Over the past week I have been thinking about where it all began for the guys. As you know, I have written excerpts from their story but, I thought it might be nice for some of the new fans to hear about where it all began for the guys. Three different stories but all with the same ending! This is the story of how they were discovered and of course their journey to Ti Lascio una Canzone.
Piero: The Beginning of the Journey
Most of you know that Piero was discovered by his grandfather. In the garden of his grandparents’ house there is a mulberry tree and hanging on that tree is an old-fashioned swing. Piero was swinging on that swing when his grandfather heard him sing for the first time! He was about four years old at the time. The following day Pietro had a recording made of Piero singing “Un Amore Così Grande.”
The evening of the recording would be the beginning of Piero’s journey to stardom. As always, Piero’s entire family ate dinner together. The family consisted of his great grandmother, all the aunts, uncles and cousins who were like sisters and brothers to him. After dinner all the kids played soccer while the adults went outside to chat and enjoy the cool of the evening on the terrace. But this evening would be a little different because just one day earlier, Piero’s grandfather Pietro discovered that Piero had an amazing voice.
They had just finished dinner when *Pietro called his wife. “Rina, get the recorder.” Rina brought in the recorder and placed it in front of Pietro. The recorder was already prepared with the cassette that had the recording of Piero’s voice. Pietro turns to Piero’s dad and says, “Listen to this voice, Gaetano.” He pushes play and starts the recording of “Un Amore Così Grande.” Gaetano is amazed like he has just heard a good thing, and he says, “It’s beautiful, who is it daddy?” (He calls his father-in-law daddy.) Pietro says, “Piero.” Silence. Gaetano has a questioning looking on his face “How did Piero?” Pietro says, “So?”
On that night Piero’s life changed! His father did everything he could think of to start him on a musical journey. He wanted Piero to start the festivals but, he was too young. He needed to “put in a base” because the voice alone was not enough. Gaetano asked himself: “What must Piero start to do?” And the answer was: “Piero must start playing the piano”.
Piero began to study piano at the age of eight but, economically the family could not afford the costs of the lessons. So, Piero’s grandfather paid for everything, and not just from the material point of view. Stefano Tesè was Piero’s first piano teacher. The mother of Piero’s teacher lived on the floor below in his grandfather’s house and the master came to see his mother every Monday. Pietro made an agreement with Mr. Tesè to give Piero lessons every Monday at six o’clock.
Piero says, “The road was very short to my grandfather’s house, I could even go there alone, but here was the problem, to get there I had to face a dog that was going around in that neighborhood, that dog would approach and bark furiously. And I had a fear of dogs. Squeezed under my grandfather’s arm, he who being blind needed to be guided, I felt protected as behind a shield: when the dog approached, Pietro shouted: “Passa arrassu!” (fast pass), go away, and the dog went away.”
Piero confesses there was another problem, “Every Monday at six in the afternoon was a nightmare for me, because I did not like going to the piano lesson. Or rather, I liked it only when the lessons were good, when I could play, but at the beginning I was bored a lot with the hammers, solfeggios and all the things that you rightly have to learn to play the piano. Maestro Tesè was a tough guy and, I was always worried that he would scold me. After a while I started to understand how the piano worked and the lessons started to please me.”
The advice everyone gave Piero was that he should join the choir that met in the church of Santo Spirito in Agrigento. Originally Gaetano objected to this saying they would “break my sons voice,” but, eventually he came to the reality that this was the right thing to do. And so it was that Piero joined the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento.
And so it was that Piero started his classical musical education that would end at Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Of the three, Piero is the only one who said, “…. if there is one thing I want to do in life, it is singing, living for and with music.”
The original story I wrote about Piero’s beginnings I called **The Mulberry Tree because Piero was swinging on a swing which hung from a mulberry tree in his grandfather garden. Around the time of this event, I was at home in New York busy writing a screenplay. The name screenplay was “The Mulberry Tree!”
Ignazio: The Beginning of the Journey
In this story, Ignazio leaves his friends and his school in Bologna and starts all over again in Marsala. He fought this move every step of the way but this move would bring him to the start of his journey to stardom! All the What if’s, come into play! What if the family didn’t return to Marsala? What if Caterina didn’t open the pizzeria? What if that customer didn’t hear Ignazio sing? What if Ignazio decided not to take singing lessons? Ignazio’s story begins shortly after his arrival in Marsala
In 2004 there was a great change for Ignazio’s family. Ignazio’s mom had regained her health and finally the family was financially stable so, they returned to Marsala.
Ignazio’s story of the building of the pizzeria was so inspiring that I called my original story, “A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side.”
During the first year they were back in Marsala, Ignazio’s mom had gone back and forth every day to the center of Marsala to be able to secure her great dream: to open a pizzeria of her own. In order to open the pizzeria, she needed to do certain things. First thing: she had to get the permits and all the bureaucratic things that she needed to do. Second thing: she used the ovens of friends and made pizzas. Ignazio said: “I remember it very well. She went from one oven to another and tried so many types of flour, she tried the dough, she tried so many types of mozzarellas so, when she finally opened the pizzeria, she already knew how to prepare the right dough. It is different to make pizza in Bologna than making it in Marsala, take the word of a son and brother of a pizza maker: it is different because it depends on the humidity, the temperature and the type of flour. It’s not a simple matter to make a really good pizza.”
