Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli thrills 20,000 fans in Tel Aviv

Italian tenor sings with his children – and with Israelis Shiri Maimon and Colin Schachat.

 ANDREA BOCELLI sings with Colin Schachat to a packed stadium at Bloomfield on Wednesday night.  (photo credit: STEVE LINDE)
ANDREA BOCELLI sings with Colin Schachat to a packed stadium at Bloomfield on Wednesday night.
(photo credit: STEVE LINDE)

Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded some 20,000 fans – including film director Quentin Tarantino – in a packed Bloomfield Stadium on Wednesday night.

And he did not disappoint.

While the two-hour performance started 30 minutes late and had a 20-minute intermission, the audience was riveted throughout by the marvelous musical mix that ranged from a brilliant rendition of Bizet’s “Farandole” and Verdi’s “Di quella pira” to a heartfelt “Amazing Grace” and “Con te partirò” (“Time to Say Goodbye”).

The first half comprised a selection of challenging classical pieces from Bocelli’s broad repertoire and the second half some of his most popular hits over the last decades – my favorite being ”You’ll Never Walk Alone” by Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Bocelli, who is 63, spoke only twice to the audience while introducing the highlights of his concert – dynamic duets with his 10-year-old daughter, Virginia, and his 24-year-old son, Matteo.

 ITALIAN TENOR Andrea Bocelli performs on the steps of Sicily’s Noto Cathedral, in Noto, Sicily, in 2020.  (credit: ANTONIO PARRINELLO/REUTERS) ITALIAN TENOR Andrea Bocelli performs on the steps of Sicily’s Noto Cathedral, in Noto, Sicily, in 2020. (credit: ANTONIO PARRINELLO/REUTERS)

“Now it’s the most difficult moment of the concert,” he said. “First of all because I’m a terrible guitarist – I never studied to play the guitar. But most of all because I am joined on stage by a special guest. She is my daughter.”

Father and daughter then performed a wonderful interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” much to the delight of the audience. Afterwards, Virginia – in perfect English – announced the auction of the autographed classical guitar, with the proceeds going to the Andrea Bocelli Foundation – whose mission is to empower people and communities suffering from disease, poverty and social exclusion.

“I was a little scared in the beginning – there are a lot of people,” Virginia said. “Tonight is a special night because we’re auctioning this guitar for the benefit of the Bocelli Foundation, which is my dad’s foundation, and it is helping a lot of children around the world, build schools and hospitals and help the communities.” (The winning bid was by Omer Rogovin for $12,431.)

Bocelli related how his dashing son, who studied music and clearly has the Bocelli magic in his genes, had once shared his personal dream with his father: “I was very curious: ‘What do you want to do?’ ‘I’d like to sing with you.’ I said, ‘Okay!’”

They sang “Fall on Me” superbly before Matteo took the stage alone to woo the audience with his newly recorded catchy single, “Tempo” – after a few minutes of embarrassment during which the young Bocelli had to sort out a defective earpiece. “The beauty of live performances!” Matteo quipped.

Eleven years after his last appearance in Israel, Bocelli returned to the stage accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gary Bertini Israeli Choir. While his stage companion, Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu, was phenomenal, the highlights for the Israeli audience were his undoubtedly his duet with Israeli pop star Shiri Maimon of “The Prayer” (which he famously recorded with Celine Dion) and two pieces with South African-born Ra’anana baritone Colin Schachat.

“Although I have been privileged to have performed several times with Andrea Bocelli in Italy, the experience of performing with him accompanied by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra in front of a full Bloomfield was a thrill beyond words, something I will never forget,” Schachat said. “Besides his phenomenal voice and vocal stamina, his kind and helpful manner makes it so comfortable for someone like me to sing with him. The warm, welcoming and enthusiastic response of the audience was not lost on Andrea, who commented how much he loves being in Israel.”

On a personal note, I was overwhelmed with emotion while hearing Bocelli sing the lyrics of “Amazing Grace”:

“I once was lost, but now am foundWas blind but now I see.”

Together with his exceptional vocal talents, Bocelli’s amazing grace continues to be an inspiration to millions of people around the world – including Israelis.