Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is active already number of decades, however during the latest years, he found a balance to successfully reach global audience within all genres spectrum. Especially his latest albums Passione and Cinema, where he provides his interpretation of global hits and brings top class guests directly affects his fan base. One of the many good examples is Czech Republic, where his upcoming concert on 12th of May 2018 is sold out for months. However, to those who didn’t manage in Prague and look forward for maestro’s upcoming shows, there is a plan for Christmas show in Prague on 30th November 2019.
This interview was done, as usual, over email. But this time, the answers came back in Italian. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Josephine-Marie Grima and Mariana Salinas for translation and proofreading. Cooperation with Andrea Bocelli’s fan groups was truly pleasant experience, as I offered its members the opportunity to ask Andrea Bocelli a question. Please find the answers in the second part of the interview. At the end, maestro provides feedback on fan messages and tour wishes.
First of all, as we didn’t discuss it in our previous interview, I would like to congratulate you for an amazing release Love in Portofino. I love to play this DVD during our family gatherings and I bought this live album also for my mother-in-love and an assistant organizer at SONS, where both ladies love it. What are your memories on that beautiful show, which many of us watched also few years ago in the cinemas for a Valentine’s Day?
It was a particularly exciting experience, to the point that – despite the time that has passed and the hundreds of concerts that, afterwards, I held around the world – I still hold dear to heart that magical atmosphere and that joy breathed. Portofino is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It is a small, splendid bay, hardly accessibly if not by sea. The common thread of the concert was love, in a place which has always seemed to have been meant for love that appears to scenically translate the enchantment of falling in love. Not coincidentally, I also wanted to duet on stage with my wife, Veronica Berti. Love in Portofino has been, for me, a sort of “book of memories”, a selection of the musical moments that have accompanied my youth, at the time in which – as a teenager – I started to play in the piano bars. From an exquisitely musical point of view, that DVD is the perfect exemplification of how a live concert can touch qualitative summits hardly reached in studio.
Your latest release Cinema is another great piece of work. How did your cooperation with David Foster progressed this time?
David is a dear friend and an extraordinary professional. Our partnership is smooth and fruitful. Every time that we share the limelight (or work on a new record), we are in perfect harmony and above all, we enjoy ourselves! Together with Tony Renis and Humberto Gatica, David has produced this record project dedicated to music from films. We selected a sequence of musical masterpieces that cinema has birthed in many decades, pages I was happy to represent to the general public, in order that they continue to make people dream.
Often, the greater the artists, the more gentle and generous they are, with their colleagues and with their neighbor
Could you also give us some idea about the preparation of the live show? What were some of the challenges you were facing?
You are referring, I imagine, to the Special dedicated to the album accomplished in Los Angeles, inside the legendary Dolby Theatre, home to the “nights of the Oscars”. A beautiful evening, dedicated to the great cinema, to the American musicals but also to great composers like Ennio Morricone, who has written immortal pages for cinema. In the United States I have the joy of being followed, now for two decades, always with great affection. Moreover, from the organizational point of view, it is an extraordinarily efficient country. Everything has developed of its ways. And I believe this is evident, in the recording quality of the show.
You managed to bring number of VIP guests, including John Travolta and Andy Garcia. Adequate question should be: “How did you manage, sir?”
It wasn’t difficult… Often, the greater the artists, the more gentle and generous they are, with their colleagues and with their neighbor. As for John, he is a dear friend of the family. For a series of happy concomitances he made himself available and I was very happy to involve him.
Why did you pick to invite as a guest singers, both extremely talented Ariana Grande and Nicole Scherzinger?
Because they are talented colleagues: Ariana Grande, a serious and prepared artist, of whom I could appreciate professionalism and cleverness (it is not a coincidence that she’s a great star, despite being very young), and even Nicole Scherzinger, as clever as she is beautiful: a tremendous voice, a tenderhearted person, also a big activist.
I understood, it was your long term dream to make an album like this. Why did it take so long?
I loved a lot, in my youth, the musical comedies of Frank Sinatra… As a child I was fascinated by the heroes liked by my parents, for example the couple Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers… And I was a big fan of Mario Lanza. I confirm: this was a project that I nurtured for years. Other professional commitments, other projects, postponed its realization. But I am happy to have faced a similar repertoire in my artistic maturity: I trust that this fact has benefitted the quality of the result.
I would also like to ask, how do you feel the movie soundtrack? Do you manage to create your own images and interpretations in your head?
