Left to rightLeft to right: Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca in front of the Ariston doors

To Go or Not to Go ~ That is the Question!

After performing at the Senate, the guys woke up one day and decided perhaps we should go to Sanremo!

Il Volo performing for the Italian senate

This to me is one of the most challenging decisions they had to make in their lives. We all take chances in life but, this was a little different. If you go to Sanremo and you win then it was worth it. But, if you lose, it’s not just losing the competition, it’s losing your country, your people! No recognition! This is what was at stake. How do you decide with so much at stake? It’s tough!
The one thing that was difficult for the guys from the very beginning was the fact that they were not recognized in their own country.
Ignazio would say, A “prophet is not recognized in his own land.” Perhaps, but that doesn’t change things. It doesn’t change the feeling that you get when you are asked the big question. “You are loved even in Italy, right?” and as Piero said, “You have to answer no.”
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I’m going to take a moment here and vent because there is much more to that answer than “no.”
I have followed the career of these young men from day one and I am so proud of their accomplishments as I know many of you are. I see how they have grown and how much they are loved by their fans, all 5 million of them (and those are just the ones we know about).
Nothing bothers me more than how these men are treated by some of the Italian press, not just now but, from the beginning. It’s not about the Italian people. I know the Italian people love them but, many in the Italian press do everything in their power to mock them and mistreat them. It is disgraceful!
What was it that fifteen-sixteen year old boys could have done to cause the press to be so unkind, so mean and so vicious? If you don’t like a performance, you don’t have to give them a good review but, you have to respect what they do.
In March at Sanremo 2021, one reporter wrote “When they came on, I turned off my TV.” This is what I have to say to that reporter. Shame on you! These three men came to Sanremo with broken hearts, especially Ignazio and, this is how you treat them. They showed such professionalism just by being there and this is all you can say! They showed such love and respect for their country and the Italian people just by showing up. Where is your respect for your country, for your people, for your profession?
Everyone was so sad for these men and all you can think of reporting is that you “turned off your TV.” Perhaps, it’s time you turned off your career because you need to learn something about respect. The ink from your pen can tell a truth or a lie but it can’t talk about the integrity of the person who’s using the pen!  But, of course, integrity is something you know nothing about!
Having said that, let me say, over the last few years, so many Italian journalists have changed their opinion of Il Volo. I think this is because they finally stopped and listened to them and they recognize the value of what they do.  Not to mention all the good work the guys do in and for Italy! And we know they bring Italy around the world! They are good Ambassadors for Italy and the press is finally recognizing it! So happy you got on board!
That’s all I have to say on the matter!

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Let’s move on to the great things that happened!
When I read Un’avventura Straordinaria, the story that I loved the most was the story of Sanremo. The decision by the guys to take on the Sanremo Festival. This story brought out their personalities, their differences and how they are so bound to one another that they could make the decision of a lifetime together even if it meant they could lose what was so important to them, their country and their people!

Left to rightLeft to right: Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca in front of the Ariston doors

The Decision

So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with the decision itself.

Who’s in and who’s out!

Who’s in? From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Who’s out? Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”

Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!

Then there’s the second problem, the song!
At Sanremo you must perform an unpublished song. How do you begin to find such a song?
Now this is the part of the story that’s really interesting and sometimes funny! Oddly enough, the one who wanted this the most was the one who did not agree to the song. I so enjoyed listening to this dialogue between the guys. This is where we begin to hear the guys make important decisions together. They’re really good. When they begin, they’re not agreeing but as time goes by…. Well, why don’t I let them tell you how they finally got to Sanremo?
IL VOLO outside the Ariston Theater with confetti flying

The Song

Gianluca: I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say that the next time I have to reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because our voices change the songs. We arrange them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not take this fact into consideration. The song when we first listened to it was not very ugly!
Ignazio: It’s not that we’ve heard only that, no. Do you think it is easy to choose a piece for Sanremo? We started to do a search and a selection of unpublished tracks. Our policy was: either we go with something strong, or we do not go, right?
One day this song comes to us through Michele: Grande Amore by Francesco Boccia and Ciro Esposito, two Neapolitan authors. As usual, I am pessimistic. I listen to it and it does not make me crazy. Not even Gianluca was convinced. The only enthusiast was Pie …

