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Andrea Bocelli Passes The Art Of Expressive Singing To His Son

Andrea Bocelli (center) and his son, Matteo, attend the U.K. premiere of Disney's <em>The Nutcracker And The Four Realms</em> on Nov. 1, 2018, in London.
Gareth Cattermole
Getty Images for Disney
Andrea Bocelli (center) and his son, Matteo, attend the U.K. premiere of Disney's The Nutcracker And The Four Realms on Nov. 1, 2018, in London.

Italian singer Andrea Bocelli is a superstar. The Grammy- and Emmy-nominated tenor is one of the highest-selling vocalists in music. In 1999, Bocelli scored a Guinness World Record for simultaneously holding the No. 1, 2 and 3 spots on Billboard's Classical Top 10 chart. Since then, Bocelli has collaborated with everyone from Celine Dion to Ariana Grande. But on his latest album, Sì, Bocelli tries something he finds really daunting — recording with his 21-year-old son, Matteo.

"For me it has been a terrible experience because I felt all the responsibility, you know," Andrea says. "I am very worried because I know every kind of difficulties, every problem."

Father and son sing a duet on the song "Fall On Me." Though Matteo is still a student at the Conservatory of Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, this new song marks the beginning of his professional singing career. But the son isn't worried about the reputation that precedes him or his famous father.

"For me it's not intimidating at all," the younger Bocelli says. "He's a big help and I have him 24 hours a day. And so I have the possibility to ask him questions about singing."

Helping his son embark on a career in music comes naturally to Andrea. "The only thing I can say is he has the spirit [and] a good expression when he sings," the father explains. "The expression is the only thing that's impossible to learn."

Aside from the duet with Matteo, the new album features guest performances from Ed Sheeran, Aida Garifullina, Josh Groban and Dua Lipa. Andrea says British pop star Lipa worked very hard to understand the hidden message behind the scoring of their duet, "If Only." "Every song has a secret language," Andrea says.

With more than 20 years of stardom under his belt, the elder Bocelli still appreciates that he can travel the world performing. He also appreciates that he can introduce new generations to his music — whether popular or classical.

"People don't have many opportunities to discover this kind of music," Bocelli says. "But when you can do it, usually, it remains completely ... enchanted."

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Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.