro sold agricultural machinery. “I listened to and learned by heart all the great tunes on phonograph records.
“I remember that at school, as a teenager, I was considered a sort of Martian because my contemporaries listened to all the popular singer-songwriters at the time, when I was only enthusiastic about operas such as La Bohème, Tosca and Andréa Chénier.
He first performed in public “about half a century ago; I was on vacation with my family and my uncle entered me for a competition, without asking me first, at Caffè Margherita in Viareggio.
“It was my first time performing in front of a real audience, not just an audience of relatives and friends. First I sang O Campagnola Bella, then O Sole Mio. I won the competition and got my first standing ovation.
It wasn’t until the age of eighteen that Bocelli got into pop and began playing the piano in clubs and piano bars to support himself while studying law. There he met his first wife, Enrica, the mother of his two adult sons.
He has a nine-year-old daughter, Virginia, with his second wife Veronica, also his manager. The couple met in 2002 and “from that night on we never separated again”.
Is he a good husband? “Ask him!” he’s laughing. “I have a lot of flaws, and maybe the worst of them is that I don’t know what they are.”
Bocelli’s big breakthrough came in 1992 when Italian rock star Zucchero Fornaciari held auditions for the tenors. Pavarotti heard Andrea’s tape and said “there is no voice more beautiful than Bocelli”.
Pavarotti asked him to sing at his wedding and his widow asked him to sing at the funeral.
Bocelli performing as part of the One World Together At Home concert during the coronavirus pandemic
The Bocellis have been confined to their home on the Tuscan coast. “I found it to be a very anxious and frustrating time. But I spent more time with my kids, studied, listened to music, and read.
The forced break inspired him to record his 2020 religious album Believe.
“There are pieces linked to my childhood, pieces of pure and authentic religiosity, rooted in popular tradition. Believe also includes two prayers that I myself set to music. The first is an Our Father that I wrote years ago, and the second is an “Ave Maria” which has just sprung from my soul in the midst of confinement. “
He sang a duet with Cecilia Bartoli, “the greatest active mezzo-soprano today”, and Alison Krauss.
“I like to think of the album as a medicine for the soul, a sequence of sung prayers that can comfort and spark optimism.”
Has the pandemic dampened his positivity? “Not at all. I have faith in the human being, in his intelligence and his ability to choose the path of good at every crossroads. And as a believer, I trust in the goodness of the Creator, as being in the arms of a loving parent.
“History teaches us that even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome. Being optimistic is a moral duty, and all the more so in this situation. “
Veronica Berti and Andrea Bocelli
Andrea rides a horse to relax and declares: “I try to spend as much time as possible on my boat: it is a means of freedom and authentic contact with nature, and the ideal place to spend moments of relaxation. carelessness with my family.
In addition to the Tuscan villa, he owns a country house in Lajatico, and a house in Miami “my second home”.
He loves Italian culture – “that ‘civilization of beauty’ that our country has been able to express through many art forms over the centuries” – and his fans.
“Not a day goes by that I don’t think about the privilege I have of being followed everywhere with so much goodwill and by so many people. I always have encounters on my tours that move me and touch me.
“I remember people telling me that thanks to my music they had rediscovered their faith or their belief in life … It is this kind of appreciation that gives me the energy to continue singing, to give back meaning to a career and maybe even a life. . “
He just released a new remastered album to celebrate the tenth anniversary of this Central Park concert in 2011 with a bonus version of O Sole Mio.
“Every note was recorded live, with no safety net,” he says. ” I am delighted. It was a remarkable event, it took me sixteen months of work and it was certainly one of the peaks of my career.
It is dedicated to his father, who ironically hated opera, but always dreamed of visiting America.
Bocelli doesn’t like to plan ahead. “If it were up to me, I would avoid making plans beyond twenty-four hours,” he says. “But my schedule is always very busy… I’m going on a tour of the United States which includes twenty-two concerts.
His album Sacred Arias, recorded over twenty years ago, was the best-selling album by a classical soloist of all time.
Faith continues to play a big role in her life. “I believe the Christian message is the only philosophy that is perpetually relevant, and I think it is the greatest source of wisdom. You just need to take two concepts from the Gospel – “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do to others what you would like them to do to you” – to understand how it is still today the heart of wisdom, which we must all seek to draw.
Concerto, One night in Central Park, is out now as Remastered CD, Fan Edition CD / DVD, Limited Edition Fan Edition CD / DVD + Poster, 180g gold vinyl, DVD and Blu-ray.