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Opera star Andrea Bocelli will sing at the empty Duomo in Milan on Easter Sunday

Virtual services are “difficult,” pastors say

With Easter approaching, many people around the world are struggling with how to observe the holiday during a time of isolation. Families may be separated by social distancing and churches may be closed, but Easter Sunday will be made special — with a little help from opera star Andrea Bocelli.

The Italian singer will perform at the Duomo in Milan. The iconic cathedral will be empty, since hard-hit Italy is still under a coronavirus lockdown, but people around the world will be able to see Bocelli's performance on a live stream.

Bocelli announced the special event, "Music for Hope," on social media Monday. The live stream will begin on Sunday, April 12, at 7 p.m. Central Europe Time, which is 1 p.m. in New York and 10 a.m. in Los Angeles.

ITALY-HEALTH-VIRUS
A picture shows the deserted Piazza Duomo in Milan, on March 5, 2020. On April 12, the Duomo will be open for one special guest: Andrea Bocelli. PIERO CRUCIATTI/AFP via Getty Images

"On the day in which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I'm honored and happy to answer 'Sì' to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan," Bocelli said on social media. "I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone — whether they are believers or not — truly needs right now."

"Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth's pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride," the five-time Grammy nominee continued. 

Music For Hope LIVE - April 12th 10am LA | 1pm NYC | 6pm UK | 7pm CET by Andrea Bocelli on YouTube

Bocelli has performed alongside countless other stars over the years, including Tony Bennett, Celine Dion, Barbara Streisand and fellow opera star Luciano Pavarotti. This performance, however, will be a solo one, due to social distancing guidelines. 

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation is also raising money for COVID-19 relief and has started a GoFundMe campaign to help hospitals purchase equipment and personal protective gear for medical staff. So far, the campaign has raised nearly $145,000.

Just two days before announcing the Easter performance, Bocelli shared some words of wisdom with his followers. "History teaches us that after this is over will come a spring brighter than any we remember. Then we will have an unmissable opportunity to start fresh with a new system of values," he wrote on Instagram. "Will will smile, then — soon — about this upset, we will remember and we will tell our children and grandchildren all about the time when the world warned us, stopped us, before it was too late."

"Let's seize this extraordinary chance with courage, responsibility and trust. Because as Queen Raina of Jordan said: 'Our world desperately needs a new Renaissance that will push humanity to give their all when the stakes are high. To act, not to hesitate. To face up to things, not to back away. To create and celebrate beauty, not just for beauty's sake, but for the good of our world.'"

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. History teaches us that after this is over will come a spring brighter than any we remember. Then we will have an unmissable opportunity to start fresh with a new system of values. Will will smile, then - soon - about this upset, we will remember and we will tell our children and grandchildren all about the time when the world warned us, stopped us, before it was too late. . Let's seize this extraordinary chance with courage, responsibility and trust. Because as Queen Raina of Jordan said: "Our world desperately needs a new Renaissance that will push humanity to give their all when the stakes are high. To act, not to hesitate. To face up to things, not to back away. To create and celebrate beauty, not just for beauty's sake, but for the good of our world." . . La storia ci insegna: dopo, sarà una primavera di quelle che non ricordavamo così luminose. Dopo, sarà l’imperdibile occasione per ripartire con una rinnovata gerarchia di valori. Dopo (tra poco), sorrideremo di tutto questo sgomento e ricorderemo e racconteremo ai nostri figli e nipoti, l’avventura di quando il mondo ci ha avvisato, di quando ci ha fermato, prima che fosse tardi. . Con fiducia, responsabilità e coraggio, raccogliamo questa straordinaria occasione. Perché, come ci ha ricordato Rania di Giordania: “Il nostro mondo ha disperatamente bisogno di un nuovo Rinascimento, che spinga l'umanità a dare il meglio proprio quando la posta in gioco è più alta. Agire, non esitare. Venirsi incontro, non tirarsi indietro. Creare e celebrare la bellezza, non solo per se stessa ma per il bene dell'umanità”. . Andrea

A post shared by Andrea Bocelli (@andreabocelliofficial) on

The coronavirus pandemic has hit Bocelli's native Italy particularly hard, with more than 135,500 confirmed cases to date, according to Johns Hopkins. There have been over 17,100 coronavirus-related deaths reported, although that's likely an underestimate, as only people who die in hospitals are counted in the national tally. Others who died at home or in nursing homes may not have been tested for COVID-19 at all.

The United States seen even more cases, with over 379,900 confirmed to date. Because of social distancing rules and stay-at-home orders, most churches in the U.S., Italy and around the world will be closed on Easter. Many plan to hold virtual services for Holy Week instead. But only the Duomo will feature Bocelli's special holiday performance.

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