Italian tenor Bocelli to offer Easter ‘prayer’ in empty Milan cathedral


MILAN (Reuters) – Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will sing to a Milan cathedral bare of worshippers on Easter Sunday, hoping to bring together people isolated during the coronavirus lockdown in a livestreamed broadcast he said would not be a concert but a prayer.

Bocelli, one of the world’s most famous tenors, with a wide appeal outside the traditional opera world, said the Easter event would not be a concert in the normal sense.

“The Duomo will be completely empty. This, on its own, already makes the situation abnormal,” he told Reuters in an interview by Skype.

“But in this case, and I repeat, as this won’t be a concert and it won’t be a performance, it will be a prayer and as a consequence it will not be important who is present physically but rather who wants to be with me spiritually in that moment.”

Bocelli will be accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of world’s largest pipe organs and performing a repertoire of sacred works including Pietro Mascagni’s Sancta Maria.

The concert, organised at the invitation of the mayor of Milan and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the body that looks after the development and conservation of the cathedral, will be streamed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel at 1700 GMT on April 12.

Bocelli, whose personal foundation helps people struggling with poverty and illiteracy, said that, like everyone else, he was worried and uncertain about the future in a world turned on its head by the coronavirus.

“I’m not so worried about the present and I don’t feel that concerned about the virus per se but about what will happen next,” he said.

In a country like Italy, which already faced many economic difficulties before the major outbreak of the coronavirus in February, problems such as large scale unemployment were likely to get worse with business at a standstill.

“So, getting this country to bounce back will be a big problem. And we will have many people in difficulty. I hope I am wrong but I fear that’s how it will be,” he said.

“Certainly, we will all have to pitch in, each to his and her best ability, and we will need some wise and enlightened people to guide us, because if we don’t, it will be very difficult,” he said.

Bocelli said he had been asked by pop singer Lady Gaga to join other musicians joining livestreamed events to try to inspire a sense of hope.

“She called me and I couldn’t but reply ‘here I am, count me in’” he said.

Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Alexandra Hudson