In many cases I have experienced first the soundtrack, and then only later the film. In my fantasy, the music carried itself the stories, emotional frescoes, perhaps different than that which, as I discovered subsequently – the narrative was intertwining the film proposed. I believe this is evidence of the fact that the music of the film, when of quality, is capable of unravel and shine with its own light.
Does some one of the songs remind you of something magical in your life?
To all the songs I interpret I associate a memory, a feeling and an emotion. For example, when I sing Cheek to Cheek I always think of my parents… It was “their song”, the piece of music accomplice of their great love their great love.
It was very nice to hear, you were nominated for a Grammy with songs from Oscar movies. You also performed well within US/UK charts. What these recognitions mean to you?
Recognitions are always a cause of satisfaction (because they express the benevolence of the public) but they are also an awkwardness of sorts, because – as I always say – one needs to continue to merit them, and the more of these one receives, the bigger the expectation is from the public. It is also for this reason that every exhibition represents a challenge for myself, precisely because I always wish to give my utmost on stage, as a sign of respect and gratitude towards those who invest time and money to come and listen to me.
Did you also feel certain pressure working with such a well-known and respected songs?
It is a matter of great responsibility. There is not a wish to arbitrarily modify that which, in the past, great artists have already put together and settled, collecting striking successes. I was happy though that I could offer my contribution in order to, also thanks to the new orchestrations and a better quality of recording, these pieces to be able to once more find relevance and be understood also by the new generations.
I always wish to give my utmost on stage, as a sign of respect and gratitude towards those who invest time and money to come and listen to me.
How do you judge the conditions on the music market in general today?
The rapid development of new technologies and new forms of communication have inevitably brought about radical changes in every field. Everything is destined to evolve and the music industry is also facing transformations, even radical ones, and new challenges.
There were various versions of Cinema released (limited etc). It was surprising to see, the order of songs often significantly change. Do you believe, with all the positives, the experience from an album can be different music journey?
I agree, every piece is an encounter, every sequence of music pages, an emotional journey and, at times, spiritual. Good music is always, potentially, a development tool for the human soul. It has the invaluable ability to leave an impact on the conscience, contributing to our evolution, precisely because it expresses the inexpressible, it exposes the beauty, turning on the sensual desire now and the contemplative then.
What are you currently working on? Can we expect some new music?
There is a pop record project, that means a lot to me, but about which unfortunately I cannot say anything yet. In the area of opera, at the end of spring I will interpret on stage and record Lucia di Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, while in summer I will interpret Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giornano.
This question came from my guests at regular Music For The Blind sessions, which I organise in Czech agency SONS (Czech Blind United) for visually handicapped. In the sixth session I played next to many others also Andrea Bocelli’s song Nelle tue mani (Now We Are Free).
How do you feel the reactions from the audience? Does certain interaction take place, let say within a sixth sense? If yes, can these emotions overwhelm you and make you feel moved?
To maintain a direct relationship, a real and confidential relationship with the persons who have the goodness to appreciate “the fruit of my profession” (within songs or concerts), is a very fundamental and important element in my life as an artist. The best way to thank everybody is to do that personally, through a life performance. Wherever I sing, I search for a relationship “one by one”, with every single listener, with whom I search to communicate positive emotions.
Will your sons follow you into the world of music or do they have other plans for their careers? Amos perhaps has his sights set on the field of science?
In my opinion, the study of music is a fundamental tool to make every soul rich. So, I do believe that it is an important experience in the total of knowledge of any child. With respect to my sons, Amos will finish the piano studies at the conservatorium. But his first passion is that of aerospace engineering, a study in which he graduated some weeks ago. Matteo, who is 20 years old, seems more inclined to follow in his father’s footsteps: he too has studied the piano. But above all, he has a very beautiful voice and – as many people say – he is very talented (perhaps more for pop than for opera). Finally, Virginia, who is not yet six years old, has already become familiar with music and the piano. But she still has all the time in the world to discovere and nurture her talents.
How did your wife influence your music? Do you often dedicate songs to her?
Veronica has not only influenced my music but my whole life. So, in a certain way, every time I sing a song of love, ideally I dedicate it to her.
Wherever I sing, I search for a relationship “one by one”, with every single listener, with whom I search to communicate positive emotions.
