WHEN TALENT HAS NO BOUNDARIES by SUSAN

Let me say, Gianluca was the one who inspired me to write this article. Gianluca said, “I thought there were three hundred thousand boys singing like me, and instead that night I discovered that there are only two: Ignazio and Piero.” Of course, Gianluca was referring to the night they sang together for the first time on Ti Lascio Una Canzone.

What Gianluca realized in that moment was the uniqueness of the group. So, let’s begin where it all began….

It is the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys are given the music for “O Sole Mio” but in three parts. They thought it was strange because until then they were singing alone or doing duets.

They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and it was like they had been performing together for years. Flawless!

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We often talk about Ti Lascio Una Canzone where the boys first came together but, we never talked about some of their performances or what was going on behind the scenes without them knowing it.

Let’s talk about some of the people they performed with on the show. Really great names in the Italian music industry. Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Al Bano, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti.

What did I witness during their performances? I saw great performers in awe of three teenagers who were singing their songs and they were amazed at the performances. It was written all over their faces. They could not believe what they were hearing.

What was going on behind the scenes? Well we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!

Alone in his apartment, Michele Torpedine was sitting on his sofa with the volume off on his TV. The show he was watching was Ti Lascio Una Canzone. He keeps looking at the screen and he suddenly thinks, Ignazio reminds him of Luciano Pavaroti, Gianluca seemed similar to Jose Carreras and Piero is similar to Placido Domingo. He still had not heard them sing. Out of curiosity, he raised the volume and Michele says, “Here I am aware of another element, that is even more important than the first. The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.”

At this point Michele’s head is spinning. He’s thinking these guys are good and again repeats it to himself, they’re good! He thinks, “What if I try to put them together seriously? A trio he tells himself. Here’s what I could do…. “

Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”

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Michele called Roberto Cenci and he got the contact details of the three boys.

Michele says, “Another great story started, a new story at a time when it seemed to me that there was no future for me, for my profession: a breath of oxygen in my environment.”

After years of disappointment, loss of trust and gratitude, missing or denied, with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, Michele rediscovers the values of gratitude. Michele says, “the boys allowed me to really go back to my job.”

So where to begin? Michele says, “Let’s start with trust because they trust me first of all; the administration of an entire world tour, with important figures to move on which I could take what I want if I were dishonest. But they trusted me and so did their parents, to whom, moreover, I have committed myself to teaching everything, the mechanisms, the things that move, the figures, the relationships. All.”

 

They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label. Universal Music signed them immediately. Michele said, “it is important to give due recognition to the man who made all this possible, the great record manager Peter Lopez. Peter immediately sensed the enormous potential of our artistic project. To him we owe an incredible international contract signed simply trusting that the boys would have audiences all over the world.”

But what did they bring to the table to win over the kids, the parents, and the grandparents? They had an idea and it worked.

Their music was Operatic pop or Pop-Opera. What was this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern style. While opera is very strict and regimented, Pop-Opera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera.

This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason is three amazing voices! If the voice wasn’t there, the song wasn’t going to sell.

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When I’m writing these pieces, I do a lot of research and I watch a lot of videos. And this is what I found. I looked at videos of the promos the boys did, for their albums. They were 16 – 17 years old and I found many teenagers at these promos. I saw teenage girls and boys singing opera and Italian songs. They liked it because the music is easy and catchy and, they picked it up very easily. And I might add, the guys are very attractive and likeable. The young girls love them not because they are very handsome but because they can relate to them. They were 16 – 17 years old and they were telling these young kids we love this music and you can too. And they did and still do! Once the kids were sold the parents followed.

Who wouldn’t want their kids singing this music? In turn the parents found it just as pleasing. As to the grandmothers they were the ones who were fainting over these attractive young men.

But it wasn’t all as easy as that. There were some rough edges, some adjustments that needed to be made. The voices were certainly there but bringing it all together was another matter.

