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Andrea Bocelli finds the romance in old songs

Tenor turned pop crooner has a new album of standards, ‘Amore’
/ Source: The Associated Press

When Andrea Bocelli started the planning for his latest pop project, the classical crossover star imagined himself singing the great songs popularized by Frank Sinatra.

But the Italian tenor realized something was getting a bit lost in the translation — mainly, the right words.

“As we progressed, the idea dragged somewhat because I had to self-examine my English, and I realized it wasn’t good enough,” said Bocelli, who speaks English but felt more comfortable using the help of a translator in an interview with The Associated Press last week.

“When you you’re singing a song, it’s very important to make it believable with your words. ... and of course the English is best for this purpose.”

The world may have to wait a while to hear Bocelli sing “I Get a Kick Out of You,” or “I’ve Got You Under my Skin,” but Bocelli does lend his voice to other romantic classics with his new album, “Amore.” Released late last month, it’s been a top seller.

“We wanted to present to my audience some great songs that are often forgotten,” said Bocelli.

Well, not all are forgotten. Among the songs that might ring a bell to listeners include Elvis Presley’s “I Can’t Help (Falling in Love With You),” and “It’s Impossible,” sung this time in Italian and performed with the big-voiced Christina Aguilera.

But some of them may be unfamiliar to the ears of mainstream music listeners — the core audience for Bocelli, who has sold over 50 million records worldwide with his soaring, operatic tenor made palatable for pop audiences.

For “Amore,” he resurrected some of his favorite classics, like the Italian song “L’Appuntamento” and the French song “Les Feuilles Mortes.”

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“Great songs are never old,” said Bocelli. “The greatness of a song, a piece is carried over from one singer to another one and by passing this on, its like the song is reborn each time.”

Most of the songs have a romantic lilt, but Bocelli is quick not to classify “Amore” as a romantic album, despite its amorous title.

“In this sense, romantic means outside the box, something that is very close to the senses and the feelings,” said Bocelli. “In these days, unfortunately, [romantic] ends up not meaning anything really, or it ends up meaning something a bit too sweet — sticky — so it becomes a bit negative. I hope that my record doesn’t end up being romantic in this second sense.”

One song not romantic in nature is the sweeping inspirational ballad, “Because We Believe,” written in English and Italian, specifically for the Winter Olympics in Bocelli’s native Italy, in Torino.

“It’s just something that happened in just a few minutes,” said Bocelli, who co-wrote the lyrics. “They just mentioned the idea to me and I felt very inspired, so the text just flew out of my mind.”

Bocelli is set to perform the song at the Olympics’ closing ceremonies on Sunday.