Tenor Andrea Bocelli may be one of the most famous opera singers of our time, but his iconic voice has ensured a crossover career into music genres including Latin and pop. And thanks to a burgeoning fan base in the UAE, Bocelli is heading back to perform here for a third time.
The legendary singer with the stunning operatic voice will kick off his Cinema World Tour at the du Arena in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi on Friday April 22, supporting his latest hit album Cinema. This release is his 15th studio album and reached number three in the UK album chart, his highest UK chart position in more than a decade. It’s also his eighth top ten album in America’s Billboard 200 chart. In other words, Bocelli’s career is still on the up after almost 25 years on the scene.
Speaking to us ahead of his Abu Dhabi concert, Bocelli says he only has fond memories of the UAE’s capital. “I remember I started this beautiful relationship that now binds me to your city in the spring of 2009,” he says. “I then returned three years ago and now I have the pleasure, once again, to perform in front of the Abu Dhabi people.”
Fortunately for fans, he’ll be performing a variety of hits on tour that cover his extensive career. “There will be songs from my last album, but not only that. The first part of the concert will be dedicated, in particular, to the opera repertoire, with celebrated and loved pieces from operas such as Rigoletto and La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi, Andrea Chénier by Umberto Giordano and La Bohème by Giacomo Puccini. The second part will be dedicated to my most famous songs, as well as tracks from Cinema and other albums,” he explains.
And if you haven’t had a listen to Cinema yet, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Unlike any of his previous releases, this, as the name suggests, features renditions of classic film soundtracks and scores. These include The Godfather, Evita, Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Phantom of the Opera, to name a few. “It is a subject that fascinates me,” says Bocelli. “I have looked for the pieces of film music that I have loved most, those pages that have marked my life, that have made me grow, have moved and amused me. From the selection I think it is easy to understand how much I love Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza. Their powerful voices have made great melodies that will always be remembered in their films. I think, these days, it is right to pay tribute to them, thanks to the most advanced recording techniques and through the new, exceptional orchestrations we have provided,” he tells us.
While Bocelli may be a fan of Sinatra and Lanza, he’s also got a string of A-list fans begging to work with him. When it comes to collaborations, he’s teamed up with the likes of Mary J. Blige, Lady Gaga, Nicole Scherzinger, Jennifer Hudson and Barbra Streisand, to name a few.
But who has been his most memorable partner in crime? “The first colleague that comes to my mind is Celine Dion, who is a great professional and a great person who loves her work,” says Bocelli.
More recently, he was left impressed by none other than Ariana Grande, who appears on Cinema. “I had the pleasure of singing with a young artist, Ariana Grande, the idol of many young people around the world, including my sons,” says Bocelli. “I must say that it was a pleasant surprise, because she is a talented girl – a true artist.”
Pop stars aside, Bocelli often performed with the late Luciano Pavarotti, who he considered a close friend. “I remember the times when I had the privilege of singing with Pavarotti,” he tells us.
“He was a great artist with a wonderful instrument – a vocal timbre that could be recognised from the very first notes. He was also a great friend; a man of extraordinary vitality, but also a stage partner able to give courage and humour.”
And just like Pavarotti, Bocelli is undoubtedly going to go down in history books as one of the most famous voices of our era. In fact, he’s already one of the few opera singers who’s been awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
But he doesn’t let fame go to his head. “The star is a recognition I will never get used to,” he admits. “The thought of being in the midst of such an Olympus of artists, without deserving it, on the famous Hollywood Boulevard, makes me feel dizzy.
“I can only say that I am honoured and happy to be there.”
But despite all his success, Bocelli says he still gets nervous before a performance.
“I am always nervous before getting on stage,” he tells us.
“The more the years pass, the more the expectations of my audience grow – tension derives from the strong desire to be at the height of those expectations.”
Luckily for Bocelli, we already know how mind-blowing his performances are, so we’re pretty sure we’re in for another memorable night later this month when he stakes to the stage at the du Forum.
Andrea bocelli live in abu dhabi
This is your chance to see the world’s most loved classical tenor in the capital.
Dhs395-25,000. Fri April 22, 7.30pm. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.ticketmaster.ae.