Andrea Bocelli (Sleep Train Arena, June 10) has long had his critical champions and detractors. Whatever the tenor of the current critical zeitgeist, audiences have never wavered in their appreciation of Bocelli’s talent. This is a man who has, after all, sold over 75 million records, putting him on the same level as Beyonce, Nirvana and Bob Marley.
Detractors claim that Bocelli’s voice is reedy, too thin and lacks power, especially in the instances when he’s taken on full operas (his 1999 performance in Massenet’s Werther at the Detroit Opera House does seem to lend some credence to this view). Speaking of Bocelli’s more traditional performances, critic Steve Smith said, “Substantial technical shortcomings [that are] masked by amplification are laid bare in a more conventional classical setting.”
But to focus on Mr. Bocelli’s perceived shortcomings in a full operatic production is to miss the point. In concert, he is free to pick and choose pieces that suit his voice to a T, and his greatest power lies in his ability to transfix a live audience. He is a vocalist that performs as much with his eyes as his voice; a man with a warm and numinous presence.
In 2009, the then 77-year-old Elizabeth Taylor made a rare public outing to see Bocelli at the Hollywood Bowl and said "My mind, my soul were transported by his beauty, his voice, his inner being. God has kissed this man and I thank God for it."
Granted, Elizabeth Taylor had a flair for the dramatic, but her words echo the feelings of many concert goers, who may not quite recall how Bocelli managed breath control, but will never forget the way he made them feel.