The legendary Andrea Bocelli's visit to Israel

At the packed Bloomfield soccer stadium, the audience was riveted throughout by Bocelli’s marvelous musical mix.

 Bocelli and his family at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. (photo credit: Shimmy Socol)
Bocelli and his family at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
(photo credit: Shimmy Socol)
Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)Jerusalem Report logo small (credit: JPOST STAFF)

Legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli visited Jerusalem on June 9, a day after performing at Bloomfield Stadium in Jaffa to more than 20,000 fans – among them, film director Quentin Tarantino, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former US ambassador David Friedman, and their wives.

Bocelli and his family, who included his wife and manager, Veronica Berti, and two of his three children, prayed at the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. His staff posted photographs on his Facebook page of the visit as well as a video from the concert. “We stand for PEACE, any political comment will be deleted,” they wrote.

At the packed Bloomfield soccer stadium, the audience was riveted throughout by Bocelli’s marvelous musical mix that ranged from a brilliant rendition of Bizet’s “Farandole” 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.

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

Bocelli and family

Bocelli, 63, who has been blind since age 12, 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. After father and daughter performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” beautifully, Virginia announced the auction of Bocelli’s autographed classical guitar, with the proceeds going to the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, whose mission is to empower people 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 building schools and hospitals and helping the communities.” (The winning bid was by Omer Rogovin for $12,431.)

“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 building schools and hospitals and helping the communities.”

Virginia

Bocelli and his dashing son, who clearly has the Bocelli magic in his genes, 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 he had to sort out a defective earphone. “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 Cristina Pasaroiu, was phenomenal, the highlights for the Israeli audience were 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, including a brilliant rendition of the well-known duet from Bizet’s opera, The Pearl Fishers (Au Fond Du Temple Saint.)

“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 make 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.”

Friedman, who gave Bocelli a priestly blessing before the show, was full of praise for him afterward. “Many have said that if God had a voice, it would be that of Andrea Bocelli,” Friedman said. “He is that wonderful!”