How Did Italian Opera Singer Andrea Bocelli Go Blind?

Andrea Bocelli

Getty Andrea Bocelli performs on May 25, 2016 in Rho, Italy.

This Easter weekend will be completely different than any other because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Church services around the world are being canceled because of requirements to isolate and stay at home, and instead, there will be a series of virtual services and performances available on live stream.

The famous opera singer Andrea Bocelli will be singing in the empty Duomo Cathedral, in Milan, Italy and it will be streamed live on Sunday, April 12 at 1 p.m. ET. There will only be one other person performing with Bocelli, and that’s the cathedral’s organist, Emmanuele Vianelli. Although many people might have heard Bocelli’s voice before, it might be a surprise to some that the acclaimed opera singer is blind.

Andrea Bocelli Was Born With Congenital Glaucoma & Went Completely Blind at the Age of 12

Bocelli was born on 22 September 1958 in Tuscany, Italy. From the time he was born, it became clear that he had issues with his eyesight and he ended up getting diagnosed with congenital glaucoma, an eye disease.

He went completely blind when he was 12 years old following an accident in a football game. He was accidentally hit in the head and suffered a brain hemorrhage, causing complete blindness. According to a profile by the Telegraph, doctors turned to the use of leeches in a desperate attempt to save his eyesight, but they were unsuccessful.

He described the incident:

As a child I was very lively and uncontrollable, I loved playing football and one day during a match, I was hit violently in the face with a ball on my right eye, the only one which I could see light and colour with. The doctors tried to cure me with various operations and they even used leeches but there was nothing that could be done.

He said that his love of classical music and opera stems from a young age, when his mother found that playing classical music records helped him with his glaucoma.

Bocelli Does Not Like to Speak About His Blindness & Doesn’t Consider It to Be an Obstacle

In an interview with Radio Times, they point out that Bocelli doesn’t like to speak about his blindness. In fact, there are few interviews with the opera singer on the topic. Bocelli spoke to Radio Times about his faith, saying that: “I believe the obstacles God gives us to overcome are in proportion to the strengths and abilities he gives us to overcome them.”

He quickly clarified that he wasn’t referring to his blindness as an obstacle: “I do not understand the obstacle you are referring to because that’s not the obstacle I’m referring to. I do not see it as an obstacle – absolutely not.” He says he frequently rides horses on his farm in the Italian countryside, and it feels completely natural: “You may not know this, but in the Italian military, soldiers are taught to jump obstacles blindfolded.”

In an interview with the Telegraph, they wrote: “he refuses to talk about his blindness, perhaps because he is tired of being defined by it. ‘Let’s go to the next question,’ he says when I bring the subject up.”

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