Review

In Cieli di Toscana (in English, Skies of Tuscany), tenor Andrea Bocelli pays tribute to his Tuscan heritage through performances of a number of romantic Italian-language songs, old and new, which relate to the northern Italian region associated with high-quality olive oil and unspoiled, pristine coastline. As such, Cieli di Toscana proves a sort of Tuscan counterpart to Bocelli's album of Neapolitan standards, Sentimento. While powerhouse producer Caterina Caselli Sugar's arrangements are dated -- they smack of the Europop sound of the 1980s -- Bocelli's voice has such a warm and lovable personality that it is impossible for him to rub the listener the wrong way. In these relatively simple songs, Bocelli draws on his operatic skills as a singer only very sparingly, applying vibrato to notes when he is in need of more power or a more secure sense of pitch. Most of Cieli di Toscana is done in a pure, "pop" voice that's as clear and unpretentious as the olive oil produced by the region of which he is singing, and it is a joy to hear. Cieli di Toscana was a sales blockbuster in the E.U. upon its release in 2001, moving millions of units in only a few weeks and occupying the top spot on charts worldwide. The album is not a natural fit for American audiences, but it got a boost nonetheless in the United States through the appearance of the song Mille Lune Mille Onde in the background of a television commercial. Of the popular albums that Bocelli has recorded, this one is probably the best so far, and certainly the one which is most accessible to American listeners. ~ Uncle Dave Lewis, Rovi

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