The Italian tenor talks to Saeed Saeed ahead of his concert at the du World Music Festival.
Andrea Bocelli says passion is part of opera's DNA
I take it by your return to Abu Dhabi that you enjoyed yourself the first time.
Yes, exactly. The public, the audience and the crowd were all interested, attentive and really warmly welcoming to me.
How does the crowd in the UAE and the wider Middle East stack up against those in Europe when it comes to opera appreciation?
Well, I don't how well versed they are in opera but, then again, no country is really fully informed and educated in opera, not even in Italy, really. But in the Middle East, I found that the public was really interested in and touched by the power of the music.
Do you feel, with your success and high profile, that you are introducing millions to opera with each new release?
No, that would be too big a responsibility for me to shoulder. All I can do is ensure that I am in the best possible form, that I am properly prepared and trained, and that I give the best that I can on stage. The judgement that you mentioned will have to be given by other people and not me.
Your new album Passione has collaborations with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado. How did those interesting pair-ups come about?
The collaborations with Jennifer Lopez and Nelly Furtado were made possible thanks to [the Passione producer] David Foster, one of the most talented producers in the world. He is also a personal friend of many of the greatest artists in the world. He asked them if they would collaborate with me and I was absolutely thrilled to have the opportunity.
Do you have to tailor your vocal approach when you are collaborating with artists from different genres?
I always try to be myself and I retain my own musical language. If two artists collaborate together and speak their own language and continue to be themselves, then the collaboration will work and the audience will perceive it as something positive. Otherwise, it will appear false.
Your albums are renowned for being passionate affairs. You have dedicated whole albums to the subject of love and passion. What have both emotions taught you?
Passion is certainly in the DNA of opera but opera's themes are not just love. They also include other powerful emotions. There can also be hatred or patriotism. As for love, it has given me the joy of living and then it gave me the will to live and still today it gives me the strength to live. That is love for you.
You are one of the rare stars who has publicly admitted to experiencing stage fright before each performance. How do you deal with it?
Stage fright is about the personality of the artist. Some people feel it more than others. For me, I feel stage fright as a result of the burden I feel from the responsibility to myself, to the music and to the audiences. When I do have it, the only thing I can do is go ahead on stage. There are no ritual procedures that I follow, [I don't] use sorcery or anything like that. I just have to go on and overcome it like any other musical obstacles.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
There is no music that I am ashamed to listen to. But I must confess that when I need to relax a bit, I listen to really old Italian songs that no one listens to. My children will certainly laugh their heads off if they ever hear it.
What should Abu Dhabi expect from your return performance?
It will be a typical concert by an Italian tenor. There will be opera arias, duets, opera romance pieces, the famous songs and all the big, famous pieces that an audience expects an Italian tenor to sing. Of course, there will be some new songs from the album Passione.
Andrea Bocelli performs at the du Arena on Friday at 7pm. Tickets begin from Dh295, from www.thinkflash.ae
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