Andrea Bocelli Continues Classical Music’s Long Line of Successful Recording Artists

If you’re in Europe this fall, you might want to set aside an evening and catch an Andrea Bocelli concert.

According to Bocelli’s website, the tenor will be performing in Jordan on Sept. 18, Amsterdam on Oct. 14, and Krakow on Nov. 11—just to name a few of his upcoming gigs.

While Bocelli performs all over the world, there’s certainly no better place to hear and see him then in Europe, the birthplace of opera.

The Zalgiris Arena in Kaunas, Lithuania, where our hero will be on Nov. 4, sounds like a venue and city that should host an Andrea Bocelli performance—Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland does not.

Yet, Bocelli is scheduled to croon at QLA on Dec. 1.  It’s the first of seven dates that the then 59-year-old singer has planned for the United States in the final month of 2017.

From Cleveland, Bocelli’s tour takes him to Detroit on Dec. 3, Chicago on Dec. 6, Philadelphia on Dec. 8, and Washington D.C. on Dec. 10.  His final two dates are plotted for Dec. 13 and 14 in New York City at Madison Square Garden.

If you thought Quicken Loans Arena was bad, when he’s in Detroit, Andrea Bocelli tickets will be collected at Little Caesars Arena.

That’s not right.

Can’t they change the name of that venue for the day he’s there?  Maybe call it “Aria Arena” or “Arioso Arena?”

Andrea Bocelli should not have to apply his craft inside a building named after mediocre pizza (I wanted to say bad pizza, but let’s face it, pizza is never bad).

Why am I praising Andrea Bocelli so much?  Isn’t he that singer that everyone’s great-aunt likes?

Andrea Bocelli sings opera—more specifically light opera or pop opera (or as I like to call it “popera”)—but he’s definitely not stuffy or boring.  He has an angelic voice and regardless of what type of music you normally enjoy, seeing Bocelli live will blow your mind.

Besides being a bona fide artiste, Bocelli is insanely successful.  Sure, classical music isn’t duking it out with hip hop for the number one genre in young people’s music collections, but don’t assume Bocelli lacks an audience.

He’s probably the best-selling classical artist of all-time.

In the industry, Bocelli is referred to as a classical crossover artist.  The term, coined in the 1980s, describes operatic music that’s been popularized as well as popular kinds of music performed in an operatic or symphonic style.  The term also applies to collaborations of operatic stars with artists from other forms of music.

Classical crossover artists generally dominate Billboard’s Classical Albums chart.

Whatever you call Bocelli, classical or classical crossover, there are few artists in his genre that have ever come close to matching his commercial success.

Bocelli has reportedly sold more than 80 million albums worldwide.  That would put Bocelli in the same stratosphere as Van Halen, The Doors, Barry Manilow, and Tom Petty.

I wrote “would” because Bocelli is not actually on the same list as those aforementioned artists.  Bocelli suffers from a phenomenon known as a lack of certified sales.

The trend hinders artists with large fan bases outside of the United States and/or English-speaking countries—artists like Charles Aznavour, Scorpions, and Gloria Estefan.  Although the phenomenon does affect artists like Cliff Richard, Dolly Parton, and Tom Jones.

A dearth of certified sales opens the door for detractors to say that Bocelli really hasn’t sold a lot of albums.  There is, however, historical precedent that classical artists, namely operatic singers, know how to sell albums.

Luciano Pavarotti probably had the title of best-selling classical artist before Bocelli.  The rotund Italian recorded operatic music for more than half a century and was a member of the popular group Three Tenors with Plácido Domingo and José Carreras.

Pavarotti died in 2007 at the age of 71.

Before Pavarotti there was “La Divina,” the Greek-American soprano Maria Callas (1923 to 1977).

Although her off-stage antics, and an affair with Aristotle Onassis, is what people usually remember about her, Callas did amass a collection of studio recordings that filled 39 albums.  They have since been remastered at Abbey Road Studios.  Callas’ catalog includes Aida, Madama Butterfly, and The Barber of Seville.

Callas’ recordings were very successful and helped make her one of the most influential artists of the 20th century.  She’s arguably the bestselling female classical artist of all-time.

Of course, the big difference between Bocelli and Pavarotti/Callas is the former doesn’t act (besides a few roles here and there).  He just sings arias and similar music.  Pavarotti and Callas typically starred in the operas they recorded.

Long before Bocelli, Pavarotti, and Callas, classical music’s biggest name was Enrico Caruso (1873 to 1921).

During the first two decades of the 20th century, Caruso made around 260 commercial recordings.  He made his recordings for the Victor Talking Machine Company which later became RCA Victor.

His first recordings were made in a hotel room in 1902.  For all of Caruso’s career, his recordings were done through mechanical processes.  The first electronic recording issued to the public didn’t occur until 1920, the last year of Caruso’s career.

When Caruso began putting his voice to wax, many of his contemporaries scorned the new technology.  That all changed when they saw the copious amounts of money he was making from his recordings.

Caruso recordings propel him to become one of the world’s first “global media celebrities.”

He was also one of the first radio stars.  Caruso participated in the first public radio broadcast in the United States.

The cool thing about the four classical artists mentioned in this article is you can still listen to their recordings and that includes Caruso.  Granted, his recordings are pretty rough, but they hold up amazingly well for being a hundred years old.

Obviously, the only classical performer mentioned in this article you can still see live is Andrea Bocelli.