The tenor of the moment

Freed hostage Yaffa Adar gets concert invite from Andrea Bocelli

85-year-old fan of Italian opera singer said she hummed his music in captivity to stay strong; video shows emotional moment as her granddaughter reads his letter to her

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Yaffa Adar, right, a released hostage, reads a letter from Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli inviting her to a private concert (Courtesy)
Yaffa Adar, right, a released hostage, reads a letter from Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli inviting her to a private concert (Courtesy)

Yaffa Adar, 85, spent her 49 days in Hamas captivity in Gaza humming the songs of Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

“I didn’t have a radio or television, nothing,” Adar told Ilana Dayan on Channel 12’s “Uvda” investigative program. “In order to pass the nights, I would go through my life in my head.”

As a huge fan of Bocelli, she would hum his music every morning and tell herself, “Maybe today will be a good day.”

Adar emerged as an icon of dignity and quiet defiance after footage was seen of her keeping a stiff upper lip even as ecstatic terrorists, who had just perpetrated a massacre at her Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7, drove her off into captivity on a mobility scooter, and later a car inside Gaza.

The humming of Bocelli was part of Adar’s method of survival and kept her going through the long, frightening days of captivity.

Her story made its way to Israeli producer Gad Oron, who shared it with the Italian tenor’s team.

A few days ago, Adar’s granddaughter read her a letter written by Bocelli in English to her:

“Dear Yaffa, I wish I could give you a hug — I would like to thank you for the emotion that your story aroused in all the people who had the privilege to listen to it and especially in me, as quite incredibly, I am part of it!”

“I truly would never have thought that my humble voice, this great gift I undeservedly received from the heavens, could one day turn out to be so important.

“There is no award, no applause, no honor, or recognition that is worth as much as your words, which I assure you, I shall never forget. Thanks to you, from now on, I shall sing with renewed enthusiasm, with renewed faith, with new energy. What an honor for me.”

Yaffa Adar (L) speaks to Channel 12’s Uvda on December 14, 2023, and Andrea Bocelli performs on May 20, 2023, at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Ill. (Screen capture/Channel 12; Rob Grabowski/Invision/AP)

“I hope to be able to meet you one day and sing just for you, whatever you may wish so as to erase the memory of terrible days which I cannot even imagine. I deeply admire your courage which is an example for us all,” he said. “From the other side of the ocean, I send you my warmest regards, full of gratitude, admiration and affection.”

Adar, seated on a couch as her granddaughter read the letter, exclaimed, “Wow wow wow wow, what an honor, wow, Andrea Bocelli, wow.”

As her granddaughter told Adar that Bocelli wanted to fly her to one of his shows, Adar said: “This is the highlight of my life, I am honestly so moved, how wonderful, how incredible.

“Who would believe I have a letter in my hand from Andrea Bocelli,” she said, kissing it.

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