Piero Barone with Stefano Fisico:
“Billboard Calling” 8 April, 2020
You can tell that the Il Volo guys are natural performers, and need an audience. Since the shut-in situation started, they’ve been making themselves available non-stop on live-streaming, webchats, and other media, to stay in front their fans, and probably to keep their sanity as well.
Piero was in very good spirits last week on a live interview with Stefano Fisico on “Billboard Calling.” This is a summary of their chiaccherata (chat) with a few highlights for fun.
S: Stefano remarked that yesterday they had hoped there’s be a nice sunny day today, but by last night it was obvious it was going to be wet and rainy.
P: Remarked that this is making it easier for us to stay indoors, warm and cozy.
Stefano also offered Piero his bottle of germicide hand cleaner on screen while thanking Piero for accepting his invitation and for the guys always being so kind (about making themselves available).
P: Asked if Stefano saw the live stream last night with Ignazio.
S: “I even flagged you because you were exceptional, and sweet as usual. I could tell you were having fun, but it’s right that you should act like that.”
P: He explains that he’s at home in Naro, in Agrigento province, and has been alone for 20 days. He said he’s survived thanks to the microwave, because he doesn’t know how to prepare anything homemade.
(In other Flight Crew posts, Piero has mentioned that he has not learned how to cook, no matter how hard Ignazio has tried to teach him. In other live casts, we’ve seen that Gianluca, who also never cooked, has learned to make dairy-free banana bread and rigatoni al forno. That’s what happens when you’re shut in with your Italian Mamma).
P: He explains that these days at home he has discovered things he would never have imagined he’d be doing. He’s read a lot of books, and watched a number of TV series, because he’s never watched much TV, and has cleaned the house. Since his Mamma and relatives always used to clean the house every 5 or 6 days, he started doing the same thing. He’s been going around the house with the vacuum cleaner, and his house is now immaculate.
(I think it would be hilarious to photoshop a picture of Piero with a microwave, the TV remote, and the vacuum cleaner. Maybe my son or one of you readers can help us do that.)
S: Let’s go in order because you gave us a bunch of information. Ok you said you watched a little TV, which you normally don’t, because you’re always on tour. You need to take a break from all the touring.
P: No, we couldn’t.
S: What are you watching?
P: Narcos Mexico. It’s pretty rough stuff. I don’t recommend it for young kids or people who are too sensitive. Then I watched Elite. (Stefano says that ran last year. Piero just watched it). Piero says “Ignazio and Gianluca recommended it and they knew it well, so I watched it and liked it. It was really nice. Now I’m starting to watch the series “Decine.””
S: Jokes to Piero that the character Carla, from Elite, an 18 year old Spanish girl, sends her greetings.
Piero adds that his favorite character on Elite is Nadia, who’s a really beautiful young girl.
Stefano remarks that sooner or later they must inevitably have encountered some of these celebrities on tour.
P: They a TV show did a month ago, and there one of the judges was Donna Paola, the fidanzata of Guzman on Elite. Piero didn’t know who she was, but Ignazio did. He adds that he only watched 2 or 3 TV episodes a day and that’s enough. It gets to be too sad.
P: These days he also plays the piano quite bit, and posts a lot on Instagram. He recently sang “Ave Maria”. His sister Maria records him.
S: Wanted to congratulate him and his colleagues on what they have been doing to help with awareness and the fight against COVID19.
P: Explains that when they were in the US, they were not really aware of the gravity of the situation in Italy. When they arrived, it became very apparent what was happening. It was like waking up, or the light going on. He understood that if what had occurred in Lombardia, were to reach Sicily, they were not equipped to respond. He felt it was necessary to talk about the issues and do something to save Sicily. He got together with other artist from Agrigento in Sicily, like Daniele Magro, a great singer, and agreed to set up this fundraiser to support the hospitals in Agrigento Province, who have been using the funds to buy many needed supplies. The response has been very positive.
Now that they understand the need to stay home, Piero felt it’s useless to complain or get nervous, because you can’t do anything. In cases like this, you need to look on the bright side, always, even while understanding that the circumstances are sad. For example, if you look on the bright side, there are many, many things to do at home. One day isn’t enough to enjoy it all. For him he’s busy, he’s content, and enjoying himself, and he’s doing really well.
