On an Easter Sunday like no other, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli gave the most extraordinary performance of his life as he united the world at a time when many are apart, being isolated at home, via an emotional performance live streamed on YouTube.
Millions of people from around the globe tuned into the stream of Bocelli: Music For Hope to witness the devout Catholic classical singer, 61, perform at the historic Duomo, the cathedral of Milan, Italy, with no audience present, due to the lockdown restrictions implemented in an effort to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bocelli was granted access to the cathedral by the archpriest, Mgr Gianantonio Borgonovo, and mayor, Giuseppe Sala.
“I will cherish the emotion of this unprecedented and profound experience, of this Holy Easter which this emergency has made painful, but at the same time even more fruitful, one that will stay among my dearest memories of all time,” Bocelli said.
“That feeling of being at the same time alone – as we all are in the presence of the Most High – yet of expressing the voice of the prayer of millions of voices, has deeply impressed and moved me.
“Love is a gift. Making it flow is the primary purpose of life itself. And I find myself once again indebted to life. My gratitude goes to all those who made this possible, the City of Milan and the Duomo, and to all those who accepted the invitation and joined in a planetary embrace, gathering that blessing from Heaven that gives us courage, trust, optimism, in the certainty of our faith.”
Accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, Bocelli sang a carefully chosen selection of pieces, specially arranged for solo voice and organ for the occasion. This included the beloved Ave Maria setting by Bach/Gounod and Amazing Grace, opening completely unaccompanied – an incredibly poignant moment, in the still of a city under continued lockdown, alongside a stirring programme of sacred music for one of the holiest days of the year.
Bocelli, with the Foundation that carries his name, is currently involved in an emergency Covid-19 campaign. The Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF) has started a fundraiser to help hospitals purchase all the instruments and equipment necessary to protect their medical staff.
Picture: Andrea Bocelli at the historic Duomo for his Bocelli: Music For Hope performance. (Luca Rossetti, courtesy Sugar SRL, Decca Records).