"Con te partirò" (literally meaning "With you I will leave") is an Italian Classical Crossover song written by Francesco Sartori (music) and Lucio Quarantotto (lyrics). It was first sung by Andrea Bocelli at the 1995 San Remo Festival and recorded on his album of the same year, Bocelli, and is considered Bocelli's signature song. The song achieved widespread success with a second version sung partly in English, pairing Bocelli with soprano Sarah Brightman, released as "Time to Say Goodbye". It is Bocelli's first number 1 hit under both versions.
The song's original single release by Polydor Records was not commercially successful in Italy, and received little radio airplay there. Elsewhere, however, it was a massive hit. In France and Switzerland, the single topped the charts for 6 weeks, earning a triple Gold sales award. In Belgium, it became the biggest hit of all time, spending 12 weeks at No. 1.
In Germany, East West Records, in conjunction with Polydor, marketed a version of "Con Te Partiro", retitled "Time to Say Goodbye", and with some lyrics changes, as the theme song for the final match of boxer Henry Maske (then the light-heavyweight champion of the International Boxing Federation), having seen previous success when Vangelis's "Conquest of Paradise" was also promoted via Maske's fights. "Time to Say Goodbye" was also turned into a duet with Sarah Brightman, who had performed "A Question of Honour" for one of Maske's previous fights. German producer Frank Peterson, who has worked with Brightman since 1991, opted to give the song an English title, rather than the German title "Mit Dir Werde Ich Fortgehen". Recording of the song took place at Peterson's Nemo Studio, in Hamburg.
The match took place on November 23, 1996, pitting Maske against American Virgil Hill, and drew a television broadcast audience of over 21 million. Bocelli and Brightman performed the song to open the match, and it was used again during Maske's exit.
By December, the "Time to Say Goodbye" single, released on East West, had reached number one on the German singles chart, with sales estimated at 40000-60000 per day and projected for at least one million by the end of the year. Both singers' respective albums also received a boost in sales. Airplay on German radio stations such as Norddeutscher Rundfunk was well received by listeners. By February of the following year, the single had broken the all-time sales record in Germany with 1.65 million sales, and would eventually get certified 11x Gold for selling over 2,750,000copies. It is also the best-selling single in Belgium.
"Time to Say Goodbye" reached number two on the UK Singles Chart upon its release there in May 1997, and was certified gold. It remained in the top 30 for another two months, helped by steady radio airplay on BBC Radio 2, which was overtaking Radio 1 in popularity with an MOR-oriented playlist.
The duet was included on Brightman's 1997 album Timeless, re-titled as Time to Say Goodbye in the U.S. with the song itself moved to the start of the album. Brightman has also recorded a solo version, which was released on the duet single as well as later albums.