Il Volo with Francesco Boccia and Grande Amore song writersCiro Esposito

Piero interrupts: I loved “Grande Amore”! I did not believe that we would have won, but I was the one who pushed, I and Michele pushed for “Grande Amore” because the audition that we heard was not beautiful, but we imagined it if it was made by Celso Valli and I must say that we had guessed right.
Ignazio interrupts: And I said it too if you let me talk.  I was saying, in fact, that “Grande Amore” was not as we hear it today. It was always called “Grande Amore”, but it was totally different. So, we start to think: who can produce the piece? And Michele calls the great Celso Valli. After several weeks of work in the studio, we manage to churn out a song that could leave its mark at the Sanremo Festival.
Gianluca interrupts: That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced: we had the piece, the right project.
Piero: He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious ….
Gianluca: Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I said: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Piero interrupts: Do you know what a week like this means?
Ignazio: Piero and I were all day touching iron and the low parts. Gianluca was convinced that the little lion (the Sanremo award is represented by a lion) would be ours? And the two of us tried to keep the situation under control.
Gianluca interrupts: What should I tell you? I am an optimist. They took it something like ‘he makes fun of us,’ but I felt it inside. I do not know why.
So many interruptions! Ignazio, before he was interrupted, was about to tell us about the first night they sang.
Ignazio: The 65th edition of the Festival begins on Tuesday, February 10th. We sing the second night, Wednesday the 11th. The strange thing is that normally my legs tremble before the performance, but mine trembled even after the performance! Perhaps too much adrenaline, it never happened before.

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero singing on stage

Piero interrupts: Or maybe it was because we came back to the Ariston stage after going around the world. It was like coming home, because we experienced the beginning of our career here with Ti Lascio una Canzone. One thing that cannot be described: in Sanremo, in Italy, to sing and receive the applause of the Italian public. It cannot be explained.

The Wardrobe!

Gianluca: Can you imagine for me this was also my birthday: I turned twenty on Ariston’s stage? Of course, I was moved in the end, and it was too much emotion to my sensibility to play bad jokes at times.
And then, we felt the pressure in the air. Even though I was optimistic, the tension was there.
Although we had taken care of the smallest details of the song, we had tried and tried again, and we had taken care of even the smallest details of the clothing. First evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket.
Because when we do our work the image matters, too.
Piero interrupts: Count, of course that counts. But do you remember how we were dressed before? I remember that time at Una Notte per Caruso, in July 2009, it was the second time we saw Torpedine. Michele arrives with another white Range Rover, not that of Jesolo, and as soon as he arrives, we do not even say hello and we go to see the car. Let’s run, let’s open the car. Ignazio immediately goes up to the car. We went crazy for cars, one like that, we did not see every day. The day after we go for a ride in downtown Sorrento, a shopping trip, and we enter into Gucci. Michele spent almost two thousand euros and we with that written number at the counter, we exclaimed: “Mizziga! (Damn!) Two thousand euro!” with wide eyes. And we still have those clothes, at least I personally still have them.
He had bought us a jacket, but above all the need for us to dress all in white and blue. I had the blue jacket and the white shirt, Gianluca had blue trousers and white shirt, Ignazio the blue shoes and everything else white, Michele the blue jacket. And we took a picture in front of the hotel.

Left to right: Ignazio, Gianluca, Michele Torpedine and Piero dressed in blue and white

Gianluca interrupts: We were just dressed badly to be singers by trade, we were children, we came from families of workers. What could I buy? There was not even the need.
Piero interrupts: And then you remember the restaurant? Afterwards we went to a restaurant near the sea. When we finished eating, the three of us took off our shoes and ran to the beach. Michele ran behind us telling us: ‘Guys, calm down. Guys, slow down.’
At this point Ignazio loses his patience. “YES, but, what does that have to do with it, Pie? We were talking about Sanremo. What has Sorrento got to do with it?

The Performance

Ignazio gets the conversation back on track!
Sanremo 2015, from the 10th to 14th of February, we sang on the second evening, legs shaking, Gianluca’s birthday.
Among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni … We had fun with the diary!
It was a sort of ‘pill.’ A very few minutes, in which we recorded from the 9th to 14th of February. We talked about some of the emotions we felt. For example, the time that Gianluca almost stumbles on stage or the happiness of seeing the audience get up and applaud the first night we sang “Grande Amore”. The recording, then, went online on the site of the magazine.
What was I saying? Ah, yes, among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, meetings and press conferences …
Piero interrupts: And the criticisms we felt in those days? People at home voted for us, appreciated us, and journalists gave us votes that we thought were postponed until September, I also said this at the press conference after the victory. Five that flew (Bad votes given by critics). But we see that the criticisms have done us good.
Ignazio: Can I do a criticism of you?
Piero: Ah, tell me…
Ignazio: You interrupted me. I was about to tell the final. I can continue?

