Andrea Bocelli is in a category pretty much unto himself.
Classical crossover is what Billboard magazine or a record retailer might say. He’s an operatic trained singer who delivers his versions of classical and romantic pop pieces. The Italian tenor’s current album, “Cinema,” features his takes on beloved songs from such movies as “West Side Story,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Phantom of the Opera.”
Thanks to several specials on PBS, he fills U.S. arenas and has sold 80 million albums worldwide. In anticipation of his concert Thursday at Target Center in Minneapolis, Bocelli, 57, answered questions via e-mail, with his manager/wife, Veronica Berti, translating.
Q: What did Pavarotti teach you about technique?
A: He instructed me how to pursue the objective to sing effortlessly, so as to use my voice as an instrument, able to give my best without encountering difficulties. A fundamental fact, that, if you do not acquire, at my age you may run the risk not to sing anymore.
Q: What is the most romantic language to sing in and why?
A: Mine is a biased answer because I love the language of my country, and I prefer it because it is the one that has raised me and of which I know the many nuances. I believe Italian possesses an inborn musicality, particularly suitable to express love. It is, anyway, the language around which 400 years ago was born melodrama. That said, I believe that every language guards a wonderful expressive potential and a musicality of its own. And it is also why I love singing in many different languages.
Q: For your “Cinema” album, how did you decide which songs to sing in English and which in other languages?
A: [It] is a fact that in film music, many among the greatest masterpieces ever, were conceived in English. Anyway, as I said before, every language has extraordinary expressive potential. In my album “Cinema,” in fact, I sing in English, Italian, but I also sing in French, Spanish and in Sicilian dialect.
Q: “Cinema” features your favorite songs from movies. What is your favorite movie to watch?
A: In my youth I was very fond of musicals with Frank Sinatra. When I was a child, I loved war films (that gave me the opportunity to be the hero who always won [over] evil), while growing up, I became more and more interested in love movies.
Q: The acoustics of arenas are not as satisfying as those at opera houses and theaters. What is the challenge for you to perform in arenas?
A: If I am singing in a small 18th-century opera house or in a stadium, I always try to concentrate on a direct relationship — one by one — with each listener. The opera theater, if well constructed, is the ideal instrument to reproduce voice. In fact, within architectural structures designed for opera, I strictly avoid the use of electronic amplification instruments. But an arena such as the Target Center allows me to reach an infinitely greater number of people. My challenge is to concretely express my closeness, to thank personally through my singing, live, those that grant me the privilege to be part of the soundtrack of their lives.
Q: What musical genre are you?
A: My training is purely classical; my vocal studies are related to operatic production, although as you know, I tackle, with pleasure, at the same time, pop. I follow the two areas with the greatest honesty and quality possible.
Q: Why do you dislike being called a crossover artist?
A: Because I do not think that it defines precisely my production: I do not recognize myself in it. It is true that I sing opera and pop repertoire and I find satisfaction in both genres, but without mixing them.
Q: What music do you listen to?
A: First of all, I must say that I adore silence: I think in it there are hidden treasures, just like in music, where most of the power is often hidden in the pauses. My choices are diverse; I happen to listen to classical music and sometimes pop. I always prefer great operas, Puccini above all. But I also appreciate the French repertoire very much. I feel very attracted by the expressive sensitivity of composers such as Jules Massenet, Georges Bizet and Charles Gounod. The interpreters I love to listen to, remain still today, the legendary voices of Enrico Caruso, Mario Lanza, Beniamino Gigli, Mario Del Monaco, Aureliano Pertile, Ferruccio Tagliavini, Giuseppe Di Stefano and, of course, Franco Corelli, the greatest of all.
Q: What motivates you in life, and what motivates you in your career?
A: I believe that life is the greatest of gifts and that it is worthwhile living it with great intensity, courage and optimism. Love is my inspiration, in life and in my profession, always and in all its forms. I believe that man’s priceless privilege is to live poetically the adventure on Earth. An élan allowing to define love, and to reach higher and apparently hidden dimensions, as well as insights of religious order.
Q: What is the hardest thing about being Andrea Bocelli?
A: Let me tell you first that I am conscious of being privileged and therefore that I do not have the possibility to encamp complaints. I confess that when I have to get on a plane and cross the ocean, leaving part of the family at home, it is always something hard for me. Life constantly on the run, with my luggage always ready, does not correspond to my nature. Temperamentally, I am a homebody.