Below was a comment to a post titled “As Only John can Tell it, With “Joy and Warmth”. It was at the end of the comments so most of you did not get a chance to read it. Patrizia Ciava (Trishadria) added a few lines and gave her permission to post. It’s that “finding Il Volo” story we all love. So enjoy! 〰Marie
I discovered Il Volo only a few weeks ago. I don’t usually watch TV and I’ve never followed talent shows like Sanremo, so I didn’t know they had won in 2015. One evening in October, I was zapping through tv channels and I fell on the replica of the Florence concert “Tribute to the three tenors” broadcasted by Channel 5; I was mesmerized, unable to tear myself away from the screen until the end of the concert. “Who the hell are these guys!?!” I wondered in awe.
In fact, I should take a step back, because in 2012 my students at the University of Hong Kong, where I was teaching, asked me if we could study the words of their songs and I had to admit I’d never heard of them. They were astonished, as they were convinced that the group was very famous in Italy too. Unfortunately in China youtube and FB were often banned, so I couldn’t do a research. I remember that I brought to the class the lyrics of “Vivo per lei” sung by Bocelli and Giorgia instead.
But it was only after watching another TV program focused on Il Volo that same night, right after the concert, that I realized that those three amazingly talented young men were the same group my students has asked me about. So I was curious to know more about them and the next day I started searching the net for reviews and articles and found a shameful article written by a self-declared critic called Monina, which practically insulted the trio and those who appreciated them, as if they were all victims of mass insanity, and even going as far as slandering the internationally renowned artists who support them, such as Placido Domingo accused of being “ a go-getter” for having conducted the orchestra that accompanied them in the concert.
I was outraged and I decided to write an article too; I talked to the director of Il Sussidiario, a national online newspaper for which I occasionally write on cultural issues, and they gave me the green light after consulting the head of the music column.
So I started watching reruns of their countless concerts on Youtube. In the beginning it was to get to know them and understand the reasons for their immense success everywhere in the world, later it was to try to understand why they were having such an effect on me. Because the more I listened to them the more I felt an irresistible desire, almost a need, to listen to them over and over again. In my article I wrote, jokingly, that they have only one flaw: they can cause addiction. And I have to say that I have experienced this “side effect” myself. I’m not a young girl, I went unscathed through the era of the Rolling Stones, the Queen and Pink Floyd, so I couldn’t make out why they exerted such a strong and strange attraction on me. Of course they have gorgeous soaring voices, but it couldn’t be just that, there are other talented singers with beautiful voices that don’t have the same effect on me. It is not even linked to their music genre, because I am not particularly fond of opera and I enjoy listening to them singing all types of songs, from melodic to opera arias. After hearing their versions of songs I love like “Angel”, “My Way”, “Memory” or “Bridge Over Troubled Water” the original versions seem dull and insipid to me. Then, reading the comments at the bottom of the videos I realized that many people of all ages feel the same way, the most frequent comments are: “I listen to them every day and I feel happy, they make me feel good”. I found a particularly poignant testimony: “I listen to them and they give me so much joy and serenity. I’ll tell you something confidentially; I have a sister who unfortunately suffers from Parkinson, with all the problems connected to this disease, but since I gave her albums of Il Volo including the last one when she has a crisis, especially at night, she listens to them and it calms her down. In my case now I am too addicted to Il Volo. We are not young girls, but with a passion for beautiful music including pop music.”
In the review of a concert a US journalist wrote: “Some came to the concert out of curiosity, to find out why all the fuss about Il Volo, but when the trio starts to sing it’s as if a spell is cast on the audience.” And another journalist, reviewing the New York concert, said almost the same thing: “And while there may be plenty of skeptics out there who do not like or understand “operatic-pop, rest assured that when Il Volo let out their first notes it’s as if they cast a spell “.
So it’s an extraordinary and mysterious feeling most of us experience and share while listening to them, but it’s difficult to explain it in words. I tried anyway to formulate a motivation in my article: “The perfect chemistry created by the combination of their wonderful voices, so powerful, special and versatile, combined with the passion and emotions that they convey, fascinates and ensnares anyone who hears them. Usually, those who have important voices like theirs, base their performance on their vocal skills and concentrate on virtuosity, while these three young artists use their beautiful voices as an instrument to stir feelings and emotions, like a painter uses his brush, a poet uses words and a composer uses notes. Of course, this clearly requires a special sensitivity both by those who perform and by the listeners, a gift that many critics probably do not possess. They are trying to rationally explain what is not rational. Harmony and beauty, in its many different forms, touches deep chords of the human soul and is not always explainable in words”.
For another interesting Il Volo article by Patrizia go to: https://italiariunita.com/2016/11/08/il-volo-and-the-unbearable-heaviness-of-criticism/