Bocelli grew up on a farm in Lajatico, a rural village in Tuscany. Beginning piano lessons at the age of six, he later added flute and saxophone to his list of musical abilities. The young Bocelli also suffered from poor eyesight, having been born with congenital glaucoma, and a soccer accident rendered him completely blind at the age of 12. Undaunted, he continued to sing and later enrolled at the University of Pisa, where he earned a law doctorate. Briefly working as a lawyer allowed him to pay for his singing lessons with famed tenor Franco Corelli; performing in piano bars also helped balance the budget.
Bocelli's first break as a singer came in 1992, when the Italian rock singer Zucchero Fornaciari auditioned tenors to record a demo version of "Miserere," which he had co-written with U2's Bono. Successfully passing the audition, Bocelli recorded the tune as a duet with Pavarotti, with whom he became a close friend. After touring with Fornaciari in 1993, Bocelli then performed as a guest star at the Pavarotti International Festival, held in Modena in September 1994. In November 1995, Bocelli toured Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and France under the auspices of the Night of the Proms concert series, which also featured Al Jarreau, Bryan Ferry, Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, and John Miles. Furthermore, he began a solo career that would soon make him an icon of the classical crossover genre.
Bocelli's first two albums -- Il Mare Calmo Della Sera in 1994 and Bocelli in 1995 -- showcased his operatic singing, while his third effort, Viaggio Italiano, featured famous arias and traditional songs from Naples. A compilation of his first two pop albums, 1997's Romanza, lifted Bocelli to superstar status. The multi-platinum album included the international hit "Time to Say Goodbye," recorded as a duet with Sarah Brightman. Bocelli continued to focus on pop balladry with Sogno, released in 1999, which featured a duet with Céline Dion on "The Prayer." The album sold more than ten million copies worldwide, received a Golden Globe Award, and led to Bocelli's Grammy nomination as Best New Artist. A collection of holiday arias arrived that same year, followed by Verdi in 2000.
In 2001, Bocelli paid tribute to his Tuscan roots with Cieli di Toscana, while the popular Andrea kept his international presence alive in 2004. He returned in 2006 with two releases: Amore, which peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 chart, and the live CD/DVD package Under the Desert Sky. A collection of Neapolitan love songs entitled Incanto was issued in 2008, followed by a holiday album, My Christmas, in 2009. The latter became his first Italian number one, and reached number two in the U.S. and in Canada. During 2010, he released and toured around Notte Illuminata, and in February 2011, Bocelli made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York. That September, he also performed in Central Park with the New York Philharmonic and guests including Tony Bennett, Céline Dion, Chris Botti, and Bryn Terfel. The free concert was captured on Concerto: One Night in Central Park.
In 2013, Bocelli delivered his 14th studio album, Passione, featuring several duets including tracks with Jennifer Lopez, Nelly Furtado, and trumpeter Chris Botti. A complementary live CD/DVD release, Love in Portofino, appeared later that year. Filmed at a special concert Bocelli gave on the Piazzetta in Portofino, Italy, in August 2012, it also received a limited theatrical run. In 2015, he returned with the studio album Cinema, which featured reworked versions of iconic movie songs, including his take on the themes from Gladiator, The Godfather, Evita, and more. That same year, Verve assembled Andrea Bocelli: The Complete Pop Albums. The singer released a duet version of Ed Sheeran's "Perfect" with the singer/songwriter titled "Perfect Symphony" in 2017, and Decca collected the seven-disc Andrea Bocelli: The Complete Classical Albums for release in 2018. That year, Bocelli also issued his 16th full-length, Si, which topped the charts in the U.K. and U.S. Featuring duets with Ed Sheeran, Dua Lipa, Josh Groban, Aida Garifullina, and his son Matteo Bocelli, Si was later nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. ~ Craig Harris & Marcy Donelson, Rovi
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