Bocelli and Bartoli: together at last

Bocelli and Bartoli: together at last


norman lebrecht

September 30, 2020

Cecilia Bartoli will be singing two arias with Andrea Bocelli on his new album, ‘Believe’, out next month.

The most particular of mezzos with the most popular living tenor.

Who’d have believed it?


NOW READ: When Bartoli first met Bocelli, sparks flew



  • V. Lind says:

    I don’t know — maybe Pavarotti? Domingo? Other reasonably accomplished singers who were happy to work alongside him?

    • Allen says:

      But why? Nobody dare refuse out of fear of the dreaded accusation of ‘elitism’, so they go along with it.

      There are many aspiring younger (and genuine) opera singers who could benefit enormously from these opportunities.

      • V. Lind says:

        The opportunity, by your logic (whereby Ms. Bartoli does not dare to refuse an invitation) emanates from Bocelli. Are you saying that he should have offered it to young opera singers?

        They’re both — as used to be said — free, white and over 21. I think they are both celebrated enough to make up their own minds about what they will do. Lots of opera singers team up with pop singers. Bocelli is as good as many of them, and better than most.

        • Allen says:

          I think you’ve missed the point, or perhaps I didn’t explain it very well.

          I think that opera singers team up in this way because they dare not refuse, for the reason stated. I can’t blame Bocelli, or Jenkins for that matter, even though I think they’re hugely overrated. Not sure what the opera singers get out of it unless they need the money.

          I was also making the more general point that, if audiences were more discerning, they would spend their hard earned cash on aspiring opera singers with better voices. I don’t understand the appeal of these crossover/middle-of-the road performers; it’s a total mystery to me.

          This is all highly elitist of course, but I stopped caring about that a long time ago, if I ever did.

          • Adrienne says:

            Don’t Bartoli and Domingo realise that they’re giving credence to the illusion that the Bocellis of this world are fully fledged opera singers?

            People who are not sufficiently familiar with opera to know the difference are being cheated so that Bartoli and Domingo can sell a few more records.

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            I’m elitist too: I admire Nadal and Thiem playing at the French Open.

            Father, forgive me for my sins!!

  • sam says:

    According to Billboard, the “most popular living tenor”, today, per current record sales by year end 2019, is Post Malone.

    If by all times, still living, then probably … Paul McCartney.

  • Andrew says:

    Mr Bocelli is not a very good singer and it seems very unlikely that the is the most popular.

    • Novagerio says:

      Most popular doesn’t automatically mean that he’s the best. It’s bad enough that the ignorant proles regard him as an opera singer (he’s not).

      • Allen says:

        “ignorant proles”

        Even I wouldn’t go that far.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Yes, I’m sure they’re a part of the “deplorables” demographic in “fly-over country”.

        Not like the junkyard dogs of the ilk of Robert De Niro who wanted to go and punch the President of the USA in the face. He isn’t deplorable. Or anything. He votes the right way!!!!

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s about kitsch and commerce, not about music. It’s caving-in to populism and money.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Kitsch isn’t the sole prerogative of crossover music. I regard most sound design or sound art as cacophonic kitsch.

  • Fan says:

    Apparently they have recorded together at least twice before (A Hymn For The World & II) with Chung and Terfel.

  • Leo Doherty says:

    Beautiful singer. Looking forward to the new album.

  • V. Lind says:

    I can’t believe — rather, I can, given much of the usual tenor of conversation around here — the utter snobbery contained in these posts.

    Bocelli’s career has been as a popular singer — the majority of his appearances have been with other popular stars (Zucchero, Celine Dion, Sarah Brightman, Georgia, etc.) singing popular music. And, BTW, most of these performers have appeared with opera singers — Zucchero’s collaborations with Pavarotti were frequent and legendary.

    He also has recorded many sacred songs and hymns. But the offence to the overly-sensitive among you must rest in his temerity in having recorded some arias. He is hardly alone in this — God, who hasn’t sung or recorded Nessun Dorma by now? Some enterprising producers, some in Italy and one in the US, invited him to take on full opera stagings. I don’t know anything about the Italian ventures, but his Werther in the US was roundly criticised, and he never had another similar offer. So he over-reached — hey, Linda Ronstadt did La Boheme once, to similar criticism.

