For language learners: we've highlighted some useful vocabulary in this news story. You'll find the Italian translations at the bottom of the article.
Bocelli, one of Italy's most famous living singers, was the first guest to take the stage on Tuesday night in the Ligurian seaside town of Sanremo, which has hosted the festival every year since 1951.
After a duet with another stalwart of Italian pop, Claudio Baglioni – the festival's artistic director – Bocelli was joined by his son Matteo, 21, for a rendition of 'Fall On Me', a single from his 2018 album Sì and the closing track to the recent Disney version of The Nutcracker.
The performance won them a standing ovation (full video here).
Just over 10 million viewers tuned in for the opening night of Sanremo, according to state broadcaster Rai, which airs the festival. That gave it a 49.5 percent audience share, which despite being almost half of all TV viewers was actually around 1 million fewer than last year's opening night, which attracted 52.1 percent of the audience.
The music competition, which this year runs from February 5th-9th, was first created as a vehicle to boost Italy's post-war economy and its cultural exports. While these days it's not much watched outside Italy, it has helped launch some of the country's most successful pop songs and singers, including Bocelli, Mina and Domenico Modugno, who won the 1958 edition with 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' (better known as 'Volare').
It also served as the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest, which launched five years after the first Sanremo. Italy continues to pick its Eurovision entry from the Sanremo winners.
Bocelli has been a regular at the festival ever since winning the Newcomers' category in 1994 with 'Il mare calmo della sera' – the same song he performed with Baglioni, 25 years on.
L'esibizione di Andrea Bocelli e Claudio Baglioni di “Il Mare Calmo della Sera” al 69° Festival di Sanremo è ora disponibile su https://t.co/Q3zu2FhdQG#Sanremo2019@SanremoRai @RaiUno @ClaudioBaglioni pic.twitter.com/LvpiZwjFVg
— Andrea Bocelli (@AndreaBocelli) February 5, 2019
There were also less traditional – and non-Italian – performances, including a mash-up of the musicals Sister Act, Mary Poppins and Bohemian Rhapsody.
— RaiPlay (@RaiPlay) February 6, 2019
i cantanti – singers
un ospite, un invitato – guest
il palco(scenico) – stage
il duetto – duet
la prestazione – performance
la prima serata – opening night
i telespettatori – TV viewers
la gara, la competizione – competition
di successo – successful
i vincitori – winners
la canzone – song
tradizionale, classico – traditional
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