At last, a legend for the new millennium. A legend in the Homeric sense of a myth, the “word that speaks”, flowered through singing, just like Caruso, Gigli, Del Monaco, Corelli… A legend of Andrea Bocelli’s stature cannot be built through design: not even the most astute marketing would be able to come up with such a result. People simply recognize and vote for him. And this is what happened, in an apparently equal yet perfect context (a singing competition, the Sanremo festival in 2004), because the infancy of a legend follows a course which breaks traditions. From then on the tone of his voice has brought tenderness to the world and his fame has increased exponentially. Because “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 mythical status as well as the perception of a gift…That voice, that simultaneously melancholic and radiant color, unrivalled in the expression of the song of a lover or a father, a matchless expression of earthly desire or heavenly love. Close to celebrate his first twenty years of career with 80 million record sales to testify to it.
”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 had to reckon with a double gift, both elements of which are completely absorbing. The first aspect is a timbre which is as recognisable as a signature, full and powerful, with a versatility ranging from the belcanto to the furor of verismo, from the sacred repertoire to the popular ballads. The second gift is a more delicate one: life’s journey led Andrea Bocelli in adolescence to a different ability which deprived him of sight. This was truly a privation which increased the flow of an extraordinary and unique sensibility which transforms and transcends boundaries, causing him to excel in his interpretation of the lyrics, in his perception of the subtleties of musical expression.
Bocelli, the superb voice that the opera had been awaiting for years, “exploded” onto the world stage performing one song. An unusual route offering extraordinary possibilities: a real breath of fresh air in a world – that of the opera – that risks forgetting its own popular origins. It rang out in every corner of the world in “Time to say goodbye”, while on stage it resonated in the operatic masterpieces: a voice which combines the power of the heroic tone with a youthful tenor’s grace strengthened by an unusually polished timbre.
A Tuscan, like Puccini and Mascagni, Andrea Bocelli was born on 22nd September 1958 in the family farm of Lajatico, among the vineyards of the countryside of Pisa. 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 the formative process which would produce Bocelli, the star, “a modern but old fashioned tenor” (as he likes to describe himself). In 1970 he enjoyed his first success in a singing competition: performing ‘O sole mio’. After studying singing with Maestro Luciano Bettarini), Bocelli approached Franco Corelli, an artist whom he had always worshipped. In order to pay for singing lessons, Andrea played the piano in the local bars and in the meantime he continued to develop his interest in humanities and graduated in Law at the University of Pisa. Just in the same period that saw his launch in the world of pop, having been discovered by Caterina Caselli and signed to her record label “Sugar”, Andrea had an opportunity to make his debut on the operatic stage, in 1994 in Verdi’s Macbeth (in the role of Macduff) directed by Claudio Desderi. That Christmas he was invited to sing the Adeste Fideles in St Peters before the Pope. No more courtrooms or requests in piano bars: this was the start of a meteoric rise. Andrea Bocelli had found the stage. In fact the stage had found Andrea Bocelli and would never leave him.
There is something miraculous about the parallel track along which the tenor Andrea Bocelli’s career developed. In 1996 the melody of the song “Con te Partiro`” (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.
In Germany, for example, the duet became the best selling single of all times.
At the same time Andrea embarked on his operatic adventure, with a careful management 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. In 1998 came a new debut, this time playing Rodolfo - alongside Daniela Dessi - in Puccini’s La Bohème in Cagliari. That same year he met M. Zubin Mehta and this led to the beginning of a successful collaboration between them. 1999 was a very intense year. Andrea performed at the Arena in Verona for the first time where he was applauded by an audience of eighteen thousand. In October, 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 this point on the Bocelli legend, supported by huge record sales, was unstoppable. His concerts would find the most celebrated directors on the podium such as Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Valeri Gergev, Zubin Mehta and Myun Whun Chung.
