My life, in short.
I was born September 22, 1958, in Lajatico, in the Toscan countryside near Volterra. The
region's traditions, as well as my parents' influence have taught me never to accept life's
difficulties in a passive way, but rather to draw strength from them.
As far as I can remember, no moments in my life have gone by without being filled with
passion for music. Italy's greatest tenors, such as Del Monaco, Gigli, and especially
Corelli, have always inspired great admiration and enthusiasm in me since I was just a
boy. In love with opera, the dream and ambition of my whole life is to become a great
Despite the fact that I live in a fast-paced world, I live my life with a calm vision: I enjoy
life's simple pleasures and face every challenge with passion. I try to always be
optimistic by interpreting the real meaning of a quotation from the French novelist
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: "You see clearly only through your heart. The essential is
invisible to your eyes."
The story of Andrea's life - First part
"Il dì 22 di settembre di quel 1958 nacque alle 5:10 Andrea, un bambino di 3 chili e
600 grammi, una gioia per babbo e mamma." (Andrea was born at 5:10 a.m. on
September 22nd, 1958, weighing 3 kilos and 600 grams- a new joy for his mother and
Such is written in one of those typical baby books given to new parents that contain
statistical data, growth notes, and several photos. This information provides a record of
what we were before we reach a conscience state, providing a concept of being during
the beginning of life. Parents are the ones that tell you about what you were like as a
child and to some degree what they predicted you would be like as an adult. And so the
things we can learn from Andrea's baby book are his smile at 15 days, his first step at 9
months, and his first tooth at 6 months. These are big events that fill the hearts of
parents; I know since I've experienced the same thing with my son, and I've seen
Andrea experience it with his two children. It is a satisfaction never imagined until one
becomes a parent.
Getting back to Andrea's childhood, we see the beginning of musical influence: his
parents said that his powerful crying was hushed only by listening to music. Then at a
few months old Andrea started experiencing complications with his eyes: the doctors
diagnosed a congenital bilateral glaucoma- a disease leading to total blindness. Andrea
would cry and tremble with the only cure being music-classical music. His mother
discovered this as his cure, an illusive refuge from a relentless misfortune.
Everyone in the Bocelli house believed that this fondness of music was only by chance,
which it would have been if destiny didn't bring Andrea to where he is today. Andrea's
mother recalls him as an insatiable baby with a love for risks. She always tells
everybody about how many times he scared her because of his bravado. Like the times
that she chased him with a soup spoon as he climbed trees or tractors, or when he
disappeared to go off tree climbing. His parents tried to do everything possible to give
their child a "normal" life.
Going from one doctor to another, the ordeal became that of the parents who felt
impotent to fate and could only put the situation in the hands of God or a luminary:
professor Gallenga. During weeks in the hospital, Andrea underwent several operations
in attempts to recover some degree of sight. He must have suffered as he recalls his
crying along with the crying of both the young and the old around him. Even the strong
people around him cried at his misfortune of never being able to see the world. It was
here when the music arrived-concocting the ingredients that can rekindle strong, sweet,
and passionate emotions. Music hits you unconsciously and you can't explain why a
certain series of notes speaks better than others. Then you realize that it becomes a
need like water or bread. For Andrea, music became his first need before any other.
The story of Andrea's life - Second part
"Music for me is a necessity": a sentence written by Andrea when he was little and
found in the Bocelli house. It continues, "I listen to it, I follow it, I find it, I court it, I
adore it, it is my life". When the word got around that music had a positive effect on his
life, his parents did everything to give him anything connected to it: carillons,
xylophones, tambourines, a 45 record player.
Then there were those who told him about words and music, like his uncle-the person
that unleashed the child's interest toward lyrics. His uncle's hero was Beniamino Gigli
and in a short time, he also became that of Andrea's. He was fascinated when listening
to this myth and his uncle ran out of things to tell about his feats so other similar heroes
arrived, the next one always better than the previous. These consisted of Giuseppe
Distefano, Mario Del Monaco, Aureliano Pertile, and Ferruccio Tagliavini that preceded
the great Caruso.
The passion and enthusiasm his uncle had for him was endless and Andrea's
expectations became more demanding: he waited for the moment to listen to him and
became disillusioned at the coughs from the speakers. How could a child know that the
recording was bad due to the poor technology at the time? Back then there were no
CD's or digital recordings.
He was about 8 years old when his nanny Oriana, after her morning shopping, read him
the newspaper, she read about the premier at the theater Scala where Corelli was
performing. "Who is Corelli?" asked Andrea. And then she continued to read about his
voice of bronze and his high voluminous tones. "Have your parents give you a record,
I'm curious to hear him" said his nanny. So after a few days, his nanny arrived with
Andrea Chenier, where after the pause of the orchestra, there was the vibrant and
melodious voice filled with sentiment. "Here is Corelli" she said.
