Music Observer

A Hug and A Wish: Holiday Sentiments from My Evening with The Bocelli Family

Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos
Image Commercially Licensed from: Depositphotos

written by Victoria Kennedy

“With over 80 concerts on the schedule, tours in many different parts of the world — including Australia — and the recording of the new album, it has been a busy year for me,” Andrea Bocelli told me. “It was also a year in which I was able to experience the joy of sharing the microphone and the limelight with two of my children, Virginia and Matteo.”

What I witnessed at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this holiday season was unlike anything I’ve seen from him before. The Bocelli Family holiday concert was so heartfelt and touching — one of the best experiences I’ve had during this anticipatory time of ringing in the New Year. What made this concert so special and different from the ones I’ve seen prior was that his family was involved

From ten-year-old Virginia singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow with her father to Virginia, Matteo, and Andrea all singing holiday hymns together, it was so heartwarmingly beautiful because it had an element of realness, tenderness, and family that I’ve never seen before. Not to mention, there were some beautiful pieces between him and his son that really show that Andrea is a father first and foremost. He is a family man, a mentor, and a great musical beacon to his family and to all of us. Perhaps I am biased as a classical singer myself.

I have been fortunate enough to see Andrea Bocelli perform a few times before, including his holiday show in Las Vegas. Every performance has been magnificent — the private show he had this past summer at his home in Forte Dei Marmi comes to mind — and this event was unequivocally unique and incredible.

With five encores, special guest Larissa Martinez, and multiple sets in differing combinations from the family, it was the perfect winter-season kickoff for a musician to attend. The newest part of this particular concert experience, however, was that I was invited backstage to interview Andrea and his children.

I want to use this piece to pay tribute to the beauty of the winter season, and that is what I discussed with the Bocellis. We have been through so much since 2019, and this year has been an evolutionary rebirth for many of us, with 2023 offering a bright horizon.

A Hug and A Wish: Peace on Earth

Andrea confirmed this sentiment, saying, “Due to the pandemic, a complex, unprecedented, and painful period that forced us into home confinement, I spent a year recovering and was able to find my live audience again, just as I had before, for a quarter of a century. Today, I am happy to spend the last few weeks of the year in the United States, which I consider my second homeland, together with my wife and my children, sharing memories and a repertoire that is good for the heart in all arenas. It is an exchange of positive energy that takes place during concerts, like a hug and a wish. To start again, full of hope and trust in the future. In 2023, I hope that my loved ones will be blessed with good health and that God grants me the strength and voice to be able to woo beauty again through song.”

Nothing short of poetic, Andrea went on to describe the desires he holds for the world at large, one that most, I believe, share. His impactful statement is the essence of the Christmas season, one that I encourage readers to hold throughout the year.

“I hope, very strongly, that guns will fall silent in the world, that it becomes clear to as many people as possible that every war is a case of defeat, that every quarrel is a result of vanity and ignorance. Because it is nothing, if not an accident of intellect,” he said.

The last three years have made clear to Andrea that freedom remains the most precious asset and it is a fundamental value for all human beings. A ‘liberal Christian,’ he is convinced that our Creator has conceived us as free. “Freedom is to be defended,” he told me, “In any case, and with all our strength.”

In 2022, Andrea rediscovered the joy of sharing, being able to travel the world and sing for hundreds of thousands of people once again. The audience’s reactions and words of affection from people he met on the streets, in restaurants, and hotels moved him once again, filling his life with meaning, erasing any possible tiredness in him. In other words, he feels free, as many of us do. Whether 2022 has brought calamity or wonder into our lives, we can move into 2023 with this word, freedom, as a guiding compass.

Andrea had wonderful colleagues join him on stage and at the podium this year, expressing that he learned something from all of them.

“I have also had the privilege of having part of the family next to me during concerts,” he shared. “It was an extraordinary emotion, a dream that came true, because I was on stage with my family, and in front of my ‘extended family,’ the audience. I welcome what is in store in the coming year and serenely trust what the good Lord has in store for me.”

Matteo Bocelli: The Legacy Generation

To hear Matteo sing select songs on his own was interesting and lovely. He is following in his father’s footsteps, yet making it his own. His style is similar but also very unique to him. He is bringing something different and beautiful to the table by how he sings and the choices of repertoire that he selects.

For 2023, Matteo’s sentiments are powerfully straightforward. “It is hard to give advice, because there is still a lot that I have to learn and experience. I always tell myself that where there is a will, there is a way. Only through hard work and passion can you succeed. When you are young, it is important to do what you love, even if in life we also have to learn to ‘love what we do.’”

Truer words never spoken. This Christmas project brings together the family values that are so important to all of the Bocellis. For Matteo, family is a safe place where he feels loved and supported. He says it is the basis of our society. The idea for their A Family Christmas, available on CD and vinyl, came from these values.

“Being on stage with Virgina and my father is a magical experience,” Matteo said. “This album is our special gift to all our fans. Christmas was always the time of the year where I could have my whole family together, because my father was traveling a lot throughout the year and school was my priority. The holidays are this moment where you get to spend precious time with the ones you love.”

When Matteo was Virginia’s age, he was full of energy, interested only in soccer and music. When he looks at Virgina, he sees her growth and is so proud of what she is achieving. Despite their large age gap, the pair gets along well, especially on tour, because of their obvious shared love of music.

“I am trying to make her a soccer fan,” Matteo said. “She is on the right path!”

Virginia Bocelli: Ten Years Old Going On Star

Virginia was absolutely beautiful and heartwarming. The audience absolutely adored her. She has a beautiful, strong voice for such a young age. More than that, one can tell she has such a loving presence when she’s on stage with her father and brother. It was such a joy to watch and I can’t wait to see her career blossom if that’s something that she chooses to do.

Virginia turns eleven in March, and she says that the Christmas album is something she will always remember because of the memories she has made with her family in the process of recording and creating it.

“I have so many wonderful Christmas memories with my family and we have created even more with the creation of this new album,” she said. “Some of my favorite memories involve singing together around the piano, especially the songs from my father’s previous Christmas album. Now we will get to share the new songs from A Family Christmas. It is the start of a new tradition!”

Virginia added that the Bocelli Christmases also have lots of food. She loves Tortellini in Brodo and Torrone, a chocolate bar with hazelnuts inside.

“And of course, we always go to Christmas Mass together before going back home to see what gifts Santa brought to everyone,” she said.

The entire Bocelli family, parts of whom I have been honored to speak with on two occasions to date, are gracious, humble, and astoundingly creative. The words in which they describe their thoughts and feelings to me are as beautiful as their talent. To close, I share with you Andrea Bocelli’s thoughts on the making of the family album:

“Among other things, A Family Christmas personally represented a good reason to spend more time with my children. I must confess, in all honesty, I had an initial concern and feared they may be disappointed with the public reception that can oftentimes be lukewarm or even negative. Conversely, reality has far exceeded all my wildest expectations. We made it our own, reflecting on the strength of the message that we could convey, which was a testimony of faith and hope, from a family, for families. Christmas music, whether it is high-quality, carefree or intimate, festive or celebratory, or liturgical, always speaks to the heart. Good music is therapeutic, and Christmas music is even moreso. It fills the soul and makes it fruitful. I think that, in a scenario that proposes so many wars in progress, so much suffering in the world, it is more useful than ever to celebrate the strength of life and love.”

One does not often come across this level of thoughtfulness and tenderness when attending a big concert by a multi-Platinum Award-winning artist. The fact that this man is so humble, giving, and loving to bring his family on tour with him shows the caliber and magnitude of performer that he is.

There are around 50 concerts scheduled for Andrea, Matteo, and Virgina in 2023, with many more to be confirmed. Get your tickets to the concerts here: 

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This article features branded content from a third party. Opinions in this article do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Music Observer.