Flight Crew Welcomes a Special Guest Artist Today: Alfio!

Sunday, July 23, I had the pleasure of attending my first Alfio concert. For alfio 1those of you not familiar with Alfio, he is Italian, but is from Australia, and currently lives in New York. He has also had concerts for PBS, like Il Volo. He plays the piano, as well as sings and has this truly amazing tenor voice, reminiscent of a cross between Gianluca, Piero, and Josh Groban, while throwing in a little Elvis, although still having a sound of his own! Last night’s concert was a tribute to Sinatra, Bocelli, and Elvis.

The concert started shortly after 6pm and lasted until about 8pm, with no break. He had with him a small band, consisting of a trumpeter, two guitar players, a “one-man” drummer with some electronic effects, and a keyboard player (no piano).

He fooled us a bit walking on stage – “Here’s Alfio….” And we are looking, waiting, and watching this shadow walk across the back of the stage from one side to the next and then he suddenly appears before us – we kind of thought he got lost for a second!

The theatre, a small locale in Canton, MI, called the Village Theatre, was a cozy venue, seating a max number of 400 persons. We had lovely 2nd row seats to the right of the stage, thanks to Donna, who told us about the concert, and we sat right next to the Rugiero family, of Antonio’s, who were one of the many sponsors of this event. They also hosted the afterglow/meet & greet, but I will get to that later!

On with the show….Alfio came out nicely dressed in a black suit, with white shirt, black tie, and black patent and leather shoes. A very classy look. He opened the show with the song we are so used to hearing at the end of the Il Volo concerts of O Sole Mio! He started out, almost a capella, with the classic Italian words to the Neapolitan song, with just a light accompaniment from the keyboards. He then burst into the “Elvis” version of It’s Now or Never. After that he sang Il Mundo and then Granada – both in English! I never knew there were English words to the songs. It was kind of nice to know what the songs meant for a change. 😊 So, for the first several songs, we felt like we were at a mini Il Volo concert. Except for the English of course! His voice was impeccable and strong with a very slight edge to it. He chatted a bit with the audience between songs and asked where people were from – “anyone from New York, etc.” A couple walked in late and he teased them a bit, asking them why they were late and telling them the songs they had missed, which were about five at that point. Reminded me a bit of when Piero did that at the Fox Detroit concert a few years ago and many were late because of the traffic and parking. But they sat down and were soon enjoying themselves. I believe they drove all the way from Virginia! Wow!

Everything he sang was incredible. When he sang Il Mundo, he actually played the keyboards while he was singing. He did that with Hallelujah, as well.  I really wish I could have snagged the playlist, but he snatched everything up before he left the stage! Guess he just wanted to be tidy! Maybe if I ask him real nice, he’ll send me the list of songs he sang. I actually thought about writing each one down as he sang it, but didn’t want to dig in my bag for pen and paper. So, if you’ll bear with me a bit, I will name off as many as I can remember! Those above, of course, then there were, in no particular order, My Way, Caruso, Suspicious Minds (awesome), an impromptu Cryin’ by Roy Orbison, an original song by him called I love you like a song (I think?), Unchained Melody, one of Bocelli’s solos, which I cannot remember, Surrender (part Italian and then the “Elvis” version – Ignazio and Piero could give him a few pointers on that one, if you catch my drift? 😊), New York, New York, and several others I cannot remember right now. He also sang that really fun song that Piero and Ignazio had fun singing at the Bambar in Taormina a few months ago, that several persons were able to video and I think the “Fabulous 3” were there in person – the one that goes “Oh ma-ma….” He had the whole audience clapping through the song. It was full energy and spunk and lots of fun. There was one song that he sang that this one lady kept begging him to sing on his FaceBook page. Apparently, all of her begging worked, and she was also in the audience. He pointed her out and knew her name! The song was one that Ignazio sang very early in his career as a solo, it was Il Mare Camo Della Sera. OMG!! That lady was so right!   It was so incredibly perfect (and I think my favorite of the evening!). So sorry, Ignazio… Of course, Alfio’s voice has a few decades on yours when you sang it…. But trust me, it was truly amazing!

