ROME — Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, who recovered from COVID-19 and whose moving Easter performance sought to raise hopes during the pandemic, is striking a different public note, saying Italy’s lockdown made him feel “humiliated and offended” by depriving him of his freedom.
Bocelli spoke at a panel July 27 in a Senate conference room, where he was introduced by right-wing opposition leader Matteo Salvini, who has railed against the government’s stringent measures to combat the coronavirus outbreak.
The singer's announcement in May that he had recovered from the virus came weeks after his Easter Sunday performance in Milan's empty cathedral. At the time, Bocelli said that when he learned on March 10 that he had tested positive, just as the nation was going into lockdown, "I jumped into the pool, I felt well" and had only a slight fever. He apparently was referring to a private pool at his residence, as public gym pools were closed by then.
Bocelli told the conference at the Senate that he resented not being able to leave his home even though he "committed no crime" and revealed, without providing details, that he violated that lockdown restriction.
At the height of lockdown, Italians could only leave home to go to essential jobs, walk dogs or buy food or medicine.
Dismayed, Health Ministry Undersecretary Pierpaolo Sileri on July 28 said that perhaps Bocelli “wanted to express the inconvenience of every Italian who, because of lockdown, stayed home.”
"I wouldn't have said those words, but I imagine he'll be able to explain it somehow," Sileri added.
The conference was held on the eve of Premier Giuseppe Conte’s appearance in the Senate, set for later July 28, where he laid out his center-left government’s case for extending for three months a state of emergency for the pandemic, which expires on July 31.
Conte said the extension is aimed at preserving measures that allow an efficient response should the virus spike again, not to ''spread unjustified fears" among the population. He accused the opposition of using ''polemical and even ideological veins" in the debate.
The emergency status allowed Conte to bypass Parliament or even his Cabinet in decreeing a string of measures to slow the spread of the outbreak in the country where it first emerged in Europe, and went on to claim more than 35,000 lives.
Bocelli told the conference that at first his children told him to be careful about the virus when he first started having doubts about its severity, "but as time passed, I know lots of people, but I didn't know anyone who went into intensive care."
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At the worst point of the outbreak, as many as 4,000 people were in intensive care in Italy, a country of 60 million, with several hundred virus-linked deaths on some days.
By FRANCES D’EMILIO
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