Andrea Bocelli dazzles with Al Ula concert in Hegra, a Saudi Unesco World Heritage Site

The Italian tenor performed an enchanting gig at Hegra, with both his son and daughter, 9, taking to the stage alongside him

World-famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli mesmerised his audience on Thursday night during a first-of-its-kind performance at Hegra.

The singer is no stranger to Saudi Arabia, having already appeared twice in Al Ula at the Winter at Tantora Festival, but this is the first time he has performed at the Unesco World Heritage Site formerly known as Madain Saleh.

The intimate concert, which was performed to under 300 people, is believed to be the first to take place within the walls of Hegra.

During the pared-back set, Bocelli was joined on stage by musicians from the Arabian Philharmonic orchestra, as well as special guests Loren Allred, an American singer, songwriter, pianist and actress; his son Matteo Bocelli; soprano Francesca Maionchi; and Eugene Kohn at the piano.

A special mystery guest was also revealed on the night to be the tenor's daughter Virginia, aged 9, who played guitar and sang along to Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah alongside her father.

TABUK, SAUDI ARABIA - APRIL 08: Andrea Bocelli performs in concert with his daughter Virginia Bocelli on April 08, 2021 at World Heritage Site Hegra in AlUla near Tabuk, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images for The Royal Commission for AlUla)
Andrea Bocelli performs in concert with his daughter Virginia Bocelli at Hegra. Getty Images for The Royal Commission for AlUla

For those who couldn't make it, the concert was also broadcasted on MBC 1 at 10pm local time.

The ancient desert city, built in the first century BCE by the Nabataean Kingdom, is home to thousands of tombs cut into sandstone mountains. At least 100 tombs have elaborate carved facades, showing off the skills of Nabataean craftsmen.

The specific backdrop for the event was the 20 carved tombs of Al Khuraymat, which archaeologists say represent some of the best preserved in Hegra.

The Fall On Me singer has previously performed shows in Al Ula at Maraya Concert Hall as part of the annual Winter at Tantora Festival.

More recently, in 2020, Bocelli also came to Dubai, where he took to the stage alongside a number of Israeli musicians for an invitation-only event at Dubai Opera in December. Dubbed A Celebration of Peace Concert, the gala evening was held in celebration of the UAE and Israel’s formal ties as part of the Abraham Accords.

The night before his concert on Thursday, Bocelli was pictured in Hegra kissing a desert falcon for good luck, in an image that was shared on the official Twitter account of Al Ula Tourism.

Updated: April 11, 2021 10:44 AM

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