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

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.


Saudi military opens first women’s section

Updated 26 min 28 sec ago

Saudi military opens first women’s section

  • The initiative is the first to allow women to climb the ladder towards senior ranks

JEDDAH: Saudi military chief of staff, Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, launched the first military section for women in the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces on Sunday.

The director general of admission and enlistment, Maj. Gen. Imad Al-Aidan, explained the regulations of acceptance, and allocated locations where the female staff will be stationed.

Under the initiative to incorporate more women into the field, previously announced in October 2019, women can now join the military as lance corporals, corporals, sergeants, and staff sergeants in the Royal Saudi Land Forces, Air Force, Saudi Arabian Navy, Air Defense Forces, Strategic Missile Forces and Armed Forces Medical Services.

The initiative is the first to allow women to climb the ladder towards senior ranks.

Former Shoura Council member Haya Al-Muni’I previously told Asharq Al-Awsat that these new laws support women’s rights and capabilities in the Kingdom’s military.

“Naturally, they will enter a new sphere of work. It’s a reflection of a national belief in the equality between women and men,” she said.

The initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 Program, pushing for the empowerment of women and giving them more leadership positions, and highlighting the significance of their involvement across different fields.