What keeps history's bestselling classical solo artist grounded? For Andrea Bocelli, the world's most recognizable opera singer, the answer is his belief in a generous God.
Born in Italy in 1958, Bocelli has since boosted opera's popularity to previously unreached heights. Blinded at 12 in a soccer accident, the singer has let his rich, soaring vocals share how he sees the world instead. The man's voice has awed millions worldwide, and Bocelli is now widely regarded as the reigning king of opera's crossover success among mainstream audiences.
In an interview translated from Italian for The Christian Post, Bocelli explains how his chart-topping triumphs pale in comparison to his faith. If there's one thing that the tenor hopes listeners take from his music, it’s that there's immense joy in knowing Christ firsthand. The superstar singer hopes to share this revelation firsthand when he performs Friday at Washington, D.C.'s Verizon Center as part of a national tour.
CP: You've been actively involved with singing and playing musical instruments since your early childhood. What about music is so powerful to you?
Bocelli: The nature of music is mysterious and so much so that it generates strong emotions within us. It moves along passages that reach the most intimate areas of our psyche without being tried by prejudices or influences of any kind. This special condition attributes special properties to music that even I, in a certain sense and without even troubling the supernatural, do not hesitate in defining as a mystical experience.
CP: You've performed extensively in Europe and the U.S. What are the differences and similarities between the audiences you've encountered in each country?
Bocelli: This is a difficult question because every audience transmits its affection and enthusiasm in completely different ways. The American public, for example, clap and shout with a unique form of energy, while the German public, for example, clap for a very long time without ever tiring. It's important to add that the warmth of the public, in every part of the world, is always directly proportional to the skills of the artist in communicating authentic emotions in an unexceptionable and sincere artistic manner.
CP: You've proven that classical music still appeals to large numbers of fans worldwide. Why does the style have so much staying power?
Bocelli: Music is an art that goes well beyond science. Proof can be found in the huge amount of studies that have been carried out throughout the world based on music-therapy and the important results achieved.
Just like the other things that belong to human knowledge, music has required centuries and great artists to achieve the level that we can now enjoy. Music is a prerogative of those who are willing to spend time to study it, understand and love it, well aware of the fact that one life is not enough to improve just one single note of what has already been written and performed. This is why classical music is still and will be even more so in the future, an instrument of inspiration and comparison, for all those capable of using it correctly and without abusing it.
CP: You're recorded classical, opera, folk and even pop songs. Is there a particular genre you enjoy the most?
Bocelli: My real passion is for opera. It was born and developed by listening to records, and my dream as a child was to record entire operas when I grew up and this dream came true. But what credibility would a singer have if he only recorded opera music, without trying out the stages of the theatres? This is why I plunged entirely into other realities, where it is difficult performing for everybody. Such experiences have turned out to be extremely important and formative for me.
CP: You recently performed a free concert in New York's Central Park last September with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra. How was that?
Bocelli: That concert represented an important opportunity for me to come into contact with a huge audience, a large city, a large country and to shout out my loudest possible thank-you from that stage. Thanks for the affection I was given and for the trust given to me. Thanks for the deafening applause, the cries of encouragement, of power and positive energy. I will never forget any of it.
CP: You have performed before the Catholic Papacy several times in the past. Is faith an important matter to you?
Bocelli: In my opinion, the only way forward in this world is with faith, which not only explains the reason for life but also fills it with joy and hope. Faith transforms what would be a tragedy into a marvelous story with a happy ending. If all of this is reflected in my singing, how happy that would make me.
CP: You're embarking on a U.S. tour to perform your songs. Why does classical and opera music lend itself so well to live performances?
Bocelli: Opera and classical music in general were born in periods during which recordings did not exist. They were born in the theatre and that's where they belong. They were widely diffused through records, reaching a surprising level of quality throughout the years, but the emotion and the magic of a live performance still remains the prerogative of the theatres and of the concert halls. Once performed there, artists and the audience form a synergy and create an immortal masterpiece and a unique moment.
CP: What's next for you and your music?
Bocelli: I will carry on singing until my voice allows me.
Many years ago I learned from my mentor that one cannot make serious plans more than twenty-four hours in advance and I have always followed this precious advice. It is also matched by the words of a famous Italian film director who once said: "We have many plans for the future; it's a pity that very often our future has such different plans for us."