On Sunday, the 61-year-old tenor — who has been blind since age 12 — sent an Easter message to millions around the world with his “Music for Hope” concert from Milan’s historic Duomo cathedral.
Wearing a three-piece suit and black bow tie, he performed sacred works such as Bach’s “Ave Maria” and “Sancta Maria” by Pietro Mascagni in front of a single microphone for the virtual concert.
Ahead of the special set, Bocelli said he hoped to bring together millions together– regardless of their faith.
“On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Si’ to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan,” the star said in a message played as the camera panned the cathedral’s empty pews and the deserted streets of the city.
“I believe in the strength of praying together. 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,” he added.
Bocelli was accompanied only by the cathedral’s organist, Emanuele Vianelli, because the Duomo, like many landmarks, is closed to the public because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman was one of many viewers moved by the performance.
Sharing a snap of the tenor singing, he wrote on Twitter: “From the bottom of our hearts, thank you @andreabocelliofficial. A tremendous gift and exactly what we needed. #amazinggrace #happyeaster.”
The special, audience-free concert, organized at the invitation of the mayor of Milan and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, was live-streamed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel.
Money raised from the concert will help provide emergency hospital resources, such as protective equipment for medical staff.
Italy has been one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 156,000 cases of Covid-19 and 19,899 deaths, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.