Born September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, Italy; father named Sandro; a farm equipment retailer and grower of olives and wine grapes; married Erica Bocelli in 1992; children: Amos and Matteo. Education: Law degree from the University of Pisa; worked as a lawyer for a year after college; studied opera under Luciano Betterani and Franco Corelli. Addresses: Record company--Philips Music Group, a division of Polygram Classics, Worldwide Plaza, 825 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10019 (212) 333-8237.

Multi-platinum-selling Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli reached a mainstream pop audience with his beautiful opera renditions after a film of his live concert in Pisa titled Romanza in Concert: A Night in Tuscany was aired on a PBS fund-raising special at the end of 1997. Bocelli aptly caters to both the pop and operatic worlds, appealing to ardent fans of both types of music with his remarkably lovely voice. According to the Boston Herald's Stephen Schaefer, Bocelli has been dubbed the fourth tenor, the leading Tower of Pisa, the singing Tower of Pisa, and "the most beautiful voice in the world."

Bocelli was a best-selling pop artist in Europe with more than 10 million copies sold of his debut album, Romanza, and after his exposure through the PBS special, his success in the U.S. skyrocketed. The PBS production was slated to run only once, but due to its popularity it ran three times. Bocelli's debut album, Romanza, ranked alongside the Titanic soundtrack as one of the two best- selling holiday albums in 1997, and his second album, Viaggio Italiano, was on top of the Billboard classical charts in early 1998. His roster of fans includes such luminaries as Pope John Paul II, Luciano Pavarotti, Isabella Rossellini, Cecilia Bartoli, Julie Andrews, and Madonna. By 1998, Bocelli had performed for Pope John Paul II on four different occasions.

Bocelli was born on September 22, 1958, in the rural farming town of Lajatico, located about 20 miles from Pisa in Italy's Tuscany region. His parents sold farm equipment and grew olives and wine grapes. His family's farm was home to a small vineyard, from which his father, Sandro, still produces Chianti Bocelli. His family members were not especially musical, but they were encouraging when Bocelli displayed an interest in opera music as early as age six. He received piano, flute, and saxophone lessons as a boy. He became totally blind at the age of 12 after hitting his head during a soccer game with friends-- Bocelli suffered a brain hemorrhage which resulted in blindness a few days later, yet his sight was already impaired from glaucoma at birth. He told Celestine Bohlen of the New York Times, "I know what colors look like and I have an idea of the world.... I believe we all have a destiny that we can perceive. Mine was singing. I always sang for my friends at school, for birthdays, so I knew inside what my destiny was." Bocelli feels too many people focus on his blindness; he doesn't consider it tragic, and he skis, enjoys horseback riding, and reaches for his own coffee.

Bocelli went to the University of Pisa and studied law instead of music, but he sang professionally in piano bars while a law student, which is where he met his wife, Enrica. She was seventeen when they met and has told reporters that she first fell in love with Bocelli's voice before falling in love with him. They married in 1992 and had two sons, Amos and Matteo, within five years.

To finance singing lessons, Bocelli continued to play in piano bars, and worked as a lawyer for a year after college. In 1992 Bocelli had his first career break when presented with the opportunity to record "Miserere (Pity)" with the Italian rock star Zucchero Fornaciari, who had originally written the material for Luciano Pavarotti. Bocelli told Bohlen that Pavarotti later heard the recording and, "said some nice things about my voice, and since then a lot has happened." The two men became friends, and Bocelli even spent a week at Pavarotti's home. In 1994 Bocelli won first prize at the San Remo Music Festival, viewed by one in every three people in Italy and the exposure was fortuitous. According to the Wall Street Journal's Matthew Gurewitsch, Bocelli's winning entry, "Il Mare Calmo Della Sera," "rose from an intimate, half-mumured rasp to a refrain like a ringing anthem."

In 1995 Bocelli released the single, "Con Te Partiro," which was immensely popular in Europe. He later rerecorded the single with Sarah Brightman as a duet in English. It wasn't a commercial song, but when the public finally embraced it, its success spread rapidly.

