The world’s most beloved tenor, Maestro Andrea Bocelli, gave a stunning performance within the surrounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra in the night of Thursday, April 8. The concert’s many stand out moments included a performance from Andrea Bocelli with his 9-year-old daughter Virginia. The duo sang Hallelujah to the delighted and intimate crowd attending the event. In fact, the concert is the first time Andrea has shared the stage with both his son Matteo and his daughter. The multi-talented family showed off their musical prowess with Bocelli swapping instruments throughout the performance.
Songs included favourites from Puccini, hits from the artist most recent album, Believe, as well as songs from the Greatest Showman and Carousel. No Bocelli performance would be complete without an encore of Time to Say Goodbye and fans both at the event and millions watching live on MBC1 in MENA and the artists YouTube channel globally were not disappointed.
As well as the surprise performance from young talent Virginia Bocelli, the master tenor was joined by musicians from the Arabian Philharmonic and special guests Loren Allred, Matteo Bocelli, soprano Francesca Maionchi, with Eugene Kohn at the piano.
The musical genius is said to be able to play any instrument he puts his hands on and proved this on arrival at AlUla International Airport by playing a rendition of O sole mio on a Qanoun, or Zither.
Bocelli says the concert was about a celebration of life and music, “Our planet is beautiful and music is the world’s great unifier so this moment for us has been about spreading a little joy as we all see the light at the end of the tunnel and look forward to enjoying music together again soon.”
The concert marks the third successive year that Bocelli has performed in AlUla having delighted audiences at the previous two Winter at Tantora festivals. However, this is the first time that the ancient city of Hegra will be the setting for a music event of this calibre.
Hegra, built in the first century BCE by the Nabataean Kingdom, is an ancient desert city home to thousands of tombs cut into sandstone mountains. At least 100 tombs have elaborate carved facades, a signature of the skilled Nabataean craftsmen.
Bocelli said performing in such as setting was a very special moment for the family and for all the musicians on stage: “To be here creating a piece of history in such an inspirational setting so rich in human ingenuity, heritage and culture is truly a moment we will never forget.”
Maestro Bocelli will go directly from AlUla, Saudi Arabia to Genoa, Italy to record the opera Otello, by Giuseppe Verdi.
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of 111 well-preserved tombs, many with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after the Roman’s conquered the Nabataeans in 106 CE.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is also home to ancient Dadan, the captial of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms and considered to be one of the most developed 1st millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Penninsula. And Jabal Ikmah, an open air library of hundreds of inscriptions and writings in many different languages. Also AlUla Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country’s most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.