Gwen Belcher: Dearest Maestro, As a performer in theater, while in production, it is all consuming. I cannot think about anything else and my script is never far from my hand. My lines run through my head constantly, even to the point of not being able to sleep. My question for you: During your downtime, your family time, when you are asleep, how do you clear your mind to be able to enjoy the moment you are in? I know your music never leaves you, but how do you control it from distracting you from all the other things in your life, such as riding your beautiful horses, playing with your precious daughter, enjoying a quiet evening with your gorgeous wife?
I’m curious about your technique for dealing with this, because I would like to try some of them. Sometimes we need a break from constantly rehearsing in our heads, and, I just cannot seem to put it on pause! Thank you for your thoughts and for your time, Mr. Bocelli. I was blessed to see your performance earlier this month in Charlotte, N.C. Being able to attend was a dream come true for me. Thank you, stay in good health, I love you and all that you do.
I don’t always succeed… Also I have, like everyone, my moments of fragility. But I do try to give an importance to every meeting, every wish – as far as possibile. I concentrate on the present, facing one thing at a time, with joy and intensity, always reminding that it is a privilege to be able to live every new day. I avoid the anxiety about future commitments overwhelming me. The weight subsists, sometimes, even if I manage it (and I limit it), I always try to be prepared, practicing scrupulously, without giving in to laziness or superficiality. It’s a conduct that imposes sacrifices but it gives me back the serenity of having a clear conscience. Finally, I must underline how faith has been and is fundamental for my serenity and my inner growth: a great gift that I have tried to preserve and enrich, day after day. Faith is the basis of essence of my life.
Dear Andrea, before I ask my questions I like to thank you for all that are giving me/ us with your wonderful music/voice/ personality! I love you with all my heart! At last I like to send you, Andrea, and your family some love and kisses from Germany. Take care of yourself! Andrea, is it hard for you to memorize the lyrics from your songs, especially if they are in a different language? Following question to that, how do you memorize all the lyrics? *Sonja*
Memorizing texts is a practice that must be exercised and that is, fortunately, something I have been cultivating since I was a child by studying many and also very long poems (for example whole songs of Dante’s Divine Comedy. But I do not deny that sometimes I struggle with fatigue, mostly when the text is not in a language I use frequently. Anyway, in the case of the songs, the music helps me very much to put the words in my memory.
Dreams & Happiness
Is there anything you would like to achieve or do in your life? When you write songs, what is your inspiration?
In my professional and my private life, I’ve had so much more than what I have given myself. So I can’t possibly ask for anything else and I can not afford the luxury of complaining about anything. As for inspiration, I think that – apart from rhetoric – love is always the first stimulus, for every creative process… Love is – as we all know from our own experience – the fire and the engine of the world.
Have you ever ask yourself how long you would like to do this, for example, go on tour around the world?
Nothing is for always: I think serenely about the possibility of waking up one day and not finding anymore the vocal quality that I have tried to build and to maintain over the years. That’ll be the day to stop. Meanwhile, if it’s God’s Will and as long as I have the strength, I will continue to give and to share with the public in the world a moment of lightheartedness and good music.
I don’t always succeed and I have, like everyone, my moments of fragility
How you define happiness?
To be loved… By my children, my parents, my partner, my friends. I believe that being happy also means being at peace with oneself. On the other hand, the sad moments, the difficulties are, very often, not to say almost always, the result of our mistakes, our shortcomings, of our gaps.
Are you a person that practices meditation?
I have a very intense and daily relationship with prayer. Perhaps prayer can be seen as a form of meditation in its own way.
Andrea, your music is the “go to” music for so many people, myself included. When I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I want peace, when I paint paintings, when I cook, when I read, if I can’t sleep and so forth. Who is your “go to” music when your soul cries for peace and serenity?
Often, when I am in the state of mind described above, I seek above all silence. In other cases, I obtain silence from that extraordinary resource that is the opera, or to the masterpieces of the sacred repertoire.
I would like to thank all those who have shown interest in my artistic production and in my person, asking me questions that are always relevant and stimulating.
As for the “Tour wishes“: As I have already pointed out on other occasions, the choice of places where to hold a concert has been established by evaluating a series of factors. Sure I can say what my preferences are, but a live performance always combines different professional realities and economic forces. But I can guarantee that I will forward these reports to the management. I hope to be able to meet with at least part of the requests in the near future.
As for the “Fan messages“: Thank you very much for the beautiful messages. One never gets used to such manifestations of attention and affection! I consider each of these expressions of esteem as a strong incentive to improve myself. I’m grateful for the trust you continue to grant me. I embrace you, hoping to meet you, personally, along the way, perhaps for a simple but fraternal handshake.