In January 2001, Andrea made his debut on stage in Verona in Mascagni’s Amico Fritz. On 28th October, following an invitation by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, he sang Schubert’s Ave Maria at “Ground Zero” before the world as part of the memorial to the victims of 9/11. In the summer of 2002 he performed in the role of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfly at Torre del Lago. Following further successful pop recordings and international awards in 2004 Bocelli continued to develop his operatic stage career (playing Cavaradossi in Tosca and then the lead in Werther in Bologna) as well as performing at many large concert venues
“You can only see properly with your heart. The essential is invisible to the eye” so wrote Antoine de Saint-Exupery… The essential thing, in the career of an opera singer, is to be found in his discography. In Bocelli’s case it is by his recordings that his voice can be guaranteed to be kept constantly up to the minute for generations to come. As Caruso did at the start of the last century, so Bocelli continues to do at the beginning of the millennium. His first “classical” recording dates back to 1997 and was entitled Viaggio Italiano. It was a Caterina Caselli Sugar project undertaken with the Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra: spanning Puccini to Schubert, Verdi to Donizetti. 1998 saw the release of Aria – The Opera Album, with the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino directed by Gianandrea Noseda. The dawn of the new millennium, was marked by the release of a cd dedicated to Sacred Arias with the Orchestra and Choir of the National Academy of Saint Cecilia conducted by Myung-Whun Chung: an homage to Christianity which remains one of his most shining artistic productions becoming the best selling classical album ever released by a solo artist. Bocelli earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records by occupying first, second and third place in the American classical music charts.
The year 2000 marked a new milestone in Andrea Bocelli’s recording career: Puccini’s La Bohème, with Zubin Mehta conducting and Barbara Frittoli in the role of Mimì. Andrea had already played the role of Rodolfo in 1998 prompting praise from Corelli, who commented: “Andrea is an operatic tenor with a voice of rare beauty. His sense of romance and melody goes beyond the very essence of Rodolfo the bohemian”.
Still under the baton of M° Mehta, the start of the millennium also celebrated the release of the Verdi album which gave Andrea the opportunity to immerse himself in this national treasure’s works. In 2001 it was the turn of Verdi’s Requiem, a recording with a formidable cast, starting from the conductor Valere Gergiev. In the autumn of 2002 Andrea Bocelli combined his energies with those of Lorin Maazel, with whom he undertook a very special recording project: Sentimento, a collection of romantic pieces by composers such as Tosti, Denza and Gastaldon, arranged for the orchestra by M° Maazel, who also demonstrated his refined musical talents as a concert violinist, accompanying Bocelli’s voice. The project was an enormous success earning Andrea a double nomination at the 2003 “Classical Brit Awards”, where he won both “Album of the Year” and “Best Selling Classical Album of the Year”. In May 2003 Andrea sang the role of Mario in his album of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca under the direction of Zubin Mehta.
In spring 2004 Bocelli released Il Trovatore which had been recorded at the “Bellini” opera house in Catania in 2001. Bocelli was accompanied by , Veronica Villarroel, Carlo Guelfi, Carlo Colombara.
Accustomed to leaping over apparently insurmountable obstacles, the Tuscan tenor extended his repertoire (not disdaining an occasional carefully measured venture into melodic cross-over territory). Bocelli sang Werther which was released onto the market in spring. The following year his repertoire of operatic recordings was enriched by two great landmarks of realism: Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci and Marcagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, both directed by Steven Mercurio.
His more recent projects include the demanding role of Andrea Chénier by Giordano and finally the most audacious and bewitching love story of all time, Bizet’s Carmen, directed by Myung Whun Chung. For his concerts Bocelli conquered the most lauded strongholds of the classical music world such as the Wiener Staatsoper. In 2008, while his new album Incanto was a sell-out success, Andrea performed in Carmen at the Rome Opera, followed by Puccini’s Messa di Gloria in Padova, and then La Petite Messe Solennelle in the United States, directed by Placido Domingo. He appeared as Turiddu in the Cavalleria Rusticana on the prestigious stage of the Deutsche Opera in Berlin and then flew to South America where he performed to an audience of more than 110,000 in San Paolo, Brazil.
Having always been sensitive to the call for solidarity, Bocelli’s name is frequently to be found heading the list of artists appearing at concerts to support causes such as aid for the earthquake victims of the Abruzzo, alongside stars such as Angela Gheorghiu and in evocative venues such as the Colosseum in Rome. And it is to promote the image of the Eternal City that Franco Zeffirelli, the film director, asked him to play Mario Cavadarossi from Puccini’s Tosca, protagonist of his film Promo di Roma with actress Monica Bellucci.
