History Repeats Itself!

Italy is an emotion and in the center of that emotion is a passion and that passion is Naples. Naples is like no other place in Italy or, for that matter, no other place in the world. Neapolitans are the most diversified people in all of Italy. Naples is a feeling you can never shake but, above all, Naples is Music!

In the mid 1800’s Naples began to see a new movement in music. In 1835 a new song “Te voglio bene assaje” appeared. This song is considered to be the first modern Italian song.


The first “hit” may date back to 1835 but the golden age of song, in Naples, was from 1890 – 1910 when immigration to America began. Men left with the dream of a better life but what they found was even harder than what they left. They left their homes and families, and, in some cases, they never went home again. They found themselves alone with nothing but their music. Many Neapolitan songs were written about these times. Most of these immigrants lived in New York City in lower Manhattan in an area which became known as Little Italy. Small music companies would put on one act plays. Little vignettes. The stories were always the same, they were about home and family. They were about the mother they would never see again.

In 1903, Enrico Caruso made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Caruso’s debut on November 23, 1903 was in a new production of Rigoletto. Marcella Sembrich sang opposite him as Gilda. A few months later, he began his lifelong association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He made his first American record on February 1, 1904, having signed a lucrative financial deal with Victor. Thereafter, his recording career ran in tandem with his Met career, both bolstering each other, until his death in 1921.


Caruso was the first International singer to come to America. He introduced America to Italian Music. Caruso loved to sing Neapolitan songs and they were so popular that when he performed at the MET at the end of the show he would come out and sing Neapolitan songs. Among these songs were O Sole Mio, Torna Sorrento and Santa Lucia. As a result, Neapolitan songs became a part of an opera singers’ repertoire and every opera singer after Caruso would sing opera and Neapolitan songs including Il Volo.

Neapolitan music as it was at the turn of the century, in Naples, really didn’t change much but with the arrival of US troops in World War II, Naples woke up to a new beat. The US troops introduced them to the buzz and rhythm of jazz and boogie, and the Neapolitans immediately liked it.

I would not do Neapolitan Music or Il Volo justice if I didn’t mention Pino Daniele.


Pino Daniele was an Italian singer-songwriter, and guitarist, whose influences covered a wide number of genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and Italian and Middle Eastern music.

Pino Daniele made his debut in the Italian music world in 1977. He defined his music with the term “tarumbò.” His lyrics, written and sung in intense Neapolitan, attracted praise, though critical at times, because of his strong and bitter accusations against the social injustices of the times.  Authorities say Pino Daniele brought about the rebirth of Neapolitan song.

He wrote and sang his own music and this music was known in America.

I started this piece by saying Italy is an emotion and Naples a passion. If Naples is a passion that passion was Pino Daniele. Songs like Napule è, Quando and  Quanno Chiove are just a few example of his songs.  Examples I chose because I know Il Volo fans know these songs. 

(Pino Daniele live in Napoli 2013 – Quanno chiove)

They are very deep passionate songs. Many artists have sung Daniele’s songs but in order to do justice to a Pino Daniele song you have to bring passion, emotion and Neapolitan dialect to the song.  Enter Ignazio Boschetto! Ignazio’s tribute to Daniele is amazing and emotional. You can feel the depth of the song because of the presentation of the song and, I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it’s as if Daniele wrote his songs for Ignazio.

(Ignazio Boschetto live in Arena  2015 –  medley of: Napule è – Quando  – Quanno Chiove)

Let’s look back a moment to see how Il Volo fit into the picture I presented here. Well we know they sing opera and we know they sing Neapolitan songs. Why? Remember what I said about Enrico Caruso. Every opera singer after Caruso would sing opera and Neapolitan songs. As a result, Neapolitan songs became a part of an opera singers’ repertoire and that includes Il Volo.  

But do we see any other similarities here?

20th Century the year is 1903 – Enrico Caruso comes to America at the turn of the century. He brings with him a new kind of music. The music changes Americas way of viewing Italian music. To Americans, Italian music was opera. But now, they have Caruso singing Neapolitan songs at the MET. A few months later, he begins his lifelong association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He made his first American record on 1 February 1904, having signed a deal with Victor Talking Machine company. Thereafter, his recording career ran in tandem with his Met career, both bolstering each other, until his death in 1921.

(Enrico Caruso – O Sole mio)

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Fast forward 100 years to the 21st century – the year is 2009, Il Volo signs a major contract with Universal Music. They come to America where their music immediately catches on and causes a revolution in the music industry. Over the next ten years they sell out every American Concert. All their albums and concerts are a tremendous success. And their success is from singing Opera and Neapolitan songs. Thereafter, their recording career runs in tandem with their Concert career, both bolstering each other.

Did I read that right? Did Caruso and Il Volo do exactly the same thing in two different centuries? Did history repeat itself?

Like Caruso in 1904, Il Volo in 2009 revolutionized the music industry. These three teenage boys were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label even before they arrived in America. They presented Operatic pop or popera to America. What is this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern style. While opera is very strict and regimented, popera 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 become a big draw.

