Is Andrea Bocelli an Opera Singer?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Andrea Bocelli, the blind tenor who gets no respect from the classical establishment, will sing with the New York Philharmonic in Central Park on September 15. But that doesn't change the basic question: can you call him an opera singer?

Fans will point out that his 2003 album “Sentimento” was the best selling classical album of the year. A record-setting seven of his recordings have topped the Classical albums charts in the United States where he also holds the record for having three recordings listed in the top three places of charts. Last year he sang a selection of arias, lieder and art songs on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera.

Bocelli's detractors argue that he's pop through and through: he generally uses a microphone when he performs, and his repertoire leans toward lighter material. Bernard Holland of The New York Times criticized his "poor phrasing, uneven tone and lack of technique." Baltimore Sun music critic Tim Smith has said: "unaided by electronics, he produced an undernourished, often under-pitch tone. Top notes were strained, phrases monochromatic. Bocelli's most loyal fans presumably didn't mind any of the weaknesses, but, frankly, I found most of his singing embarrassing."

What do you think? Is it fair to judge Bocelli by the standards of opera? Or should he be considered according to his repertoire? Take our poll:

More in:

Comments [7]

Matthew M

A response to Fred Jamison- sir I am a classically trained musician myself both in voice and piano and while I agree that Bocelli is no great opera singer I must politely ask that you get off your high horse and stop being such an opera snob...your pomposity astounds me!!!

Dec. 01 2013 03:45 PM
Fred Jamison from San Diego

Andrea Bocelli is definitely not an opera singer. He does not have the voice or the technique for opera. He also can't sing without aamplification...at least not very well. His Metropolitan Opera House recital was just a money making venture (The man IS popular). Forced to sing without amplification, he sounded amateurish, off pitch, and did not have adequate volume to be heard well. In his few attempts at singing roles in operas (more money making ventures), he has been equally dismal. He usually sings concerts in large venues where his thin, reedy voice can be amplified and electronically altered to cover up its flaws. His many adoring fans tend to be people who are musically uneducated and can't hear the flaws in his voice...nor apparently can they tell the difference between a pop singer like Bocelli (or Katherine Jenkins, Sarah Brightman, Charlotte Church, Paul Potts, Russell Watson, Filippa Giordano, Tarja Turunen) and a real opera singer. Real opera singers make a career of singing roles in complete operas and they learn to project their voices out over an orchestra in a large theater without amplification. if you like Bocelli's voice, fine. Just don't mistake him for a real opera singer.

Sep. 13 2013 12:53 PM
Warren Christie from NY

He is a pop singer who sings opera OK -- in any event a heck of a lot better than most opera singers sing pop. These are two totally different styles which require too decidedly different mechanical techniques of vocal production.

Feb. 27 2012 07:11 PM
Connie from Houston, Texas

Who Cares. He has a beautiful voice and I could listen to him forever.

Dec. 04 2011 08:27 PM
Frank Feldman

A pop singer who sings arias tolerably well, for a pop singer. The highbrows should find someone else to pick on. The public loves him.

Aug. 06 2011 11:08 PM
Toni Tynan from Greenwich, CT 06831

Andrea Bocelli is one of the most loved and talented singers of our time with enormous talent and a beautiful voice. I do not know many singers who can sing Opera as well as contemporary musical pieces with such devotion and love to his trade. I have been a fan of Andrea for many years from the start of his musical career and have attended several of his concerts in New York, at Carnegie Hall as well as Madison Square Guarden..When I brought my family of five to Carnegie Hall, the only disappointment we had was that he was not wearing a small mike. We were in the fifth row in the orchestra and the tickets cost me over $1,000 and we would have enjoyed all he sang that evening more if he was wearing the small mike on his tuxedo. I cannot imagine what the attendees heard way up in the balcony and all they missed. I wrote to Carnegie Hall that our family would appreciate a raincheck to attend a future Andrea Bocelli concert at Carnegie Hall, but to please have him wear the small mike on his tuxedo, but I never received the courtesy of a response from Carnegie Hall. So no matter where he sings in the New York area from now on, I will always ask if he will be wearing a mike before I order tickets. His voice is powerful, wonderful, and strong, however in a place as large as Carnegie Hall he is at a disadvantage to sing acapella. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this with you. Toni Tynan, 39 Guilford Lane, Greenwich, CT 06831 - Phone: 203/531-8311

Aug. 05 2011 10:58 AM
Bo from Hicksville, NY

Bocelli is okay for those that know nothing about opera. Atleast they are hearing a decent voice instead of the usual pop stars who really can't sing at all. I would never make it as just an opera singer; he isn't good enough - how can you compare him to Flores, Corelli or Hampson? He is definitely a talented pop singer - which is a rarity.

Aug. 05 2011 09:37 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

The WQXR e-newsletter. Show highlights, links to music news, on-demand concerts, events from The Greene Space and more.

Follow WQXR 

Sponsored

Feeds