Bocelli Sends His 'Amore'

The difference between "Amore" and "Amor" is more than just a letter.

The words are the two titles to Andrea Bocelli's upcoming albums. "Amore," the international, multilingual version, comes out Jan. 31 in the United States and Feb. 24 in much of the rest of the world. "Amor," the all-Spanish version, will arrive in the Latin market March 22.

It is not just different editions that set "Amore"/"Amor" (Sugar/Universal) apart from Bocelli's previous albums.

Thanks to strategy and sheer luck, the release of "Amore," a collection of romantic pop standards, will coincide with Valentine's Day and with the Winter Olympics taking place in Bocelli's native Italy. This has opened the door for the superstar (who has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, according to his label) to benefit from an unprecedented multimedia avalanche.

In addition to love songs fitting for for the romantic holiday, Bocelli sings an Olympics theme, which he wrote with David Foster and Amy Gillies. Foster and Humberto Gatica produced the albums. Tony Renis co-produced them. The artist will perform the track, "Because We Believe," at the Feb. 26 closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

All of Bocelli's albums are romantic, but nowhere is that theme more prevalent than on "Amore." Its tracks include "Bझsame Mucho," "Somos Novios" (popularized in English as "It's Impossible" and recorded here as a duet with Christina Aguilera) and the Italian "Canzoni Stonate," with Stevie Wonder on vocals and harmonica.

Tying in with the Valentine theme, "Amore" will be promoted in the United States with a massive TV campaign, an iTunes promotion offering an exclusive bonus track (featuring Chris Botti) and partnerships with retailers -— including Starbucks, Whole Foods and JCPenney -- designed to take Bocelli's music directly to the consumer. A PBS special will air in March.

"The theme is classic songs of the '50s, '60s and '70s, but performed in Andrea's unique romantic style," Milan-based Sugar chief executive Filippo Sugar says.

Bocelli says the choice of repertoire hinged on quality and emotion.

"Millions of songs have been written, and at the end of the day there are only seven notes," he observes, speaking on the phone from his home in Italy. "Why, therefore, should we insist on recording new music when it lacks true inspiration, that fundamental honesty which is the only thing that can touch people's hearts? It's much, much better to focus our attention on a repertoire which has made entire generations dream all over the world."

Bocelli played many of the songs as a student performing in piano bars. "So it was a very moving experience for me to revisit this extraordinary musical world, with the experience I have today and a different vocal awareness," he says. "It is with these songs that many people experienced their first love, many got engaged, married or simply spent unforgettable evenings."

Much of the repertoire also happened to be in Spanish. This prompted Gatica to propose an all-Spanish version of the album to market to the Spanish-speaking world. "I always thought a man with so beautiful a voice singing in a different timbre, softer and more romantic, brings originality and credibility to a language as romantic as Spanish," Gatica says.

"Amor" does not include the Olympics theme, and, therefore, will be marketed in a different manner at a different time, which accounts for its later release.

"We wanted to convey that ["Amor"] is a very Latin album. All the songs are Latin songs, and we want the consumer to know from the onset that this is an album that is 100% in Spanish," says Jesus López, chairman of Universal Music Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula. López is coordinating the release of "Amor" in Latin America, Spain and Portugal, where the first single will be "Bésame Mucho." A Latin American tour is being discussed for the fall.

Bocelli has achieved worldwide fame. But "Amore" and "Amor" are internationally ambitious, aimed to expand the singer's audience as well as reclaim some of the fan base he established with his previous pop albums.

In Italy, Bocelli will follow his Olympics performance with an appearance at the Sanremo Festival (which will run Feb. 27- March 4), along with the country's three other main musical exports: Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini and Zucchero.

Fueled by anticipated international appeal and repertoire, expectations for "Amore" are high. But Bocelli thinks success will be natural.

"This is a repertoire which doesn't feel any disadvantage from the difference in the language, as it is firmly based on the principles of the two undoubtedly universal languages, which are those of music and of love," Bocelli says. "Both of these speak directly to people's hearts, and the words used to express these simply serve as a support."