While Caterina was preparing permits and trying different kinds of pizza, it was left for the men to build the pizzeria. With the savings Vito accumulated over the years he began the work on the pizzeria. He was now working in a company that built wooden structures and being an experienced bricklayer, the dream could be realized, and the pizzeria could be built in front of the house.
Ignazio said: “For a whole year, in every free moment, my father dedicated himself to building the pizzeria for my mother and I loved to help him, so much so that when there were a few days of school vacation, I went to work with him.”
Ignazio continues; “You will think that I tell you about the pizzeria under construction, but I am not a pizza maker. Of course, if there had not been the pizzeria, perhaps I would never have started singing seriously.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within me. It was a passion for electronics and music. I had started to be part of the elementary school choir and my dad, who was more passionate about electronics than me, had bought me a mixer, a microphone and two speakers, with which we started doing the easiest thing that could be done with those instruments: karaoke.”
Finally, in 2005 the pizzeria was completed and, Caterina opened the Pizzeria dei Desideri.
Within a few months Caterina already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when Ignazio was singing at home, even the customers heard him. One day a gentleman said to Caterina, ‘You know, my daughter is studying singing, why don’t you come with your son once? Even just to try.”
Ignazio said: “Like everything else, we talked it over within my family and everyone was enthusiastic about it. It was decided, I would go and see what these singing lessona were like.
I remember it as if it were yesterday! I was eleven. I wore a yellow shirt with green stripes, fashion was never my strong point. Arianna, the daughter of the pizzeria customer, who had heard me sing, and her mother and I waited, in front of the school for more than twenty minutes for Liliana Andreanò, the singing teacher.
Lilliana Adreanò, arrived in a grey Opel Astra. She got out of the car and immediately entered the school.
I was worried, almost embarrassed. Hard to believe, right? Even as a child I’ve never been the type to be speechless.
Lilliana begins to talk about music, what kind of songs do I like to sing. It was already a strange thing because usually I just sang, no one asked me why and how. You know, Liliana, I said, I like to sing Giorgia’s songs.”
Lilliana said: “Strange for a kid to sing this kind of song.” She asked, “And which song of Giorgia would you like to make me listen to?” “Gocce Di Memoria (Drops of Memory),” I said. “I didn’t even have a doubt. I start singing and Liliana was amazed by my extension but asks me to try a male song too.”
Ignazio thought a little bit and then he said he sometimes sang Con Te Partirò by Andrea Bocelli. He started singing and, when he finished Liliana told him: “Ignazio, this is your musical direction”.
From that first lesson Ignazio began to study songs like “Il Mare Calmo Della Sera,” “Un Amore Così Grande” and all those that came to mind, and he liked it. The songs approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic.
Ignazio was very comfortable with Lilliana and they understood each other immediately because she was a sociable person, simple, as are all of Ignazio’s family.
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that Ignazio take part in a competition organized in Paolini. Ignazio wasn’t completely convinced that he wanted to go on a stage. Until that moment he had only thought about singing, but he never seriously thought that all his singing one day could bring him into the spotlight. In short, he was afraid. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not being able to face the stage, but just to gain mastery on stage, Liliana urged him to participate, and so in the end he decided to do it.
Ignazio said: “I was about to get on the stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with Bocelli’s “Con te partirò” (Time to Say Goodbye), a song that I had studied and re-studied with Liliana, but as soon as the music started, I had a terrible fear of forgetting the words. So, what did I do? I looked down all the time. So, the audience, the place, what happened around me while I was singing, it’s not that I do not remember anything, I just do not know because I only saw the tips of my feet.
Fortunately, however, I remembered all the words and it is not so obvious because sometimes it happens that I forget the words even today now that I have become professional, the emotion continues to take us despite everything and.… I came in third.”
Once the ice was broken and the stage panic was over, that ended up being just the first of many competitions for Ignazio.
After two and a half years, three that he was studying with Liliana, one day Lilliana told him that for the genre that he was going to sing another teacher was better suited to give lyrical singing lessons. So, Ignazio was convinced and started to follow another singing teacher, Roberta Caly.
So now his life became complicated. He went to Lilliana for singing lessons and interpretation. He went to Roberta for lyric singing. And he took a diction course from Lilliana and Roberta. He also went to a diction course with Lilliana and a diction course with Roberta but taught by other teachers in the school. And he also attended a jazz workshop.
Ignazio went to class every day except Sunday when he went to see Nina’s soccer matches. Nina was now playing in Serie B.
Between the school, the singing lessons, the piano lessons and diction Ignazio was always busy, so much so that he was forced to leave the school of soccer.
