GRAZIE MILLE TO GIOVANNA FOR TRANSLATING THIS FOR US!! 🙂
Anyone who has been to an Il Volo live concert knows that the guys are NOT stuffy, straight-laced, performers. The description I hear most about their stage presence, besides “thrilling,” is “warm.” In addition to great music sung by spectacular voices, a large part of the fun of an Il Volo concert is the guys’ non-stop joking, ribbing and “fuoco incrociato” (cross fire) on stage. Daniela gave us a lovely and letter-perfect overview of the magnificent music in her post on 6 June, 2021, never missing a single guest name, movie name or song title. I have the privilege of sharing with you the other fun part of the show – the “Chiacchiere Sul Palco,” the stage chatter. Sometimes it was pensive and touching, sometimes it was immensely funny. I didn’t translate everything verbatim, but my narrative is mostly in the order of the action on stage, so you can use it to follow much of the repartee if you don’t understand the Italian.
The “chiacchiere” didn’t start on the stage. Daniela showed and translated much of the Anteprima filmed backstage right before the show opening. Marco Giallini, former movie actor turned Italian TV comedian and TV host, was supposed to be getting the Il Volo guys ready for their big entrance by encouraging them on their opening with “Ecstasy of Gold” from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Piero comes on screen warming up, with Gian telling him not to force it. Ignazio limps on complaining of his shoes, which Marco thinks must be wood. Marco doesn’t help; he only manages to ask the guys if they’re nervous. Then the guys were too busy getting Marco ready, to get themselves ready. While adjusting Marco’s tie, Ignazio chastises him “Put yourself together better, this is an important event.” Gianluca, predictably, had to fix Marco’s hair. (Ignazio will razz Gianluca about his own hair later on). Piero does the last-minute run back to smooth Marco’s whiskers. It didn’t look like Marco got to do much for the guys at all.
After the opening number, Ignazio very gratefully expressed that after a year and a half of silence, their guests of honor were really the entire live audience.
Gianluca explained that this was the highest moment of their career, and it was such a responsibility that his legs were shaking. Ignazio quips that his legs are shaking, too, but in his case it’s because his shoes are a little too tight. He reassures the audience he can handle it, though. Piero, straight-faced, complains that even after a year and a half not singing in public, Ignazio hasn’t changed a bit. The rest of Piero’s remarks are to thank the Morricone family and Maestro Andrea.
The guys often talk about how inexperienced they were when they started as 15-year-olds. They decided to share what happened their first time rehearsing the theme from C’era Una Volta in America with Maestro Ennio Morricone at Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Ignazio asks who made “la brutta figura” (the lousy impression/bad mistake) that time. Gian admits it was him, so he’ll finish the story. At that age, he had no training and no idea how to respond to the conductor, who is the only one who can tell them when to come in, or even how to address him. When the Maestro pointed at Gianluca to lead off, he didn’t make a sound. Confused, he turned to the other guys and the Maestro, calling him the informal “tu, instead of the formal “lei.”” (No Maestro is never addressed as “tu” in front of the orchestra or audience). The Maestro, ever the forgiving father, told them, “It’s OK guys, just do what you do, I’ll handle it.” I noticed that as he told the last few lines of the story, Gianluca lapsed into Abruzzese. It may have been an embarrassing memory.
Piero, to rub it in to Gianluca, then (loudly and properly) asks the current Maestro (Andrea) Morricone, “Maestro, we’re ready. Can you kick us off now?”
Ignazio announces that now that they are grown up they don’t goof up like that anymore. (You should always check out the eyes on the other two, when he says things like that).
When they introduce “Nessun Dorma,” Ignazio explains they sang it during a different tribute (to the Three Tenors) in a different place (Florence), adding that some of the folks in tonight’s audience were probably there. When Ignazio gets no audience response, Piero throws in, “No. I guess no one at all was there.” After they gave a breathtaking performance, Piero got visibly shaken by the deafening applause, and had to explain that it was very emotional to hear that welcome response again after a year and a half of silence.
It’s at this point that we start to understand exactly how extensive their responsibility was. Piero mentions that he hasn’t slept in 40 days, since it was decided that the three of them would host and help plan the entire show. Piero explains he couldn’t sleep because of Ignazio. He was worried about managing the behavior of the usual crazy one. If you follow Instagram, you know that Ignazio is a self-confessed “rompiscatole” (pain-in-the-rear prankster).
As Piero mentioned, it was decided that the Il Volo guys would not just be the stars, but also do the music selection and be hosts. That meant choosing songs, scripting the stage act, interacting live with the guest stars, and coordinating with other artistic media. On top of that, it was being filmed live. That’s why you keep hearing Ignazio make comments throughout the concert about “il bello della diretta,” meaning “the beauty of what happens when you film live.” Even more, this was not a concert; it was a multi-media tribute. As you watch, you will notice that in addition to the 100-piece orchestra, choral backup choir, and powerful vocals, there were film clips, ballet choreography, still photo backdrops, and narrative readings. Our guys had to mesh these with the parts they scripted and performed themselves. Major responsibility, yes, and they carried it off beautifully.
Ignazio promises he could behave and feel better if he had “una piciottedda, una fimminedda.” Daniela explained these were Sicilian for a young girl or young lady. Gian decides Ignazio means he needs a muse. That’s when they bring on actress Laura Chiatti. She says she’s flattered because she’s never been a muse. Piero corrects her that she’s a muse for him and Gian, but for Ignazio she’s “una piciotta, una fimminedda.”
