Andrea Bocelli was born with poor eyesight due to congenital glaucoma but lost his vision entirely when he was twelve due to an injury he sustained while playing soccer. Growing up with a love of music and the encouragement of his parents he took piano lessons from the age of six before adding a number of other instruments including flute and saxophone to his repertoire. It was singing however that became his real passion and the young Bocelli entered competitions prior to his teens and received early vocal lessons from Maestro Luciano Bettarini. He studied Law at Pisa University and upon graduation dedicated himself to a career in music and having convinced his childhood hero, the great Italian tenor Franco Corelli to mentor him he played the piano in bars and restaurants to support himself and pay for his lessons. When rock musician Zucchero Fornaciari hired Bocelli to sing a demo to send to Luciano Pavarotti the great tenor was so impressed and Bocelli joined Zucchero on his 1993 tour of Europe. Signed to the Milanese record label Sugar Music he made his operatic debut as McDuff in Claudio Desderi's production of Verdi's Macbeth in 1994 that would prove to be a hugely important year. He won the new singers section of the Sanremo Music Festival, released his debut album II Mare Calmo della Sera
which quickly went platinum and rounded the year off at Christmas by singing in front of Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City.
Subsequent albums Bocelli (1995) and Viaggio Italiano (1996) served to establish the tenor across continental Europe but his next significant recording was to send his fame right across the globe. English soprano and the star of The Phantom Of The Opera Sarah Brightman invited Bocelli to join her and the London Symphony Orchestra in a tribute to the retiring German light heavyweight boxer Henry Maske. The pair recorded 'Time To Say Goodbye (Con Te Partiro)' and performed it live at the beginning of Maske's final fight on November 23rd 1996. The record topped the charts in Germany with sales in excess of two and three quarter million copies and it went on to become a huge hit throughout Europe including the UK where it entered the charts at No 2. Capitalising on his new popularity the 1997 album Romanza gathered together earlier material as well as the hit duet with Brightman. Topping the charts in several countries the record enjoyed worldwide sales in excess of a staggering twenty million copies of which more than four million were in the USA alone. His next new studio album Aria: The Opera Album (1998) was another major seller but was overshadowed by 1999's Sogno which peaked at No 4 in the USA and became a huge international success with sales in excess of ten million copies worldwide. The end of the 90s found Bocelli a regular fixture in concert and on television throughout North America, appearing everywhere from Las Vegas to the White House and with everyone from Celine Dion to Elmo from Sesame Street.
Now recognised as one of the great tenors whose name is spoken of with the same reverence as Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras, Bocelli has maintained an unbelievably punishing schedule of live concerts and opera performances. His diary has included appearances at the Academy Awards, the British Royal Variety Performance, the Grammy Awards, a memorial concert at Ground Zero in New York, at the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, the 2006 World Cup in Berlin, the 2007 Concert For Diana at Wembley stadium, on BBC TV's Strictly Come Dancing, at the 2007 Latin Grammy Awards, the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final in Rome, countless performances on behalf of charitable causes and in front of Queen Elizabeth II, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Barack Obama and Pope Benedict XVI. He has continued to release a steady stream of hugely successful albums, highlights of which include; Sacred Arias (1999), Cieli di Toscana (2001), Sentimento (2002),
Amore (2006), My Christmas (2009), Carmen: Duets & Arias (2010) (featuring Bryn Terfel, Marina Domashenko and Eva Mei) and the live Concerto: One Night In Central Park (2011).
Andrea Bocelli's career has successfully embraced classical, opera and pop music and he has not only shared stages with fellow opera stars such as Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Cecilia Bartoli but also numerous popular artists including Celine Dion, Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Lopez, Al Jarreau, Nelly Furtado, Josh Groban and Christina Aguilera. He has been recognised with dozens of honours including six Classical BRIT Awards, two Billboard Latin Music Awards, seven World Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, while with sales in excess of eighty million records he is the best selling singer in classical music history.
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