During her time as a university student in the UAE, Saudi opera singer Sawsan Albahiti cherished a specific vision of performing alongside her greatest inspiration, Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli. "I don't know why, but he was always wearing a blue suit and I was wearing black," she recalls. This dream became a reality on January 26, as Albahiti, adorned in black attire, joined Bocelli, clad in a blue tuxedo, along with Italian soprano Serena Gamberoni, to sing Bocelli's renowned piece "Time To Say Goodbye" ("Con te partiro" in Italian), marking the grand finale at Bocelli's concert at AlUla's Maraya Theater.
“To share the stage with the individual who ignited the flame for pursuing my dreams is an indescribable honor,” Albahiti exclaims. “During my time in the UAE, whenever I visited Dubai Mall and witnessed the dancing fountains, his duet with Sarah Brightman, 'Time To Say Goodbye,' resonated deeply within me, evoking goosebumps and tears. His enchanting voice captivated me, fostering a profound love for this art form. Performing this piece with him was a lifelong aspiration.”
Additionally, Albahiti delivered a prelude and a solo performance at the exclusive concert, orchestrated by the Royal Commission for AlUla.
Albahiti commends Bocelli's customary gesture of inviting local talents to share the limelight with him, underscoring his magnanimity as an artist.
“Amidst his musical interludes, he turned to me and uttered in Italian, ‘Prego,’ conveying a warm welcome,” she recalls. “The audience erupted in thunderous applause and rose to their feet as we concluded the rendition.”
This encounter wasn’t their initial rendezvous. Their first meeting transpired in 2021, marked by emotional resonance.
"He showed humility and warmth," Albahiti recollects. "I told him, 'You are the reason I pursued opera. You are my inspiration.' He became emotional. His story shows resilience, overcoming challenges like his blindness and struggles with recognition. Still, he never gave up on his dreams."