Ignazio brings her to his side, explaining, “We rehearsed where to have you stand. These other two told me, ‘Ignazio, you stand next to Laura.’ You see, those two have a fear of heights (paura dell’altezza).” In Italian, “altezza” doesn’t mean only high places. It also refers to a person’s physical height. Igna was intimating that Piero and Gian are afraid to stand near tall women. (But we know they are not!) Laura admits that without her heels, her height wouldn’t be a problem for anybody. Igna tells her he wants her to leave them on. Laura helps them introduce “Se Telefonando” by playing around with Ignazio using the three notes it’s known for.
Afterwards, Gian recounts that because they have been travelling since they were 15 years old, there were times when they got on stage and totally forgot where they were. Piero claims that Ignazio was the worst of the three. Ignazio explains that once when they arrived in Vienna, he shouted out to the crowd, “I love Germany”, but of course they were in Austria. Gian insists Ignazio also said “Good evening, Berlin,” when they were in Vienna. Ignazio argues that it was the exhaustion. Piero fires back to Igna, “No, that’s just you. Exhaustion has nothing to do with it.” Then Piero underscores Ignazio’s forgetfulness even more, saying “Let me tell you what he’s like: When we go on stage wearing socks, he forgets his socks. Then he forgets the bowtie. Then he forgets the cufflinks.”
As Ignazio slinks away in ignominy, Gian interrupts Piero, “Excuse me, but he has this incredible voice.” Piero goes after the escaping Igna calling “But without him… but without him…” and wins Ignazio back.
Piero explains that Ennio Morricone arranged the most requested song at all Il Volo concerts. When they get ready to sing “Il Mondo,” they get their places mixed up and Piero is headed downstage towards the audience. Ignazio is fussing that Piero has to be on stage to sing this next song, unless he intends to sing it from up in the balcony. (I have actually seen Piero do that for Puccini arias). This is another place that Ignazio remarks on “il bello della diretta.” (live filming). When they sort it out, Gian promises they’ll come down into the audience later. Read Daniela’s post to hear how gracious Piero can be when he’s down in the crowd.
After Riccardo Cocciante performs with the guys and announces he’s had 50 years of career, Gian says he hopes Il Volo will be able to say that someday, too.
Marco Giallini finally joins the guys on stage. In preparation for the next love song, he asks the guys about their first kiss. Igna tells a story most of you already know. He remembers being four years old and crawling under the sofa to hide from his first kiss. Marco asks Gianluca about his first kiss. Gian says he doesn’t know, he hasn’t had one yet. Marco encourages him, “There’s still time.” When he turns to Piero, Gianluca says it’s better if Piero doesn’t answer this one. (I don’t know what that was about). Gianluca also asks Marco if they can call him “Zio”, Uncle Marco.
The guys bring on Salvatore Cascio who played little Salvatore “Toto” Di Vita in “Cinema Paradiso” in 1988. (My late Uncle Salvatore was also Toto). Igna describes Toto as “The little boy (“picciuteddu”) who has grown up a lot.” Igna tells him he wanted to speak to him on stage in Sicilian but he’s not allowed, so, they will visit backstage later. Note though, that Ignazio had been throwing Sicilian around on stage all evening, anyway. I don’t know what put Ignazio in that mood, but he may have been remembering and honoring his late father in some way. Before Toto leaves, Piero remarks how many people he made cry during that film, but Toto adds, “and made them laugh, too.”
Nina Zilli joins them for “Metti, Una Sera a Cena.” After pianist Raphael Gualazzi says his goodbyes, Ignazio brings Nina forward saying “Look at all this splendor.” She flirts back with “You’re not looking bad yourself.”
After the break, Piero starts the next “battuta” (gag) by saying “When we meet people on the street they often say, ‘I remember you when you were this little.’” Ignazio gibes that Gian and Piero may once have been that little, but he was never that little. Piero snipes “Let’s look at a picture of Ignazio when he was little, so darling, so fascinating, so attractive.” They show the pudgy, round-faced little guy he was. Gianluca points at today’s Igna, saying “What a miracle. Look at how handsome he is now.” Ignazio rebuts Piero with, “Ok, do you want to talk about what you were like: ‘pafutello’ chubby.” We see a chubby Piero with the wild ears and chopped hair. Gian is waving at the current Piero and calling out “Miracle 2.0!” Then they show Gianluca as a child. Same smooth face, same smoldering eyes, same daring stare. Piero is yelling “Always the same. Same pose, even. Peter Pan. Never even a wrinkle.” Gian says he can still do that look, does a spin and comes around in the same pose.
Marco Giallini shares a narrative about the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti before the guys sing “Here’s to You”. Afterwards, he tells a story about Ennio Morricone having a face-off with Franco Zeffirelli who rejected “E Più Ti Penso” for one of his films, and chose a Diana Ross song instead. Marco always manages to slip in F-bombs and funny Italian obscenities into his stories, and of course does it here. That doesn’t mean I’m going to repeat or translate them.
Ok. Next skit. After “E Più Ti Penso,” Ignazio uses one of their old lead-ins that “We are three different personalities, with three different tastes in music, and three different heights. But, of course while we’re sitting down right now you can’t see that.” You can almost tell what’s coming. Piero reacts with “Yes, three different personalities, and three different musical tastes. But the three different heights, Non c’entrava niente.” (Had nothing to do with anything). Igna insists, “Yes it does. For Gianluca to look as tall as me, he had to start styling his hair up really high (“allungare il ciuffo”) like he does.” Gian points out that he had his hair styled lower this evening. (He did).