The Win

Ignazio: In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from my shirt that in a week we have eaten more than we sang. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m a boy who does not say cat if I do not have it in the bag, then until Carlo Conti said….
Piero interrupts: And indeed, whoever wins does not know it until the end! Sorry, Igna’. Speak you!!!
Ignazio: Until Carlo Conti said: ‘The winner of the Sanremo Festival 2015 is … Il Volo!’ I said to the boys: ‘No, guys, we do not win, it’s difficult.’ And on the one hand I had Piero with shining eyes and on the other Gianluca with a smug smile as if to say: ‘Do not worry.’

The guys of IL VOLO holding up the Sanremo trophy

Gianluca: The truth is that I was right from the beginning and no one had ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look on my face when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, ‘Thank you, Italy!’ from that stage. I look at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said.
The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: “Who would have told me that in life I saw Modugno win at the Festival and then I saw you win?”
Taking the conversation back, I have to say, to me this was the best conversation we could listen to. They disagree, they find middle ground, and they agree but, most importantly they listen to one another and that’s what makes the bond so great!
In the end Gianluca said: “In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions. Too bad it was not repeated also in Vienna!”

Many of you know the winner of Sanremo goes to Eurovision to represent Italy. After winning Sanremo and the popularity of “Grande Amore”, the guys were pretty confident they could win Eurovision. And to some degree, Ignazio believed it too!

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero on the stage singing at Eurovision

As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the guys went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23rd, 2015. “Grande Amore” came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press. The extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore”  was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015 and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. At the Latin Billboard Awards, they dominated the social networking sites and now, they win the televote and the best song according to collective voting by the accredited press. The people have spoken!

So, they gambled and, they won. They were happy and they finally felt accepted in their own country. It seems that everything worked out well but there’s a little piece of the puzzle missing.
To really finish this story, we need to pass back Through the Fields of My Mind down the corridor that led us here and enter the day-by-day reality of Sanremo!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

32 thoughts on “To Go or Not to Go ~ That is the Question!”

  1. I love revisiting that werk. How mych fun it was. I remember watching their first performance on Gianluca’s birthday live on Rai. Unfortunately I had to work the last night. But watched it later. I’ll never forget it.

      1. No Susan. Sorry for the confusion. I should have proofread my comment before posting. Several typos.

  2. Susan, you always give life to everything you write. I have read translations of the book, but this time I felt like I was in the room with the boys. Thanks, my friend!

  3. I can’t imagine why so many of the press were so hostile to Il Volo especially considering their age and their immense talent! To their credit, they always were polite and it just made them stronger. They knew in their hearts how much people loved their music and them!
    I had read some of their thoughts regarding Grande Amore and Sanremo. It was a big decision and they worked it out nicely and had beautiful performances. I remember being so nervous for them but they always seem confident and never disappoint! I very much enjoyed the diary and videos for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni.
    It seems to me that most people thought Il Volo won the Eurovision contest. They were fantastic and the audience there and on TV loved them and wanted them to win!

  4. Susan, thank you so much for looking back Through The Fields Of Your Mind and sharing these details about these bright and very talented Italian stars.

    I loved reading their recount of the story of Sanremo. They are truly goid friends and brothers.

    I wish there was an English version of Un’avventura Straordinario

    Gianluca, Ignazio, and Piero are outstanding ambassadors for their country, their cities, villages and towns. They maintain their humility despite their fame; they are professional, philanthropic, above all kind and caring.

    Can’t wait until your next article.œ

    Pat, thank you too.

    1. Thank you Mary Jane! I wish there was an English version of the book. I would love to write it!

  5. Thank you so much for your reminiscing. After such success in America, how could the Italian press be so cruel. I stumbled on the video of the press conference (fortunately translated into English), and I was appalled. I wanted to reach into my laptop and hug each and every one of those boys. The press was horrible to them. Shame on them. Not to recognize the obvious talent of these three young men is criminal. I was very proud of Il Volo. They kept their cool, acted in a professional manner, and forever won my heart and my loyalty. To this day, they remain my favorite singers of all time. Love, respect and admiration doesn’t even cover half the adjectives we could use to describe them. They are God’s gift to music.

    1. They are always professional. I think that annoys the press more than anything else. Good guys!

  6. Great recollection!
    Did not know about the Italian press criticism which was so unfounded and ignorant.

    I hope the guys know and feel our love and appreciation!!!

    Grazie for keeping us informed—enjoying this wonderful journey with you and Il Volovers, globally!

