A special performance by opera star Andrea Bocelli will be broadcast live from the empty Duomo cathedral in Milan to mark Easter Sunday.

The classical singer, 61, has been granted access to the cathedral by the archpriest, Monsignor Gianantonio Borgonovo, and mayor, Giuseppe Sala.

He will be accompanied by cathedral organist, Emanuele Vianelli, on favourites including Ave Maria and Sancta Maria.

The cathedral, which began construction in 1386, is currently closed to the public due to the outbreak, and the event will be streamed on Bocelli’s YouTube channel.

He said: “On the day on which we celebrate the trust in a life that triumphs, I’m honored and happy to answer ‘Si’ to the invitation of the City and the Duomo of Milan.”

He added: “I believe in the strength of praying together; I believe in the Christian Easter, a universal symbol of rebirth that everyone – whether they are believers or not – truly needs right now.

“Thanks to music, streamed live, bringing together millions of clasped hands everywhere in the world, we will hug this wounded Earth’s pulsing heart, this wonderful international forge that is reason for Italian pride.

“The generous, courageous, proactive Milan and the whole of Italy will be again, and very soon, a winning model, engine of a renaissance that we all hope for.

“It will be a joy to witness it, in the Duomo, during the Easter celebration which evokes the mystery of birth and rebirth.”

City Views – Milan – Italy
The Duomo in Milan (Anthony Devlin/PA)

Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala, said: “I am happy Andrea has accepted our invitation.

“This year, Easter will be very different for all of us.

“The joyous serenity that usually comes with this day, has been greatly troubled by the pandemic we are experiencing.

“I am sure that the extraordinary voice of Bocelli will be the embrace we are missing these days, a strong, special hug, capable of warming the heart of Milan, Italy and the world.”

Monsignor Borgonovo, added: “Our ‘Hallelujah’ is an invitation that we placed in the ark 40 days ago and that the flood, which has overwhelmed us all, almost made us forget the joy of expressing it on the day of Easter.

“The voice and word of Andrea Bocelli reminds us that the reason for our hope does not come from us but it is a gift that comes from God.

“This is what it means to promote, from our Duomo, the home of the people of Milan, and through the voice of Bocelli, the confidence that the Spirit of the Risen Crucifix will help us shape the days granted to us in the Kingdom of the One who wanted a new humanity, united and fraternal.”

Bocelli: Music For Hope broadcasts live from the Duomo in Milan, Italy, on April 12.