Opera star Andrea Bocelli regales music lovers at Saudi Arabia’s Tantora Winter Festival

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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
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Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert. (AN photo/Hala Tashkandi)
Updated 01 February 2019
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Opera star Andrea Bocelli regales music lovers at Saudi Arabia’s Tantora Winter Festival

  • Bocelli, 60, appeared to be in great spirits as he greeted the crowd with a rousing performance of “La Donna E Mobile”
  • Winter at Tantora, now in its seventh week, was recently extended with two more concert dates added to the roster

TANTORA: Italian opera star Andrea Bocelli entertained a sold-out crowd on Friday night at this week’s Winter at Tantora concert.
The Tuscan tenor, known worldwide for his unique blend of modern pop and classic opera, delighted his audience with a truly spectacular performance at Al-Ula’s Maraya Concert Hall.
Bocelli told fans that he was delighted to be performing for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and that he hoped he would be able to return in the future to perform again.
“This is my first time to perform in Saudi Arabia, and I’m very pleased with the great reception and hospitality I received from the organizers and the wonderful audience here,” he said.
“Al-Ula is a great surprise. It’s a beautiful natural destination, and it has been an honor to sing in such majestic surroundings.”
The concert, conducted by Marcello Rota, featured the National Symphony Orchestra accompanying Bocelli, as well as performances by soprano Maria Aleida Rodriguez, violinist Anastasiya Petryshak and guest singer Ilaria Della Bidia.
The concert featured a variety of performances by Bocelli and his companions, including solos by Rodriguez, Della Bidia and Petryshak.
Bocelli, 60, appeared to be in great spirits as he greeted the crowd with a rousing performance of “La Donna E Mobile.”
Along with his companions, he performed some of his most popular hits, such as “Donna Non Vida Mai”, “Canto Della Terra” and “Granada,” as well as a selection of opera classics.
“It’s a great pleasure to be here for the first time. I’m very emotional about this,” he told fans. “It’s an honor to be here.”
He said he had a special connection to the Kingdom because it was his Saudi friend Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel who encouraged him to create the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, a charitable organization for music and science.
One of the biggest surprises of the night came when Bocelli stepped out onto the stage wearing a ghutra (a traditional Saudi men’s headdress), which garnered thunderous applause from the crowd.
Bocelli gained fame in the 1990s as an opera singer worthy of international attention. Blind since the age of 12, he has nonetheless managed to gain global fame as an opera singer and obtain a law degree from the University of Pisa.
He has received multiple accolades and awards over the course of his career, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
He was made a Grand Officer of the Order of the Merit of the Italian Republic, and has performed with some of the biggest names in music, including Luciano Pavarotti, Ed Sheeran and Celine Dion.
Fans were delighted to see Bocelli in the Kingdom, with many of them tweeting their support for him and urging him to return in the future.
“Please come back, Andrea,” tweeted one fan. “You have audiences in multiple cities. Saudi Arabia would love to have you again.”
Winter at Tantora, now in its seventh week, was recently extended with two more concert dates added to the roster.
The festival has enjoyed massive success during its run, with every concert selling out within days of being announced.
Featured renowned artists include Kathem Al-Saher, Rashid Al-Majed and Majed Al-Mohandis, among others.


Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 46 min 7 sec ago
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Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.