The classical superstar swings between opera and pop music, packing concert halls and selling more than 80 million albums worldwide. His foundation has been working to fight poverty and working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on visual impairment research.
He’s been on tour and will be performing at Philips Arena Dec. 15. (Sunday) in support of his recent CD/DVD compilation “Love in Portofino,” which was filmed in Portofino, Italy, in 2012. Bocelli’s guests will include the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, soprano Svetla Vassileva and R&B singer Heather Headley.
And recently, Bocelli earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the Giacomo Puccini Conservatory of Music in La Spezia, Italy. Continuing education is an unusual move for an artist with Bocelli’s success. He earned a law degree in the 1980s but still wanted to learn more.
“It was a great time to do course work on the piano, to relearn music history and theory, and other things that I had forgotten,” the 55-year-old singer said through a translator from his home in Italy.
Showing the same collaborative efforts he does on stage, Bocelli, worked with musicologists and scholars and colleagues like Placido Domingo to produce his thesis, “The Value and Meaning of Opera Singing at the Beginning of the Third Millennium.” But Bocelli also had another, less academic, motivation for study.
“Being at the conservatory allowed me to be close to my son.” Bocelli’s son, Amos, was studying piano at the conservatory at the same time.
Completing his master’s work also allowed Bocelli to reflect on ways to maintain the quality of his tenor.
“The voice is a very bizarre instrument, because it is flesh and blood,” he said. “Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in your day-to-day regimen, such as not singing too much, and by choosing the right repertoire.”
Bocelli’s upcoming performance in Atlanta includes a list of familiar classical pieces from “Rigoletto” and “La Boheme,” plus some popular folk songs. Concertgoers should expect to hear some lesser known works including the great aria “O, Paradiso,” from the Meyerbeer opera “L’Africaine.”
“This opera isn’t performed very often,” Bocelli said. “But the aria that puts any voice to the test. It is full of emotions.”