Andrea Bocelli

born 22 September 1958 Lajatico

Picture of Bocelli

The tenor of the future, no voice and a microphone, sorry two microphones.

Picture of Bocelli
Picture of Bocelli
Listen to my high register
Andrea il bello

Andrea Bocelli sings Roméo et Juliette: Ah lêve toi, soleil & Va, repose en paix, first with microport, then without
Even Jorge De Leon is better

Andrea Bocelli sings La traviata: Libiamo, with Anna Netrebko
In RA format

Andrea Bocelli sings Il trovatore: Di geloso amor , with Ailyn Perez & Luis Ledesma
What a technique!!
In RA format

Andrea Bocelli sings Il trovatore: Di quella pira
In RA format

Andrea Bocelli sings Turandot: Nessun dorma
In RA format

Andrea Bocelli sings Adeste fideles
In RA format
I wish to thank Vladimir Efimenko for the recording (Di quella pira).
I was thinking about writing an article on the tenor Bocelli when Daniel Ray Shaindlin published a well thought out piece on the artist on Opera-L. He said very well what I was thinking, and here it is by permission of Mr. Shaindlin.

Subject: The antichrist a TENOR?

By Daniel Ray Shaindlin

It very well could be. For a while I thought it was John Tesh and Yanni but now I think he is really among us. ANDREA BOCELLI. Something terrible has happened. Pop "artists" have discovered what classical "artists" have known for years. There is gold in them crossover hills! So while we've been bitching about the Domingo/Denver, Pavarotti/Bolton cash cows, they snuck up on us. The talent challenged have discovered that there are enough untrained ears, enough "opera fans" with LOW standards (or NO standards) to create a market for their assaults. First, let me say something about standards. The great critic (universally recognized as one of the finest writers on opera for what... 50 years?) Irving Kolodin once wrote about Chaliapin. To paraphrase: he saw Chaliapin do Boris at the Met. Kolodin was very young and he hated it. He thought it was a tired voice, an old man who had once been better. Only later (as he tells it himself) did he realize that at that time "he had no standards".

If only some of the public would recognize that!

A quick word about technique. There is this little thing in the throat called the PHARYNX. It is the cavity connecting the nasal passages and mouth with the esophagus. One can find references throughout the centuries by the great voice teachers, admonishing students in essence to keep the voice "OUT" of the pharynx. Why? When ones voice is "stuck" (not literally) in the pharynx a couple of things happen. It LOSES ALL RESONANCE and it gets an ugly colorless sound. Now, MANY singers have made careers doing this, but generally it is to be avoided EXCEPT in the pop culture. Almost ALL pop singers sing this way. The Aerosmith guy is a perfect example. So is Michael Bolton. Go down the list and this is the sound that appeals in pop and rock.

In opera we have a good example in Michael Sylvester. A pharyngeal voice. Paul Austin Kelly too. There are others. The KING of them all is Andrea Bocelli. Its a totally non-resonating sound (which keeps the voice small and in need of microphones). In addition, this guy is a terrible musician. He is approximate with note values, with phrasing and with dynamics. If it looks like a pop singer, talks like a pop singer and sings like a pop singer then it must be a POP SINGER.

I have nothing against the guy making a living. I have nothing against people enjoying it, but don't we HAVE to keep our critical radar working? Isn't it important to not blur the line between these different schools? Don't we owe it to ourselves and the art form to grab our standards by the bootstraps and pull them up as high as they will go? Shouldn't we be diligent in NOT letting ourselves be brainwashed by the endless barrage of PR that comes from the record studios and PBS among others?

I saw American Ballet Theater a few months ago. They presented an evening of pas de deux with what we were told were the great dancers of today. These were supposedly dancers in the tradition of Barishnikov and Marakova to name two. I was doubtful, having been raised on the ABT of 78 to 84. So many giants then, but guess what? These dancers were incredible. It was one of my great nights at the ballet. I thought to myself, "What does the ballet world do that opera doesn't? How do they keep the tradition together, the standards level, the teaching and audience of a high quality?"

I sure as heck don't think that opera does this. One singer after another crashes and burns. Now we have the Michael Bolton Aria album coming out... and who is on it? Fleming. An easy pay check but shame.

My point? Standards are gone. The simple qualities that were once demanded in schooling a singer are almost gone. It's probably just a matter of years until we have a Michael Bolton Pagliacci at the Met. Lines around the block and a huge worldwide audience. It will happen.

I expect to be called a snob. I expect to be told (as has happened in the past) to stick to my old records. Whatever. I'm worried though, really worried. It's all unraveling and those enjoying it SEEM to be those with the smallest background in listening and attending opera. The PR machines are counting on this.

In the early 80's those in power at the MET used to ask the question "How do we get Mr. and Mrs. Suburb to the opera?" Well folks, they did it and they are all watching endless pledge drives with Yanni and John Tesh. Yikes... I gotta go lighten up.

Dan Shaindlin

In an article published in Das Opernglas (April 1998) reprinting, in German, statements made by Bocelli during an interview for the promotion of his operatic CD for Philips, Bocelli is quoted as saying that:

I believe that pop music played an important role in my classical music career. Caruso, Gigli, all those great, popular tenors sang pop songs. With pop music it is possible to reach a larger public and bring them to the opera house.

