How to Listen Like
How to listen like Andrea Bocelli
July 6, 2021
July 6, 2021
Surprisingly, the favorite thing for the world’s hottest Italian opera star to listen to is… silence. “… I adore silence: I think in it there are hidden treasures, just like in music, where most of the power is often hidden in the pauses.”
Andrea Bocelli is known as a crossover artist who has brought his tenor talents to classical, pop, and operatic music. He has sold more than 70 million records worldwide and his latest album “Believe” came out on November 13, 2020. As he tweeted, the album concept is based on three words: faith, hope and charity.
Perhaps the one thing that Bocelli is most known for, besides his glorious voice, is that he is blind. Bocelli was diagnosed with congenital glaucoma at five months old and became completely blind at age 12 following a soccer accident. He said, “The fact that I am blind is not what defines my life… People wonder if there is a relationship between my lack of sight and the way I sing. But there’s no connection. Losing my sight had nothing to do with my focus on music.”
Bocelli’s autobiography The Music of Silence was turned into a film by Michael Radford. The movie explored the links between blindness and the heightened sense of sound. Radford said, “There are all these tricks that he uses. He’ll kick a chair with his foot, to figure out where it is. And of course his other senses are absolutely developed. He can smell, touch, feel, above all he can hear. Literally by clicking his fingers he can tell you how far away a wall is.”
Most studies do show that visually impaired people tend to have a sharper sense of hearing, smell, and touch as well as cognitive functions such as memory and language. What Bocelli may lack in vision, he certainly makes up for with his other senses, especially with his hearing. He uses these senses to listen to the world around him.
Singing a duet requires both partners to give the song the same level of energy without trying to outshine each other. They must listen to each other, feed off each other, and balance off each other. Bocelli expressed, “When two voices are intertwined and reciprocally enhance their expressive qualities, something magical happens, and it remains inside your heart.”
Bocelli has sung duets with everyone from Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand to Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande. Plus, he makes it a family affair and has performed duets with his equally talented son Matteo, his daughter Virginia, and his wife Veronica. Bocelli feels that “To sing a duet together means sharing with someone both the pleasure and the responsibility of making music for an audience which is there to feel enjoyment through music.”
Listening is one of the most important aspects of a romantic relationship. When you give your partner your full attention it can form feelings of intimacy and closeness. Love is a common theme throughout Bocelli’s life and music. “My music choices are strongly linked to love — actually, I could say that I have set all of my life to honor, through songs, this feeling.”
Bocelli’s love songs have been the soundtrack of many couples’ proposals and weddings. Bocelli himself met his first wife while singing at piano bars early in his career. He married his second wife Veronica in 2014. When asked if he touches Veronica’s face, he said “Yes, of course: touch is the most precise of our senses – although it can’t be used all the time because you have to be right next to the person you want to feel.”
Traveling involves savoring moments and making memories of the places we visit. Bocelli tours the world playing sold out concerts. However, he spends little time exploring the cities he visits and says that “I have traveled the world wide and far, but most of the time, I just know the airport, my hotel room and the dressing room of the theater.”
Bocelli equates his senses of smell and sounds with the places he has visited. “I’ve come to distinguish and expect certain sounds and smells when I get to a place. I know what kind of smell will greet me in Egypt; I know what smell will welcome me in the United States. When I go to a warm country, as soon as they open the door of the airplane, different smells get in my nose — of cinnamon and other spices.”
Tasting wine consists of looking at the viscosity, sniffing the aromas, and evaluating the taste. Some wine enthusiasts suggest closing your eyes and plugging your ears to allow your other senses like taste and smell to be more prominent. Bocelli loves to drink wine but he strictly abstains from alcohol while on tour so he can stay focused on his music.
Bocelli’s family has a long history in wine and they began selling it on their Tuscan farm in 1831. Today Bocelli Family Wine is run by Bocelli’s brother Alberto. When Alberto took over, he listened and made updates and, “…undertook a series of initiatives to make the big leap: the renovation of the vines, listening to the advice of experts in the field and the launch of our wines in the world.” You can visit the family vineyard and have your own wine tasting experience.
Even with all he listens to in his life, Bocelli still prefers the sound of silence. In fact, he was involved with building the Theater of Silence in 2006. It is an open-air amphitheater in the countryside of his hometown of Lajatico, Italy.
Bocelli performs an annual concert there every July and for the rest of the year, the theater is… well, silent. “Most of the year the sounds of nature reign, but on one day a year in July, thousands of people from all over the world come for a concert. It’s beautiful how on that one day the silence is broken by the sounds of so many languages.”
Subscribe to our ioAudio email newsletter and fill your inbox with the sounds of listening tips and not silence. ioAudio’s “How to Listen Like” series shares ideas for how to be a better listener in relation to well-known individuals. Have a good listener we haven’t heard of? Comment below or Contact Us.
To inspire more listening.
To be the world leader of