The boys of Il Volo grew up in a culture that takes singing seriously. That can also be said of their families. Thus, each of them started learning the technique of singing – vowel shaping, breath support, projection, phrasing, etc. – from classically trained people either a grandfather with the same background and/or professional voice teacher. When you learn the art of singing you need something to put that craft and art to work– something to sing and if you are going to do the work right you want the best. That comes in the form of art songs and arias from opera or operetta. This is true here in the USA as well as Italy and all over Europe. In fact, this “Bel Canto” concept is taught all over the world. It is the standard of quality singing.
Here is a very rough idea of these types of music:
Art songis a single song (3 to 7 min, maybe) that conveys the story or feeling of the composer. It stands on its own. “Caruso” is such an art song.
Also and even more so, “En Aranjuez con tu amor” is a very dramatic art song that Gianluca sings with a solo violin as the taunt. This was written by Joaquin Rodrigo back in the 1930’s
Opera is taking a full-length story and acting it completely through music where the actors sing everything. When they are describing action it sometimes the music is called a recitative(reciting the story) but then when they want to share feeling especially love the music gets to be a very beautiful melody and great harmonies and it is called an aria. Even Broadway musicals use that form. The boys have sung“Tonight”and “Maria”from West Side Story. They have sung “Night and Day”, “Memories” and others that come from a musical – each of them can be called an “aria”
Piero took the brave step (and he was a triumph) by doing “ E Lucevan le Stelle” from Toscaof Puccini. Bravo.
The opera world attracts the greatest composers:
Giuseppe Verdi: La Traviata; Aida; Rigoletto and many others
Giacomo Puccini: Madame Butterfly; La Boheme; Turandot; Tosca
Gaetano Donizetti: Lucia di Lammermoor; L’elisir d’ amore
A few that are not on the list for the boys so far:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Marriage of Figaro; Magic Flute; Don Giovani
Richard Wagner:The flying Dutchman; The Meistersinger
Operetta(very loose definition) is a story being staged where the action parts are actually spoken (thus recitative) but the arias are fully sung as in opera.
We all know the story of how each of our guys progressed on his own, entered into a voice competition and became the first, second and third place winners. They each had experience from youth learning these kinds of music. Even from the first USA concerts they were singing arias such as “No Puede Ser” .
In the Spanish culture there is a type of work called a “Zarzuela” sort of an operetta.
It uses dramatic dance, some spoken parts and arias that are very dramatic. Let’s face it our modern soap operas pale in comparison. Love and sex and death and vendettas all over the place. Everyone has a lot of fun. Extreme drama on steroids. “Ne Puede Ser” is an aria from a zarzuella called : “La Tabernera del Puerto” written by Pablo Sorozabal. Piero loves this song and he comes out on the stage and dies each night for us. Hard work . But he does it so well. He also sings so well. ( I know, bad joke).
2016 and Il Volo in June – my thoughts.
The guys have just finished a concert tour that was very long with almost 100 concerts all over most of the world. They have given wonderful concerts 98% of the time. However, there have been a couple of times when the concerts were too close together and the boys did not get the kind of rest they needed. That usually ends up with a concert that is “good” but not great. I doubt the guys would ever give a bad concert. They are just that good and they will not allow it. But when they are tired and a little out of voice from the heavy schedule like they were in Russia this year then it shows a bit. Those of you who have read my stuff going back 4 years know it is one of my pet peeves when the producers push the guys to do a lot of concerts in short order. When they came to Vegas this year they had traveled by bus from Phoenix through the night and did not have much sleep. It was amazing to me that they still gave one of the best concerts I have ever heard them give. Still I wish the producers would pace it better.
Now they have had a rest and they are preparing to do this THREE TENORSCONCERT. I could not be happier. They are back to basics – working with their voice teachers and voice coach. They are taking on some of the masterpieces of opera repertoire by the greatest composers. Information I have heard says they are singing:
“Nessun Dorma” an aria from “Turandot” by Pucini – one of the most famous songs of any sort in the world. You may not know the title but you will know the melody. Pavarotti and Domingo are famous for this song. They are also doing an aria that is sometimes called “Brindisi” but better known as “ Libiamo” or also known as “ the drinking song “ (hey, it’s a party) from La Traviata by the great Verdi. Through all of this they get to work with Placido Domingo, a mentor of theirs, again. Again, Bravo !
From my standpoint, thinking of the care and nurture of the guys voices which are so precious to all of us, this is the kind of work they should do at least once a year. “Back to basics” I am excited about this program and will buy the cd’s and DVD’s and whatever they come up with.Frankly, I wish they would take this on the road to the USA.