Continuing on this amazing journey, their music evolves and, they crossover. In 2018 they released one of the most exciting Latin albums to come out in years. I would go so far as to say Amame is the most exciting Latin album that was ever produced. It’s opera, it’s rock, it’s classical, it’s pop and it never stops giving. The rhythm in songs like Noche Sin Dia is amazing. You have to move with the music. You can’t sit still. Songs like Maldito Amor is a phenomenal experience for your ear. The delivery is smooth and beautiful. It’s one of those songs that stays with you forever. This album is so Exciting! Exciting! Exciting! I sat and thought about this album the other day and how I would write about it. These three amazing guys absolutely floored me. The beat is so intense and, they are spot on. I think the guys knocked it out of the box with Noche Sin Dia. With Latin music you don’t just sing it, you feel it, and if you don’t feel it, you don’t cut it. This album cuts it! Good move!

(Il Volo – Amame) 

As if that wasn’t enough, they follow up with Musica! This is the album that proved that great can get greater. This album is representative of where these young men are now. It’s beautiful, it’s sensitive, it’s romantic. It’s about love. It’s about them being ready for love. It comes from deep within them. All the sweetness and humility of these guys is in this album. It moves your senses. What I am saying is they have evolved and, their voices have evolved. They’ve grown into their voices. Their voices are mature and have expanded in such an amazing way. There’s an intriguing balance in their voices. To experience this amazing evolution in voice and song you need go no further than Be My Love. Gianluca’s voice vibrates and expands to realms I’ve never heard before.  Ignazio makes your heart stop as you journey along his notes which lead to absolute ecstasy. Piero fills all your sense and brings you to such heights that you have to stop and breathe. Musica che resta!

The difference between Caruso and Il Volo is Caruso came to America towards the end of his career while Il Volo came at the beginning of their career. 

Lucky for us! 😉

(Il Volo pays homage to Caruso with the song CARUSO by Lucio Dalla)

(Lucio Dalla, begins the song)


Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

27 thoughts on “IL VOLO and CARUSO by SUSAN”

  1. I love this article. Not only did I learn so many new things, but also I appreciate them so much more. Thank you.

  2. Thank you Susan for another beautiful article. I hope the boys get to read it too, this one and also all the other masterpieces which you wrote about them so far.

  3. Susan, thank you for this historical info on Neopolitan music and the wonderful comparison of Caruso and lL Volo.

    The passion exuded in the music sung by Ignazio, Gianluca, and Piero is so evident in their voices, and in their facial expressions, They make you feel the passion with them.

    Amame was a treat to listen to. The guys really seem to thoroughly enjoy performing the music with the Latin beat.

    I never tire of listening to their music and watching their performances on DVD and YouTube.

    Thank you again.

    Mary Jane Lavin

  4. Congratulations Susan for this excellent article that combines the history of Neapolitan music, from an American point of view, with the music of Il Volo, with invisible threads.
    Really very beautiful and informative. 🙂

  5. This was a lovely article. I learned so much. Thank you for taking the time to write it and provide the historical significance.

  6. Susan, you’ve done it again…another great message. Like so many others have said, I, too, learned so much. Amazing how our boys instinctively bring their music reflecting their Italian heritage. Thank you! ☺♥

  7. Susan, Thank you for the layers of history on the
    relationship of Naples and it’s lifeblood “music”. The
    first time I saw a clip of Ignazio singing “Caruso” I had
    to wiki Caruso and his worldwide acclaim as the
    messenger of vocal passion, and as a source of pride for
    The genetic link to Pino and then to Il Volo makes me happy
    to be a witness as the music continue to flourish.
    You are a wonderful writer. We are fortunate to have
    your contributions.

  8. Very interesting article Susan, thank you. I’m glad that you mentioned “Amame”, they didn’t release it in Italy but I had the chance to listen to it, it’s a pity that this album didn’t have the success it deserve!

  9. I simply love Ignazio singing PIno songs and his solos of Caruso are off the scale. I love Amame ! fabulous album. When I listen to Nico singing Pino I think he has great affinity for these songs also. I was listening to Pino and thought it sounded like Nico. Il Volo is a whole package of brilliance.

  10. Wonderful writing, Susan! You always bring a fresh perspective to us. Thank you! I have to say that listening to them sing Caruso gave me goosebumps…..even though I’ve heard it many times before. This particular performance just got to me. It’s such a powerful song with a powerful ending! 👏😀

  11. Excellent, thoughtful article. I believe Il Volo appreciates the effort this writer put into her piece. from Maria

  12. O how I love a history lesson. And from an expert on the subject. To add to the comparison to Caruso, we have charm, humor and youth. I would add sex appeal but Daniela says no racy subjects!!

  13. Susan, thank you so much for this lovely article – informative – so much so for me, as I had dropped away from IL Volo in 2011 because I was so busy studying. I will try to get the songs from Amame from Google Play. Since I am very fluent in Spanish, I so enjoy hearing them singing in Spanish. They are just incomparable, veritable non pareils! I am slowly adding to my collection of their work – everything I can get. Dena Pitchfork, Mercer Island, Washington U.S.A.

  14. Thank you Susan. Again another informative article. My nana was from Naples so I feel a connection there. I also remember a
    Movie with Ann Blythe and can’t remember who played Caruso but the music was beautiful. Again thank you Susan, I don’t not to tell you how I love your articles and read them over and over!

    1. Edna, That was Mario Lanza playing The Great Caruso.
      The movie was on TMC one day and I was enchanted as well.

  15. Thank you for a wonderful and informative article. Sixty years ago I bought one of my first albums and it was Mario Lanzo sings Caruso Was so happy to hear our guys sing it They are the best.

  16. Thank you Susan for the historical insight. I didn’t think that I could appreciate Il Volo more, but now I do!

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