The legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed a stunning rendition of "Amazing Grace" during his special Music For Hope: Live from Duomo di Milano livestream Easter Sunday. The 61-year-old sang the song in English at the end of the 25-minute performance, which began inside the empty church, with just cathedral organist Emmanuelle Vianelli as his only accompaniment. Bocelli's performance was moving, tear-jerking and just what millions of people needed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The livestream began with flyover shots showing an empty Milan, with a very brief spoken intro from Bocelli, who was invited to sing inside Italy's largest cathedral. "I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone – whether they are believers or not – truly needs right now," Bocelli said in a statement.
"Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth's pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride," he continued. "The generous, courageous, proactive Milan and the whole of Italy will be again, and very soon, a winning model, engine of a renaissance that we all hope for. It will be a joy to witness it, in the Duomo, during the Easter celebration which evokes the mystery of birth and rebirth."
He then sang "Panis Angelicus," "Ave Maria," Sancta Maria" and "Domine Deus" inside the church, standing a few feet from Vianelli. He then walked outside the cathedral, stopped at a microphone set up at its steps and performed "Amazing Grace" as the last song. At the end, Bocelli, who has been blind since age 12, repeated the line "I was blind, but now I see" twice at the very end. Footage of an empty New York was shown to close out the live stream.
"Andrea Bocelli singing 'Amazing Grace' in front of the Duomo in a deserted Milan just wrecked me," author Tom Nichols tweeted. "Hearing Andrea Bocelli sing Amazing Grace outside the Duomo brought tears to my eyes, it's one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard, it makes me grateful that I surround myself with the people that I love through these dark times," another viewer wrote. "Andrea Bocelli performing 'Amazing Grace' #MusicForHope when the world is on its knees. This song has given me a reason and a Hope to live to the fullest in tribulations," another added.
Aside from lifting spirits with his performance, Bocelli's Andrea Bocelli Fund is raising money to provide personal protective equipment to emergency and medical staff. Italy was one of the countries hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and still has the third-most cases with 156,363 reported and 19,899 deaths, reports Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has the most cases, with 557,300 confirmed as of Sunday night. The death toll is now at just over 22,000.