Let’s look back a moment at some of the people I just spoke about. Michele Torpedine, Roberto Cenci, and Peter Lopez. These are the top of the top. Under normal circumstances these boys wouldn’t be able to get in the front door, no less to meet these people. What would you call it? I call it La forza del destino (The Force of Destiny). They certainly were in the right place at the right time. I often wonder how it is possible that these three boys, with three unique voices, all appear at the same time and in the same place in history. WOW! What a plan God had! It can be nothing less!

So, what happened next? So, let’s let the boys tell you….

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Piero said, On June 9 th, 2009, nine days after the end of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, my parents left for Rome. They were a bit mysterious about it. When I asked them what they were going to do in Rome, they only replied that they had to meet a person and, I tell the truth, I did not even insist on knowing who…. The next day they come home and then, yes, I wanted to know something more. “Dad, what have you done in Rome?”

“Nothing,” he answers, “we met a certain Torpedine.”

Yes, On June 9th, 2009 all the parents met with Michele to discuss the future of the boys.

Piero said, “After a month, my parents made another trip to Rome to meet the legendary Torpedine …. The day after, Mom and Dad came back to Naro with a check. It was the advance of the contract.”

Ignazio said, “Immediately after the end of the program my parents, like those of Piero and Gianluca received a call from the office of Bibi Ballandi.”

Who is Bibi Ballandi? …. He is the producer with a capital P. Some examples? The shows on Rai Uno de Fiorello and Celentano, Dancing with the Stars and also  Ti Lascio una Canzone.

From Ballandi’s office, they wanted the parents of the three boys to go to Rome to discuss their children’s future…. On their return from Rome, as usual, Mom and Dad sat down with me and my sister around the table to talk about what had happened in Rome. Michele Torpedine ….  was interested in us. What did I think? What could I think, one who in the last five years had done nothing but sing from morning to night? After several meetings we signed our first managerial contract.”

Gianluca said, “That is a period that I really cannot remember in general. I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the Ti Lascio Una Canzone returned home … the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.

…. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we went to lunch in Rome to talk about music and recording songs. The contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.

What I do remember is, we were three funny and awkward children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: “But what came into your mind?”

 

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In 2009 they recorded their first album.

Ron Fair, chairman of Geffens Records had this to say about their debut album, “Their debut album went Platinum, in Italy, without a single release, solely based on their performances in three TV Shows. This has never happened before.”

Today, Michele sums it up like this. “These three guys have very clear ideas and I have never seen them impressed in front of audiences that many would shake their legs. I never heard a wrong attack, and if some inconsistency arose that made something happen professionally, they knew how to handle the problem at the origin. They are always extraordinary, their voices grow with them, they mature in body and soul. There is no other team or artistic team so complete.”

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Credit to owners of all photos.

38 thoughts on “WHEN TALENT HAS NO BOUNDARIES by SUSAN”

  1. An informative and extraordinary article. I didnt know some of these intricate details. Thanks, Susan!

    1. genoten van deze vertelling ik volg ze al zo lang ze waren nog geen il volo plus minnus 12 jaar via rai 1 godere con angelo molto succes buongiorno

  2. Hooray–another post from Daniela! I loved this one, plus you read my mind because I’ve been listening to those Ti Lascio Una Canzone videos a lot recently, and have been especially amazed at Ignazio’s total confidence singing with three of your big stars. I love the way he changed his usual classical style to a gritty, blues one with “A Chi”. I’ve listened to this about a dozen times lately. My older sister remembers it in the U.S. as “Hurt”. Thanks again, Daniela, for giving us all the early details of Il Volo’s amazing story.

  3. WOW! I am very happy for them. They are the best of the best, and the made it to the top in only 10 yrs. I wish them luck to keep on growing in their careers. I am very, very proud of them, along with the rest of the world. We love IL Volo!

  4. I’m so happy to be reading the posts about IL VOLO; glad to learn about their early beginnings.They are amazing singers. I can’t go more than a few days without listening to their music in my car. I got to see them on Gianluca’s 25th birthday this past February. Can’t wait to see what the future holds for them. Thanks!

