Legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli has revealed that during his youth he was an agnostic but it was through reading the work of Russian writer Leo Tolstoy that he was able to reconnect with his faith.
The 60-year-old Catholic singer also explained that he would never have existed if his parents had not ignored the advice given to them by doctors who suggested that his mother have an abortion.
Bocelli told The Big Issue that “faith cannot be acquired effortlessly” and that his younger self would probably not understand the beliefs he holds today.
He explained that his younger self’s claim that he was agnostic, was actually a “ploy to avoid the real issue”.
“In adulthood, some pressing existential questions cropped up,” he told The Big Issue. “Reading a small and wonderful book by Tolstoy, A Confession, later followed by all his other masterpieces, helped me a lot along the path to faith.
“To believe that life is determined by chance is not only unsuitable but illogical and not very sensible. The basic rationale that allows us to take the right path when reaching the first fundamental crossroads is to believe or not to believe…To my mind this is a choice and there is no alternative.”
Speaking about his younger years, Bocelli admitted: “As a young boy I was agnostic. The young Andrea would probably not understand that today I believe in faith and great values, in the need to be pious every day.
“Over the years I have come to believe that faith cannot be acquired effortlessly: just as any other discipline, it requires commitment, perseverance and sacrifice.
“To be committed to faith, means we need to comply with simple deeds that may even appear tedious. If we want to improve our faith, we have to submit to prayer,” he added.
Bocelli admitted he cried for a short while after losing his sight in an accident when he was 12.
“I then set aside any form of self-pity and decided I needed to be positive and optimistic about life, finding ways to explore it. This did not affect in any way my musical training. People may perceive it as my main issue, but it never was and never is,” he said.
Bocelli, who was born with glaucoma, said that despite a few minor arguments with his parents and his brother, they were a “united and peaceful family” overall.
“Love always prevailed, mutual fondness softened any kind of friction that might have emerged,” he said.
He also admitted that he owes his parents “an awful lot”.
“My father Sandro and my mother Edi moulded my character, offering me an education that was invaluable during my whole life,” he said.
“This is what my parents showed during my mother’s pregnancy when the doctors advised her to have an abortion because the baby would be born with severe illnesses,” he said.
“She ignored their advice and carried on with my father’s support. Without their courage and faith I would not be here today to tell the story.
“As for priorities, children always come first,” he said. “This was clear to me from the moment I became a father.”
Picture: File picture, dated 25th November 2017, of Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli during his concert at Papp Laszlo Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary. (Xinhua/Attila Volgyi).