When it comes to the gargantuan task of performing for their typical crowds of 20,000 people, each member of the Bocelli family prepares in a different way.
Daughter Virginia, 10, is known to do jumping jacks. “I love gymnastics, so when I dance, move my body and my heart is beating right before I go onstage, it’s because of the jumping jacks and not because I’m scared.”
Meanwhile, her brother Matteo is all about rest. “I try to relax as much as possible,” the 25-year-old explains. “The best medicine for your voice is sleep.”
And as for 64-year-old Andrea, legendary tenor and their superstar father? No pre-show routine at all.
“No good-luck ritual, no lucky charm,” Andrea explains. “We keep stress down by having a clear conscience, living as healthy a life as possible and facing the public with the right amount of seriousness and positivity.”
It’s a trio of perspectives that coalesced for the first time this year as Virginia and Matteo joined Andrea for a nationwide tour in support of his latest album, aptly titled “A Family Christmas.” A follow-up to his blockbuster 2009 holiday effort “My Christmas,” one of the best-selling Christmas albums of all time, Andrea and his two children take listeners on a seasonal ride through a series of covers and original tracks that prove a knack for goosebumps-yielding vocals runs in their genes.
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The overarching theme of the album, according to Andrea, is a simple yet powerful one: “that family is a blessing, a source of strength, a cornerstone of society.” Songs such as “The Greatest Gift,” a heartfelt original ballad, blend the pop vocals of Virginia and Matteo with Andrea’s iconic voice, complemented by both an orchestra and choir.
“It’s a project that was truly conceived by a family for all families,” Andrea says, though he admits he “also can’t deny that a strong motivator was also the possibility of spending more time with my children.”
The Italian tenor’s offspring happened upon music in a purely organic way. (Though he doesn’t sing onstage with his family, even Andrea’s eldest son, Amos, who works as an aerospace engineer, is skilled at the piano. “As for the music industry, he has kept his distance from it,” the patriarch says.)
Growing up, singing was a regular occurrence for the Bocelli family around their sprawling Tuscan villa. “I never imagined I’d go on tour with my dad, but let’s just say I was prepared,” says Virginia, who first performed onstage with her father during the pandemic. Andrea was set to sing the Leonard Cohen classic “Hallelujah,” but the plan was for him to sing it in English.
“He didn’t want to learn the English lyrics, and I was hearing this conversation between my mom and dad,” she remembers. “So I just said, ‘Oh, I can sing a little part of it.’”
With that, an 8-year-old Virginia and her father took the stage in December 2020 at the Teatro Regio — Parma, Italy’s jewel box of a theater — and surrounded by flickering candles, delivered a tender duet. It turned out to be the perfect introduction: While the performance was filmed, eventually earning 24 million views on YouTube, the theater was empty due to covid restrictions. “It’s so much scarier with an audience,” Andrea’s youngest says.
Matteo’s official singing start at 18 was slightly more intimidating; he took his first bow with his father at the Coliseum in Rome.
“People think that performing next to Andrea Bocelli is quite tough,” says Matteo, who first recorded the 2018 duet “Fall on Me” with his father for the album “Si.” “But Andrea Bocelli is also just my father, and the presence of your father is very helpful to have onstage with you.”
In addition to the family Christmas project, Matteo is also striking out on a pop career of his own. He is signed with Capitol Records, where he’s readying his debut album. He also recently contributed the song “Cautionary Tale” to the 2022 fantasy film “Three Thousand Years of Longing,” in which he also appears, and recently duetted with Colombian singing star Sebastián Yatra on the track “Until She’s Gone.” Earlier this year, Matteo notably performed alongside Andrea at Kourtney Kardashian and Travis Barker’s high-profile wedding in Portofino, Italy.
However, Matteo is proceeding into the family business with a sense of caution imparted on him by his father. “I think my kids know well that fame, per se, is not a value,” Andrea says. When he was Matteo’s age, Andrea had already completed law school at the University of Pisa and spent a year as a court-appointed lawyer.
“It’s undeniable that being appreciated is a source of satisfaction, but being famous is not an inherent quality,” Andrea explains. “In actuality, if one aims to acquire true human depth, it’s an obstacle, because with fame, it’s easier to lose contact with reality. And if you don’t keep your feet firmly on the ground, you risk getting lost. Every form of vanity is an intellectual challenge from which we try to keep our distance.”
But it doesn’t mean the Bocellis don’t enjoy the perks of an audience, as seen at their stop earlier this month at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Their show there, which has become an annual holiday tradition, consisted of opera classics in the first half and a second act full of Christmas cheer, as well as Andrea’s pop hits such as “Time to Say Goodbye” and “Perfect.”
As the show wrapped up and the family took their bows, Andrea’s children walked him to the edge of the stage and down a series of steps. (The tenor lost his sight when he was 12.) With the crowd still on their feet, Andrea could be seen conferring with his kids before deciding whether to come back for an encore. It was a scenario that repeated itself multiple times as the audience continued to cheer with each successive decision to sing another song.
“Dad just kept wanting to go out one more time, one more time, and we went out five times,” Virginia says. “He loved hearing the affection, all of the cheers and claps. Then at the end we walked off before taking one bow — left, right and center — all as a family.”