In this time of global crisis, many artists are trying their hardest to bring beauty and serenity back into our lives. Andrea Bocelli, a blind Italian tenor born from humble beginnings in Lajatico, Italy, momentarily paused the world on April 12 when he sang at the “Music for Hope” event in the Duomo di Milano cathedral in Lombardy, Italy.
Accompanied solely by organist Emanuele Vianelli on the world’s largest pipe organ, Bocelli performed renditions of “Panis Angelicus,” “Ave Maria,” “Sancta Maria” and “Domine Deus.” This syndicated event lured 3.4 million YouTube viewers, making history as the largest audience outcome of a streamed classical event. The concert was 25 minutes and attracted a total of 28 million viewers globally after just one day.
Bocelli’s set of hymns sung at the altar was followed by what most could refer to as the main event.
After closing the last few measures of “Domine Deus,” the camera takes flight and looks down on the massive gothic style church. He proceeds to walk down the aisle in unmarked time, traversing through the colossal pillars made of brick and candoglia marble.
The vacant pews, which are eternally frozen in the east direction, creak in desperation as if needing an encore; each row wishing to turn toward him as he passes. Awaiting several meters ahead are the now-oxidized bronze doors crafted 112 years ago. Bocelli opens them, releasing a ray of white light and illuminating a sliver of the cathedral.
We are now outside, seeing a once vibrant city now completely destitute. Unable to see his surroundings, he presses on cautiously, swinging side to side like a child following the guidance of unseen spirits. A microphone 40 feet away calls his name. The wind settles as oxygen particles take their seats; some take the honor of rushing into his lungs. Andrea Bocelli sings “Amazing Grace.”
“I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see” the symphony of horns begins as shots of empty cities around the world are projected. It is difficult to fight the tears, especially to see someone without sight sing this line. It was a special moment for Italy and the world.
As a man of faith, Bocelli offers an introduction:
“I believe in the Christian Easter; a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone, whether they are believers or not, truly needs right now. Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart.”