As he stood on the stage at Windsor Castle, performing at King Charles III’s coronation, Andrea Bocelli felt a great sense of responsibility.

He was performing just one song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” with his colleague, Bryn Terfel. It didn’t require the high level of preparation the Italian tenor puts into his regular concert on tour. But singing for just a few minutes also meant that he wouldn’t have the time to make up for it if something went wrong. 

So on stage during the historic event — Britain’s first coronation in 70 years — Bocelli honed in on the music. His biggest desire during the event, he told the Deseret News, was to “leave a fond memory with those listening.” 

Ten days later, and nearly 5,000 miles across the pond, Bocelli found himself at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City — his third show at the venue in five years. It was a decidedly less significant setting, but Bocelli’s approach was just the same. 

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Aside from a single “thank you” uttered near the end of his two-hour concert on May 17, Bocelli didn’t say a word to his audience. Perhaps that’s due, in part, to Italian being his first language. But it largely seems to be an intentional choice he makes as a performer to let the music do the talking.

While some artists chat with their audience as much as they perform, Bocelli comes strictly to sing. Over the course of two hours, Bocelli conveyed his emotions through operatic arias from Verdi, Puccini and Bizet; theatrical numbers from “West Side Story”; popular songs like “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” — which elicited gasps of surprise from the audience — and some of his signature pieces, including “Time to Say Goodbye” and his incomparable closer, “Nessun dorma.” 

Isabel Leonard, mezzo-soprano, sings at the Andrea Bocelli concert at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Bocelli’s vocal strength and ability to end on a long, powerful note were on full display during the operatic numbers. During this portion, three-time Grammy winner and mezzo-soprano Isabel Leonard, and baritone Edward Parks — who won a Grammy for his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the opera “The (R)evolution of Steve Jobs” — accompanied Bocelli at times and also had their own masterful moments in the spotlight. 

The softer, more nuanced side of Bocelli’s artistry came through in the second half of the concert, on romantic songs like “Maria” from “West Side Story” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.” To usher in this portion of the show, the orchestra, led by the remarkably animated Steven Mercurio, performed “Hedwig’s Theme” from “Harry Potter.” Australian-American soprano Amy Manford later brought an operatic twist to ABBA’s “Winner Takes It All.” And dancers Brittany O’Connor and Paul Barris occasionally bolstered Bocelli’s numbers with dance choreography. 

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The two-hour spectacle was a fine sampler of the arts — although in playing to a large arena of thousands, you’re not getting any deep cuts here. It also illustrated Bocelli’s crossover appeal and versatility, which was reflected in his multigenerational audience that showed up wearing everything from ball gowns to jeans.

Andrea Bocelli performs in concert at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

But all of the striking differences in the audience were overpowered by one commonality: A genuine admiration of and affection for Bocelli. 

The 64-year-old, silver-haired tenor received a standing ovation the moment he took the stage (note: there’s no opener, so you want to be there by the showtime listed on the ticket). It would be one of a handful throughout the night, as Bocelli showed that his vocal prowess remains intact and that even performing in a high-altitude place like Salt Lake City can’t affect his lung capacity.

When Bocelli got to his final three songs of the night, it was clear the audience wasn’t yet ready to say goodbye. As Bocelli waved to his fans and walked off the stage following each song, the crowd gave him a massive standing ovation, longing for more. And each time, the tenor reemerged with a beaming smile, happy to oblige. 

Andrea Bocelli performs in concert at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.
Andrea Bocelli performs in concert at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, May 17, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

For Bocelli, music is a vessel for his faith, and he believes it is his “duty to share it with whoever wishes to hear it.” And he sings like he believes that. Each performance seems to be of utmost importance — whether it’s at Windsor Castle or the home of the Utah Jazz. 

He stands still on the stage, listening intently to the music around him as he adds his own voice. He sings every note of every phrase deliberately. And as he held his final long note of the evening in Salt Lake City, concluding the triumphant “Nessun dorma,” Bocelli could rest assured that he had accomplished what he sets out to do night after night, leaving people with a transcendent moment they’re not likely to forget anytime soon.