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Andrea Bocelli

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Andrea Bocelli, Grande Ufficiale OMRI (born 22 September 1958) is a five-time Classical Brit winner and three-time Grammy nominated Italian tenor. Since his debut album Il mare calmo della sera, released in 1994, he has recorded over 20 pop and classical albums, including seven complete operas, selling over 60 million worldwide. He is widely regarded as the most popular Italian singer in the world.

Bocelli was born in Lajatico, Tuscany, Italy, about 40 km south of Pisa, in 1958, to parents Alessandro and Edi Bocelli, and grew up on the family farm. It was evident at birth that he had problems with his sight, and after visits to many doctors Bocelli was diagnosed with glaucoma. In 1970, at the age of 12, he completely lost his sight after an accident during a futbol (soccer) game. As a young boy, Bocelli showed a great passion for music. His mother, Edi, has said that music was the only thing that would comfort him. At the age of six he started piano lessons before he also learned to play the flute, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, harp, guitar and drums.

Bocelli would also spend time singing during his childhood and would later recall that he was "one of those children who would always be asked to sing for my relatives. I don't think one really decides to be a singer - other people decide it for you by their reactions."At the age of 14 he won his first song competition, the Margherita d'Oro in Viareggio with O sole mio. After he finished secondary school, in 1980, he studied Law at the University of Pisa.After graduating he spent one year as a court appointed lawyer. To earn money Bocelli performed evenings in piano bars. It was there, in 1987, that he met his future wife, Enrica.

In 1992, Italian rock star Zucchero held auditions for tenors to make a demo tape with him of the song Miserere from his album of the same name, to send to Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti. After hearing Bocelli on tape, Pavarotti urged Zucchero to use Bocelli instead of him, saying, "Thank you for writing such a wonderful song. Yet you do not need me to sing it. Let Andrea sing Miserere with you, for there is no one finer." The demo tape was from Caterina Caselli, who had discovered Bocelli: she decided to give him a chance. Caselli is Bocelli's current manager and producer.

Zucchero eventually persuaded Pavarotti to record the song with him and it became a hit throughout Europe. In Zucchero's European concert tour in 1993, it was Bocelli who accompanied him to sing the duet and he was also given solo sets in the concerts, singing "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot. Bocelli signed with the Sugar Records music label in Milan after the group's president heard Bocelli sing Miserere and Nessun dorma at a birthday party for Zucchero.

In December he entered the preliminary round of the Italian Sanremo Music Festival in the category of Giovani performing both parts of the duet Miserere. He won the preliminary competition with the highest marks ever recorded in the Newcomers section. On 28 December, he debuted in the classical world in a concert at the Teatro Romolo Valli in Reggio Emilia.

In February 1994 he entered the main Sanremo Festival competition with "Il mare calmo della sera", and he won the "Newcomers" section, again with a record score. His debut album, named after the song, was released and immediately entered the Italian Top Ten, going platinum within weeks.

Bocelli was named one of People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People of 1998.Bocelli met his first wife Enrica, with whom he had two children, while singing at piano bars early in his career. They were married on 27 June 1992. Their first child, Amos, was born in February 1995. Their second son, Matteo was born in October 1997. The couple divorced in 2002. Since then, he met fiancée Veronica Berti, but he does not plan to get married again due to his Roman Catholic beliefs. The couple live in Forte dei Marmi, and Bocelli's ex-wife and two sons live in the couple's previous residence in the same comune, in the Province of Lucca.

Bocelli's father, Sandro Bocelli, died on 30 April 2000. His mother encouraged him to honour his commitments and so he sang for the Pope in Rome on 1 May and immediately returned home for the funeral. At the 5 July performance that was filmed for PBS as American Dream — Andrea Bocelli's Statue of Liberty Concert, Bocelli dedicated the encore Sogno to the memory of his father. A section of the way along the beach in Jesolo, on the Italian Adriatic coast, was named after Bocelli on August 11, 2003.

In 2006, Bocelli influenced the municipality of his hometown Lajatico to build an outdoor theatre, the "Teatro del Silenzio".Bocelli performed for one night only. One night every July the theatre will be opened for performances. The rest of the time it will be silent. Since the opening he has sung on July 27, 2006, July 5, 2007, July 20, 2008, and on July 18, 2009.

Despite his worldwide popularity, Bocelli has been dismissed and criticised by classical music critics including Bernard Holland of the New York Times, and Andrew Clement of The Guardian. Some point to his "poor phrasing, uneven tone and lack of technique."

In 1999, the New York Times chief music critic Anthony Tommasini in his review of Bocelli's North American opera debut at the Detroit Opera House in the title role of Massenet's Werther commented, "The basic color of Mr. Bocelli's voice is warm and pleasant, but he lacks the technique to support and project his sound. His sustained notes wobble. His soft high notes are painfully weak. Inadequate breath control often forces him to clip off notes prematurely at the end of phrases." In December 2000 Tommasini again criticised Bocelli, this time for his La bohème album when he claimed that Bocelli "still has trouble with basic things, like breath support" and his voice had been "carefully recorded", "to help it match the trained voices of the other cast members in fullness and presence."

In describing Bocelli's singing, New York Times music critic Bernard Holland noted, "the tone is rasping, thin and, in general, poorly supported. Even the most modest upward movement thins it even more, signalling what appears to be the onset of strangulation. To his credit, Mr Bocelli sings mostly in tune. But his phrasing tends toward carelessness and rhythmic jumble... The diction is not clear." Furthermore, Holland observed that "The critic's duty is to report that Mr Bocelli is not a very good singer." The Associated Press reported "Passion? Yes. Power. No. Bocelli's voice - though robust in spirit and precisely in tune, even in the upper register - had a thin quality that never opened up." Similarly, classical music critic Andrew Clement found Bocelli's studio opera recordings consistently disappointing in quality: "Bocelli's profoundly unmusical contribution, with its unvaryingly coarse tone, wayward intonation and never a phrase properly shaped, fatally undermines all their contributions." Anne Midgette of the New York Times agreed, noting "a thinness of voice, oddly anemic phrasing (including shortchanging upper notes of phrases in a most untenorial manner), a curious lack of expression."

An audio commentary by Midgette providing a comparison of Bocelli's tone and technique with Luciano Pavarotti's appears below. According to the commentary, Bocelli's tone and technique is not as firm or full as Pavarotti's. And Bocelli's singing of the high note in the passage sounds "squeezed" as opposed to the "ringing" quality Pavarotti achieves when singing the same note in the passage.

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