Things About Andrea Bocelli Only His Biggest Fans Know

Whether it be in the genres of pop or opera, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is a voice heard around the world. For several decades, he has shared his musical gift with audiences, performing in sold-out arenas and selling over 75 million records. Celine Dion, a celebrated musical icon in her own right, once famously declared, "If God had a singing voice, it would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli" (via Decca Records).

Behind the music, however, is a fascinating man who has a story worth reading and sharing. From his passion for writing poetry to whom he considers his life's most important mentor, Bocelli sometimes invites the world in to find out more about what makes him tick. And it is through these rare moments that fans can uncover the full picture of who he really is away from the stage and what drives him to continue to deliver heart-stopping performances. 

Andrea Bocelli cites Amos Martellacci as his mentor

The world of opera played a major role in the shaping of Andrea Bocelli's career. He revealed to the Financial Times that he received musical tutelage from renowned Italian composer Luciano Bettarini and superstar tenor Franco Corelli in his youth, while adding that Corelli and Luciano Pavarotti are two of the people he has learned the most from in terms of music and how to become a better performer. However, if someone were to ask Bocelli who his life's biggest mentor is, there's a special person he mentions often: Amos Martellacci.

Martellacci came from Bocelli's hometown of Tuscany in Italy, and he played a crucial part in encouraging and assisting Bocelli when he was studying for his law degree at university. In a separate interview with The Times, the singer once again cited Martellacci's impact on his life and how he still carries the valuable lessons he learned from him to this day, stating: "Amos Martellacci, my father's friend and colleague, devoted 20 years of his life to me, passing on his wisdom and love of literature."

As revealed on his official website, Bocelli further expounded on Martellacci's impact, calling him "a master of life whom I owe much of my knowledge." Bocelli paid further tribute by naming his first-born son, Amos, after Martellacci.

Why he prefers to sing in Italian instead of English and Spanish

Born and bred in Italy, Andrea Bocelli tends to express his musical self through his mother tongue; however, he has also sung in English and Spanish before. That said, he admitted in a 2023 interview with America Domani why he prefers to sing in Italian over other languages.

"I prefer Italian because I understand intimately all the hidden nuances of the language," he said. "Of course, Italian is the lyrical idiom of opera, and the Italian language has an intrinsic musical tone and rhythm by nature."

Even so, Bocelli acknowledged the power of other languages and how each of them holds their own significance. For example, he explained that since so many pop songs are sung in English and it is considered a universal language, he believes it to be one of the most effective ways to connect with a wider audience. Similarly, he praised the Spanish language for possessing a certain passion and vigor to it, especially when sung.

His father dreamed of him going to America

Andrea Bocelli's popularity spans across every inch of the globe, as he established himself as a world-famous tenor dealing in iconic on-stage performances and moments. One of his favorite countries to tour in, though, is the United States. In fact, he explained to Billboard how connected he feels to America and its people even after two decades of countless visits and memorable performances. Bocelli even refers to it as someplace he really feels at home and a place he loves to return to.

A major reason for this attachment originates from his father, Sandro, who encouraged him to set his sights on the U.S. if he wanted to achieve everything he could as a musician. "It was my father's dream that I go to America because that, he said to me, is the place where dreams come true," Bocelli told Radio Times. "He believed I should shoot for that."

The American Dream turned into a reality for the singer, and he continues to live it by regularly including the U.S. as a major stop in his global tour cycles.

He doesn't like traveling

Andrea Bocelli keeps a robust tour schedule, traveling across the globe throughout the year. And while he admitted to The Scotsman that he has fond memories of good food and great places — even saying he enjoys the luxury of a helicopter ride –  that doesn't mean he's a fan of the travel experience either.

"I don't like traveling," he told The Scotsman. "I hate the flights, the airplanes, the changed rooms every day. But I accept this condition because I am a lucky man with a gift from God." Bocelli deals with the necessary evil of traveling because of his love for music, adding that if he ever loses his zest for what he does, he will simply stop performing altogether.

