Italian singer, pianist, songwriter and composer Ilaria Della Bidia holds the hand of cancer patient Carl Bartlett of Clarksville, Delaware, as she sings Elvis Presley’s “Can’t help falling in love,” during a visit to the John H. “Jack” Burbage, Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center in Berlin last Friday, Oct. 25. 

(Nov. 1, 2019)The low voice of cancer patient Carl Bartlett of Clarksville, Delaware, was a fitting match for Italian singer, pianist and composer Ilaria Della Bidia’s high soprano, as they performed a duet of an Elvis Presley classic.

“Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you.” 

Patients, nurses and doctors broke out into an enthusiastic applause as the two finished their performance. 

“[That was] better than chemo,” patient Elva Workman of Frankford, Delaware, said. 

Della Bidia’s visit to the John H. “Jack” Burbage, Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center in Berlin last Friday happened completely by chance. 

On the eve of Aug. 31, she had just finished performing with legendary operatic tenor Andrea Bocelli at the Teatro Antico di Taormina, Sicily, and went to dine at a nearby restaurant — and to talk with guests who had just enjoyed her performance. 

It was at the restaurant where she happened to meet resort area resident Robert Hammond, owner of Atlantic Physical Therapy, and the two became friends, she said. 

“She was like an angel,” Hammond reminisced about her performance. “She just glided onto stage.” 

Hammond invited her to visit him in the Eastern Shore. Two months later, she and her husband and music director, Attilio Di Giovanni, travelled across the Atlantic and arrived in Maryland last Friday for the first time in her life. 

Even though the couple landed in the U.S. at 4 a.m., they made the trip to Ocean City and gave a mini-concert that same morning on The Rude Awakening Show on Ocean 98.1 Radio.

Following that, it was off to the cancer center, where she met with patients who were undergoing chemotherapy. 

“Happiness comes from giving,” Della Bidia said of the experience. “I feel happier than I did before.”

That also explains why she asked Hammond to arrange a visit to the treatment center. When asked earlier in the morning about Della Bidia’s reasons for wanting to make that stop on her whirlwind itinerary, Hammond said it was just something she wanted to do, to bring happiness into the lives of others. 

Della Bidia was born and raised in the Lucca province of Tuscany, Italy, and grew to love music from a young age. 

She studied piano at the Conservatory of Lucca “L. Boccherini,” and received vocal training under the tutelage of Antonella De Grossi in Rome. 

Despite her talent, Della Bidia felt insecure about her voice, she said, and explained that in Italy, people preferred singers with more robust, soulful voices — a stark contrast to her classical training. 

However, touring the world with Bocelli has helped her overcome those insecurities, especially after the “world’s most beloved tenor” described her voice as crystal clear, pure and sincere. She has toured with Bocelli for eight years.

“He made me believe in myself,” she recalled.

At the cancer center, Della Bidia conversed with each patient, hugged them and promised to show them around Italy once they overcame their ailments. 

“Music is healing,” she said. “I have the skill [and] I can share my voice to help others.”

She will be sharing her voice next with fans in Monte Carlo, Monaco, with concerts from Nov. 4-10, and then it will be off with another world tour with Bocelli.

Della Bidia, who records songs in 10 languages, from Italian to Russian, English and Hebrew, will release a new album in the next few weeks, with details to follow.

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