CULTURE

Bocelli opens Athens Festival with concert for worthy cause

On Monday, June 2, the Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli will open the summer series of performances at Athens’s ancient Herod Atticus amphitheater. Eight years ago, Bocelli burst onto the world recording scene with his song «Con te partiro.» We Athenians will welcome him at a concert in aid of the Elpida Foundation for Children with Cancer, whose president is Marianna Vardinoyianni. Bocelli was born in Pisa on September 22, 1958, and studied classical singing with the famous Spanish tenor Franco Corelli. Critics are divided over his talent – some see him as the ideal interpreter of the new age of opera and others dismiss him as a «pop tenor.» The fact is that after the success of his first CD, young people began flocking to the world’s opera houses as much as they did to rock concerts in stadiums. Bocelli sings without the help of a microphone and has won dozens of gold and platinum discs in Germany, Britain, Belgium, Argentina, Canada, the Czech Republic, Australia and of course his native Italy, where he is beloved as a star. Four years ago, when Luciano Pavarotti came to sing at the Herod Atticus Theater, his voice could be heard clearly right to the top row of seats. He was given a standing ovation. Now it is the turn of the charming, slim Bocelli. «It is a great challenge, and an honor, to sing where Maria Callas once sang,» Bocelli told Maria Frezadou, director of Forum, which is bringing him to Greece. Bocelli lives in Tuscany with his wife and his two sons, in a mansion that once belonged to Paola, now queen of Belgium. As we await the opportunity to hear him and to form our own opinion, we note what his mother once said about the child «born in the dark» who stopped crying «only when he heard opera.» Tickets for the performance – at 500, 200 and 60 euros – are available from the Elpida Foundation, tel 210.795.7153.