What Opera Legend Andrea Bocelli Taught Me About Peace
The hidden power of transcendence
Posted May 23, 2016
Who would have guessed that I would experience profound transcendence at a family business conference in Monaco? But it's true, and it happened. I was there to lead a negotiation workshop, but there was an unusual surprise that awaited myself and all the other participants.
During our dinner gala, a very special guest entered the room: Mr. Andrea Bocelli, the world renowned opera singer. Blind since the age of 12, he walked into the room with his entourage, who escorted him to the stage. The room quieted.
He stood next to the piano, then a smile crossed his face. Then came the magic. He took a deep breath and started to sing Schubert's chilling song "Ave Maria." As this prayer song flowed forth, it seemed that Mr. Bocelli now entered a world where he could see. And he transported all of us to that world with him, where we came to see and feel the deeper resonance of our existence, the transcendent depths of interconnection that binds us all. As he revisited the chorus, I felt chills.
Mr. Bocelli's voice brought all of us to a place where time and space expanded, to a place of greater peace beyond the everyday concerns of life. We were spellbound, in the midst of a trance. He ushered us in and kept us there. He created harmony, and we felt it.
Later that evening, I talked with Mr. Bocelli about the transcendent power of his music, and how it can bring us to a place of greater peace. He smiled and seemed to resonate with that message. In a sense, he is the ultimate peace agent: our conference included people from dozens of different countries and cultures, and the moment he had started to sing, we were all transported to a place that transcended difference.
I gave this renowned singer a gift: a compact disc version of my new book, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.
He appreciated it, and asked one question: "Who is the person reading the audio version?"
"Me," I answered shyly , then joked, "But if you would like to sing a version of it, I'd be open to that!" He smiled.
Then I suddenly realized the motivation for his question: his world is a place of voices and rhythm and bass and tone. By my reading my own audio version of the book, it demonstrated to him respect for the essence of his musical universe. Whereas I focused on this famed singer's face while we talked, he was listening to my voice and tone. He was feeling through sound. And it is this same gift that he uses to transform the acoustics of a room into a vehicle for transcendent possibility.
That evening with Mr. Bocelli opened my mind to new curiosities about tools for peace. Ironically, in talking with him, I felt blind to possibilities for peace that he saw. He understood how to bring our group to a greater place of peace, and it is worthwhile for all of us to consider what untapped channels for positive transcendence lie right in front of us, even if we can't yet see them.
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To see Dr. Shapiro's video of Mr. Bocelli singing Ave Maria in Monaco, click here and scroll to the bottom of his blog from 5/23/16.
To discover practical tools to reconcile your most difficult relationships, check out Dr. Shapiro’s new book, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts (Viking, 2016).