The night we met Andrea Bocelli. . . Oh what a night!

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Amidst a breathtaking panoramic view of Central Park and the awe-inspiring architectural glories of New York City, a small crowd gathered in the Grand Penthouse of the famous Plaza Hotel, 20 floors in the sky, surrounded by exquisite decor and amenities worthy of royalty.

My husband and I were among them. We were there to meet the Andrea Bocelli, the beloved Italian tenor, an experience engraved forever in our hearts.

Thoughts of that once in a lifetime moment played back and forth in our minds as we relive that momentous Saturday night.

At the Grand Penthouse in the Plaza, from the left are Jason and Victoria Zhang, Andrea Bocelli and Raymond Zhang. (Courtesy / Nico Sforza / SI Real Estate Photography) Staten Island Advance

The introduction was extended by Julius R. Nasso, a resident and philanthropic filmmaker of Eltingville, whose productions broke stage records in China.

We gathered at this chic venue not only to meet the best-selling living artist in classical music, but also to hear details about the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, an organization that helps people around the world who have been touched by natural disasters.


The Italian-born tenor, known for his unique style of opera and pop music, was in town to perform at the “We Love NYC: The Homecoming Concert” in Central Park which performed to a crowd of over 60,000 people.

The concert celebrated the return of the Big Apple after the pandemic – although it was cut short when Hurricane Henri grazed our shores.

The festivities began with the sounds of the New York Philharmonic and the famous tenor singing “You’ll Never Walk Alone” – in perfect English – before serenading his audience with the flute – from “Carousel” and “O Sole “by Rodgers & Hammerstein” Mio “- dazzling the cheering crowd.

“I decided to sing this song because it’s about a storm and then a golden sky,” the mega star said of COVID-19. “We are here to say that this storm is over. As you know, after the storm comes the sun ”, then announced that he would perform a song about the Italian sun,“ O Sole Mio ”.

After the concert, the “maestro” was taken directly to the Grand Penthouse, where his wife, Veronica Berti Bocelli, Nasso, friends, colleagues and businessmen awaited his arrival.

Andrea Bocelli

On the terrace of the Grand Penthouse of the Plaza hotel are, starting from the left, Lile Wang, Andrea Bocelli, Raymond Zhang and Lile Wang’s son, Francis Wang. (Courtesy / Nico Sforza / SI Real Estate Photography) Staten Island Advance

We waited patiently, while listening to the sounds of the successful crossover artist, who brought classical music to the top of the international pop charts.

And as the small crowd arrived, several secured seats on the outdoor balcony as guests watched a video featuring the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, the organization Bocelli founded in July 2011.

When it came time to meet “the world’s most beloved tenor,” it was as if time had stood still.

Bocelli has a larger than life character, filled with grace and majesty. It was one of the greatest honors of our life.


The charity was inspired by Bocelli’s desire – and his family’s desire – to give back a measure of the love and support they received during his career as he traveled the world. .

Veronica Berti Bocelli, wife of Bocelli, an actress, producer and manager of Italian origin, addressed the crowd:

“That’s what Andrea did,” she noted. “Together we can do a lot. Alone you can accomplish, but not together anymore. Haiti seems to have been abandoned by God. They need a way to escape the situation they find themselves in. But we are stronger than the earthquake. It is our way of giving back what we have received in life. But without funding, we cannot move forward. Thank you very much for being here and it was a pleasure to meet you all.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli and his wife, Veronica Berti Bocelli, with guests on the terrace of the Grand Penthouse at the Plaza Hotel. (Courtesy / Nico Sforza / SI Real Estate Photography) Staten Island Advance

She continued, “Julius Nasso is a good friend to us and to the Foundation and we owe him some of our longest and most meaningful collaborations and friendships.”

Nasso responded, “Thanks to the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, Andrea and his wife, Veronica, are in Italy and Haiti to rebuild schools and provide food and water to those affected by natural disasters. In addition, the foundation also rebuilt schools in the city of Macerata, where historic buildings in central Italy were severely damaged by two powerful earthquakes that forced hundreds of residents to leave their homes and – also wherever there are global disasters.

Andrea Bocelli

Andrea Bocelli and his wife in conversation under the gaze of Raymond Zhang. (Courtesy / Nico Sforza / SI Real Estate Photography) Staten Island Advance


Nasso said he first met Bocelli during a gig with Terry Semel and Bob Daiy, then Warner Brothers co-CEOs, during his first gig at Madison Square Garden.

“Then 15 years later, a friend of mine, Tony Renis, world-renowned music composer and Golden Globe recipient, reintroduced us. In fact, Renis wrote a number of Bocelli’s greatest hits, most notably being co-author of “The Prayer,” Nasso said.

Knowing the philanthropic nature of Nasso, Bocelli thought that there might be some synergy between his work and the Andrea Bocelli Foundation.

Nasso explains, “The Foundation is perhaps best known for its work in Haiti and Italy following catastrophic earthquakes, but it also helps around the world. Its mission is to empower individuals and communities in areas of poverty and help them overcome obstacles.

Over the years, Nasso has seen fit to invite celebrities like Armand Assante, Chaz Palminteri, Tom Cruz and John Travolta to fundraisers in an effort to show their support and raise awareness at the annual dinners of the Foundation organized in the house of Bocelli in Italy.

Referring to Nasso’s pharmaceutical company, Universal Marine Medical Supply Co., he said, through the Andrea Bocelli Foundation, he was able to donate face masks, gloves and other medical supplies. throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

A friend from Staten Island, over the years, Nasso has organized several fundraisers in his Eltingville waterfront estate, the proceeds of which have gone to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and “Kids Against Cancer” at the Pediatric Cancer Treatment Center. from Staten Island University Hospital.

As president of the Staten Island Film Festival, Nasso has also chaired galas at his home to celebrate cinema – his way of applauding the success of the project.

A longtime member of the Directors Guild of America, he has been honored by civic leaders and nonprofits for his tireless charitable work. He was also knighted as a Vatican horseman.


The Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF) was created by the Bocelli family with the main mission of empowering people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy and distress due to disease and social exclusion by promoting and by supporting national and international projects.

Andrea Bocelli

Inside the Grand Penthouse at the Plaza Hotel are lawyer Robert Hantman and Andrea Bocelli. (Courtesy / Nico Sforza / SI Real Estate Photography) Staten Island Advance

Since 2011, ABF has raised more than $ 42 million in fundraising, which has enabled the construction of nine schools in Italy and Haiti that provide world-class education to more than 3,500 students. ABF has created projects that guarantee access to drinking water and basic medical care to more than 400,000 people living in poor areas of Haiti. And ABF has launched a global appeal to support its citizens and Bocelli wants to make sure that “their plea for help does not go unnoticed”.

For more information or to donate, visit:

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