WASHINGTON, December 7, 2013 – International singing sensation Andrea Bocelli is returnsing to the U.S., to the delight of his many fans. He will be performing here at the Verizon Center on Thursday, December 12, 2013.
The Italian tenor is roundly praised for a voice that is both beautiful and inspiring. While he is considered a classical opera singer, Bocelli easily crosses musical boundaries.
The artist released his first album in 1994. Since then he has recorded albums covering pop and classical music, including two greatest hits albums and eight complete opera releases, boasting a total of over seventy-million recordings sold world-wide.
Bocelli sings to eager audiences that share an appreciation for both the beauty of opera and the exquisite craft brought to bear in the classical art song. Though he’ll have to use amplification to reach all corners of the vast Verizon Center, Bocelli is the perfect introduction to the otherwise un-amplified glory of the classical tenor’s voice for listeners who might not be exposed to this very different style of singing.
Blinded as a child from a soccer ball accident, the singer has lent his talents to numerous benefits for children. He oversees the Andrea Bocelli Foundation whose goals include fighting poverty and helping people overcome “barriers caused by illness, discomfort or disability,” according to released statements.
Communities was able to ask Mr. Bocelli a few questions prior to his Thursday evening performance here.
Communities: During a performance, how do you connect to your audience? Are you aware of them as individuals, as a body of people, or as an energy force?
Andrea Bocelli: When I sing in public, my desire and my commitment is to relate with each person in the audience. Music, on the other hand, is capable of such alchemy: notwithstanding a packed audience, thanks to the power of the art we share, and to the common enthusiasm for beauty, I have the neat sensation to establish a relationship of great intimacy with each person.
The impact with an audience is always an extraordinary experience, to feel the affection of the public through a direct contact, see how music can become an emotional communication channel which defeats cultural barriers, is a priceless joy.
I do not make it a mystery my preference for the American public, because they attend concerts fundamentally to share the joy of listening, celebrating what music can give because they are generous, lively, and participating.
In a concert, the audience contributes to make the difference: to perform before a public, who is still able to get touched, who knows how to capture the either sensual or spiritual content of a piece, is able to start a virtuous circle …Personally I am picking this wave of positive energy, and I try to give back my best as an answer.
Communities: You have called yourself “a modern but old-fashioned tenor.” Can you tell us a bit more about the distinctions between each style of singing and how you attempt to blend them?
Andrea Bocelli: From the technical point of view, of the use of voice, there is little difference between a natural [vocal] emission and a lyrically set one. Differences are less dramatic than it might appear. Even if it may seem otherwise, I always try to blend different styles as little as possible…. pop and classical music are two different universes, each with its own artistic difficulties, peculiarities, depth and artistic dignity.
Naturally, I often happen to bring in a context, canonically devoted to pop, even classical music, in the hope to make [this music] known and to spread my favorite pieces. My course of studies and passion are the ones of an opera singer. But it was through the pop universe that I reached international fame. My first encounter with music during my childhood has been with the popular voices of the great interpreters of the twentieth century, from Enrico Caruso to Beniamino Gigli, to Franco Corelli.
They are all artists who – as I always say - have made the history of opera interpretation, but who have also sung many popular romanzas and songs. Opera offers a complex music which has experienced a secular development. …”Light music” is borne more by instinct. It is an art relying on improvisation.
Communities: This has been a big year for Andrea Bocelli recordings. In January, you released “Passione,” a studio CD highlighting Italian love songs. You’ve just released a new CD/DVD compilation entitled “Love in Portofino,” which contains material from “Passione” plus additional music. Can you tell us a little bit more about your newest release?
Andrea Bocelli: In “Love in Portofino”, I have collected the “classics” of pop that speak of love and that have accompanied my youth, timeless pages that still have the power to fascinate, to move, to make [one] fall in love. In the course of that concert which then became also a DVD, I have also had the joy of singing a duet with my partner Veronica, in a song (“Somethin’ stupid”) which is a musical gem [that] led to success in the ‘60s [for] Nancy Sinatra.
I was also very pleased to do justice to some songs that in United States only a few know: they were part of the fantastic albums of the ‘80s, or even before. They made a whole generation dream, and today, a teenager like my son Matteo is, loves them a lot. These are pages that in U.S. will sound unknown, and considering that in Italy they have been quite successful it will be interesting to see if it is a success once more, overseas.
“Love in Portofino” is for me the perfect exemplification of how a live concert can reach quality standards difficult to reach in studios…The warmth and the sensuality of a place which is among the most beautiful in the world, the magical atmosphere of a small bay on the sea, the presence of a lot of friends, artists and of a relaxed audience made up of people who were on holiday…contributed to mak[ing] it a truly unique evening.
Communities: In “Passione,” you have two especially interesting duets. One is with Jennifer Lopez. The other is with the spirit of Edith Piaf. What was it like to work with a pop artist like Ms. Lopez? How did you and the studio put together that “virtual duet” with Edith Piaf in “La Vie en rose” so that it sounded realistic and immediate?
Andrea Bocelli: Jennifer is an artist who expresses great energy and charm, besides being a nice and kind person. She has managed to infuse such sensuality, in the song “Quisaz Quisaz Quisaz,” to turn it into a little gem. Thanks to her, I think this duet could be included in [an] album of performances without any fear…[even] if placed [next] to Nat King Cole, Doris Day and other names [that are now part of] history.
As for “La Vie en Rose,” I must thank David Foster who had this great insight. To take a great voice, a legendary voice, especially if it is the unmistakable one of Edith Piaf, and revive it thanks to technology in a contemporary duet, has been a real “coup de théâtre”!”… It is as if she had come back with us for a while, fifty years after having left us. To sing “La Vie en Rose” in a duet is a dream come true thanks to a little miracle!
I am particularly fond of this song, also for all that it expresses, that is the unshakeable and romantic faith in the power of love.
Communities: Your biography notes that you hail from Tuscany. What Tuscan and Italian foods do you like best? Do you have a preference for Italian wines?
Andrea Bocelli: I like almost all good food, although it is not my habit to overindulge in food and libations. I love all genuine tastes, our pecorino cheese, the Tuscan bread, I love sausages when handmade, vegetables when they are from the kitchen garden, and being a good Italian, I love pasta: with pesto sauce, tomato sauce, or simply with oil (if it is from my lands)….By the way, as far as oil and wine are concerned I am quite demanding, having the good fortune of producing them in my family along with my brother Alberto, using our own vineyards and our own olives, in the Tuscan hills of Valdera.
Tuscany has always given good wines, long before productions like Montalcino and Bolgheri became famous, when the idea of “green harvest” would have been a scandal, when grapes were squeezed with bare feet, and the grape harvest was a feast for all. Today producers know they have to work aiming mainly at quality, but they know well the generosity of our land that has never betrayed those who love and respect it.
Communities: What’s next on your current tour and afterwards?
Andrea Bocelli: This year, once [I have] finished the stages of the tour, I will rest for a few days in United States together with my family, spending the days leading up to Christmas and Christmas day in Miami. As for 2014, in the pop field we are considering new songs, while in the operatic one I have already planned the recording of “Manon Lescaut” by Puccini.
My concert agenda is full of commitments which are not only [happening over] the next months, but also the next years…. I try not to think too much about future commitments and to deal with one thing at a time, trying to give importance and intensity to every day and to every meeting.
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