Italy's Singing Sensation Wins Fans Worldwide Andrea Bocelli Credits Television with His Rapid Rise

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Luciano Pavarotti has said, "There is nobody better."

He has performed for Pope John Paul II and shared the stage with Bryan Adams, Bryan Ferry, and Pavarotti himself. His fan club includes actresses Isabella Rossellini and Julie Andrews.

His name is Andrea Bocelli, and his passion is opera. The Italian tenor, who is blind, started out singing at birthday parties as a boy and then sang professionally in piano bars during his college days. Now he headlines concert halls in Europe and sells millions of recordings worldwide. "I always had an extraordinary fascination for musical instruments {piano, the flute, and saxophone} when I was a child," Bocelli says via telephone from Italy, speaking through an interpreter. "However ... my best instrument was my voice. Singing was my destiny." Bocelli's music, a blend of Italian love songs, operatic melodies, and popular music, is considered crossover music, which was first made popular by the Three Tenors (Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and Jose Carreras) seven years ago. His first recording, "Romanza," has sold 6.8 million copies worldwide. His second and most recent recording, "Viaggio Italiano," peaked at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Classical Album Chart, and his concert video has spent five weeks on the Top Video Sales Chart. Even though it was a complicated and difficult road, Bocelli says his rise to fame came rather quickly. He credits television for this rapid recognition. "You're overwhelmed with somebody through television," he says. "People on television are constrained to respond to sudden fame. Suddenly you find yourself surrounded by commitments." This is exactly what happened to Bocelli. In 1994, he won first prize at the San Remo, Italy, music festival, which attracts a large television audience, and last November in Germany he performed at the start of a middleweight boxing championship before a TV audience of 20 million. In the United States, a video special featuring Bocelli in concert aired in December on PBS. Bocelli got his first big break in 1992 when he recorded "Miserere (Pity)" with Italian rock star and friend Zucchero Fornaciari, who had written the song for Pavarotti. …