  5. This is one of the best stories about how they got started. Thank you so much and you mirror my thoughts exactly. Miraculous singing voices at such a young age. What impressed me after i heard them sing and read comments is how affectionate they are with their parents. Their parents did a fabulous job raising them to be the men they are today. No where have I ever heard singing better than this trio. It is true they are loved from the cradle to the grave, and I certainly know I am their fan forever. Kindness reverberates from them to all they meet, a smile, a hug, a wink brings joy untold. I am in my mid 80’s and I tell you they are the best of the best and I truly hope I can see them one more time before time to say lights out. They are first class all the way wherever they go and wherever they are. I truly love them and will always be #1 fan for them. Thank you pitterpat for telling and writing this story… well done mate! I will love them thru eternity.

    1. I thank you, sassylady, but I did not write the story – Susan wrote this story…..Daniela found the photos and sends everything to me. I then take the words and the photos, place them into WordPress, and publish the stories. It is a group effort! 💪🏻😄

  6. This is an absolutely amazing story! I couldn’t stop reading! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful progression of events in the lives of these three young, talented, handsome Italian men. …Eleanor

  7. Congratulations Susan. Your way of telling is how to see a movie, you let see live what happened after that famous three boys’ performance during “Ti lascio una canzone”. Il Volo extraordinary adventure is truly a film, an incredible event, very rare, wanted by fate, but also by… an excess of talent. A real pleasure to read you Susan!

  8. I love love love this story. Thank you for letting us see a little of the inside of their discovery.

  9. This is a great article filled with detail I had never heard before. I love Il Volo and have watched these boys grow to men and hear their voices mature. They are wonderful. I love that they stay so kind and humble. They do not let success go to their heads. I attribute this to the parents and their families. Thank you.

  10. Thankyou for your informative stories about Il Volo. I don’t know what the future holds in store for them but I’m thinking wouldn’t it be great for them to sign a long-term contract where they would be the featured act for 20+ years with time to travel. Think of Celine Dion or Steve Lawrence and Edie Gourmet who had long-term contracts with hotels in Las Vegas. That way they\d be more apt to settle down and raise families of their own which would be extremely difficult if they toured ten months of the year. They are still growing professionally but we all want to see them have normal personal lives. Their voices have matured; they developed a stage prescence and have excellent rapport with their audiences. They endeared themselves to us on many levels and deserve the accolades they get. Pleae continue to keep us informed about Piero, Ignazio, and Gianluca, their respective families as well as Barbara and Michele and their musicians. The entire team deserves recognition. Thanks again for keeping us in the loop.

    1. Yes Doris I agree with you! When the time comes, I think there will be a plan in place where they will still do concerts but not such a great scale!

  11. Wow! Great, great story, Susan! You really catch the flavor of what it must have been like to be there. . I always like to see more about the beginning. Now, if only they would become household names here in the US! Like J Lo, Shakira, and others in the recording industry. I see them as up there with Celine Dion, and Josh Groban, as huge stars with full-on Big Name Power. It just hasn’t happened in the U.S., yet. For me, it isn’t a “wish” it is more like “When” it happens. Cannot understand why Sharon Stone, Priscilla Presley, and several other stars who love them have not drawn bunches of attention to them, and how wonderful they are. Guess it has to be God’s timing, just like everything else in their amazing career! He gave them those voices, and I guess He will give them this kind of recognition in His own great timing. I mean, heck, they have sung with Bocelli, for Pete’s sake! that should be a clue for fans to-be- here! Also, when Placido Domingo got in on their Tribute to the 3 Tenors show. That should have been a big lift for them. But…. not quite yet. Soon, I hope.

    1. Actually Linda, they are more popular in America than they are in Italy. They really weren’t accepted in Italy until they won Sanremo. They so love the Americans because we accepted them unconditionally. Always sold out! But, of course I have to agree with you that I would love to have them be known by all in America! Let’s hope the day will come.

