The first time Andrea Bocelli performed publicly in Salt Lake City, he didn’t say a word to his audience until the show was almost over. Near the end of the two-hour spectacle — which included a wide range of operatic hits, dancers, guest artists and a violinist — Bocelli took a moment to address his fans.
Mentioning his 2009 recording of “The Lord’s Prayer” with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, the Italian tenor told his appreciative crowd, “It’s the first time that I sing here in Salt Lake City. And I will never forget your affection. Thank you for this.”
According to Bocelli, that moment was a bit of an anomaly.
“I rarely speak during my performances, but that time I felt the need to express my gratitude to the audience that filled the arena,” Bocelli recently told the Deseret News in an email, with the aid of a translator. “I’ve had concerts a bit everywhere, but that debut in 2018 stayed with me, and I vividly remember the feeling of a warm collective embrace that I received at the end of the evening.”
That performance really made a lasting impression on Bocelli. Now, the tenor is returning to Vivint Arena on May 17 — his third show at the venue in five years. The concert is one of just a handful Bocelli is performing for his spring tour in the United States, the Deseret News previously reported.
“I am happy to come back and sing for an audience that is so attentive and generous,” he said. “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it’s the people that live there (and the opportunity to meet them again), is what strongly motivates me to keep coming back to Utah.”
Ahead of his Salt Lake performance, Bocelli caught up with the Deseret News about performing at King Charles III’s coronation, family and faith.
Deseret News: You are singing at King Charles III’s coronation — how did this opportunity come about, and what does it mean to you to be a part of it? Do you approach this type of performance differently from your regular concert touring?
Andrea Bocelli: I had already performed in November, together with my son and daughter, Matteo and Virginia, for King Charles III and the Queen Consort at the Royal Albert Hall for the Festival of Remembrance. To be called again to sing at a concert of such historic and artistic significance — I immediately considered it to be a great privilege and a sign of esteem. My reaction was an immediate “yes” to performing there.
From a strictly vocal standpoint, a regular concert obviously requires more preparation. It is always true, however, that if you are called to make a cameo appearance at an event that will be in the spotlight of the world, the sense of responsibility is greater. … To add, if you’re only singing for a few minutes and something goes wrong, you won’t have time to make up for it! In any case, while on stage at Windsor Castle I focused on the music, so I could leave a fond memory with those listening.
DN: If you are answering this after the coronation has taken place, feel free to share what it was like to perform at the event. Did you have any interactions with King Charles III?
AB: Personally, I felt a serene and cheerful environment. We were celebrating a new era in history and a new starting point, under King Charles III’s reign. It was both moving and fun for me. I also had the pleasure of meeting many colleagues, among which, my friend, Bryn Terfel, with which I sang in a duet, “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” After the performance, I did not want to disturb the king at the after-show party, also because he was literally besieged by hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Veronica and I did have the pleasure, however, of being warmly greeted by Prince William and Princess Kate.
DN: You also performed for the late Queen Elizabeth II a number of times — including for the Platinum Jubilee, a few months before her death. What memories of her come to your mind?
AB: She is a woman whose existence on earth made its mark on human history; a critical figure of the 20th century and the new millennium. I admired her understatement and charisma. I appreciated her ability to be deeply loved by her people, as I could gather on several occasions. I remember being struck by her great energy and hearty spirit, when I participated in the celebrations for her 90th birthday. Many years prior, I remember what may have been my first concert in her presence at Buckingham Palace. It was a recital of song and piano, where the queen was seated six to seven feet from me. On that occasion, when it was time to greet each other, my perhaps childish but sincere worry was to not shake her hand too vigorously, to avoid inadvertently hurting her.
DN: During your last performance here, in 2021, your daughter, Virginia, may very well have been the highlight of the show with your duet of “Hallelujah.” At what point did you realize she had a gift for music? Was she at all nervous to join you on tour?
AB: All three of my children were raised on “bread and music.” Even my first son — today an aerospace engineer — is a pianist who graduated from the conservatory. Matteo, instead, wanted to follow his father’s footsteps and is by now a professionally mature singer. He’s a “colleague” (and Veronica and I are his No. 1 fans!). Virginia sings in tune, and certainly has musical talent, which she shows in her progress in piano studies. In addition, she is studying acting and is on a competitive gymnastics team. As she was “born in the limelight,” she learned early on — as well as through the example of her parents — about the discipline and patience that the world of entertainment requires, along with the need to keep your emotions and any nervousness at bay. For now, her singing with her dad and brother is just a bit of a game; and mainly an opportunity to spend some extra time together.
DN: You frequently collaborate and perform with members of your family — last year saw the release of “A Family Christmas.” What does it mean to get to perform music with those you love the most?
AB: The recent recording adventure that brought us all together around the microphone gave us the gift of extraordinary moments! Singing together about the magic of Christmas, recording with my sons and daughter this repertory (that I love with all my heart, precisely for the intensity of good that it carries within) was one of the most beautiful gifts I could ever receive.
DN: Can you talk about some of the guest artists joining you on tour this year? What can audience members expect from the upcoming Salt Lake concert? What do you hope audience members take away from your concert?
AB: We organized an evening that I hope will be exciting, because it’s full of great music and great performers. Next to me, I will have the extraordinary voices of Isabel Leonard and Edward Parks; and as a special guest, the polyhedric talent of Amy Manford. It will also feature the dance choreographies of Brittany O’Connor and Paul Barris — all under the bubbly, orchestral direction of my friend, Steven Mercurio. For the first part of the concert, I will be singing an anthology of some of the most beloved operatic pieces of all time, taken from Verdi, Puccini, Bizet. The second part will be dedicated to popular Italian “romanze” and old and new songs (including some very well-known “pieces de resistance” of my first 30 years as a singer) and it will also be a tribute to the musical genius of Leonard Bernstein.
DN: Is there anything you would like to add that I haven’t touched on?
AB: Years ago, I wrote my own personal prayer. One of the verses reads: “Lord, make me a channel of Your Holy will.” These are words that I still direct to the heavens, reflecting my wish to put myself at God’s disposal. My voice is a gift that I received, and it is my duty to share it with whoever wishes to hear it. Not a day goes by without reflecting, with gratitude, on how much I was given in this life. And I think, with gratitude, also about you, my friends from Utah, who have shown interest in me by reading this interview. I would like to thank my fans for the affection and trust that they continue to offer me; I would like to say to them that I am overjoyed to be able to come back and sing for them, and I will give it my all to live up to their expectations.