Tuscan tenor Andrea Bocelli was already an international superstar (for Romanza, Aria, and Sogno) when he made his first album of arias and sacred music. "I have known these pieces since childhood," he explains, and it's clear that he loves them all. Recorded in a Roman cathedral, Sacred Arias is deeply spiritual and tenderly sung in the world's most beautiful voice. A Billboard bestseller, certified platinum. (62 minutes)
When he was growing up, Andrea Bocelli recalls finding inspiration in a favorite recording of sacred music performed by tenor legend Franco Corelli
. Bocelli--who in the meantime has come to inspire millions of fiercely loyal fans himself--returns to the genre as the guiding theme of Sacred Arias
, the release of which coincides with the first English-language biography
of the singer. These performances are filled with the singer's phenomenally well-known vocal signature: his flair for long, sweetly floating high notes and the gentle sense of cadence he brings to a melody. It's a mistake to compartmentalize Bocelli into a singer of "operatic"
styles: in truth his approach is at heart the same. Lack of color and control in his phrasing remains a drawback, but the emotional empathy Bocelli evokes is never in doubt. The arias collected here sample some of the most famous devotional pieces: Schubert's "Ave Maria" and Mozart's transporting "Ave Verum," as well as an arrangement of "Silent Night" in which Bocelli tries out his English. There's also a decidedly odd choice of bedfellows for a program of "sacred" music, such as a song from Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder
(whose "angel" is the object of an overpoweringly erotic attraction) and Handel's figurative ode to a tree, "Ombra mai fu." Still, Bocelli sings with an unfeigned directness that is sure to expand his already enormous following even further. --Thomas May