Much like anyone else, Bocelli also has a horror travel story. Speaking to The Independent, he discussed an incident when he and his family were stuck in Phoenix, Arizona, overnight. Bocelli explained how the plane couldn't take off because of the weather conditions, so they were forced to hang around the airport until the airline got the all-clear for the take-off. Unfortunately, this meant no hotel room or a nice place to lie down.

Andrea Bocelli considers one of his sets the most important of his career

September 11, 2001 is a dark day in history that will not be forgotten. Footage of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center remain scarred in the minds of viewers, as the senseless chaos and destruction claimed the lives of innocent people and left the world in mourning. A month later, New York City held a memorial service at Ground Zero, whereby a number of guests and speakers from across the globe gathered to pay tribute to the fallen victims and heroes of 9/11.

Andrea Bocelli performed a version of Franz Schubert's iconic composition "Ave Maria" at the service. Even though this was a performance born out of tragedy rather than celebration, the importance of the event stayed with the Italian tenor.

Despite having sung for world-famous figures and at the biggest sporting competitions, Bocelli told Billboard that he counts the Ground Zero performance as the most significant of his career due to what it meant for everyone. "It seems like yesterday, when I was invited to sing Schubert's 'Ave Maria' at Ground Zero, praying to music, together with the entire world, for the victims of 9/11," he said.

He is a gifted horseman

When he isn't singing up a storm on stage, Andrea Bocelli enjoys horseback riding. In 2023, a three-part film called "The Journey" followed the singer as he traveled from Rome to Lajatico on horseback, while stopping to perform sets along the way. Speaking to USA Today, Bocelli opened up about his passion for horses, explaining how he had been riding the animals since the age of 7 after his father bought him a horse at the behest of his grandfather on his deathbed. 

"The horse was a sort of friend for me, but also a means of transportation," Bocelli said. "So it's very familiar to me since I've been doing it forever." His wife, Veronica, confirmed her husband's gift with horses, saying he knows how to communicate with them. "They can speak to each other in the same language," she said. 

In September 2017, Bocelli's fans experienced quite the scare when news broke that he fell off his horse, hit his head, and had to be airlifted to hospital for treatment. His representatives responded that he was fine and already back home on the same day, while the singer took to X, formerly known as Twitter, to calm the concerns and let everyone know it was just a tumble and he was okay.

There's one famous musician he still wants to share the stage with

Not only has Andrea Bocelli performed on the grandest stages of them all, but he has also collaborated with a host of legendary musicians in this time. For instance, he duetted with Celine Dion on the song "The Prayer," which formed part of the soundtrack for the 1998 animated film "Quest for Camelot." In addition, he performed an iconic rendition of "Time to Say Goodbye" with Sarah Brightman, which became one of the best-selling songs of all time. Even with all these achievements and team-ups, there's still one musician whom Bocelli would love to share the stage with before he closes the curtain on his storied career.

Speaking to Las Vegas Magazine, Bocelli said, "Out of the artists with whom I have not yet had the honor of sharing the stage, the first name that comes to mind would be Paul McCartney." Despite the two not appearing on stage together as of 2023, the tenor has paid tribute to McCartney's former band, the Beatles, by covering the iconic 1965 song "Yesterday."

Andrea Bocelli is pro-life

In 2010, Andrea Bocelli appeared in a video where he discussed how his mother experienced stomach pains when she was pregnant with him, as per The Guardian. He disclosed how the doctors at the hospital advised her to abort him, believing he would be born with a disability. In the end, his mother decided against the doctor's advice and chose to have her child, a decision which Bocelli remained forever grateful for. He closed off the video by stating the purpose of his message and the sharing of his story was to inspire other struggling mothers-to-be who had similar decisions to make.

The video generated controversy since many people took it as an anti-abortion statement from Bocelli. However, the singer chose to clarify his sentiment in an interview with Italian newspaper Il Foglio (via Catholic News Agency). "Because of my personal convictions as a devout Catholic, I am not only fighting against something, I am fighting for something," he said, "and I am for life."

Bocelli added how he recorded the video for a missionary named Father Richard Frechette, whom he had collaborated with before for another charitable project. After Father Frechette asked the tenor to provide him with some encouragement for mothers-to-be, Bocelli chose to share his own personal story.

