Andrea Bocelli, the voice of the heart

To quote Céline Dion, “If God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli.” Not only for the purity of his sound, but especially for the heart he pours into it.No other voice, with music by Andrea Morricone, could provide the soundtrack for Expo 2015 with ‘The Power of a Smile’. Because despite his challenges, the Master is always ready to raise a glass to life.

“You are the most successful classical music artist of all time, with over 80 million albums sold. From your early days to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2010, can you tell us about the history of your voice?”

“The course of my voice, and my own life along with it – I see clearly when I look at it candidly, that it seems like a fairy tale with a happy ending… an adventure in which reality is even better than the sweetest dream! It’s the story of a country boy who dreamed of offering up his voice to anyone who seeks a moment of peace and joy in music… And that’s what happened, despite many challenges: music and my voice (a gift I was given, and one for which I take no credit) have given me a very fulfilling life, and I have to thank blessed God for the extraordinary destiny he set aside for me. “For me, singing has always been a source of great joy, passion, enjoyment, and consolation. My parents were very hard workers, and too busy to spend any of their time following music. Nevertheless, I can say that I have the art of song writ- ten in my chromosomes: when I was still in the cradle, my mother insists that I stopped crying as soon as I heard a song … When I was still in short pants I was already devouring LPs that magically filled the house with great opera pieces from the living room record player. When I was child, friends and family always asked me to perform for them, and it was their insistence that led me to think: ‘Maybe in the end, singing will become my profession.’ Except for a difficult period in my youth, when my voice was changing and I couldn’t tame it, people have always seen me as having the gift of a pleasing and recognizable voice. I only seriously undertook voice training as an adult, benefiting from two encounters that proved decisive for me, because a teacher is like a doctor: if you find the right one you’ll make enormous progress, but if you find the wrong one you could ruin yourself forever… Had I not first met  Luciano Bettarini, and then the great Franco Corelli, I would probably have become an attorney, completing my parallel studies in the law. That is something I did in part, until – much later in life, after I turned thirty-five –  I achieved a reputation in the artistic arena.”

“Your life behind the scenes, with your family and  enjoying hobbies, such as your love for horses. What does Maestro Bocelli do when not meeting his fans?”

“When I was a young man, with so many fewer responsibilities on my shoulders, I loved to experience powerful thrills, from water skiing to parachuting and the exhilaration of speed. Today I’m a bit wiser and more prudent. But I’m still very in love with life, whether I’m standing in the footlights or offstage. For example, in the summer I try to spend as much time as possible on a boat (in the Tuscan archipelago) – it’s an instrument of freedom, of silence, of direct, genuine contact with the astonishing power of nature. In the winter (and in every season of the year to be honest), I love to ride through the woods, beaches, and countryside of the region I come from: it’s a passion that has always been part of me. I love drawing life deep into my lungs – I like to swim, I’m a fan of football as well as boxing, a passionate reader, and I love to challenge myself in writing verse and aphorisms. I love spending time with my family and dearest friends… And we’re never short of topics of conversation, or opportunities to laugh and joke.”

“Wine has been a tradition at Casa Bocelli for nearly three hundred years, when Bartolomeo Bocelli founded the family estate in 1730 in Pisa, in the region of Tuscany. What do you love most about the art of wine and your company, which is led today by you and your brother Alberto?”

“Wine, like good music, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Naturally, it must be a good wine, made with passion from vine to table, and we mustn’t use it – or rather abuse it – as the hapless Cassius in Shakespeare’s Othello was duped into doing!  I have always loved and lived the vineyard, jewel of the countryside, up close and personally. One of the sweetest moments, every time I return to Lajatico, where I was born and raised, is finding a bottle of wine from own soil in the centre of the table. It takes me back in time, conjuring up the memory of my father, his voice praising the fruit of our vineyard and of work, and so many other tender memories. “Following the various steps in the wine-making process, from vineyard to bottle, has always moved me, although in this adventure in wine we are never without our faithful companions, professional agronomists and oenologists. We leave the important ‘technical’ decisions to them. My role at Cantina Bocelli is above all sentimental… It’s my brother who responsibly took the reins of the business in hand: he’s a viticulture lover just like me. The results are sealed in the bottles of our wine, which I’m very proud of.”

“Whether with music or with wine, what the Bocelli family seems to love most is to share their passion for living well, and for Italian culture with their friends around the world. What is your message as its ambassador?”

“It’s a fact that our country’s creative strength, when it is positive and radiant, can fill the dreams of the entire world. We have an incredible history behind us, stories of excellence in every field, an amazing number of treasures to celebrate. We have splendid traditions, and a wine and food culture that is both wide-ranging and deeply rooted. All of us should be aware of this enormous heritage of ours, and do whatever we can to preserve it and share it, generously, and with a sense of responsibility and vigorous patriotism. It is worth keeping in mind that ‘civilization of beauty’ that we can express in our daily lives, and that we’re lucky enough to experience it.”

 “I strongly believe that love does justice. And it is for this simple reason that we are all responsible for building a better world.’ That is the philosophy that launched the Andrea Bocelli Foundation in July 2011. How is the foundation moving forward in its work?”

“ABF is a living laboratory. It is tangible proof that dreams can become reality, if we truly believe and if many of us are dreaming together… The foundation works on socially focused international projects that last multiple years, and one of our current projects is an important collaboration with MIT to work on developing innovative solutions to help people overcome the limits imposed by their disabilities. But we’re working on a number of projects at the moment: intervention programs that aim to overcome the barriers created by poverty, disability, and social marginalization. We are working in collaboration with the Saint Luc Foundation in Haiti and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Initiatives at ABF have benefited from contributions from outstanding world figures, like Nobel Prize laureate Muhammad Yunis, combining the forces of university organizations and cutting-edge research.  “Finally, I want to emphasize that without our tremendous female staff, who truly drives the foundation, and without a real army of incredible volunteers, donors, colleagues, and music lovers who have placed their trust in me, standing by my side in this adventure, almost nothing of what has already been done could possibly have been achieved.”

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