The opera legend appeared Sunday in Milan, Italy, for a livestreamed solo concert titled “Music for Hope — Live From Duomo di Milano,” performing inside the city’s cathedral and on the church’s exterior steps, which face the Piazza del Duomo.
With the country on lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19, both the church’s sanctuary and the usually bustling square were hauntingly empty, as a YouTube video of the concert shows. The only other person to appear at the event was cathedral organist Emanuele Vianelli, who joined Bocelli for songs such as “Panis Angelicus” and “Ave Maria.”
“On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘sì’ to the invitation of the city and the Duomo of Milan,” Bocelli said in a translated voiceover during the special, which clocks in at just under 25 minutes. “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.”
“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,” he continued. “It will be a joy to witness it, in the Duomo, during the Easter celebration which evokes the mystery of birth and rebirth.”
As of Monday afternoon, “Music for Hope — Live From Duomo di Milano” had been viewed more than 29 million times on YouTube. The performance received praise from several stars, including Celine Dion, who collaborated with Bocelli on 1998’s “The Prayer,” as well as Hugh Jackman and Kim Kardashian.
At least 156,363 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Italy, the third-hardest hit worldwide behind the U.S. and Spain. The number of fatalities nationwide rose by 566 on Monday, bringing the COVID-19 death toll in the country to more than 20,000.
Watch “Music for Hope — Live From Duomo di Milano” in full below.