He doesn't like to discuss his blindness

Andrea Bocelli experienced blindness at an early age. He was diagnosed with congenital bilateral glaucoma when he was a baby. However, at the age of 12, a soccer ball hit him in the eye and caused a serious injury, resulting in him losing the majority of his sight at that point. That being said, Bocelli doesn't like to discuss his blindness in interviews. Journalists are warned that even an allusion to it will result in the interview being canceled with immediate effect.

Bocelli is determined to ensure that his blindness doesn't become the overarching narrative of his story, even in his 2017 autobiographical film "The Music of Silence," which features "Game of Thrones" actor Toby Sebastian as Amos Bardi — a fictionalized version of Bocelli. As per The Guardian, Bocelli asked the movie's director and co-writer Michael Radford to not focus on his blindness as a disability on screen. Radford explained how the musician "doesn't consider himself to be handicapped in any way." So, the filmmaker consulted with him during the scriptwriting phase and also in terms of Sebastian's performance. While the actor does imitate a few of Bocelli's mannerisms, the singer asked Sebastian to not pretend to be blind.

He's a huge fan of soccer

Despite a soccer injury accelerating his loss of sight, Andrea Bocelli continues to be a big fan of "The Beautiful Game." In an interview with FIFA, he revealed how he loved both music and soccer as a child, and these interests never dissipated throughout the years. He remains a passionate supporter of Inter Milan and passed on his loyalty for the beloved Italian club to his children as well.

Bocelli also follows his national team, Italy, describing how the 1970 FIFA World Cup in Mexico is a bittersweet memory for him. Even though the Azzuri overcame West Germany 4-3 in a classic semi-final match, the terrific team succumbed to a Pele-inspired Brazil in the final, losing 4-1.

For Bocelli, he finds many similarities between the sport of soccer and the power of opera. "Football can arouse similar feelings to those that fire you up in an opera theater, in some ways," he said. "In its sense of ritual, in its capacity to attract healthy fanaticism and hyped-up tribalism, football also projects life into the experience of the game. It invokes challenges to the death, impulses of generosity and heroism, fatal mishaps and magnificent victories."

Writing poetry is his second passion

Andrea Bocelli uses his voice to express creativity every time he steps on stage or into a recording booth. However, music isn't his only path to creative expression. He also finds the written word to be just as powerful as the sung one, and often picks up the pen instead of the microphone. Speaking to Classic FM, Bocelli said, "I like to write. It is my second favorite activity after singing."

As per HuffPost, the musician acknowledges that he isn't a professional writer by any means, but he finds joy in putting his thoughts to paper — especially through the art form of poetry. He classifies his poetry as far more traditional in the way he structures and expresses himself, choosing to follow the rules rather than through free verse. Interestingly, Bocelli revealed that one of his favorite times to write is before he takes to the stage. He sits in his dressing room and uses these quiet moments before the show to work on his poetry — undoubtedly, this helps him to get into the creative mindset for his on-stage performance.

In addition to poetry, Bocelli authored his autobiography "The Music of Silence: A Memoir."

Andrea Bocelli brought Roger Federer to tears

Music yields a power quite unlike anything else on this planet. A simple song has the ability to change the listener's mood in an instant, especially if it connects on a deeper and emotional level. Andrea Bocelli holds this power too, since it is not unusual to see his audience in tears after a rousing performance. In 2023, a legendary sportsman couldn't turn off the waterworks after hearing the operatic singer on stage.

During a performance in Zurich, Switzerland, Bocelli invited tennis superstar Roger Federer to join him on stage and praised him for his defining contributions to the sport. The tenor closed off the show by dedicating his spine-tingling rendition of Giacomo Puccini's "Nessun dorma" to Federer. Throughout the performance, the tennis legend couldn't help but be caught up in the emotion as he wiped away his tears and lost himself in the music.

After the show, Bocelli took to his Instagram account to lavish more plaudits on Federer, writing, "It was a true honor to dedicate my last song, one of opera's best-known victory anthems, to him. It was an even greater honor to stand beside him and share the intense emotion of the moment before releasing the intensity with a hug that I have borne in my heart since that evening."