It is very doubtful that Caruso or Gigli or the greatest concert tenor McCormack persuaded more people to attend opera performances by singing pop music. Today many people that have never entered an opera house know Pavarotti. This is because of Pavarotti's pop concerts and the Three Tenors concerts, all shown on TV. I suspect that not of many those listeners have converted to opera just because of Pavarotti's popularity.

Bocelli's CD Aria – The Opera Album
In this CD dedicated fully to opera, Bocelli sings arias from Rigoletto, La bohème (Puccini and Leoncavallo), Tosca, Madama Butterfly, Andrea Chénier, I puritani, Der Rosenkavalier, Fedora, La fanciulla del West, La Gioconda, Adriana Lecouvreur, Lucia di Lammermoor, Werther, Carmen, La fille du régiment.
This is quite an ambitious program. The electronics engineers must be complimented to have made that small voice sound adequate. Another recording fraud that makes a singer sound better than in real life. Due to the tessitura, Bocelli sounds very uncomfortable in A te, o cara and Pour mon âme. After his debut in Cagliari in La bohème, where he could not hide his small voice, he did not sound like the next great tenor. Now he is scheduled to sing another opera, I forgot where and what, with the help of a microphone. After the sad spectacle of the three tenors in concert, Pavarotti's pop adventures and Pavarotti's open-air concerts with the help of the microphone; this is going to lead to the death of opera, as we know it. No longer will singers need a voice, but a microphone to be heard.

To finish off, just a few facts on Bocelli's life and career. He was born with a grave form of a glaucoma, and even though he underwent surgery 27 times, he completely lost his sight at 12 years old. Nonetheless, he studied both voice and law, and worked as a lawyer for a short time before deciding on a career in music.

First, he would sing and play the piano in bars, then he was discovered by famous Italian pop singer Zucchero in 1992, and ventured himself on a career in pop music. A world career, to be sure; he sold incredible numbers of records (85 million copies until 2022, and counting). That's all fine. But he didn't venture on a pop career only.
- Already in 1994, he made his operatic debut as Macduff in a production that was staged in the theaters of Pisa, Livorno, Lucca and Mantova.
- In 1997, he started to give, in addition to his pop concerts, also aria recitals.
- In 1998, he sang Rodolfo at the Teatro Lirico in Cagliari.
- In 1999, he appeared as a special guest in Die lustige Witwe at the Arena di Verona. In October of the same year, he was Werther at the Detroit opera.
- In 2001, he sang the title role in L'amico Fritz at the Teatro Filarmonico in Verona.
- In 2002, he sang Pinkerton at the Torre del Lago Festival.
- In 2004, he was Werther again, this time in Bologna, and he was back to Torre del Lago, this time as Cavaradossi.
- In 2007, he performed Petite Messe Solennelle at the Teatro Bellini in Catania.
- He did another Petite Messe Solennelle in 2008 at the Kennedy Center Opera House in Washington; the same year, he sang Puccini's Messa da Gloria in Padova as well as – fasten seat belts! – Don José at the Teatro dell'Opera in Rome.
- In 2009, a Mascagni gala concert at Deutsche Oper Berlin.
- In 2011, a lieder recital at the Metropolitan Opera.
- In 2015, Bocelli sang Calaf on stage in an open-air performance of Turandot in his native Lajatico, conducted by Zubin Mehta.
- Still in 2018 (his tiny and ill-placed voice was a complete wreck by then), he sang Edgardo at the venerable Teatro Carlo Felice in Genova; and another open-air performance in Lajatico: Andrea Chénier, no less!
- In 2019, two more recitals at the Met, plus two at the San Carlo in Naples.
Not to forget the complete recordings that Bocelli made: Verdi's Requiem under Valery Gergiev, with Renée Fleming, Olga Borodina and Ildebrando D'Arcangelo; La bohème under Zubin Mehta, with Barbara Frittoli, Eva Mei and Paolo Gavanelli; Tosca under Mehta; Il trovatore with Elena Zaremba; Werther with Julia Gertseva; Cavalleria rusticana; Pagliacci; Andrea Chénier under Marco Armiliato, with Violeta Urmana and Lucio Gallo; Carmen under Myung-Whun Chung, with Marina Domashenko, Bryn Terfel and Eva Mei; Roméo et Juliette under Fabio Luisi; Manon Lescaut under Plácido Domingo; Turandot under Mehta; Aida, again under Mehta, with Kristin Lewis.

All that is of course egregious. I have no objections against Bocelli the pop singer, and no objections against his success in pop music. Had he made one album with operatic arias (like, say, Michael Bolton or Albano Carrisi), fair enough. But having, with his voice and technique, the presumption to sing complete operas on stage is just as breathtaking as the idiocy of the theater and festival directors who allowed him to do so. I know what I'm talking about: I had the "pleasure" of hearing (or not quite hearing) Bocelli in a lieder recital at the Vienna Staatsoper. To my review, this way, please.

Reference 1: Bocelli's website, reference 2, reference 3

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