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  • Liane Morris

The Passion & Talents of Andrea Bocelli (and Family!)


Image: Giovanni De Sandre

The world’s most famous and beloved classical music artist, Maestro Andrea Bocelli, is heading our way this month with a 70-piece orchestra and a 60-person choir to perform at Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley on 29 October.

 

The national tour includes just five cities, including Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and our own Hunter Valley. Global entertainment producer Teg Van Egmond is presenting the tour.

Christo Van Egmond, Teg Van Egmond’s Managing Director, says, “I’m overjoyed to announce that Andrea Bocelli, a true icon of the greatest Italian vocal tradition, will return to Australian stages this year! Only a handful of artists have done as much to popularise – and introduce newcomers to – the classical repertoire, and Bocelli’s extraordinary, God- given talent must be experienced live to be fully appreciated. We’ve never needed the uplifting, spiritual therapy of Bocelli’s world-famous tenor more than we do right now.”

Indeed, Bocelli himself is cognisant of the power his music has to heal and the need the world has right now for such healing to take place. Drawing from his extensive back catalogue – which spans almost three decades – Maestro Bocelli is set to uplift Australian audiences with a stunning selection of soul- stirring arias, enduring love songs and beloved crossover hits.

“The Australian tour dates are not just concerts to me; they are opportunities for us to immerse ourselves in musical beauty on a grand scale,” Andrea Bocelli says.

“For these upcoming shows, my aim is to restore some serenity and enter gently into people’s hearts. If my previous tours are anything to go by, I’ve always found Australian audiences to be passionate, enthusiastic and friendly. I genuinely appreciate my generous and engaged Australian fanbase and am proud to be even a tiny part of the soundtrack to so many people’s lives.

“With its ability to inspire and heal, music is its own language, and I never tire of performing these songs – even the ones I’ve been singing in concert for more than 25 years! – because they move me so deeply."


World-renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli made pop music audiences fall in love with classical opera. Originally perfecting his singing style under the guidance of mentor Franco Corelli, Bocelli’s star began to rise when he won the 44th Sanremo Music Festival in 1994. Bocelli has since sold over 90 million records, boasts one of the most recognisable voices in modern music and has won a Golden Globe, 7 Classical BRITs and 7 World Music awards throughout his illustrious career to date. By collaborating with artists such as Dua Lipa, Josh Groban and Ed Sheeran on his chart-topping album Si in 2019, Bocelli introduced his brilliance to a whole new generation of fans.

The famous tenor was born with congenital glaucoma on 22 September 1958 in the small village of La Stera, Tuscany, Italy, to Alessandro and Edi Bocelli. His father was a well-to-do farm machinery dealer and vigneron. He was raised on his family estate in Lajatico, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, and is passionate about where he comes from.


“I travelled the world. I had experiences of all kinds, yet the farther I go, the more I feel like I need to return to where life seems simpler and more beautiful. Right here, under the Tuscan sky, where I was born and raised amid nature, surrounded by the sounds and smells of the countryside.

“I cherish and hold every memory of Tuscany deep in my heart. I will take them with me wherever I go because I am the product of this land, the sum of my past, experiences, and childhood dreams. If you want to have large, strong wings, you need to be deeply rooted in your land. Lajatico is my retreat. It is the place where my ancestors chose to live, work and raise their children.”

He began learning piano at the age of six and then completely lost his sight following a football accident at the age of 12. Bocelli also plays the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and drums. Although aspiring to become a famous opera singer one day, Bocelli attended the University of Pisa to study law and sang in piano bars at night, where he met his first wife, Enrica Cenzatti.

Bocelli practised law for just one year in 1986, after which he pursued his dream of becoming an opera singer by studying under Franco Corelli. Then, in 1992, he auditioned for a demo tape produced by an Italian rock star, Zucchero Fornaciari, of his song Miserere. Zucchero sent the tape to Luciano Pavarotti, who was so impressed by the young singer that he persuaded Zucchero to use Bocelli instead of himself.

Bocelli went on tour with Zucchero and eventually recorded the song with Pavarotti, which became a European smash hit, leading to signing with the music label Sugar Music. He recorded his first studio album Il Mare Calmo della Sera, in 1994, and the rest, as they say, is history.


In 1995, Bocelli and his wife welcomed their first son Amos into the world, and in 1997, their second son Matteo was born. The couple would go on to divorce in 2002, although they remain friends and still live near each other to this day. Bocelli remarried in the same year to Veronica Berti, who became his manager. Together they had a daughter, Virginia, in 2012. Family is incredibly important to Bocelli.

“I feel like my parents have “shaped” me morally and ethically. They raised me in a united family and gave me values that have guided me throughout my life. I always admired those fathers who ran a family business and had the privilege of engaging their children. I thought this would be impossible in my case, but life proved me wrong. I was pleasantly surprised. It is a great joy to be able to have my son next to me on stage.”

