KT Exclusive: Dubai is a place where you can breathe the future, says Expo 2020 star performer Andrea Bocelli

Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Dubai - The beloved Italian tenor believes there are no unsolvable problems if people work together



By Mariella Radaelli

Published: Tue 28 Sep 2021, 6:28 PM

Last updated: Tue 28 Sep 2021, 6:29 PM

Legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli is all set to play a leading role at the opening ceremony of Expo 2020 Dubai. The multi-instrumentalist is part of a star-studded line-up of headline acts gearing up for the highly-anticipated 90-minute show that will take place on September 30.

Not only will Bocelli join other top international musicians such as British pop star Ellie Goulding, Chinese pianist Lang Lang, and four-time Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo, he will also symbolically hand over the World Expo's baton to the UAE.

Here are some excerpts from an exclusive interview with Bocelli, who spoke from his home in Tuscany.

Maestro Bocelli, how do you feel about participating at this long-awaited global cultural event — one that is expected to be breathtaking under the direction of former Cirque du Soleil artistic director Franco Dragone?

Being on the inaugural stage of Dubai Expo 2020, six years after the Milan Expo 2015, gives me the feeling of a fresh start or a new beginning that I sincerely hope will extend to the whole world. I am honoured to have been invited to participate and am happy to have the privilege of celebrating the culture of beauty and progress in a city that I know well, and have loved and frequented for many years.

I also feel fortunate to work under the artistic direction and supervision of Maestro Franco Dragone, contributing to his poetic vision and creative phantasmagoria, a triumph of sounds, colours, and nature conceived ad hoc for the opening ceremony.

Dubai Expo 2020 focuses on connecting minds, creating the future. You have said several times that the language of music is the main glue for such a purpose. Could you elaborate?

Indeed, music is a perfect metaphor for the theme of this Expo: it is the universal language capable of opening hearts and minds. It connects, brings us together, and helps us to be better people.

All arts overcome cultural and generational barriers. Art can generate shared passions; it makes us reflect on who we are and where we are going.

My contribution will be in line with those values expressed by the image of the Ghaf Tree, a solar riot of colour and blooming flowers.

What can you reveal about your upcoming performance?

I will sing a song that is very dear to my heart. It is a sort of universal prayer written on the notes of well-known and beloved music. It will try to evoke that possible connection uniting humanity in an embrace in the name of unambiguous goodness and full respect for all diversity.

Your participation in this exciting event is also symbolic: As an Italian, you pass the baton from Milan Expo 2015 to Dubai Expo 2020.

Going back to opening another universal exhibition, passing the baton from Italy to the United Arab Emirates, fills me with joy.

At the opening ceremony of Expo 2015 in Milan, I encouraged and urged people to smile through my singing. A smile is a facial expression and gesture in which I firmly believe, because it generates optimism. Smiling is contagious; it is natural medicine.

Now, even more so, after these troubled two years, that smile remains the most potent message I want to convey through my presence in Dubai, which is such a dynamic locale where you can breathe the future.

And for many years now, I have had the joy of verifying how the bel canto singing style, my homeland's sensitivity, and creativity are appreciated in Dubai.

World fairs have long featured creativity and progress that marked our civilisations. For instance, it was the fifth Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900 that introduced us to the Eiffel Tower. Do you think expos are still a momentous occasion to showcase the achievements of nations?

I believe that world fairs are an essential showcase of talent. They are an opportunity to take stock of the state of the art of humanity, the progress achieved, the strategies and trajectories to follow (on ethical, scientific and humanistic levels) to make the world a better place.

Expos offer great potential even in this era, where the virtual world seems to take over — precisely because I believe it is still fundamental to meet in person, confront each other, and then implement synergies.

If an action is genuinely unanimous and choral, there is no unrealisable dream. If many people dream of a solution, there are no unsolvable problems, as long as they join forces. And that's what events like world exhibitions can very well represent, support and encourage.

This concept also applies to my private and professional life and to the foundation that bears my name. The magic word is always "together"!

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