I LOVE THE COUNTRY OF JOHN PAUL II
ANDREA BOCELLI, A SPECIAL GUEST OF ‘NIEDZIELA’
THE INTERVIEW WITH MAESTRO ANDREA BOCELLI WAS CONDUCTED BY WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH
Today he is one of the most famous Italians in the world, his voice impresses everybody, which is proved by the fact that over 110 million of his CDs were sold. However, he was not to be born- doctors advised his mother to abort her pregnancy, as there was a risk that her child would be born as disabled. Mrs. Edi did not listen to doctors and continued her difficult pregnancy which was complicated by her health problems. Thanks to her brave decision, on 22 September 1958 Andrea was born. He was born with his inborn glaucoma which made him see badly – at the age of 12 he completely lost sight as a result of a strong blow on his head during a football game. He lost sight but not his voice, thanks to which he made a big career and became one of the most famous singers of the world.
Today Andrea Bocelli gives concerts all over the world, and is awaited by crowds of his fans, but when it is possible, he returns to Lajatico, his home town in Toskania which he loves very much. Here he has got his home, where he lives with his family, and here he gets prepared for every concert tour and concert, as well as he was getting prepared for the concert on 23 January 2016 in Poland – in Ergo Arena in Gdańsk.
Before his arriving t our country, the maestro Bocelli gave me an unusual interview in which he told me about his childhood, career, music, belief and relations with popes, especially with John Paul II.
WŁODZIMIERZ RĘDZIOCH: - You were born in Lajatico, a small town situated on the hills near Piza, in a region of Valdera. You spent your childhood among olives groves and fields of this wonderful land which is Toskania. Therefore, today, when you became ‘a man of the world’, do you always return here, your family home?
ANDREA BOCELLI: - In the very heart of Toskania and in the purely peasant’s culture, I learned the hierarchy of values, which formed my life, and which I somehow pass to others when I sing. Therefore, I am so emotionally related to Lajtico and the Valder region. The more I travel, in relation to my work, the more I want to return to the countryside in order to find peace and gain strength. Besides that, in this part of Toskania I still have many friends and relatives, and my mother also lives there. Therefore, I always return here when my work allows me to.
- Maestro mentioned his mum Edi. When in 1958 she was pregnant, doctors advised her to have abortion, as there was a risk that the baby whom she was in pregnancy with, might be born disabled. However, the mother said ‘no’ to doctors and thanks to it You were born. What should this story tell the world, in which parents wasn’t to have ‘perfect’ children at any cost and in which abortion is done so easily?
- I revealed these details about my birth, in order to give a spark of hope and have a little contribution to psychological support for all those women who are not strong enough because of various reasons, to defend life which they carry in their bosom.
- How did you discover that you have an excellent voice and how did you become one of the most known singers of the world?
- I have always been told that I have a good and recognizable voice. However, I started my vocal studies, when I had already been an adult. What was decisive in my life were two meetings: the first one – with the maestro Luciano Bettarini, and another one – with great Franco Corelli. I managed to gain popularity after a long time of practice and many ‘closed doors’. In order to realize my project of life, I worked hard and with great devotion, imposing much discipline on myself and I was trying to gain as many good habits as possible. Finally, everything went very well. I would like my story – told via media – to help somebody in respect to its message which it brings, that is, there are no dreams impossible to realize – it is important to believe that they will come true, and aim at them with seriousness, honesty and humility.
- Today’s world is more and more secularized, despite that, Maestro deals with -raising a lot of interest of audience- sacral music. How to explain this phenomenon? Does a man always need sacrum?
- How can one omit the sacral dimension? Without it our existence would be empty. The lack of sacrum would be a reason for despair. Interpreting the sacral repertoire is a form of a prayer for me. Music is the voice of the soul, moves on paths which perpetrate the most intimate spheres of our psyche. Potentially, music may be a mystical experience.
- For a few centuries in the West there have been attempts to separate reason from faith. What is worse, it is thought that faith is not compatible with reason. Maestro declares himself as a believer. Where does your faith come from?