P: Posted greetings were coming in from Venezuela, Poland, Argentina, Mexico, and all over Italy. After hearing Stefano say “Mexico” Piero remarks that he’s in love with that country. Then he spontaneously breaks into “Cielito Lindo”, in honor of the Mexican fans.
(His voice is remarkably rich, deep, and clear, even sitting down, with no warm up!)
P: Mentions a game he’s done with Gianluca and Ignazio. He names a pop song title or some funny lyrics, and they have to sing it in Il Volo style. He gives Piero “Soldi di mammuta, come potrebbe essere” (“Huge amounts of money, how could it exist?”) Piero looks up the lyrics and pops off an operatic version of “We have so much money, money…”.
In response to the next title, he does the Baronebel canto version of “Rolls Royce… That’s the life I want, that’s how I want to end up. That’s the life….”
Then he was asked for a Francesco Gabbani song “Occidentali’s Karma.” (Francesco was the 2017 San Remo and Eurovision winner. He is a delightful composer whose debut album was wittily entitled “Greitizt Itz” Greatest Hits?).
Piero didn’t know this song and didn’t want to do this, but Stefano goaded him on. He pushed him over the line telling him, it’s his own fault. If he had seen Gianluca’s interview the other day. . . That did it.
Piero blurts out, “When I see that guy (Gianluca) I’m going to beat him up, I tell you.” And for good measure, he calls Stefano a miserable wretch for making him do this. But he did it. The ridiculous lyrics are something to the effect of:
“Le brutte intenzioni, le maleducazione, la tua brutte figura di ieri sera… (your rotten attitude, the rudeness, the lousy impression you made last night, your ungratefulness, your arrogance, you joke by putting your foot in my face…)”
Piero had to take a break from laughing too hard, while Stefano checked the posts from fans. Piero spotted a post from a girl who apparently understood all the goofy lyrics, because she wrote “Let’s skip that and move on…”
Another fan posted “What character from an opera would you like to do?”
After mulling over the fact that there are so many, Piero decides on Cavaradossi from Puccini’s Tosca, which is one of his favorite operas.
A fan from Panama asked: How long do you train every day? Piero asks “Train in which way? I get up at 9. I have breakfast. At 11, I train for an hour of running and one of gym workout.” After lunch a little bit on the phone. At 4, I takes care of business accounts, and at 5, I start an hour or an hour and a half with my voice teacher. Then dinner. If you want to send me Instagrams, do that around 5:30, Because at 7 I’m working on my singing lessons.”
A fan from France asks for a joke he pulled on Ignazio or Gianluca.
P: Piero describes taking a strange orange with weird texture, and putting under Ignazio’s pillow while he was sleeping. Ignazio knew right away who was to blame, because it’s usually Piero who harasses him.
He wanted to be sure that the other guys weren’t watching, so he could talk about one prank he really wants to do to both of the other two sometime. While Stefano checked who was connected, Piero decided to share it anyway, because it could be a whole year, or who knows, before this confinement ends and the other two catch up with him.
Piero is waiting for the next time he can sneak into Ignazio’s or Gianluca’s room, hide in the closet, and chase them right back out when they come in exhausted after a concert.
His favorite joke is one the whole group did to their pianist, who has a habit of going to bed early at night. When they were in Chihuahua, Mexico, Ignazio was able to pick the lock on the pianist’s hotel room door, because in Mexico the locks are pretty lousy. They all went in dressed like police with flashlights yelling “Federal police, federal police” and yanked the poor, frightened guy out of bed.
S: He recounts that Gianluca shared a story of their biggest goof-up, and wanted to know if Piero would recall the same incident. He added that it was not the one about forgetting all the French lyrics to “Tous les Visages de l’Amour.” He was referring to one that happened at a dinner. After a few hints, Piero remembers being dinner guests somewhere. One of the boys held a prawn by the tail, waving it in the face of the president of the historical society, and it escaped from his hand. Piero insists it was Gianluca’s fault.
Piero is laughing about a girl whose on-line name is “Ignazio Boschetto, Argentina.”
S: With what meal could you conquer a lady’s heart?
