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Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014
Arts & Music

For Bocelli, music biz is bellissimo


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There are certain singers, Pavarotti, Domingo and Bocelli, who conjure images just by the mere mention of their surnames.

The latter is right at the top of the list when it comes to classical, crossover and opera. Andrea Bocelli is one of the most popular singers in the world.

The blind Tuscan-born vocalist has been internationally known since singing with Pavarotti in 1992 and touring with European singing sensation Zucchero the following year.

More than 10 million copies of his single “The Prayer” have been sold. Bocelli, who will perform Saturday at the Forum, possesses a set of pipes like no other performer.

“I have to say that my voice is a gift that is Heaven sent and of which I have no merit at all,” the humble Bocelli said through a translator via email. “I have tried to honor this talent with much study and self sacrifice.”

Bocelli, 54, realized he had a significant voice as a child while admiring great vocalists.

“My love for music has always been part of me,” Bocelli said. “I myself used to sing, when I was still a child, imitating my heroes from Enrico Caruso to Beniamino Gigli, Mario Del Monaco to the unequaled Franco Corelli, whose records I literally used up. A self-taught teenager, I gave my first concert in a small village in my Tuscany, not far from where I was born.

“Singing is a quality belonging to the ones we love, not of the ones who love themselves.”

Despite having an extraordinary gift, it was no guarantee that Bocelli would become a star during the ’90s. There was a shift in the music industry during that era. Record company honchos would rein in recording artists with varied sonic sensibilities. They preferred to pigeonhole performers.

“I really had to struggle to reach fame, because the world of entertainment did not really know where to place me,” Bocelli said. “Several times I happened to be told that my way of singing was out of fashion, without any chance at all of attracting the public’s attention. Despite everything, I insisted, almost unknown to most people, until when at more than 35 years of age I reached success.”

Bocelli has made up for lost time. He is the biggest-selling classical recording artist in the history of classical music. He has sold more than 80 million albums. Unlike most of his peers, he has crossed over to the pop charts. But don’t mention “cross-over” to Bocelli.

“I do not like the term cross-over very much,” Bocelli said. “I do not feel the need to label my activity.”

Bocelli recorded duets with Nelly Furtado and Jennifer Lopez for his “Passione” album, which dropped in January.

“I have aroused the envy of my two teenage sons,” Bocelli cracked. “Joking aside, I admit I am a lucky man to work with great artists who are also wonderful women. ... I’ve always loved singing duets. Curiosity to music has never abandoned me.”

Bocelli shouldn’t have the need to accomplish much else since he has such an esteemed resume, but he will not take a break.

“The challenge is to go on in my artistic career, trying anyway to be a present and attentive father and a caring partner,” Bocelli said. “The challenge is to maintain the peace of mind I feel, which, thanks to the affection of my family and of my public, goes on giving the rhythm to my days as it has always done in the past years. My desire is to go on singing, until my audience will ask me to do it: be it in front of a hundred thousand people, in front of rulers, or in the dining room of my house for my children and for a few friends, for me it makes no difference.”

Expect to see Bocelli on the road and in the studio for many years. “My concert agenda is full of commitments, which are set for the upcoming years,” Bocelli said. “I am a lucky man because for my work I can dedicate myself to my greatest passion: music. I hope I will continue to do it for as long as possible. The essential point is to go on, never stopping to believe in one’s own passion and never betraying one’s own principles.”

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