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Andrea Bocelli returns to Southern California in time for the holidays

December 12, 2009 |  7:00 am

Bocelli Opera purists often turn their noses up at Andrea Bocelli. But for a great many people, he is opera. For better or for worse, Bocelli -- who has made a career out of moving between classical and pop -- represents the closest thing to opera that most people will ever experience.

No stranger to Southern California, Bocelli is in town this weekend to appear at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Sunday evening. The Italian tenor will perform a set of holiday music from his latest album, "My Christmas," which was released in November. He is also expected to perform operatic arias and duets.

Bocelli, 51, agreed to an interview via e-mail. His representatives explained that he was trying to conserve his vocal power for his tour, which in addition to Southern California has taken him to Toronto, northern New Jersey, Las Vegas and Fresno.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?

In reality I have no favorite songs but there are some pieces that evoke unforgettable moments from my family life: For example, “Tu scendi dalle stelle” (a traditional Italian Christmas song) is the song which more than any other brings back memories of Christmas, the Christmas of my early childhood, but in recording this album, there are songs I have discovered which do not belong to our tradition but have really blown me away like “The Lord’s Prayer” or “Santa Claus [Is Coming to Town]” or “The Christmas Song” ... and many others too.

Christmas concerts can seem awfully repetitive for musicians. How do you keep it fresh?

My concerts are not entirely dedicated to Christmas songs, which I do however find extraordinarily gentle and soothing.  There are always some very fine operatic pieces, unforgettable duets, in order to add variety and in accordance with the principles I adopted from the very start of my career.

What is the most tedious part of touring?

There are undoubtedly many aspects which do not make the life of the concert performer exactly a holiday: One of the worst aspects of my artistic life is that it involves so many long journeys by air during which, aside from the underlying feelings of anxiety flying still causes me, mean many long hours of unremitting boredom.

Then there are the hours spent waiting in theater dressing rooms or in the green room of TV studios, the makeup and the journalists’ questions, which are frequently always the same.... But then there is the music and at that point all the rest fades into the background.

You've performed with many of the world's great opera and pop stars. Are there any artists/musicians whom you haven't had the chance to work with yet and would like to?

The world is full of great artists and extraordinary voices and I love to share the stage with other artists from whom there is always something to learn or at least to receive some positive stimulus.

Are there any pieces / songs that are not in your repertoire and would like to perform one day?
 
Whoever loves music is hungry for music every day.  This is why I am always on the lookout for pieces which I have never sung, always hunting for new emotions with which to move my audiences.

Classical music purists tend to look down on artists who blend opera and pop. What do you have to say to them? 

What do I have to say to them?  That they are right.  When it comes to classical music, and opera in particular, there is no one who is more of a purist than I am.  I have never mixed the two.  I have instead drawn out a precise dividing line so that the two languages in question might never have to suffer cross-contamination through any cause of my making.

Where will you be spending your holiday vacation?
 
I will be celebrating Christmas Day at home with all my family as I do every year.  We will all go to church together and then have Christmas lunch.  I will then be leaving for Brazil for a big concert in Florianopolis and eventually, after that, I will have a few days holiday on a nearby island.

-- David Ng

Photo: Andrea Bocelli. Credit: Peter Kramer / Associated Press

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