Celebrity connection: Andrea Bocelli
A Family Christmas
Famed tenor Andrea Bocelli is bringing his children to Savannah for a special holiday performance.
Story by Leslie T. Snadowsky + Photos by Giovanni De Sandre
Andrea Bocelli, the award-winning, multi-platinum-selling Italian tenor, is bringing his tour, and family, to Savannah for the holidays. For the first time ever, Bocelli will appear live in concert in the Hostess City (Dec. 16, Enmarket Arena). In addition to performing selections from his 17th studio album “Believe,” he’ll sing arias, crossover hits and songs to celebrate the holiday season from his October 2022 album, “A Family Christmas,” which features his 24-year-old son, Matteo, and 10-year-old daughter, Virginia.
The Bocelli clan plans to spread yuletide cheer and share their mission behind the Andrea Bocelli Foundation (AndreaBocelliFoundation.org), which has raised nearly $50 million for education and clean-water initiatives in impoverished areas around the world. Andrea and Virginia talked to LOCAL Life about Christmas, touring the world and listening to Eminem.
[LOCAL Life] I get the feeling the idea for your “A Family Christmas” album was born during Christmas last year when your family was singing holiday songs together around the piano. Did your son Matteo or your daughter Virginia say, “Hey, Dad, we sound great together, we should record this?” [Andrea Bocelli] At home our family often gathers around the piano. Music is an integral part of our everyday life, and I can confirm this happens even more often during the Christmas holidays. We’ve recorded many times what we were singing or playing for the pleasure of marking a family moment, or to hear my children’s progress in piano or singing, just like taking a sort of snapshot in time. To be totally honest, however, the idea of making a new Christmas album came from my record label. This was an idea we immediately took up, wanting to create a genuine music project, conceived by a family for all families on Holy Christmas … A father, two children, three voices, three different timbres, just as many seasons of life, but one unique message: of hope and renewal, through a repertory that is good for the heart.
[LL] Are your kids excited to perform on tour with you? And when you’re in Savannah, are you planning to visit Hilton Head Island? [AB] They are very excited, just as their father is. The opportunity to sing together is truly the best Christmas gift I could ever receive. A gift that will keep on giving every time I am on stage with my children when we are literally a family gathered around a microphone, and the audience will be our extended family with which to celebrate. Speaking of our performance in Savannah, the excitement is exponential considering that, after almost 30 years of performing, I will be having a concert debut in this city. I don’t know if we’ll have time for a little excursion, but I hope we do because I know it would be worth it, as the area is full of special places.
[LL] Virginia, tell me why you like singing with your dad and your brother. [Virginia Bocelli] I feel so comfortable with them. It makes it very easy for me to relax and have fun with them and not worry about the large audience we may be performing in front of.
[LL] What’s the best thing about being on tour, Virginia? Is it the costumes, the sets or traveling to new cities? [VB] Going on tour is a really cool experience for me because I have gotten to see so many different cities and countries and learn about the different cultures. I also love going to the different arenas while on tour because I have so much fun dancing around on the stage before the show begins while the arenas are empty and silent.
[LL] Andrea, I noticed “Over The Rainbow” was the only non-Christmas song on your new Christmas album. Why is it included? Is it one of Virginia’s favorites because she likes The Wizard of Oz? [AB] I can confirm that it’s a song Virginia loves very much. The track can seem unusual: we considered hundreds of songs, and we chose not necessarily the most famous pieces, but the most intense ones, capable of feeding the soul, of sparking the spirit we were looking for. The album truly features “Christmas at the Bocellis.” It shows our way of celebrating an important Christian holiday through music. Christmas is a sweet promise that is renewed every year and that accompanies us in every season of our lives. As we grow into adulthood, it becomes a celebration of life and hope winning over all. Indeed “Over The Rainbow” is steeped in hope, an intergenerational hymn that generates trust and positivity.
[LL] Virginia, what kind of music do you like listening to? [VB] I really like listening to a bunch of different types of music. Right now my top artists or groups would probably be Ultimo, Maneskin, Imagine Dragons, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo and Eminem.
[LL] Why is it important for you to teach your kids about philanthropy and giving back through your Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF), and what’s your advice for other parents who want to do the same this holiday season? [AB] I believe solidarity is one of the most effective responses to disparity. Practicing philanthropy is a moral duty but also an act of intelligence. Solidarity means joy of sharing. Without solidarity there is no welcoming, no overcoming diversity and no empathy for others. Solidarity should be the foundation of relations among living beings, and a suggestion I would like to give to parents is to not give advice to their children but rather transmit to them values by way of example. I have been making my small contribution for 11 years through the foundation that bears my name to leave a better world to those who will come after us. It’s a great extended family that promotes, across the globe, projects that aim to offer people and communities, especially youths, opportunities to best express their talents.
[LL] Virginia, you must have seen your dad perform in front of thousands of fans. How does it feel to know your dad can make so many people happy? [VB] It is a bit crazy when I think that so many people around the world know my dad and follow his music and life because, for me, he is just a normal dad. But it does make me happy knowing that he loves what he does, and that also happens to make many people happy. When I was younger I always thought that meeting my dad’s fans always meant meeting adults, but as I have gotten a bit older and met more people, I have realized that so many of my dad’s fans are all different ages, a lot of them being my age too.
[LL] Andrea, if you could sing with anyone alive or dead and/or collaborate with any musician or composer alive or dead, whom would it be? [AB] If we’re talking about composers, Giacomo Puccini would be at the top of my list. Then Giuseppe Verdi and then many other superb Italian creative minds, from Vincenzo Bellini to Gaetano Donizetti, to Pietro Mascagni. As for fellow singers, I would want to work with a few artists I cherish, such as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and José Carreras, with whom I have already had the honor to sing throughout my career. If I could make him come back to life again, it would be wonderful to be able to do a duet once with the tenor, Franco Corelli, my beloved maestro
See the show
Andrea Bocelli live in concert
When: 8 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16
Where: Enmarket Arena, Savannah
Tickets: $233-$360, enmarketarena.com