Matteo, Bocelli’s second son is following in his father’s footsteps and is a rising star in the classical crossover music genre.

“Matteo lives and breathes music. While in high school, he studied piano at the local conservatory (where he is currently studying opera singing). He seems inclined to follow in his father’s footsteps, although an artistic career depends on many factors, which can be tricky and difficult to understand. It takes more than just planning to achieve. But a good beginning bodes well.

“I think that, in music, Matteo has that special something that you cannot learn, which is talent. But his determination, hard work and spirit of sacrifice will be just as important. He will develop his skills and attitudes in his own time and refine his artistic abilities.

“Everyone has their own passions and talents. Fathers and mothers have the task of providing fertile ground for children to find their own way. My son Amos has a degree in piano performance, but he also studied spatial engineering, and this is the field in which he is working to build a career. Although Amos has more of a scientific mind, in his recent past, he faced some major musical challenges, including accompanying me on the piano at the 2013 Sanremo Music Festival, live on TV, in front of millions of viewers. At that exact time, eighteen years previously, Amos was about to be born, and I was singing on the same stage.”

The Bocelli family were overjoyed at the ‘late arrival’ of their only daughter, Virginia.

“To be a father again, fifteen years after the birth of my second child was a great joy as well as a reminder not to rest on my laurels, professionally speaking. Becoming a father again now that I’m a mature man helped me be a less anxious, stronger parent, more capable of treasuring every moment with my children as they grow up next to me every day. She is our princess. She is the family’s sunshine. It is no coincidence that Virginia was born on the first day of spring, which is also the day when Veronica and I got married.”

Indeed, Virginia, now ten years old, is featured on Bocelli’s latest album, along with her brother Matteo for their first ever album together, A Family Christmas. Set for release on 21 October via Decca/Capitol Records and perfectly timed to coincide with the Australian tour, the recording showcases their multi- generational musical talent in various festive favourites.


Matteo Bocelli, Andrea Bocelli and Virginia Bocelli Credit-Giovanni De Sandre

The first single to be released is The Greatest Gift – a brand new, original track, written and arranged especially for this album, celebrating peace and love at Christmas time. Andrea, Matteo and Virginia sing in harmony while the music swells towards a rousing final chorus with a string orchestra and choir accompaniment. The album is produced by composer and multi-Grammy® and Academy Award® nominee Stephan Moccio (Celine Dion, The Weeknd, Miley Cyrus, Barbra Streisand), an artist beloved by a growing legion of Australian audiences.

A Family Christmas captures the Bocelli festive spirit: “We are offering our small, intimate, and heartfelt gift to anyone who wishes to enjoy the soundtrack of Christmas in the Bocelli home,” the family says. The album features new renditions of traditional carols arranged for all three voices, including Away in a Manger and Joy To The World, plus popular Christmas tunes from around the world such as Feliz Navidad and another brand new track, Il Giorno Più Speciale, written by Federica Abbate, Cheope, Katoo and Andrea Bocelli.

Each of the three family members gets a chance to shine on the album with solo tracks, duets and trios. For Bocelli, the opportunity to work with Matteo and Virginia on this album has been a source of great joy.

“I think there is nothing more beautiful than making music with your kids. I consider it a privilege.”

Matteo Bocelli agrees, saying, “Singing these songs together, feeling the holiday warmth with my family is something really special. That’s what Christmas is about – making memories together to cherish forever. It’s really exciting to think that people will have a copy of our album sitting wrapped under the tree.”

Of his upcoming Australian tour, which is bound to be one for the history books, Bocelli says, “It will be like finally being able to hug many friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. The magic of a packed auditorium is incomparable.”

The fact that he has included Hope Estate in the Hunter Valley as one of the locations of his tour is a testament to the work of Michael Hope and his team, for which we can all be grateful for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see one of the world’s most successful classical music artists of all time.

“We have long-term relationships with the big concert promoters who know our venue well,” said Michael Hope, owner of Hope Estate.

“We’ve always worked on the premise of “build it, and they will come”, which has worked very well for us over the years, and this show is no exception. Our venue is spacious and was purpose-built with the right slope to ensure maximum viewing for the patrons. We have great food and drink options, there’s easy access for both production and patrons, and we’re supported by local businesses such as Rover Coaches and Port Stephens Coaches to make it a seamless experience. Plus, we are right in the heart of Wine Country. It’s a great night out under the stars and a brilliant performance.”

Perhaps the Hunter Valley reminds the Maestro of his home and the vineyards that have surrounded him his whole life. There are limited tickets still available for the Saturday 29 October concert at Hope Estate, as well as hospitality packages that include VIP seating, dining and beverages. For details, visit www. hopeestate.com.au/andreabocelli2022.

In the words of Celine Dion - “If God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli.”

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