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The famous tenor performs Franz Schubert's "Ave Maria."
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Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia
Deutsche Grammophon: Artists: Myung-Whun Chung


By John Ardoin

In just five years since the Italian public was introduced to the voice of Andrea Bocelli through his triumph at the San Remo Festival, he has become the biggest-selling classical performer to emerge in several decades. In 1999 alone, four of his albums were featured simultaneously on the official Billboard album chart. Such a feat has been achieved only twice in recent memory -- in the early 1990s by Garth Brooks and, before this, in the mid-1980s by U2. Following the success of Bocelli's first albums in Italy, the CD ROMANZA became Andrea Bocelli's international debut release. In just 12 months, ROMANZA transformed Bocelli into one of today's most popular recording artists, and has sold more than 25 million copies worldwide.

Music has been a lifelong passion for Bocelli, who was born in Tuscany in 1958. At an early age, he was enthralled by opera. Through a growing collection of records, Bocelli spent his childhood attempting to emulate his heroes, great Italian tenors including Beniamino Gigli and Franco Corelli. As a child, Andrea learned whole operas and dreamed of performing these heroic and tragic roles on the stage.

However, Bocelli's first introduction to the Italian public came not with opera but popular music. The high-profile opportunities that this offered presented his gifts to a far larger audience than would ever have been possible through a traditional career in opera. But when he made a CD of his favorite operatic arias, in 1998, it too topped the charts.

Bocelli's first appearance on the operatic stage was as Macduff in a production of Verdi's "Macbeth," staged in Pisa in 1994. His debut in a major role came in 1998, as Rodolfo in a production of "La Bohème" given in Sardinia and broadcast on both Italian radio and television. He later recorded the opera. In 1999, Bocelli appeared in a production of "The Merry Widow" at the Verona Arena, and in November 1999, he made his U.S. operatic debut in Massenet's "Werther" with the Michigan Opera Theater.

Myung-Whun Chung started his musical career by studying piano. He attended the Mannes School of Music in New York, studying piano and conducting. On completing conducting studies at the Juilliard School in 1978, he served as associate conductor to Carlo Maria Giulini at the Los Angeles Philharmonic. He has conducted virtually all of the world's leading orchestras and was principal guest conductor at the Teatro Comunale in Florence and music director of the Paris Opera Bastille (1989-1994).

His love of Italy has led to an involvement with many Italian institutions, from the Orchestra Filarmonica della Scala to the Maggio Fiorentino to the Orchestra of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, the last of which he has been principal conductor since October 1997.

Top banner photos: Andrea Bocelli, and the tenor with the young singers of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia chorus.

Andrea Bocelli

Bocelli completed a law degree at the University of Pisa before deciding to pursue a career in music.

Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia choir

The choir of the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.

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