Andrea Bocelli thrills audience in Saudi debut Image Credit: Supplied

Manama: The debut of Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s best-known tenors, at Winter at Tantora in Saudi Arabia, thrilled the houseful of spellbound audience.

The Tuscan tenor, known for his niche style of blending classical opera and modern pop, transported the audience to a state of trance as he delivered one song after the other often returning from the exit point of the stage after a performance on public demand and receiving standing ovations from the crowd.

“I am pleased with the wonderful audience here,” said Bocelli complementing the audience that frequently erupted in a loud applause and “I love you”.

Bocelli added to the magic of the concert at Saudi Arabia’s most coveted UNESCO World Heritage site by appearing on stage in ghitra, the traditional Gulf headdress, making a profound statement through the gesture that immediately struck a chord with the audience.

“Bocelli as well as other singers [who sang in Italian] and the response they received from the Saudi audience drove home the point that the language of music is universal,” said Bocelli’s wife Veronica Berti.

“This is the kind of music Andrea is proud of. He spreads his messages through his songs. This is what he does all over the world,” she said, quoted by the Centre for International Communication (CIC).

The Bocelli concert conducted by Marcello Rota that featured the National Symphony Orchestra was an eclectic mix of melodies and tunes of violinist Anastasiya Petryshak, soprano Maria Aleida Rodrigues, flutist Natalia Zhukova and guest singer Della Bidia.

“The effect of these concerts will linger long after the festival,” said Jack Lang, the former French minister of culture.

“They will open up a cultural dialogue between the West and Saudi Arabia,” said Lang who is currently president of Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute) in Paris, one of the world’s foremost museums of Arab art and culture.

“They will also inspire a lot of young budding musicians here eager to perform on stage. What can be better than this, especially at a time when Saudi Arabia is seeking to create a conducive environment for such fine activities?”

Winter at Tantora started on December 20 and will continue until February 23.