In his extremely vibrant and extraordinary voice, the renowned genre-bursting Italian tenor and multi-instrumentalist, Andrea Bocelli, celebrated the opening ceremony of The Cedars International Festival-Bsharri (CIF) in the presence of 6000 people.
A huge crowd of politicians, officials, ambassadors, and public figures flowed from different areas in Lebanon to enjoy Bocelli's unique singing voice at the opening ceremony of the festival, which was co-organized by the CIF's committee and MP Sethrida Geagea.
The ceremony was opened by MP Sethrida Geagea, who made a surprise entrance on stage with Andrea Bocelli. She welcomed him in an English word and presented him with an 18-karat gold medal in a gesture of appreciation of his unique value as a performer.
In her welcoming speech, MP Geagea compared Bocelli to the cedar tree. In her words, "I welcome the great international artist Andrea Bocelli in the Cedars of God, the cedars of Lebanon and the emblem of our Lebanese flag."
She continued her word, praising our eternal cedar and the bravery of our nation, "This steadfast cedar has been defying, and for thousands of years, the harshness of nature, raging its roots deep in the earth, standing high in the face of storms. We Lebanese are like our cedar because, despite all the crises we have endured, we have remained rooted in our land and our homeland, because we believe."
She went on adding "International artist Celine Dion once said 'if God had a singing voice, he would sound a lot like you...Andrea Bocelli' and I am certain today that the Cedars of God [Forest], which is on the World Heritage List, is rejoicing upon hearing your voice."
Geagea concluded her speech by presenting the 18-karat gold medal to Bocelli. "Please accept this gilded medal on your chest, which symbolizes the slogan of The International Cedars Festival, believing that you are similar in your struggle and the rigidity of your faith, because you are a believer, and we are believers," she concluded.
After Geagea's word, Bocelli's orchestra initiated and the Italian tenor's voice began echoing through the forest of the eternal cedars, leaving the 6000 people dazzled and enamored in their seats as they listened to, and even interacted with, his songs.
What stood out in this amazing night is the participation of the Lebanese world singer Hiba Tawaji, who entered the stage to accompany Mr. Bocelli in the duo song "Because we believe".
During that particular duo performance that spoke to the heart of our people, the attendees waved 6,000 Lebanese flags. This unique scene was transmitted live by local, Arab, and international channels, like MTV, Al Arabiya News, and France 24.
This event couldn't be more international than that with the international coverage it got. It was covered on the ground by CNN, CNN Arabic, Skynews Arabia, Reuters, DPA, German Press Agency, European Press Agency EPA, and Chinese New Agency Xinhua.
Before the festival, Mr. Bocelli visited the Cedars of God Forest where he was received by the head of the Lebanese Forces Party Dr Samir Geagea, as well as other figures who welcomed him in the English language.
Bocelli took a leisurely walking tour around the forest and appeared in delight as he planted himself a cedar tree holding his name.
The Cedar International Festival was launched in 1964 with then long dormant episodes during the war and its aftermath. This festival is held yearly in the heart of the Cedars of God's forest in the top mountains of the district of Bcharre-North Lebanon.
On a site that allows you to see the mystical cedar forest, the festival boasted with brilliant music and lights. It will continue as such, offering a special program until July 13th, inclusive.
CIF is one of several other festivals that are hosted each year in Lebanon during the summer season. These festivals, which are organized with the support of the Ministry of Tourism, usually take place at the major archaeological and historical sites in Lebanon, like Beiteddine, Byblos, Cedars, Baalbeck and the likes, as well as the city Beirut.
For more on the currently ongoing and upcoming festivals, check our recent guide article: 12 Festivals and Events You Must Check Out this Summer in Lebanon.