I was pretty mesmerized at times, even with the proverbial chills and goosebumps (it was a bit chilly in there though 🙂 ) and a few tears of emotion on certain songs.

Even though he is a bit older than our three, I’m not sure which, but either Gianluca had his mannerisms, or vice versa. It was kind of cute watching him sing and “seeing” Gianluca as he sang, as they used many of the same gestures.

When chatting with the audience, he mentioned social media – Instagram and Facebook and invited us to “like” and “follow” him. Haven’t gotten to Facebook yet, but I did click to follow him on Instagram last night. Early this morning, he was following me back!! He was on his way back to New York this morning. I have to say I was a bit tickled!! He is certainly prompt!

I think I mentioned he also writes his own songs and he sang one of them for us. It was a slow, romantic song and quite beautiful. He was saying how he sings “other people’s songs” because that is what the audience wants to hear. Until you are well-known or have a lot of play on the radio, that is probably one of the few ways you will gain fans and a quick following, kind of like Il Volo. He asked us if we liked his song, and of course we said yes. Then he asked if we would like to hear his original songs one day, all of his, in a concert, and of course we clapped loudly!

Alfio, just a word or two on “cover” songs, if I may speak metaphorically a bit…. Covers can be good. They are familiar and cozy, and give comfort and solace when you are feeling sad and lonely. They wrap you up in their familiarity and hug you tight, as you share their melodious warmth with the one you love. So, of course, no artist wants to sing cover songs the rest of their lives (I promise never to ask you to sing Danny Boy…); they want to sing their own music and want to be known for their own music. Even right now, we are clamoring for the guys to write music of their own, like Ignazio did a few years ago. Even if you are singing someone else’s “hit” or “song,” you should think of it as an honor, as well as a challenge. Some songs are such major hits for people that others don’t even dare to try to imitate or try to make it their own. How many people do you know dare to sing a Streisand hit? So, if you do that and do it well, it will become your own. 😊

All-in-all, I don’t believe he got as many standing ovations as he deserved. We all stood after “Oh ma-ma” and after the last song, which was My Way, but that was it. His fans were pretty laid back compared to Il Volo.

On to the afterglow! When we got out of the theatre, we were lucky. The thunderstorm had just passed and the skies were blue and sunny again, but with puddles everywhere! We made our way back to Antonio’s and into the meet & greet room. We were greeted with a glass of prosecco and I quickly spotted a table for seven. We claimed our table, as there were not many, and waited for the others. Donna and Sharon arrived shortly and got in line for the food.

Antonio’s had a beautiful spread of an antipasto salad, consisting of roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes, on a bed of romaine, with Italian seasonings/dressing on it. After that, we were greeted with broccolini, calamari, pesto pasta, chicken marsala, meatballs and gnocchi with Mama Rita’s special sauce – which by the way, Alfio raved about! There was also a beautiful tray of fruit, their famous bread, and a tray full of mini cannoli. On the side were bottles and bottles of red and white wine. Along with the glorious food was some live music and serenading. When we walked in they were playing El Reloj! Another Il Volo song! Oddly, a good portion of the songs that were sung were Spanish. Of course, they were beautiful, and many were sung by Il Volo, but I thought there would be more Italian…later on we did hear Volare and Il Mundo.

About a half hour or so later, Alfio arrived. He was sweet and charming and very down to earth. He went table to table (I think that was how our “Fan Faire” was supposed to be orchestrated?), chatted, took selfies with everyone, and signed the CDs that were in our gift bags. Both Mama Rita and Tony were on hand, along with the rest of the Rugiero’s, to mingle with the crowd. It was quite the beautiful event and everyone had a lovely time and we were so glad we went. Thank you so much to Donna, our lovely Il Volo pal, for suggesting we attend this.

I hope you enjoyed your evening (or morning) with Alfio as much as we did. I know it’s not Il Volo, but I hope you can find just a small place in your heart to appreciate Alfio. Maybe a right or left ventricle, or just even a tiny capillary, because he is certainly worth it. After last night, he definitely carved out a small place in my heart!

Ciao, Alfio! Grazie mille!


p.s. I uploaded our photo below to Instagram this morning and Alfio gave it a like! 😊

I found a small clip on YouTube of some of the highlights from his PBS special last year…


31 thoughts on “Flight Crew Welcomes a Special Guest Artist Today: Alfio!”

  1. Great article. Appears you all enjoyed the evening. Will have to check Alfio out. But, in my lifetime no one will replace IL Volo for me. I seldom listen to any other music unless I am in someone’s car and their music is on. All music has a draw. Not like our guys though. It doesn’t matter what language they record in I love it all.

  2. Thanks, Jana, you all had a great evening, it seems! I will definitely check out this young man! Afterall, there’s always room (how some ever small) in our hearts for one more handsome Italian singer!! <3 <3 <3

    1. Great, Dorothy!! I hope you do check him out. He does have a bit of a different sound on some of his original music.

  3. Great review of the Alfio concert and Afterglow, Jana! I’m so happy that everyone enjoyed him! And we all got an autographed cd so that we can continue to enjoy his music. I saw him in 2015 and thoroughly loved his concert. He has a great personality and his humor in between songs is priceless.
    He did also get a standing ovation for “Con Te Partiro,” a song made famous by Andrea Bocelli. Loved Alfio’s version.
    And, I must add that it was Gianluca who also sang Il Mare Calmo Della Sare at the age of 14. Had to make sure GG got credit for that too! Lol.
    I really liked your comments about “cover”. It’s so true that you can capture an audience when you perform songs that take them to a happy, warm place or that hold a special memory.
    I’m so glad everyone enjoyed the evening. Maybe one day Alfio will be able to fill The Fox Theater! He is one talented guy!
    Loved your review of the night!

    1. Both Gianluca and Ignazio sang Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, Gianluca on TLUC and Ignazio in a talent competition (for which he won first place). Both videos are on youtube and are worth watching! Ignazio was 14 years old, and I think Gianluca was also 14 although he may have been 15.

    2. Donna – thanks for commenting!! I did not realize Gianluca also sang Il Mare Calmo Della Sare – I will have to look it up.

      I looked at his very small tour schedule and he played at some of the same venues that Il Volo has past/present.

      Like Il Volo now, I think he I more popular in Europe.

      1. Gianluca won the competition at Ti Lascio Una Canzone with Il Mare Calmo Della Sera. And yes he was also 14

  4. Thank you, Jana for this wonderful review of your evening with Alfio! I saw him on a PBS Special!! & thoroghly enjoyed his program! Of course I am so dedicated to our Boys I don’t listen to much else! My daughter & I do have a Andre Rhue Concert Oct. 20 in LasVegas! Don’t know if I have the name spelled right! The violinist from the Netherlands who has had many PBS Specials! So glad you such a lovely evening!

    1. Hi – I’m sure you will enjoy Andre…. so glad you also liked Alfio. It is nice from time to time to listen to something different. Even if it just proves to ourselves that our guys are just the best!! Lol! I have to admit, I did tape it and it’s still on my DVR!! I’ll have to watch it in my spare time, when I’m not doing the blog, or working, cleaning, washing, beading, going out with “other” Il Volo friends, with Il Volo friends, etc. 🙂

  5. Jana, this is a great article. I have never heard of him before, but am going to start to listen to him more. He has a beautiful voice. I agree with Marlene that no one will ever live up to the standards of Il Volo. They have set the bar so high. But, I love ALL good music and this man is good.
    I loved him singing one of my all time favorites, Con Te Partiro, in the video clip. (Would also love it if our boys would sing that some day!)
    Thank you for sharing your evening with us. It sure sounded wonderful!

    1. Jane – great, I hope you do check him out. He really is very good. I did post this blog article to his Facebook page this morning. He accepted my friend request early. I have not seen any comments yet from him, but I’m sure he is so busy. He doesn’t have quite the following of Il Volo – he only has 3200 or so followers on Instagram… I’m sure we could spread our love a little further to him? 🙂

  6. Jana sincerely glad you had a good time at your concert. I am so emmersed (is this spelled right?) in Il Volo that I don’t care about any other singers & granted there are probably other good singers out there. Josh Groben is one & Johnny Mathis still sounds pretty good at his age. So maybe some day I’ll accidently hear Alfio but I’m not holding my breath. Il Volo has permanently captured my heart forever.

    1. Loretta – yeah, kind of like the guys, I doubt you will hear him on the radio any time soon. You may see him on PBS though. I agree Josh and Johnny are good. Such a loyal fan you are! 🙂

  7. Jana , I loved that you got to go to the concert and so happy you had a wonderful time. All Italians are gorgeous. And they all can sing. Alfio has a wonderful voice and in my humble opinion, if he had the training that the boys had, he would have found the timing and power available in his voice. The boys are in a different class all together, There is no doubt Alfio has the voice.. I sincerely feel if he had the right training, he could be spectacular. We got the international version of the CD Grande Amore and Jay and I are in love with it. When I’m wiping the drool off my mouth and the tears from my eyes hearing Il Volo…. i know how special they are. I can listen to Il Volo all day and be inspired. I am thrilled they found the power in their voices and share it with us,

    1. Victoria – it’s funny you say that…. I did catch a few other videos of him singing some other songs. Some I liked and some, not so much. I did catch him singing Una Furtiva Lagrima though and he played the piano while he sang it! I will say, Ignazio really outsang him on that one. However, he did say at the beginning of the song, that when he was younger, a choir director took him aside and said that with training, he could be the next Pavarotti! However, similar to Ignazio, he said he wanted to sing more “pop” music, so he never pursued it. Aren’t we all so fortunate that Ignazio was “forced” to sing opera? I think he even sort of likes it now?

      So glad you are enjoying the Grande Amore CD, it’s definitely a favorite of mine, after all of the others, of course – lol!

      I do have to say there were a few notes here and there I wish he would have held longer on some songs, but I think, like the guys, he has to conserve his voice.

      1. Jana, frankly we haven’t heard anything like Il Volo. We are now spoiled and once you hear the finest, we cannot help it and we compare singers. I like the finest and am so glad the boys have developed their voices the way they have, Piero just opens his mouth and out come magic. Ignazio has grown so much. And those high notes he sings has put him at a whole new level, and Gianluca can just sing anything. I watched a show with them singing some rock songs and was so afraid some of those notes could damage their vocal cords. They are young and I am sure they are watched carefully. We pray for their safety in this crazy world – with the fires and earthquakes. My husband wishes they would sing all the Italian songs with the English translations. He thinks so many people would love to hear those beautiful words in English… at least some of the words in English would make a wonderful album. Most of our friends would like the English versions too and would probably gobble up an English album of Italian songs. Personally I don’t care. I just love the voices and I know the translations… some people are just fussy.

  8. Hi – so glad everyone enjoyed my/our evening out on Sunday. I was really afraid you might boot me from the site! Lol! Straying like that – it did feel a bit like betrayal…. 🙂 but every so often it is good to hear something different. If only to compare them to our guys and confirm, once again, that almost no one, is better than they are. We are fortunate they have chosen this career path. What if they decided after the first few years, “hey, not liking this opera stuff and all these “old” fans?” But, when God gives you the gift of voices like they have, you just can’t sing pop like those amateurs do. Although, I’ve heard, that many of the pop stars were classically trained singers at one time. Personally, for me, it’s difficult for me to sing some of the more “pop” songs, as my voice was just not made for them.

    I promise not to digress anymore, well, at least for a long while anyway!!

    I’ll be anxious to see if he reads and likes my little review. I checked our local papers, online and it didn’t seem anyone wrote a review of this concert, so I’m his only one! I hope he likes it.


  9. ALFIO is called “The Voice from Oz” because he has such a powerful voice. In addition to his original songs, his live performances consist of singing English and Italian classics, classical favorites, contemporary songs, pop standards, Spanish songs, Italian folk songs and love songs.
    Alfio (born Alfio Bonanno, 24 October 1976) is an Australian-Italian tenor, songwriter, musician, and composer. He began singing at a very early age and started singing professionally at the age of 17, concentrating on recorded music and concerts so far. Alfio has performed in Australia, the United States, Europe, and Asia (Wikipedia)
    I could not find anything on YOUTUBE but heard him on some video singing in New York.
    Jana you write lovely articles and I envy you to be able to go to concerts that do no come to a smaller city like Waco. We have to go to Dallas for the bigger concerts.

    1. Gina, thanks for sharing this! If you just type in Alfio on youtube, lots of things should come up? Try Alfio pbs special…..

      Thank you for the compliment, as always. 🙂 We do have a few theatres around here. The one we went to was in a somewhat large town, but still a small town. I am surprised that he played there. Again, like Il Volo, there as little advertisement, except for Antonio’s and a few brochures, etc via social media. Every rock concert in town is advertised all over, but really great singing is overlooked. They survive from diehard fans like us.

      Ok, off to write the remainder of my Italy adventure!

  10. Hi Girls I did see the picture of Alfio on this site where he is singing from his concert. The one thing I appeciated he spoke in english where I understood what he was talking about. I also know the Il Volo boys know 6 or 8 languages & to their credit they speak to the audiences language in their countries & also when they come to the States & Canada they speak in english. It is up to us to learn the language they are speaking in every concert which we tend to be lazy. I just wish Italian wasn’t so hard to learn.

    1. Yes, it was nice to hear some of the songs in English. He does speak Italian also, though and spoke to a few people in the audience in Italian. All languages can be difficult to learn. Even though I know a lot of Spanish, and Italian is very similar, it is different enough to where I still have much to learn!

  11. The young men of Il Volo will always be #1 in my heart but I am open to and listen to almost all types of music. I am going to check out Alfio right now. He is Italian and a tenor so I’m sure I will enjoy him, on your recommendation.

    1. That’s awesome! As long as you don’t try to compare him to our guys, he’s really good! 🙂 Buonanotte for me!

  12. Jana, I found him on youtube under his full name. I liked him and his personality, but couldn’t help but compare. After I heard him sing Caruso and Una Furtiva Lagrima, I listened to Ignazio’s version. He sang My Way, I listened to Gianluca’s version. Then Where do I Begin, his version and then Piero’s. You know where I am going with this right? He has a nice voice and I hope he is successful. I’m not being critical, it’s just that our boys are better trained.

    1. That’s ok Rose – I totally agree! And I think you hit the proverbial nail on the head!! Our guys have been training now for many, many years with clearly very good professional vocal coaches. I believe Alfio chose his own path and chose not to study opera, so he has a really great voice with probably a lot of potential.

  13. Finally I could read this post Jana, I must say it was all very beautiful.
    I do not know Alfio, but I feel that our Italians in the world know how to conquer many hearts.
    I’m very glad you enjoyed it and that was a nice evening of music, friendship and even good food.
    I promise I’ll be looking for an Alfio video and listen to him with affection, but my heart is occupied by three other Italians.
    You have written very well, we see that the subject kidnapped you.

    1. Grazie mille!! Yes, he does not seem to have a great following, considering he’s been singing now for about 20 years. I didn’t want to mention it in the actual post, but he is 41, so nearly 20 years older than our guys! He has a very mature sound, and for his “age” now I believe the experts would say his voice is at its most mature stage right now. And still our guys seem to outsing him a bit. It was kind of odd when he sang some of Il Volo’s songs, as your brain was waiting for the 2 or 3 part harmony. 🙂

Leave a Reply