Andrea Bocelli, one of the world’s most famous tenors, has sung in Milan’s Duomo Cathedral, without an audience, in an effort to bring people together during the global coronavirus lockdown.
Speaking ahead of the “Music For Hope” event on Easter Sunday evening, the Italian opera star said it was not a concert in the normal sense, but a prayer.
He added: “The Duomo will be completely empty. This, on its own, already makes the situation abnormal.”
“But in this case, and I repeat, as this won’t be a concert and it won’t be a performance, it will be a prayer and as a consequence it will not be important who is present physically but rather who wants to be with me spiritually in that moment.”
He said he had been asked by Lady Gaga to join other musicians performing live-streamed events to try to inspire a sense of hope.
“She called me and I couldn’t but reply ‘here I am, count me in'” he said.
Bocelli was accompanied only by the cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, playing one of world’s largest pipe organs
and performing a repertoire of sacred works including Pietro Mascagni’s Sancta Maria.
The concert, organised at the invitation of the mayor of Milan and the Veneranda Fabbrica del Duomo, the body that looks after the development and conservation of the cathedral, was streamed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel.
Bocelli has admitted, that like everyone else, he is concerned and uncertain about the future amid the coronavirus pandemic.
His home country, Italy, has been one of the worst-hit nations in Europe, with almost 20,000 people dying with COVID-19.
But on Sunday, it recorded the lowest number of new cases in three weeks, with officials saying 431 people have died in the past day, bringing the total to 19,899.
Bocelli, whose personal foundation helps people struggling with poverty and illiteracy, added: “I’m not so worried about the present and I don’t feel that concerned about the virus per se, but about what will happen next.”
Italy had already faced many economic difficulties before the outbreak in February.
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He said: “So, getting this country to bounce back will be a big problem.
“And we will have many people in difficulty. I hope I am wrong but I fear that’s how it will be.
“Certainly, we will all have to pitch in, each to his and her best ability, and we will need some wise and enlightened people to guide us, because if we don’t, it will be very difficult.”