Exclusive with Andrea Bocelli: singing a prayer for the world
World Insight with Tian Wei

Standing alone in front of the empty Duomo di Milano, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed a concert that was broadcast live online on one of the most peculiar Easter Sundays in recent history. The livestream has received over 24 million views on YouTube.

In an exclusive interview with CGTN's Tian Wei, the maestro said that the event titled "Music For Hope" was not a concert, but a prayer. Through his singing, he hoped to pray for all the people affected by the coronavirus pandemic in Italy and around the world.

A top comment under the performance video on YouTube said, "Breathtaking…. I wonder if he knows how many people around the world needed his voice on this very day…"

The 24-minute-long concert was conceived at the invitation of the city and the cathedral of Milan, the capital city of Italy's Lombardy region, the hardest hit part of a country that has lost close to 20,000 lives to the coronavirus. Italy's prime minister said the country would remain in full lockdown until at least May 3.

Bocelli told CGTN that the Milan Cathedral had become a certain symbol, and he found it meaningful to give the performance there. The singer humbly told CGTN that singing is his only power, so he can only hope to give people the strength to stay confident and optimistic, which is the advice he has given to his own family. One of the most important values to human beings is freedom, said Bocelli. People are not used to staying inside, and there is a lot of pain in people's hearts at the moment.

Bocelli said that he speaks with people living in Lombardy through the phone on a daily basis. He said that he would try to talk about the virus as little as possible, and instead look for lighter subjects that would bring peace and positivity to those he talks to.

Bocelli said that he believes there are two types of people: those who are worried about being infected, and those who are not controlled by fear. He belongs to the latter category, he said.

The 61-year-old singer is one of the biggest successes the music industry has ever seen. Celine Dion once said that "if God would have a singing voice, he would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli."

During Bocelli's Sunday singing, he was accompanied only by Milan Cathedral's organist Emanuele Vianello. As classic tunes such as "Ave Maria" and "Amazing Grace" were performed, at times a montage of images showing the empty streets of Paris, London and New York appeared on the screen.

A quick glimpse of messages left under the video shows that Bocelli's prayer was warmly received around the globe. There were signatures from Chile and Japan; a message was written in Russian; someone said "I watched this at 3 a.m. in Australia and it filled my heart with hope and sheer joy."

The Italian singer's special program was also widely shared on Chinese social media. Having performed the famous Nessun Dorma during the 2010 Shanghai Expo opening ceremony, Bocelli is no stranger to music lovers in China. He told CGTN that he would like to embrace his Chinese fans and hopes to see everyone again soon.

World Insight with Tian Wei is an international debate/in-depth interview program facilitated by host Tian Wei. People in the know, be they global leaders or emerging change-makers, all provide their insights on this unique global platform.

Schedule: Monday-Saturday

Time (GMT): 1415, 2015

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