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.


Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador to the Kingdom, inaugurated MUSICA, the photo exhibition by artist Michele Ardu, at Oud Square in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 25 October 2020

Italian language week celebrated in Saudi Arabia

  • Embassy invited illustrator Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah

RIYADH: The Italian Embassy is celebrating the 20th annual Week of the Italian Language with the aim of demonstrating the richness of the language.

The Italian language week, from Oct. 19-25, is a flagship initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to promote the use of the Italian language worldwide, in collaboration with the Swiss Embassy, where Italian is one of the official languages.
The theme for this year’s initiative is “Italian in words and images: Graffiti, illustrations and comics” and it aims to highlight the beauty and relevance of the Italian illustration and comics industry.
“Italy has a long tradition of artists using illustrations, graffiti and comics to express themselves, and it is such a great opportunity to be able to celebrate this heritage of beauty, innovation and creativity. This is what Italy stands for,” Italian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Roberto Cantone said.
He added: “For this reason, I am very proud that despite the challenges and the distance due to the coronavirus pandemic, we have been able to host two brilliant and very talented Italian young artists, to showcase their artwork and have a fruitful and deep cultural exchange with their Saudi counterparts.”
The Italian Embassy invited illustrator and artist Marianna Balducci to participate in a dialogue with Saudi artist and actress Sarah Taibah, moderated by Talal Al-Zeid.
The webinar took place on Oct. 19 with the artists discussing their creative journey and sharing their experience about what it means to be an illustrator and to work in the creative industries.
The ambassador inaugurated the photo exhibition, MUSICA, by Italian artist Michele Ardu, in collaboration with the Diplomatic Quarter Authority on Oct. 21 at Oud Square. The exhibition will run until Dec. 1.
MUSICA includes eight original artworks located within the Diplomatic Quarter. Each artwork represents a song from the musical heritage of Italy and Saudi Arabia and Italian musical pieces — ranging from opera to classical and contemporary Italian music — the Barber of Seville by Rossini as well as a performance by Andrea Bocelli, and by two famous female Italian singers Mina and Mia Martini, as well as the Italian national anthem and the soundtrack of the film “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso” by Ennio Morricone.
There are also two artworks representing the musical heritage of Saudi Arabia — the traditional Saudi sword dance “Ardha” and one of the many beautiful love songs by Mohammed Abdu (Kul Ma Nasnas).  

I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene.

Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador

Using a conceptual approach to photography, the artist captures in each artwork the shape that sound waves create when they meet a linear stream of flowing smoke.
The exhibition challenges the audience to encounter music in a radical new way, by experiencing it through their eyes rather than through their ears.
“I am extremely glad that we have been able to collaborate with Michele Ardu and show his work for the first time in Saudi Arabia. He is extremely talented, and an excellent example of the creativity and innovation of the Italian cultural scene,” the envoy said.
“We have chosen to organize the MUSICA exhibition because of the interesting concept behind it and its relevance for today. By blurring the lines between music and photography, the exhibition reminds us that no matter the obstacles we face, we always have the opportunity to overcome our limits and succeed.
“Over the past few months, especially during lockdown, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all experienced what this means. Thanks to the courage and talent of artists like Michele, both in Italy and Saudi Arabia, despite all challenges, we have had the opportunity to rediscover the essential role that art and culture play in our lives and to reconnect us with our humanity. I am happy that we have this opportunity today to strengthen the cultural partnership between our two countries,” Cantone said.