In September 2009 Bocelli made his triumphant debut at Carnegie Hall in New York in a triple concert where he performed sacred arias and lieder. In November he was awarded another prestigious token of recognition – the Vittorio de Sica Prize – conferred by the President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano.
As many of the legendary voices of the past such as Caruso and Sinatra have done before him, Andrea Bocelli also celebrates the Christmas tradition. His new album My Christmas shot to success in no time. Released on 3rd November 2009 in the USA, it went straight into the charts at number three and reached second place where it remained for six consecutive weeks. Achieving sales of more than 4 million, this makes it the 5th top selling album in the world in 2009. And these can be added to the 65 million records already sold to date.
Since March 2010 there has been a new star shining bright on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame dedicated to our Tuscan tenor, one of a very few Italians to appear in this prestigious firmament.
While the Andrea Bocelli website www.andreabocelli.com has achieved over a million hits in one year.
Meanwhile the annual meeting at the “Teatro del Silenzio, the summer joyful and prestigious concert event performed (since 2006) 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, that comes to Tuscany every summer for the occasion.
Andrea Bocelli himself is honorary president and co-founder of the project. Among the guests who have appeared with him on the stage of that stunning open-air amphitheatre are Placido Domingo, Josè Carreras, Lang Lang, Laura Pausini, David Foster, Sarah Brightman, Zucchero Fornaciari, Heather Headley, Noa, Roberto Bolle and Nicola Piovani. A lover of beauty and art beyond the traditional ideological standards, Andrea Bocelli today is a world famous pop star, a refined and versatile opera singer and a passionate, committed humanist. In autumn 2010 the updated and expanded edition of his autobiographical novel “La Musica del Silenzio” (“The Music of Silence”) was met with great acclaim. At the same time Bocelli achieved yet another huge success with the release of his recording of Carmen: Duets & Arias, a collection of the most famous arias from Georges Bizet’s Carmen which shot to the top of the charts in the United States and Canada.
Andrea Bocelli faces the new decade and continues in his tireless concert and lyrical activities, constantly extending his repertoire to reach completely new territories of music, such as Baroque and Lieder works. He interpreted an extremely complex Lieder program – the international project entitled the “Notte Illuminata” in February 2011, receiving an incredible 20 minute standing ovation. This seals the debut of the artist at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. A city where he returned on September 15th of the same year for the extraordinary concert held on the “Great Lawn” in Central Park, singing with artists such as Bryn Terfel, Celine Dion and Tony Bennett, and accompanied by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Alan Gilbert: an exceptional event which was broadcast by WNET and recorded to make a CD and DVD (“Concerto: One Night in Central Park”) distributed in over 70 different countries.
In February 2012, another debut in the lyrical world: Bocelli starred on stage at the Carlo Felice theatre in Genoa in the lead role of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette directed by Fabio Luisi. Also of this production a double CD has been made and released in November.
In 2012 also a new CD “Opera” is released. It is an anthology of the most dazzling moments in the history of opera performed in twenty years of international career, in addition to the “Complete Opera Edition”, a box – again the label Decca – which brings together in eighteen CDs, the lyrical recording of complete Operas performed by the Tuscan tenor up to now.
In October during the London ceremony for the prestigious “Classic Brit Awards 2012”he was awarded by the composer Sir Andrew Lloyd Webb the award “International Artist of the Year”.
On the pop side, Andrea Bocelli has been for more than twenty years one of the most loved and followed stars at a global level. On January 29th 2013 he will release his new, highly anticipated, album “Passione” including some of the most beautiful love songs ever, featuring duets with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado.
The more I immerse myself in singing, the less I understand. I only know that God has given me a voice which allows me to express what I feel, and in this sense I believe I can describe it as a recognizable voice”... The true greatness of an artist is measured also by his humbleness, in spite of world fame and the awareness of the cultural and social function, which his name represents. We finally have a legend who is worthy of this cumbersome title. Finally we have a voice for the new millennium.
Project by Scozzese Design
Supervisor: Massimiliano Ballanti
Career Contents: Renate Bausch
Photographers: Giovanni De Sandre, Luca Rossetti
Video Contents: Strani Rumori Studio
Biography and Opera contents: Giorgio De Martino
Special Thanks: Sugar Music
Official Fanclub: www.bocelli.de
Official Community: www.andreabocelli.us