    But Bocelli does not present as an opera singer. He is a pop tenor whose voice is sufficiently appealing to millions to make his recordings and appearances popular, and sufficiently agreeable to some major singers for them to feel comfortable performing along with him.

    The purists among you are so “offended” when someone dares to sing anything you deem to be the exclusive turf of a select group (many of whom, like Anna Netrebko, are regularly decried around here while even more regularly employed by the great opera houses of the world).

    You don’t have to buy his records or attend his concerts. But just because he is not Jonas Kaufman, Pavarotti or Domingo (not one of whom has escaped opprobrium here) is not licence to mock. A little more live and let live would go a long way around here.

    • Allen says:

      Look, we’re not “offended”, we just don’t think he’s very good. Too bad. The accusation of snobbery is lazy and predictable.

      ALL opera singers are compared with contemporary opera singers, and those no longer with us. It is perfectly natural and applies to pop, rock, football, snooker, jazz, drama – you name it.

      If Mr Bocelli is going to sing operatic excerpts, not as a hobby but as part of his career, he must expect to be compared with others who sing the same stuff. He is not entitled to immunity.

      You say “Bocelli does not present as an opera singer”. Depends on what “present” means but it’s certainly not unusual for crossover singers to happily allow others to do the “presenting”.

      You appear to be the sensitive one around here, although I can think of one or two others who are likely to join the party in due course.

      • Joe Sesto says:

        I admit to not being a fan of opera, but we do like attending Bocelli concerts and his every changing female guest singer. We did attend the Three Tenors concert in Dodger Stadium. Not may can say the same. Not that it changes anything but wasn’t it Pavarotti who suggested Bocelli for a performance Luciano wasn’t able to make. That has been referred to as Andrea’s career starter. Frankly, considering his vision loss and limited mobility wouldn’t it be difficult snd unsafe for him to perform in most operas? Seems to me he has made a fantastic career with an enormous following regardless of his lack of opera experience.

    • les says:

      A question for you. Classical musicians who venture into non-classical genres tend to attract strong criticism. Orchestral arrangements of rock hits and the 1985 recording of West Side Story spring to mind.

      Are the criticisms examples of ‘utter snobbery’? Shouldn’t the response be ‘don’t listen to them’?

      • V. Lind says:

        Orchestral arrangements of rock hits tend to sanitise the originals. Bocelli singing a Verdi aria is not trying to do any such thing. If he is not as good as “real” opera singers at it, fair enough to say so.

        But as I say, most of his career is based on non-opera music. And if someone as discerning as Cecilia Bartoli chooses to sing with him, surely that is saying something other than “I am afraid to say no because I would be tagged with something unpleasant”?

        The reaction to this pairing has been superior and, it seems to me, snobbish. As I said, there have been many pairings between opera singers and popular singers. They find something they can share, and they introduce the work of the other to their own fan base. I find the hostility curious, that’s all.

        • Les says:

          ‘If he is not as good as “real” opera singers at it, fair enough to say so.’

          In my experience, it definitely isn’t, an accusation of snobbery never seems to be far away (although I realise that you are commenting on the pairing). Fans of Katherine Jenkins seem to be particularly prickly in this respect. She is described on her website as a ‘Classical Singer’, which is very slippery, IMO.

  • john says:

    I hope a few more people fall in love with Cecilia because of it.

  • Nijinsky says:

    “faith, hope and charity”

    The Catholic version of “Christianity” where charity is loving a homosexual because there’s something wrong with them, what is hope and faith then!?

    Hope that they go against their nature, and take up our [“their”] accouterments of various beads and such (I won’t get graphic about it listing any more) to facilitate that, and faith that “that” will work.

    As if that’s God. I don’t think it is, in fact it isn’t. Neither is discipline going against your nature.

    And yet miracles happens. Despite it.

  • LarryW says:

    It’s not so much that he’s a terrible singer, but more about the total lack of taste. Listen to that overblown and soulless “Amazing Grace” excerpt… for me it activates a gag reflex, but there is no doubt that it will sell very, very well.