- My faith appeared in my adult’s life, when some existential questions became urgent. I realized that making every choice, we stand on the cross of roads going to opposite directions – one leads to the good, another one – to evil. Living with belief that life is directed accidentally, is not only scarcely suitable, but also illogical and unreasonable. This is elementary understanding which allows for making a suitable decision, and the first fundamental choice which we must make, this is: believe or not believe. I choice a way which seemed more logical to me, which my intelligence, despite being limited, identified as a way without any alternatives. Faith is really a valuable gift which I try to keep and deepen, and it supports me every day. I do not think that it is contradictory with reason.
- As an artist and a believer, You are very related to Our Lady. How did your passion for Mary begin?
- Mary is a road which leads to Father, She is our Heavenly Mother, Comforter and Intercessor. It is not accidental that music have been able to express Her, address prayers to Her and gain Her graces throughout centuries.
- In your long career you have sung for millions of viewers – including four presidents of the USA and three popes – not mentioning millions of sold records. As a Pole, I am particularly interested in what memories you have got about John Paul II.
- John Paul II is ‘an extraordinary spirit’ who for us, believers, during his life, as a pope, represented a radiating relationship between the earthly existence and Transcendence. Full of particular grace, he was a charismatic person who knew how to talk with people in a simple way, which attracted new generations to Catholicism. The Pope who changed the history, was a promoter and a hero of geopolitical changes. I have been honoured a few times to sing for John Paul II - I still have memories of those moments in my mind. His canonization was a great joy for me and gave me a lot of emotions.
- Benedict XVI, who is a great lover and an expert of music said one day that real music comes out of experiencing love, sadness and a meeting with what is Divine. Does Maestro agree with this statement?
- I think that this is a very beautiful reflection on music, which is also penetrating and subtle, reflecting sensitivity of the person who expressed it.
- Pope Francis is less sensitive to music, but likes listening to singing. Recently he has said to young choristers of ‘Pueri Cantores’: ‘If I sang, I would resemble a donkey, as I cannot sing’. But there is something which joins both of You: sensitivity to poor people and those in need. Maestro even set up a foundation which has been called by Your name. What does the foundation Andrei Bocelli (Andrea Bocelli Foundation – ABF) deal with?
- The ABF mission is helping people or groups who are in a difficult situation because of an illness, poverty, social marginalization, and is based on supporting home and international projects, which contribute to destroying this kind of barriers and extracting human potentials. The balance of the first 4 years is very positive. I will quote some data: transforming 3 street schools in functional and safe school buildings, which are used for free by 1.6 thousand children and which also give out free meals (these are schools in St. Augustin, Notre Dame du Rosaire and St. Philomene in Haiti); over 20 million liters of water supplied to slums in Cite Soleil (Haiti); providing the basic help to 360 families in refugee camps (Iraq); showers in Rome which are used every day by 80 homeless; financing 15 scientists working on a prototype of a device increasing the autonomy of the blind.
- Together with the Papal Council for Families, you organized a cycle of concerts. This initiative is accompanied by the motto: ‘Great mystery: the Gospel of Family as a school of humanity for our times’. Therefore is it so important to protect family in the world in which individualistic and egoistic attitudes are promoted?
- I think that family is the basic element of the society – here we are formed emotionally, this is a kind of a privileged place where we look for harmony and mutual respect. Family is the space where we learn – we also teach others – to choose the good in every action, trying to implement these values of Christianity in our life which have been passed to us by our parents and which we are supposed to pass to our children now. Feeling of family bonds is what each of us experienced as a child, living in a family, if we were lucky to have it. Those who think that they can live without family, that can destroy it according to their own point of view, clearly place their own ‘ego’ in God’s place and lost their memory about what they received as children – the treasure of boundless and selfless love. So, we should defend families with pure heart of a child and I also try to do it with all my heart.
- From time to time you give concerts in Poland. What do you feel when you visit the country of John Paul II?
- I love the country of John Paul II, I love its inhabitants, their sensitivity, I love great artists whom Poland gave to the world, as well as monuments and wonderful churches decorating Polish cities. I appreciate the way in which you feel music, friendliness with which you always greet me. Whenever I come to Poland, I am full of positive energy and I bring my home wonderful memories. Therefore, every time when I am onstage, I try to give everything from myself, in order to express my gratitude and reciprocate love and friendliness I receive.