There are two things you can be sure of when speaking of the tenor Andrea Bocelli: one, that his singing voice is comparable to the graze of a silk scarf on tender skin; the other is that he’s quintessentially Italian. This includes his eating habits.
When he spoke to Gulf News tabloid! ahead of his concert at du Arena, Yas Island, on April 26, he recalled his love for all things pasta. “Whatever way it is seasoned, this is a food that we Italians have in our DNA,” he explained.
However, on the road, he’s a bit more constrained. “When I’m on tour in particular, my diet is not so different from that of an athlete. Generally, I follow the so-called ‘Mediterranean diet’. I adore genuine flavours, pecorino cheese, olive oil, bread. I love cured meats, when they are home-made, garden vegetables and, of course, pasta.”
The 60-year-old has become a regular on the UAE art scene — performing shows that usually leave audiences tearing up and singing along — and this time around, he’ll be backed up by local group, the Dubai Opera Festival Chorus.
One of the members of this group is Gulf News’ own resident tenor Fermel Fuentes, who has worked with the award-winning musician before.
“It’s my second time to be part of his back up choir [the first time was in 2013],” says Fuentes, who has another thing in common with Bocelli: They’ve both sung for the Pope.
Bocelli first belted out a song for the Pontiff in 1994; Fuentes was part of the choir during Pope Francis’ visit to Abu Dhabi in February.)
“Singing with one of the most popular Italian tenors... it’s an extraordinary experience,” Fuentes says.
But should he look to one of the world’s most well-known singers for pointers on success? Perhaps; but the advice is not easy.
A superb vocal range is but a tiny spark of the charisma required to do well, says Bocelli.
“I do not take the liberty of making suggestions to my fellow singers. However, when young singers ask me to listen to them and proffer my opinion, I remind them that having a beautiful voice only means counting on one of the many ingredients required. You need intelligence, willpower, a self-sacrificing spirit and determination...”
Most of all, Bocelli proves, one needs passion.
“Since my early childhood, music has been a kind of medicine for me, a treasure chest of wonders and a way to bring lightness into my life. Music, the universal language par excellence, has the potential to be a source of inner richness and solace for all,” he explains.
The singer, who lost his sight at age 12 due to a genetic anomaly, has gone on to shatter records; he’s won seven World Music Awards and been nominated for the Grammys four times.
He’s been called humble, he’s been called legendary. We’ll call him a soothing treat for the ears.
“My main aim and wish for the people who place their trust in my voice and the music I perform is that they have a celebratory, optimistic and joyful experience during my concerts,” he says.
If past experiences are anything to go by, the tall order is exactly what he will deliver.
“For the concert in Abu Dhabi I will perform — amongst others — arias from Verdi, such as ‘La donna e mobile’ and ‘Di quella pira’, and pieces from Puccini like ‘Donna non vidi mai’ and ‘O soave fanciulla’... In terms of pop, there will be many songs and romanzas, including ‘Granada’, ‘Funiculi funicula’, ‘O sole mio’ and tracks from my latest album,” he promises.
Get ready for a soulful serenade. Like warm pasta on a cool day. Comforting and quintessentially Italian.
Don’t miss it!
Tickets to see Andrea Bocelli at du Arena, Yas Island, on April 26, start at Dh395.