  12. Thank you so much Susan for another great chapter in the lives of Il Volo. I really enjoy reading about their beginnings. You answered i a lot of questions i had. I just received their first album and cannot stop playing it. their voices are so beautiful and the songs are arranged beautifully. In a way I hope IL Volo does not get too much more popular. It would change their lives and that of their families in a negative way. Too much fame brings loss of privacy. they could go nowhere without being mobbed and photographed endlessly. It would also change how people treat them. You know someone trying to be a friend but just looking for fame themselves or trying to take advantage of them. Also getting tickets to their events would become a nightmare of expense and availability. i do not know the background Of Michele t., interesting story perhaps. I do have a question for you,How did the boys attend school while in America, for a year I heard, and then touring for the next few years. Did they have tutors? Thank You again Great job!

  13. Thank you for the story which enhances our “flight” experience even more. Always enjoyable. Grazie.

  14. Such a great article about how they got together. It does seem like God’s plan – how everything fell into place – for them to become such a beautiful gift to the world. I’ve followed them since their first Detroit concert on PBS in 2012. They have matured and become such fine, humble, and handsome young men with the best voices, I believe. No one can match them. I give so much credit also to their wonderful families for their love, support and guidance. You can see where the guys get their values and beliefs from. I pray for them everyday and wish them continued success and happiness and good health.

    1. Yes, Chris they kept up with their studies in America. Combine that with learning a new language with every country they went to, they are to be commended.

  15. Bravo Susan et al. For 10 yrs. I’ve been trying to figure out how 3 unrelated 15 yr.old boys from ITALY are singing in the streets of NYC on a school day! Then the first PBS special from Detroit is aired and I figured that an army of the right people made this fairy tale happen! As mother/grandmother to 14 adult males, I know the challenge involved. I love IL VOLO but Torpedine is my hero! After Ignazio! Wonderfully informative writing. Thank you.

  16. Wonderful article, love hearing everything about the guys. Really enjoy your writing. I do enjoy the old videos when they were young, so talented then as they are now No doubt that they are the best there is. I hope to someday see them again live.

  17. WE Saw THEM in Concert in Miami 3 times. In Tampa 1 WHERE WE TOOK PICTURES with Them., WE WENT to THE DONALD TRUMP CASINO IN NJ. MY HUSBAND Pass! I could’t AFFORD to SEE THEM, Again…………IT will BRING me a LOTS OF Memories, BACAUSE my husban LOVE THEIR VOICES.

  18. Thank you Susan for all this background information. I have always felt it was God’s hand that put Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca together singing at the same time on the same show. And even more so since they are all super talented, intelligent, loving, and from families with wonderful values. Having seen them for on their first PBS special Live From Detroit, I immediately thought they were so special in so many ways and couldn’t wait to tell friends about them. God bless them.

  19. Thank you so much, Susan, for all this interesting background on these youths with absolutely golden voices. I did buy their first CD, and the IL VOLO Takes Flight DVD, but then I was very busy and did not follow them for a time – too busy studying. However, when I saw the IL VOLO Ten Years” notice on PBS, I realized what I had been missing. I like them all. I have since then listened to a lot of their interviews. I could tell that they had an excellent family background. In one they mentioned that they had a tutor (an old interview). I am especially drawn to Ignacio’s voice, the high clear tenor floating above everything, and then the very gravelly low notes he can get in “A Chi Mi Dice”. This is a very hypnotic sound. I plan to buy all their CD’s and DVD’s that I missed. When they can tour again, I hope to be able to hear them in person. It would definitely be more than worth it. With their incomparable voices and their very charismatic personalities, they can just enchant a person! Dena Pitchfork, Mercer Island, Washington, U.S.A.

  20. Daniela et al. There is a video La Festa Marsala in which a large official looking crowd is honoring Ignazio. He speaks to them and then leads them in Grande Amore. Could you give us some idea what that was all about? No date that I could see on the video.

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