P: Spaghetti ricci di mare. (Ricci di mare is the Sicilian equivalent of caviar, but from the sea urchin). He says when it’s done well, like at a certain restaurant he likes, it’s something you don’t want to miss. When he returns from a concert tour, one of the first things he does is go with his sister to eat at the restaurant that makes it so well. We all know very well why he couldn’t do that this time.
- Asks for one good feature and one fault of each of his Il Volo colleagues.
P: (always a smart-mouth) asks, “Just one?”
S: Asks him to start with Gianluca, because he was already interviewed, and Ignazio will be next time.
P: His immediate response was “What did he say about me?” Then he says Gianluca’s most annoying quality is that he always wants to be right. He’s like a cat that always lands on its feet. Gianluca always wants to be the one to land on his feet (to be correct). His best feature is that he’s so knowledgeable. He’s always up to date on every artist, every bit of news, every score and ranking. He knows even before Spotify, or any other music platform, everything they need to know.
P: Ignazio’s defect is that he plays everything like an instrument, even the house doorbell. Piero has had to beg him to stop the doorbell performance. Also, on tour, they have rule that between soundcheck/practice and the performance, no one is supposed to touch any of the tuned/prepped instruments. Ignoring the rules, Ignazio goes straight to the drum kit, and Alessandro often has to drag him forcibly off the kit. On the other hand, one of Ignazio’s great abilities is that he understands every technical thing in the recording studio. For example, during this last tour, the guys were recording a song they really liked, and there was a repeated glitch/imperfection in the recorded track. The pianist and recording engineer struggled with it and couldn’t fix it. Ignazio politely offered, “Let me deal with it,” and amazed them by getting it perfect on the first try. Piero, who doesn’t have the patience or skill to correct technical problems, considers that they are really fortunate to have Ignazio who is so technically gifted.
Piero, still a wise guy, called Ignazio the other night just to hear him pronounce the future tense of “laurearsi” (to graduate). (I can imagine what kind of noises Ignazio made. The future is laureerò, which is hard to pronounce even for Italians! Honestly, I don’t know how these guys put up with each other). Piero asked Ignazio just for a laugh, and got more than he could handle.
Of course, the Ecuador and Brazil fans (and the rest of us) wanted to hear Pieruzzo’s voice. He chose to do “My Way”, which he usually sings as a duet with Gianluca, saying that it sets him dreaming.
Stefano offered a symbolic 92 minutes of applause, and a tip of the hat like Frank Sinatra.
S: How much do you miss being in contact with the public?
P: That desire is constant, it never stops. Yesterday I watched our concert at Santa Croce with Placido Domingo from 2017. I told an interviewer backstage that the sensation I experience, and I speak also for Ignazio and Gianluca, is that there is no adjective that can describe the feeling. There isn’t anything more beautiful than to land anywhere in the world and find there are people who have been waiting (to greet you) since 7 AM at the airport. No matter what hour we land, I see that there are people waiting. It’s the most marvelous feeling, this unique sensation, that God has given me such a blessing. It’s our task to keep that going forward and not quench that flame.
S: I also asked this same question of Gianluca, because your musical perspectives are different. What international singers do you want to get to work with in person?
P: They are so many, and Il Volo has already some beautiful collaborations with artists like Eros Ramazzoti. There was an artist I was listening to this morning, Mercedes Sosa.
(She was an Argentine singer considered the “Voice of the Voiceless”, who died in 2009. She sang folk material from unpublished songwriters of the South American nueva conción movement.)
P: I like some specific things. I’d like to perform personally with Luis Miguel. (He’s known as El Sol de México), and also Celine Dion, and why not Lewis Capaldi.
The Piero described how to support the fundraiser by accessing GoFundMe® or by going to Piero’s Instagram page which has a link to the same site, to make a donation. He asks that even if you are unable to donate, please share the information and the link to the site with others.
Finally, he asks what song does Piero suggest we sing while we wash our hands. Piero sings “La Vita” while practicing his hand washing.
Note: I was watching Stefano’s face, and it was obvious how much affection he has for the Il Volo guys when they speak their hearts. I also love Piero’s face when he closes his eyes and says how much God has blessed him.
And here’s a few more pictures from Jo Ann’s collection…
Thank you so much Jo Ann for your translation!! 🙂