Bocelli prefers singing opera to pop and studied under Luciano Betterani and Franco Corelli, former trainers for Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti. When Alan Niester of the Toronto Globe and Mail asked Bocelli if he enjoyed singing pop music, Bocelli replied, "Not very much, honestly, but I think it's important for many reasons. The first is that pop music has a big, big audience ... if one wants to have great popularity ... he has to sing these songs. And through the songs it's possible to bring people into the theatres who might not have come any other way." Bocelli has featured pop and canonized material on the same release; in Romanza he included several contemporary songs along with the classical standards "La Donna E Mobile" and "Nessun Dorma".

Part of Bocelli's appeal is his romantic appearance; he's tall with broad shoulders, a hint of a beard, a gentle, almost self-effacing manner, and a handsome profile. He appears shy when led on stage, and he doesn't take his resounding success seriously. He also has confessed in interviews to having a terror of live performances.

Bocelli's music is a hardy blend of opera and popular music. It follows the path cleared in 1990 by the Three Tenors--Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras; the only difference being that Pavarotti, Domingo, and Carreras began in the classical world of opera and moved into the more accessible realm of pop. On the other hand, Bocelli began in piano bars and moved into classical concert halls. During his career, Bocelli has performed at Hampton Court Palace near London with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and at the Royal Albert Hall with Sarah Brightman.

The Roman Catholic Church sponsored a concert pairing Bocelli with Bob Dylan in Bologna, Italy, which was attended by Pope John Paul II, and Bocelli has also performed with Bryan Adams. Bocelli's international agent, Craig Stanley, told Bohlen, "{He} can sing both operatic arias and love ballads with sensitivity. The bedrock is talent, but he also sings with emotion, from the heart ... pure, lyrical, good singing." Bocelli has what has been described as a phonogenic voice: a voice best suited for operettas and light songs.

He told Bohlen, "You can't explain success. Success lives by mysterious rules: it comes when it wants and leaves when it wants." As for his future, he told Billboard's Paul Verna and MarkDezzani, "I have no precise idea what will happen. Each person has his own destiny, and destiny cannot be changed. I hope to arrive at some point in my life where I can sing exactly what I like, but this requires a lot of training." What elates Bocelli most about his success is the fact that there are often young children in the audience listening to his opera music. He told the Boston Herald's tephen Schaefer, "Of this, I am very proud." On the PBS special that was aired in the U.S., Bocelli was on horseback when he said that having a great voice is like owning a great horse, and that great horses come with great problems. He told Gurewitsch, "I have no more dreams. Reality has overtaken my dreams."

by B. Kimberly Taylor

Andrea Bocelli's Career

First career break was the 1992 recording "Miserere (Pity)" with the Italian rock star Zucchero Fornaciari; released the single "Con Te Partiro," 1995; Romanza, 1997, which ranked alongside the Titanic soundtrack as one of the two best-selling holiday albums in 1997; released Viaggio Italiano, 1997; released Aria: The Opera Album, 1998; performed for Pope John Paul II four times.

Andrea Bocelli's Awards

First prize at the San Remo Music Festival in 1994 for "Il Mare Calmo Della Sera."

Famous Works

Recent Updates

January 2005: Bocelli recorded a contribution to a single track cover of Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," sung by major recording artists, as a benefit for Save the Children. Source: USA Today, www.usatoday.com/life/digest.htm, January 21, 2005.

Further Reading

Sources

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

over 6 years ago

Andrea Bocelli signs like an angel. He is very talented and charismatic as well as being very good looking. I love and enjoy this love songs in Spanish and he is a great opera singer. I have all of his records. His voice is very beautiful as well as sexy. I could listen to him day and night. Miriam Galiana His

over 7 years ago

What a great guy,he sure have a gift of gods gift a vocice.I'm from Nunavut in canada's arctic where the polar bears are.But we watch his great singing.Thanks to our god for his great voice . Paul

over 7 years ago

Andrea Bocelli has the most amazing, wonderful, beautiful, melodious and heavenly voice. I could listen to him sing 24/7. God has given him such a precious gift, so many people enjoy hearing him sing! Thank you Andrea and thank you God, for giving us enjoyment through out the years!