  7. Thank you once again for sharing information and thoughts about Il Volo. As a new comer to the world of the group it is indeed interesting getting to know more about them. I am, however, chocked to learn, that the boys were not treated well by the Italian press for many years??? Why on Earth not? Can anyone enlighten me as to why they have been treated unwell?
    For some reason or not, I must agree, that Il Volo, however, are quite unknown in northern Europe – or at least in Scandinavia, where I live.- untill a couple of weeks ago I had not been aware of them at all. And that really surprises me,- their singing is sooooo beautiful and they seem to be so loving and caring to their audiences that you cannot avoid to love them personally as well. I at least are totally bending backwards in awe and appreciation of their skills and warm hearted concerts. But they need to extend their concert schedules as they seem to include very little of Europe – and without a chance to experience them live, they are not going to capture that part of the world. So please add Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo to their itnerary in the near future, dear guys!

    Having said that I have never heard of them previously, this is not completely true, as in fact I have watched them in the European Song Contest back in 2015 – only without having the slightest idea of whom they were. In fact, I did just re-watch their performance at the contest – and actually, I do recall them. I loved their song/singing and I remember telling my husband that wow, for once here are some singers, who can actually sing! But I was likewise sure, that they would not win, as the contest is about everything else but skills, quality or being the best, sadly enough – it is a very non-serious contest where the points are given not for what is actually best but rather to please your neighboring countries. That is, the Scandinavian countries give highest points to the other Scandinavian countries, the latin speaking countries of Italy, Spain, Portugal etc. give highest points to each other, the East European countries ditto and so on. So no reason for our guys to be sad about not winning especially this contest as it proves really not much. I think coming in no. 3 was a very fine result for their performance. The thing about this contest is too, that people in Europe do not have the same taste in music – especially the East European countries differ a lot – so bringing such a very Italian song in melody and performance to the contest was kind of risky – no matter how well it was performed. So guys forget all about it – you did great! PS: I don’t understand the info about the telephonic votes at the contest- that they should make them win? The entire contest is based on telephonic votes being given on the night directly to the show, so I don’t know of any alternativ winners in this context?
    Thanks again. Best regards Kirsten

  8. Thank you Susan and Pat. This trip down memory lane was a pleasure. They have worked hard on their craft right from the beginning. They were already so good, but somehow needed that validation from their countrymen. I loved and still love to hear them every day. They created a signature song that is recognized around the world. They have earned who they are.

  9. Wonderful retelling of such an emotional and thrilling time for the guys and everyone involved. I enjoyed it. Congratulations to them.

  10. Always happy to find another chapter of Susan’s Il Volo adventures in my inbox! It was great to read the guys’ reminiscences of their doubts, fears, hopes and finally triumphs in 2015. And Susan – oh, my, I’d love it if the unnamed reporter read your comments about him, and the others as well. Yikes! You and Daniela are fierce protectors of the guys–bravo!

  11. Susan, I recall in a post a while ago, that you may have found a relative in Marsala? Does this mean you are writing from US? Even tho years have passed since this win for IL VOLO, can you explain the huge importance that Sanremo has for music in Europe? Is there anything comparable in US music business? American Idol? Not very classical. Help me, I’m confused.

    1. I am live in NY and I’m still checking out my ancestry in Marsala. There may be a family connection to Ermelinda De Bartoli, Ignazio’s teacher. Sanremo is hard to explain because it’s not just about the singer it’s also about the song that’s why the song is so important. I guess it could be like a grammy but Sanremo’s vote is also from the Italian people. NO doubt the guys voices are the most important but if the song wasn’t right they wouldn’t win. That’s why Ignazio said “we go with the right song or we don’t go!”

  12. After convincing the others to go, so sure that they would win, I sometimes wonder if Gianluca broke down that first night out of shear relief? And overwhelming emotion too, of course. Plus, it was his birthday and we all know how he feels about his birthdays. 😉🙂. 💙❤️❤️✈️✈️✈️

  13. Dear Susan
    This was a great article Ignazio Gianluca and Piero are such wonderful singers but they are such great men with fantastic voices Italy is so fortunate to have such a great singing group I love listening to them sing and for sharing this fantastic story with us
    congratulations I’ll Volvo for 12 wonderful years and more to come
    Jenny❤️

    1. Thanks Jenny and thanks Pat, Dorothy and Antoinette for celebrating with me last Saturday!

  14. Thanjs for sharung this part of the book. I remember that night that they won. I had the Italian station here and i was watching every minute. I had goosebumps and when Carlos said those words….IL VOLO … as the winner i began to cry with happiness for them. The rest is history. I cannot wait for their new music.
    Donna P

  15. Hi Susan. What a fun read. I felt like I was there with them making the decision. I am happy the Gian pushed them to enter the competition. It was a real life changer for them. Thanks for the great writing and bringing the fans into the lives of our favorite guys.

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