The story of Andrea's life - Third part
"The place where I was born and the places where I grew up bring to mind a poem by
Guido Gozzano, "Signorina Felicita". Here, Gozzano admirably describes a large house
immerged in a garden of a beautiful country-the house of signorina Felicita; a house
from another time, with "twisted, bulging, and worn window sills, and large sitting
rooms filled with curiosities and tons of useless objects", says Andrea. However, the
house is alive thanks to the operative and simple life of its inhabitants. This was the
house of his parents in Lajatico, in the Tuscany countryside, highly praised by poets
and tourists. A large, simple, and efficient house filled with familiar figures and scenery
that reflected liveliness.
Children screamed with joy, the elderly told stories, and the women cooked. Outside
there were those that rode the tractors, those that watered the garden, and those that
climbed the trees. These are imprinted memories that leave a taste in Andrea's mouth
that is difficult to explain, but clearly perceptible.
Like sitting on the skin of wild boar while listening to stories told by grandparents and
uncles. During these family gatherings there were those that were moved and others
that were touched- a feeling that brings nostalgia to Andrea today.
The story of Andrea's life - Fourth part
Reggio Emilia: a beautiful little city famous for its theater, the only one in Italy to be
completely isolated within its boundary. On March 20th, 1965, Andrea's parents took
him to Reggio Emilia where there is an excellent school for the blind. With his sight
gone, Andrea's memories were tied to those several happy moments he experienced
during childhood. The school taught with books in Braille and used geographical maps
in relief, surpassing any obstacle tied to vision. It was a sad but necessary moment for
Andrea and his parents, who had their child 100 kilometers away, suffered but knew that
it was the best thing for him.
The crumbling and insufficient hygiene worried them but a tour of the institute slightly
improved its appearance and they all went to sleep in a hotel to better prepare for the
separation. There were tears the next morning, even those held back, and Andrea
experienced his first day in the company of others like him.
There were several activities, many of them tied to dexterity. But the different tastes,
smells, and voices affected little Andrea, but they were all things that he would
eventually overcome. He knew too that his parents were outside the door crying, but
their hopes and faith re-filled their hearts. The Latin motto is true: "Matrimonium:
remedium solitudo ac concupiscentia est".
Andrea learned to read Braille the following year, and with this was the discovery of
books, poems and stories. Other subjects like math were tiresome at first until his
mother, with her patience and intelligence, helped it become his favorite subject. The
winters of throwing snowballs alternated with the fresh air and short sleeves of spring.
The beautiful season would have brought him back home with his friends, parents, and
little brother. Andrea's voice started to become recognized at school and he became a
soloist in the choir. That year he had the opportunity to debut as a soloist in the end of
the year recital where 200 people came, including teachers, parents, and local
authorities. Nobody was really interested in listening to "O Sole Mio", but after the first
sentence there was a strange silence, profound and continuos, that exploded in a large
applause at the end of his last note-his first sign of destiny. That summer Andrea had
his stories that he told with great satisfaction and everybody asked him to sing: it was
the price to pay of not having to go to bed early, but it was also a great honor. He
enjoyed being the center of attention and it was wonderful assisting in country life:
gathering and threshing wheat, and discovering those beautiful animals- horses.
Andrea's grandfather who knew about race horses, cars, politics, and women, started
his love for animals. He had seven grandchildren and with Andrea he took affection to
his singing. The word was getting around Lajatico about the boy who "nature took
something away from him but gave him something back in return". Even the priest got
him involved in singing the "Ave Maria" by Schubert in church during communion.
After his singing there were those that were touched-not by the interpretation of the
song, but by the singer. Little by little he began to understand that singing was his
valve of relief, his way of "escaping".
The story of Andrea's life - Fifth part
In Autumn, Andrea went back to school with the wonderful surprise of starting music
lessons. At first there were boring solmizations, but then there came the scales on the
piano. Andrea already played the organ in church and the 'do-re-mi-fa-sol' back and
forth was nevertheless encouraging. Then he started the flute with which he learned
how to put together melodies. He would bring it to bed every night, studying it to the
end. The spring came again and then the summer with vacations by the sea. Andrea
loved the sea and open air-there was a sense of freedom with the infinite water and the
dance of the waves. He loved the beach playground: the seesaw, the rings, the trapeze.
He would confront everything without inhibition, standing on his head or climbing as
high as he could in spite of his sight. Then he learned how to swim and his father also
brought him out on the raft. He learned how to swim well enough to race against other
children and he hated to lose-the humiliation caused him not to sleep. After the summer
finished he began his fifth elementary exams.
The year began with different subjects and sports, which Andrea loved because he was
already a devotee physical activity.
He loved soccer and athletics that he was able to do well in since he was still able to
decipher light and color from one of his eyes in a foggy haze. Then one day when he
was playing goalie, he was hit in the eye reducing his vision further. The hemorrhaging
calmed down but his vision slowly disappeared completely. The oppression seized
Andrea: how could he continue to play? His mother suffered like never before and at
first didn't understand his statement that he could see "all and nothing". "All" because
Andrea knew what surrounded him, and "nothing" because he only saw the dark.
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