Andrea Bocelli, the voice that speaks to the heart

Andrea Bocelli performing at Expo 2015. Courtesy of Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli performing at Expo 2015. Courtesy of Andrea Bocelli

“No dream is impossible to fulfill: the key is to pursue one’s own life plan and to believe in it with honesty, humility, and discipline.”
 
Andrea Bocelli, one of the most celebrated and - at the same time - criticized international talents, whose charm draws large crowds of enthusiasts and whose nerve challenges the fiercest purists of classical music, performed on June 7 at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. The sold-out show also featured the beautiful voices of sopranos Maria Aleida and Angel Joy Blue, the evocative interpretation of Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Broadway singer and actress Heather Headley, the vigorous violin of Caroline Campbell and the flute of Andrea Griminelli, the Los Angeles Festival Orchestra and the Cal State University Fullerton Singers, gracefully conducted by Maestro Eugene Kohn.
 
The love theme, particularly dear to the Tuscan tenor, was predominant: from Rigoletto to Carmen, from Andrea Chénier to Bohème and Traviata, followed by some of the best-known songs from the Italian popular tradition (Voglio vivere così, Mamma son tanto felice, Funiculì funiculà). American classics the likes of Love Me Tender and Can’t Help Falling In Love were accompanied on the piano by composer and producer David Foster, and his greatest hits Con te partirò and The Prayer, along with the encore Nessun dorma, were sealed by the final standing ovation.
 
After this great success, the world famous artist is expected to return to Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre in the fall, on September 18, to promote his latest pop album due for release in October 2015.
 
But did Andrea Bocelli encounter any difficulties in building a reputation as both an operatic and crossover performer?
My career path was very peculiar: I studied to become a tenor but owe my initial popularity to pop music. There were years of disappointment and frustration, while working my way to the top. As for the definition of crossover, I don’t think it fits what I do. Operatic and pop music are two completely different worlds, each of them with its own dignity. And even if classical pieces can sometimes be included in a pop performance, in the attempt to share my tastes with the audience, I rather try to keep these two genres as much separate as possible.
 
You were named Ambassador Extraordinary of Expo Milano 2015. What did this honor mean for you?
I was flattered and also agreed to perform at the opening concert in Piazza Duomo in Milan. Yet I believe that my role as an ambassador is shared by any other fellow Italian, who is called to promote our Country’s extraordinary history, cultural excellences, and impressive treasures. All of us must become aware of this invaluable heritage and make an effort to preserve and promote it worldwide.
 
What are the main objectives of the Andrea Bocelli Foundation and its contribution to the research on visual impairment?
The ABF is carrying out several projects, regarding both social and economic development in Italy and in Haiti, and scientific and technological research. As far as visual impairment is concerned, we are collaborating with the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on the “Fifth Sense” project, aimed at creating an intelligent perception system and high-resolution wearable tactile display to improve blind people’s personal autonomy. “Fifth Sense” also involves partners from Italian universities, and will continue in 2016 as part of the larger ABF “Challenges” program.
 
The Teatro del Silenzio (Theater of Silence) is an international-scale initiative, based in the beautiful Tuscan hills. Do you believe in the possibility to develop it into a Festival, promoting young operatic singers?
This is actually one of the options that we are currently considering. I believe in the importance to encourage and offer new opportunities to the young generations of artists, in particular operatic and pop singers. Perhaps the Teatro del Silenzio will play a part in this.
 
Do you have any new projects in the pipeline?
I only wish to keep singing until God grants it, and to contribute with my Foundation to forge a better world for the future generations.

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