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: