Even before the guys announced their ten-year tour celebration, Sharon Bear, Detroit IlVololover and fellow Flight Crew member, wanted to do something special to commemorate this momentous occasion. It had to be special, not just your everyday, average, congratulatory “key to the city” presentation, but something really big! This was Il Volo and she’d been following them from the very beginning when they landed in Detroit just over ten years ago. She was even in the audience for their inaugural DVD, Il Volo Takes Flight, taped from the Detroit Opera House and received Piero as he sang O Sole Mio to her in the audience. Yes, what could she do, what could she do? She thought.
The wheels in her head started to spin and she came up with a plan. But first it was time to contact Il Volo management. Through a good Il Volo friend connection, she was able to obtain Il Volo producer, Michele Torpedine’s email, and she contacted him. Shortly afterward, at the end of January, they arrived in North America to entertain us with their first few concerts, beginning in Canada. Michele forwarded Sharon’s email to Barbara Vitali, the guys’ personal and road manager. Barbara contacted Sharon. At first, Barbara was not too sure what Sharon was talking about and felt this was just another ploy of fans trying to get Il Volo’s attention. But when Sharon explained, in detail, how she had already put out feelers to the mayor and the governor, it really got Barbara’s attention. She listened carefully to the plan and was quickly on board. Barbara and Sharon stayed in close contact for the next few weeks, emailing and texting all of the details, both major and minor. In addition to keeping in constant contact with Barbara, Sharon worked tirelessly getting final commitments from the media and public offices, by making phone calls, late night texts, organizing press releases, writing biographical data, setting up remote Interviews, going through chains of command in sending emails, and even old-fashioned snail mail.
Since Il Volo was launched in Detroit at the Fox Theater and Detroit Opera House, Sharon decided to contact the Detroit mayor’s office. Well, why not? She called Mayor Duggan’s office and with a bit of negotiation and coordination, was able to get some agreement to honor the guys with appropriate fanfare. However, as he was going to be out of town, who could do the presentation? Sharon and his office manager discussed a number of people and finally assigned this important task to a communications director in the office, who just happened to also be Italian. Then began the decisions of what to say and how to present it – a letter or a certificate? Both were cookie-cutter formats with only names to be filled in. Nope. Not good enough for the Il Volo guys. A new format had to be designed – personal, informative and exclusively for Il Volo. More work, but finally all were in agreement. Ok, one hurdle down, on to the next. Who else should she call?
Sharon then called the governor’s office of the State of Michigan, Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Again, she was able to get through to the governor’s office and relay her project, which was also met with cooperation. However, much time was required to process this request as Sharon insisted on a new, personalized certificate, which was specifically worded for Il Volo’s 10th anniversary. This endeavor consumed a couple of weeks of her time, ending with the governor’s office promising to overnight the document to Sharon’s home to arrive the day before the concert. Ok, who’s next on the list?
She called the Italian consulate, of course! Maria Manca is very proud of Il Volo and was looking forward to attending the concert.
Sharon had the three areas of government covered, now what else? The media, of course! She contacted the Detroit News, as well as TV channels, 2, 4, and 7, along with a local news radio station, WJR (with wide signal coverage to several states). Then Mike Hodges, of the Detroit News, was assigned the task of writing this beautiful article https://www.detroitnews.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/02/12/detroit-il-volo-fox-theatre-opera/4728557002/ celebrating Il Volo and the event which would happen before the concert. The entire event would include the mayor’s office presenting Il Volo with beautiful certificates of congratulations for their 10th Anniversary, as well as their ground-breaking roots stemming from Detroit. Also, the Italian consulate would offer comments and the governor’s commendation presented.
Our Detroit concert date, of Feb 13, was fast-approaching and the excitement of this whole event actually coming together was a bit mind-boggling. Even though this was what Sharon was used to doing in her past career, this was still a very complicated endeavor to take on.
As the Detroit Il Volo Gals celebrated Gianluca’s 25th birthday (Feb 11) at a local restaurant on Feb 8, Sharon could not contain this surprise any longer, and told us of her plans! This media project, was to take place after the soundcheck, at approximately 6p – 6:30p, with the concert beginning at 7:30p, at Detroit’s Fox Theatre. We sat there surprised and stunned at the news. We were also very happy for her and wished we could be flies on the wall, but alas, this was pretty exclusive, so we would not be able to attend the ceremony backstage.
The night of the concert finally arrived. The plans and logistics had changed a bit and it was decided that Il Volo would be presented with this honor during the concert, before their last few songs. A local
spokesperson presented Il Volo with personally signed letters from the mayor’s office, from the City of Detroit, making them honorary citizens, along with pins, and congratulating them on their 10 years of success. They also received certificates of appreciation from the governor’s office. The Italian Consul was in the audience and her praise of them was expressed. Il Volo was informed that this was going to happen, but they did not know to what extent. The guys were very gracious and
surprised at this honor from the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan. Ignazio was pleased to be an honorary citizen of Detroit, as he is looking at the pin below.
After the presentation, they quickly went on to sing the aria from La Traviata and the remainder of the concert.
For those of us that were able to get home a little early after the concert, it was “news at 11”, or in actuality, more like 11:30p for Il Volo! Sharon was also able to arrange for channel 7 to do a short segment on the guys and the evening’s concert. It was just over a minute, but it was still a thrill to see them honored on our local TV news channel – an ABC affiliate – in the evening, and again on the morning news. There is a snippet of the segment here:
Although things had not gone quite according to plan, Sharon was still pleased for the guys in receiving this grand recognition for their 10 years of hard work and success in their home country of Italy (and the rest of Europe), as well as the United States, Mexico, Canada, South America, Australia, Asia, and Russia! They are truly loved, the world over, on all six continents! Well, who knows, maybe there are some happy penguins in Antarctica, waddling along to Grande Amore!?