I had the pleasure of discovering Jo Ann, when she answered my plea and so graciously offered her room to share at The Palms in Vegas! We were so excited to meet each other after several long phone calls. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Vegas, but she did, which she will tell us about in a future post. 🙂 Of course I am always on the hunt for new recruits, so I asked if she’d be interested, and she said yes! She speaks, Italian and Sicilian, as well as English and hales from the Denver area. She will be working with Daniela in sharing some of the workload on the various translations, etc. So, Igna and Piero, you have no more secrets! Now, if she could pick up some Abruzese, well, the guys would have no secrets at all! 🙂 Welcome aboard to the crazy Flight Crew, Jo Ann! Without further ado, here she is!
Ciao a tutti! Since this is my first time writing for the Flight Crew, let me introduce myself. I grew up as Giovanna Singer di Marchione in New Jersey. I answer to Giovanna, Yochanah, or Jo Ann, depending on what country I’m in.
Guarigione a Distanza: Long-Distance Healing
Nine or so years ago, my mother and son, watching a film clip on television, shouted across the house for me to come out of my office and hear something. I know my mother was really affected by it, because she was joking with me in Sicilian dialect “Giovanna, veni ca, e tale!” (“Jo Ann, come here and look!”). My mother hadn’t spoken Sicilian in 25 years, due to depressive illness and traumatic memories, and I despaired of my son ever hearing her speak it with me. I ran into the room in time to hear one of three boys, ‘nu ragazzinu (a young guy) with eyeglasses stretching “ma na-a-a-a-a-tu sole” into an 8-beat measure. I was dumbstruck at the smooth richness in such a young voice, in a teen my son’s age. I also couldn’t believe the “cioccolato fondente” (molten dark chocolate) baritone coming out of the smallest one, or the powerful vibrato from the tall one.
Up to that moment I was frustrated that Mama had abandoned her past. This was a woman who grew up singing with Tommy DeVito and Frankie Vallie (of the 4 Seasons), whose own mother sang in the chorus at La Scala in Milano. Her cousin, Lou Monte, sang Italian fun songs on the Ed Sullivan Show, after he re-recorded “Hello Dolly” silly-style with Louis Armstrong, where even Satchmo did a verse in Italiano. (I can tell what generation any reader is if they used to watch the Ed Sullivan show, or remember Louis as “Satchmo”). I don’t remember what was the TV show or clip where Mama saw and heard Il Volo. I only know that it triggered something good in Mama’s memory. For the last years of my mother’s life, we read Sicilian joke books, spoke and sang Sicilian and Italian, and immersed my son in the pride of where we came from. I have Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio to thank for that, although we’ve never met and I didn’t even know who they were yet.
Eventually I figured it out, but it took a few years. I was running around the world on engineering projects, and they don’t have much bel canto music in Zambia, Zimbabwe, the mining towns of Slovakia, or the mine camps of upper Saskatchewan.
Il Volo Parte: The Flight Takes Off
A birthday hiking trip in Toscana, Italia in late 2015 started changing things. Stepping out of my hotel the first morning in Firenze, I noticed a poster with the name “Il Volo,” (which was probably an ad for a CD or something). The name struck me funny, since I was standing outside the Santa Maria Novella train station, not the airport! I took a good look, and recognized one of the young men in the photo, the one in the eyeglasses, which were no longer red. The tallest one now had a
striking young man’s face and an earring, and lost his round cheeks. The youngest one was starting to look like a matinee idol. My second thought was, “They had spectacular voices even as young teens. I wonder what they sound like now?” My first thought was “Italian boys really grow up well, don’t they?” The answer to what they sound like came quickly. The guys had won San Remo earlier that year, so the radios in some of the negozi in Firenza, Pienza, Volterra, and Volpaia, played “Grande Amore,” occasionally. That was my Benvenuti in Toscana: my Welcome to Tuscany, Il Volo style.
Ecco Che Arrive Il Bello (Here Comes the Funny Part)
Back in Colorado the following autumn, I got irritated at a friend who kept calling me to turn on the TV and watch PBS while I was trying to take a nap after a long workout. I finally gave in. There were the three faces from the poster, now in tuxedoes with even more stellar voices, shaking the Piazza di Santa Croce with Maestro Placido Domingo. That did it! No mistaking who they were now. This time I got irritated that I had been in that piazza six months too soon.
But I already derived great pleasure from Il Volo’s music even before I ever went to my first concert. These three boys always seem to be associated with good things happening in my family. I will always keep the warm memory of my son (a
drummer and baritone) and his sweetheart Anya (a soprano), eating dinner Italian style al fresco on my deck, announcing their engagement to me to the background music of Il Volo’s recording of “L’Amore Si Muove.”
When I took my third or fourth trip to Italy, my first to Sicily, in 2018 I was frustrated that due to the needs of one of our group, we scheduled the trip so we reached Taormina just a few days after the Il Volo concert there was over. It was
obvious, though, that Il Volo’s presence in the Italian press had expanded since 2015, mostly for the better. They were on covers and center spreads in magazines in many of the edicole (newsstands), on the coffee table magazines in my hotel, the CD displays in the music store. Buon per loro! (Good for them!)
Next time: Finalmente! At long last, I attend my first Il Volo concert. I decided my first should, of course, be in Italy, where the guys harass each other in Italian and everyone knows all the lyrics . . .
Grazie Mille, Giovanna! What a lovely intro and such celebrities that reign in your family! We can’t wait to hear about your first concert with the guys in Italia! 🙂
I was also able to find this video, along with many others of Lou Monte! https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Lou+Monte+Lazy+Mary&&view=detail&mid=F80461EBE13A2BC3E508F80461EBE13A2BC3E508&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3DLou%2BMonte%2BLazy%2BMary%26FORM%3DVDMHRS
Along with several movie clips with the beautiful Sophia Loren!