Bocelli brings Haiti kids to sing for the Pope

The tenor Andrea Bocelli took 60 kids from Haiti, aged 9 to 15, to sing for Pope Francis yesterday after his weekly general audience. The chorus, known as Voices of Haiti and drawn from the poorest parts of the island, is touring Italy as a project of the Bocelli Foundation.

They sang ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Ave Maria.’


photo: L’Osservatore Romano

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  • I would normally condemn anything involving this pop star – opera-singer-wannabe but this is a very commendable gesture on his part and very sweet.

  • Given that he had the patronage of Luciano Pavarotti,among others of stature, he might be cut a little slack for pushing his career– and his voice — in a direction it was not ideally suited for. Working with suitable material, he is a rather appealing performer. And he has long been known to sponsor wonderful programmes for people less fortunate.

    God, daring to try an opera aria is a hanging offence around here, though I grant Bocelli went a stage too far from delivering a pleasant aria or so to trying to carry off whole staged operas. But blame the people who cast him just as much. They were happy enough to exploit a popular singer.

    I sometimes despair of the music world, with its snobbishness and exclusiveness and unwillingness to see that there is a world elsewhere. Not in this item, which is carefully neutral about someone it has slagged before, nor in Ungeheuer’s comment, which, for a rarity, I find myself in agreement with. But he reminds me of the general attitude here toward anyone who has aspired to opera, failed and fallen back to more solid ground. At least he is generous in acknowledging the deed under discussion — others have been less so of other artists in the past.

    • So what is the appropriate reaction is someone is genuinely appalled by Bocelli’s singing? Frankly I find it substandard in any genre, inferior even to some amateurs who become overnight celebrities through reality shows. That’s my personal opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

      As for his Haiti project, it sounds potentially fantastic but I am puzzled by the music in the clip. All we hear is Bocelli’s singing, with rich instrumental accompaniment. No single note from the children’s choruses, even though we see them plenty. Who is the clip about?

      • Well, don’t blame him. He didn’t pick it. I did wonder, too, but suspect that as yet there is little footage of the young Haitians available.

        While I could endorse someone being “appalled” by the notion of Bocelli trying to perform in an opera company, as he did once or twice, it seems an over-reaction to what seems to me a perfectly pleasant light tenor voice singing songs like Romanza (preferably without Sarah Brightman, who strikes me as a very affected singer) or some hymns. As I was trying to say above: not all music is classical. Some very distinctive voices perform all sorts of music to all sorts of effect. Think of Leonard Cohen, obviously greatly admired around here. It would take a strange ear to say that he was by ANY standards a “good singer,” yet he was a great performer to the last (more than can be said of the man who paved the way from him, Bob Dylan, an even worse singer whose recent tour has been a tremendous disappointment). Yet he, too, will leave a great musical legacy.

        Stick to what you like, by all means — but that does not make everything else “appalling.” There IS a wider world, and it produces many musics.

        • I don’t mean to indulge in Bocelli bashing. I only want to stress that my personal opinion of him is unrelated to classical singing standards.

          I am with you on your comments on other singers. I fully agree about Leonard Cohen. I also have huge respect for Barbra Streisand, Julie Andrews or Frank Sinatra (in their prime), to name a few non-classical singers.

          On the other hand, I’ve been consistently underwhelmed by Bocelli’s sense of rhythm or timbre, regardless of genre. I have nothing against your qualified admiration of his, but please don’t dismiss my personal opinion as elitist.

          Louis Armstrong is another great example to illustrate my point: to me his singing is out of this world in, say, Wonderful World, though I am glad he didn’t try to sing Rigoletto or Schubert’s Winterreise.

  • It is always heartening to read some intelligent commentary in support of Andrea Bocelli. He possesses a fine voice, natural musicianship, and an engaging personality. I haven’t given it all that much thought, but I suppose he’d probably stand somewhat in the tradition of singers such as John McCormack and Mario Lanza. He is not an opera singer, but he does what he does very well, which is all that he is required to do. He is often mentioned in connection with Katherine Jenkins, which always seems to be very unfair, since Ms Jenkins, also no opera singer, also fails to be any good at what she does in fact do.

  • His very first CD was, and is, a superb example of a high Italian operatic tenor [think Ferruccio Tagliavini or the much lamented Gino Mattera] – a credit to whatever record executive lined it up, and to the singer. It continues to give me great pleasure decades on. Never mind about what happened later – listening to them all is not compulsory.

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