Andrea Bocelli spoke with Włodzimierz Redzioch of the Polish weekly “Niedziela,” The musician spoke of his childhood, career, music, faith, and his relationships with the Popes, especially with John Paul II.
Here is an English translation of the interview.
Today, he is one of the most famous Italians in the world; everyone is delighted with his voice; more than 110 million of his CDs have been sold. And he was not supposed to be born – doctors had recommended to his mother an abortion as there was a risk that the child would be born disabled. But his mom did not listen to the doctors and continued this difficult pregnancy, which was further complicated by problems with her health. Thanks to the courageous decision of this Italian woman, on September 22, 1958, Andrea was born. He was born with congenital glaucoma, which affected his eye sight – at the age of 12 he completely lost his sight as a result of a heavy blow to the head during a soccer game. The young Tuscan lost his sight, but he did not lose the voice, thanks to which he made an outstanding career and became one of the most famous singers in the world.
Today, Andrea Bocelli has concerts all over the world; everywhere crowds of fans are waiting for him, but when he can, he returns to Lajatico, his home town in Tuscany. Here is the house where he lives with his family; here he is preparing for each tour and concert, also here he is preparing for the concert scheduled to take place on January 23 of this year in Poland at the Ergo Arena in Gdańsk.
Before his departure to our country maestro Bocelli gave me a special interview.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch – You were born in Lajatico, a small village on the hills, near Pisa, in the Valdera region. You spent your childhood among olive groves and fields in this wonderful land of Tuscany. Why today, when you become the “man of the world,” are you always coming back here, to your family home?
Andrea Bocelli – In the heart of Tuscany and among the purely peasant culture I have learned a hierarchy of values which have shaped my life, and which in a way I’m passing on when I sing. Therefore with the Lajatico and Valdera region, I’m connected with a very deep feeling. The more I travel due to my work, the more I want to go back to the countryside to find peace and recharge. Besides, in this part of Tuscany, I still have many friends and relatives, my mother also lives here. That’s why I’m coming back here whenever my work duties allow me.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- Maestro, you mentioned your mother Edi. When in 1958 she was pregnant, doctors advised her to have an abortion, as there was a risk that the child she was carrying in her womb could be born disabled. This mother, however, said “no” to doctors and thanks to this you were born. What should this story tell the world in which parents at all costs want to have “perfect” children and in which it is so easy to have an abortion?
Andrea Bocelli- I revealed these details about my birth, to give a spark of hope and make a small contribution to the psychological support for all those women who for various reasons do not have the strength in themselves to defend life, which they carry in their wombs.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- How did you discover that you have a great voice and how did you become one of the most famous singers of the world?
Andrea Bocelli- I was always told that I have a good and recognizable voice. But, I enrolled in vocal studies when I was already an adult. In my life, two meetings turned out to decisive: the first – with maestro Luciano Bettarini, and the second one – with great Franco Corelli. I managed to get famous after a long period of internship and many “closed doors.” To accomplish my life plan, I worked a lot with great dedication, imposed a strict discipline and tried to form as many good habits as possible. In the end, all went well. I hope that my story – told through the media – will be helpful to someone due to the message that it is carrying. Namely, that there are no dreams that are impossible to realize – it is important to believe that it will come true, pursue them with seriousness, honesty and humility.
Włodzimierz Rędzioch- Today’s world is becoming more and more secularized. Nevertheless you create a great interest in the audience with sacred music. How do you explain this phenomenon? Is man always in need of the sacred?
Andrea Bocelli- How you can skip the sacred dimension? Without it, our existence would be empty. A lack of the sacred would be a cause of despair; it would be a tragedy that was announced. For me interpreting the sacred is a form of prayer. Music is the voice of the soul, moving along the paths that penetrate the most intimate sphere of our psyche. Potentially, music can be a mystical experience.