Ignazio could not do everything because of the economic conditions of his family. At this time Ignazio found another thing to do: an extracurricular musical laboratory. Ignazio was so busy but, he did not want to give up that workshop, it was about setting up musicals. Ignazio said, “It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”
In 2007, Ignazio stopped studying with Roberta. He met Giovanna Collica, a very good soprano, who gave lessons in Siracusa. Even though Giovanna was in Siracusa, which was a long journey from Ignazio’s home, she was too important to give up. She was a very good soprano, she had even sung a duet with Luciano Pavarotti.
Ignazio concludes, “It took a lot of money to cover the travel expenses, the lessons and the registration for competitions that in many cases were not free. So, it was at a certain point, mom and dad found themselves not having enough money to send me forward. They were more hurt than me. Having always worked and being accustomed to face sacrifices for the family, they did not want to surrender to this obstacle but at the same time they did not know what to do. In the end, it was necessary to make a decision. The decision was to ask a person dear to us for a loan that, as soon as mom and dad had settled a little, would be returned.
This person has helped us with great generosity, so as, to allow me to continue to pursue this dream.” Next stop Ti Lascio una Canzone!
Gianluca: The Beginning of the Journey
So, finally, we come to Gianluca. I must tell you Gianluca’s journey to stardom was different from Ignazio and Piero. The end result was the same but, the beginnings were different. Gianluca says: “Yes, we were lucky all three to have the families we had. Ignazio and Piero were able to study music thanks to the sacrifices, big sacrifices, of their families. I’ve never studied it, if I have to tell the truth, but the music at home has always been there.
Mom and dad tell me, when I was three years old, I sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who were sitting around in the square.”
This was the beginning of Gianluca’s journey to stardom.
Gianluca says, when he sings, he “doesn’t forget instinct.” What does that mean? Gianluca has never studied singing. He learned to ‘use’ his voice only thanks to his musical ear. He listens to the music and, it transmits everything he knows. And, for this, he is especially thankful to the Little Choir of Roses.
When Gianluca was about eight or nine, all those who knew him gave him the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo. They sang the songs of the “Zecchino D’oro” or other famous songs with arrangements in that style, with music for children. The Mago Zurlì, that was the presenter of the situation, was Gianluca’s dad, Ercole.
The choir was nice because they studied the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because they did not study the notes and how to do them, rather they studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what their ear heard.
Gianluca said: “If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, it seems to me like yesterday.
Ignazio’s story shows that things come and you do not have to force them to arrive. It is not different from mine. Maybe, a little bit different because, apart from the Little Choir of Roses and those modest performances with my father’s theater company, I’ve never done anything else, no competitions, no festivals. I did not want to do them, I never thought about it.”
Gianluca participated in the Festival of the Adriatic, in 2006, and he won it. In 2007 he participated in Ascoli Piceno, for young talents. He sang at weddings, that’s it. He recalls, “I sang Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ and they paid me. My first money earned with music. And for fun, in 2007 I recorded a CD in a studio in Roseto degli Abruzzi, it was called “Start from Here.” It was a study by Vincenzo Irelli, a very good musician.” Verilli heard Gianluca sing, probably in one of the Little Rose Choir’s performances, and he said to Mr. Ginoble, “Bring him to me.” Gianluca recalls, “We spent a couple of weeks recording the CD and then we gave it to all the relatives. If I think about it today, it makes me smile. Never, never would I have thought that it would not be the only one, that I could make music my life. I tell you I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy.”
Then what happened? In his story, Gianluca said: ‘I do not know exactly, what happened, because everything happened very quickly. If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio, it seems like yesterday. Instead, six years have passed. To tell you the truth, seven years passed from the casting sessions because it was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.
Who is Licia Giunco. She’s an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala. For the gala, skating champions come from all over Europe to participate. The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was Gianluca’s performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto,” Mrs. Guinco told Mr. Ginoble. “I would like to bring him to RAI (Italian TV Station).” Gianluca says, “My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined that I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.”
“Let’s try,” Mr. Ginoble replied, “It would be a great opportunity.” “Dad thought it was just a different experience something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco made available her contacts, we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he would take us to audition with Roberto Cenci for the broadcast of RAI. Maybe this is what I liked, the idea that it was only a life experience to do, an experience that would allow me to sing for a while. My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least. They left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.
At the studio, when they called my name, I entered the recording room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was big because he has a very tough character and, he did not convey much sympathy at the first meeting. But the essential thing is that I start to sing: I wanted to be a little alone to think, you know. I had chosen ‘The Voice of Silence.’ I remember it perfectly. I was thirteen, the first audition was in November 2008 and, I already had this deep, baritone voice.”
And so, we have arrived at “Ti Lascio una Canzone.”
These were the guys’ beginnings, but the real beginning was when they stepped on the stage and sang “O Sole Mio,” and began their real Journey to Stardom.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: email@example.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*All quotes are excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
**You can read my original stories “The Mulberry Tree,” “A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side,” and “And Then There Were Three,” on my Facebook page.
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.