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Exclusive: Andrea Bocelli interview

Confidential asks MEN bound Italian opera star why opera is in any way relevant

Published on October 20th 2010.

Exclusive: Andrea Bocelli interview

Born 22 September 1956, Andrea Bocelli is an Italian tenor and, that odd thing, a classical crossover artist. Born with poor eyesight, he became totally blind at the age of twelve following a soccer accident. He has recorded thirteen solo studio albums, of both pop and classical music, two greatest hits albums, and eight complete operas, selling over 70 million copies worldwide. This apparently makes him the biggest-selling solo artist in the history of classical music.

Problems remain, if anything, not with opera itself, but with the people in charge of this precious heritage. Opera needs to be available to the people, because to enchant people and enlighten their lives has always been its main purpose.

He’s coming to Manchester on 28 November. We got chance to ask him some questions. These are his replies.

Q. In the Digital Age what relevance do operatic works of over a hundred years old have today?

A. There are things which are short lived, others that hang around a little bit longer and some that just never die. Among those we certainly find the masterpieces. We are in the Digital Age: very well, it means we can enjoy opera better than our parents used to do. Very few know, instead, that the majority of people listen to music on very low quality digital supports which impoverish the original recordings a great deal, when they could enjoy perfect analogue renditions made from the 60’s onwards when multi track recording was first used. Unfortunately, today we tend to go for what is practical, easy, fast rather than for quality, which is what art needs the most.

Q. Does the ‘greatest hits’ approach to opera devalue the complete works?

A. I personally think that the complete opera remains the best way to approach this genre because, as you say, the more the better. When you face a complete opera maybe you start with the arias to then move to the most famous duets and gradually work your way to the whole thing. However, I don’t think there’s a wrong way to enjoy music in general or opera in particular: music should be at the service of Man, not the other way round.

Q. Enough of the serious stuff, what can we expect from your show in Manchester?

A. I believe the audience is expecting a concert by an Italian tenor, who is in good shape both physically and vocally; a tenor who really wants to make music, make good music and leave a pleasant memory.

Q. How do you interact with the audience and is interaction with the audience important?

A. I interact with the audience through music and that is enough. I look for feelings and emotions inside myself, searching my personal experience, I then give this energy to the music and music speaks to the audience.

Q. What for you is so appealing about opera, why should people come to the shows?

A. Opera is, from my point of view, one of the highest forms of entertainment, where different arts come together to offer the viewer an unrivalled experience. This is the reason why it’s still very difficult, even in Italy, to get a season ticket for an important theatre. Opera defies time, space, of all the attacks of modern world, which tends to wipe everything off regardless of its quality. Problems remain, if anything, not with opera itself, but with the people in charge of this precious heritage. Opera needs to be available to the people, because to enchant people and enlighten their lives has always been its main purpose. Opera fears boundaries which is why it may seem to struggle a little these days.

Q. Given that Manchester City have an Italian manager in Mancini would you prefer them to finish above Manchester United this year in the Premier League?

A. Mancini was the manager of my team and a great champion. As for anything else, I always go for the same principle in sports: may the best win.

Andrea Bocelli plays the M.E.N Arena on Friday 26 November. For tickets call 0844 847 8000 or visit men-arena.com

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