It has taken just one week for Andrea Bocelli to storm the British charts. The blind Tuscan tenor was a complete unknown when he performed on the National Lottery show last week. Now, after minimal radio air-play, he has gone straight to the Number Two slot.
The single, a romantic Italian duet entitled "Time to Say Goodbye" ("Con Te Partiro") and sung by Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, was originally recorded by Bocelli alone. The story goes that Ms Brightman was so enchanted when she heard the solo version in a restaurant that she asked staff about it. She had been asked to find a song to sing at the retirement fight of the German world light-heavyweight champion, Henry Maske, and felt "Con Te Partiro" was perfect.
Having tracked Bocelli down, the song was re-recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra and the pair's performance in the ring in November delighted the crowd. Even Maske wept.
Since then "Con Te Partiro" has become the biggest selling single of all time in Germany, with sales approaching the three million mark. It is still in the top ten in Germany after 10 weeks at Number One and five months in the top three.
Over the last year Andrea has also claimed Number One spots on pop album and single charts in France, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland.
Since being discovered by Luciano Pavarotti in 1992, Bocelli, 38, has taken master classes with the maestro. He has sung for the Pope, with Pavarotti, Bryan Adams and Bryan Ferry. He was born with a visual defect and, at the age of 12, he lost his sight completely after an accident playing football. Bocelli is adamant that, for him, his blindness was in no way a tragedy. "The tragedy is that people continue to make a fuss out of something which they consider tragic, not I."
In 1992, Bocelli assisted Zucchero, the Italian rock star best known in Britain for this duet with Paul Young, "Senza Una Donna" ("Without a Woman"), on a demo track. Zucchero had written the track with Bono of U2, entitled "Miserere", intended as a duet with Pavarotti.
Zucchero invited Andrea to perform Pavarotti's vocals for a demo designed to convince the maestro to record the duet. When Pavarotti received the demo, he demanded. "Who is this guy? Thank you for writing such a wonderful song. Yet you do not need me to sing it. Let Andrea sing 'Miserere' with you, for there is no one finer."
© The Independent, 19 May 1997.
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