Left to right: Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca on stage with their arms around each other

Two Phone Calls and a Competition

I know it’s an old story but, watching the guys on Da Grande and also seeing Antonella Clerici brought back great memories of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
In the beginning there were three amazing teenagers who stole our hearts and here we are 12 years later still in love with them.

A younger IL Volo walking in the street

But let’s back up a minute. No not all the way back. Just to those last days before the big decision was made. The guys didn’t know it, but their world was about to be rocked.
Piero needed a break! He was tired. He did all the competitions around Sicily. He was winning but he just needed a break!  The competitions were getting to him. Between the voice lessons, piano lessons and the competitions, he was burned out.  No, he was ready for a break!
Ignazio wanted out of the competitions! All the hard work seemed in vain. Facing one competition after another. After a while the stages change but not the faces. Those who work so hard just to be on that stage and those who walk in and take what rightfully belongs to another. No Ignazio had it. He was done with it. Not with the singing, no that was who he was that was never going away. Singing from morning till night no, that wasn’t going to end. No, it was time to hang up the dreams and walk away from the competitions! Life can be so unfair!
It’s so funny with Piero and Ignazio when we listen to stories about their early teen years, they are always full of lessons and competitions. Maybe a soccer game here and there for Ignazio but no it’s all about the music! But Gianluca no he was different. Very different! Gianluca said, “I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy.”
Gianluca will tell you I was not like Piero or Ignazio. I never took a singing lesson in my life. Gianluca spent his days on a soccer field. He loved to play! He still does but life seems to get in the way now! Gianluca loved to sing but mostly for his own enjoyment. As a part of the Little Choir of Roses, he traveled around with the choir and enjoyed the moment. There was no competing, no lessons, just a simple happy life.
Then suddenly something happened and, their worlds collided! It all came down to Two Phone Calls and a Competition! And so here I give you the last intricate piece of the equation? How did they all wind up on the same stage?

Piero’s Phone Call
If I have to tell the truth, my project was to become a tenor and a singing teacher. Many opera singers have this double life because, unless you reach a certain level, you cannot always live by only singing!
I, who always thought I would sing alone for the rest of my life, I imagined myself a tenor divided between theater and teaching. But before we got there the road was very long, and it was also in the strict sense of the word. From Naro to Vittoria, where there was the master who had advised me to go to the teacher Bavaglio of Palermo. It was a two hours’ drive in the first leg and as many as the return.
Having to travel to sing was not new to Piero, he always traveled with his dad. Every Saturday his father took him to Agrigento to the rehearsals of the choir of Santa Cecilia. Piero said, “those afternoons were so beautiful. He sacrificed those afternoons to be with me. He could have spent the time at the bar playing cards with his friends but, he chose to take me to Agrigento, a fifteen, twenty-minute drive from Naro.”
Piero continues….
At the first lesson, we arrived in Vittoria and, we go to the house of this baritone. I was all excited to do the vocalizations and comments. The master Bavaglio says, “I expected more from you.” I was demoralized. But the goal was there, I wanted music to become my life and so, despite the disappointment, for four or five months I kept going to him.
Before the baritone of Vittoria, for about two or three months, Piero studied with a soprano from Caltanissetta. He rode to the lessons with his cousin Giuseppe and returned with a boy from Naro who was studying with the same teacher. The boy who gave him a ride lived near his paternal grandmother so, he always left Piero with her and then his father came to pick him up when he finished work. Only that evening, his father was already there and, he was talking on the phone. When he finished his conversation, Piero asked, “Who was that dad?” His father replied, “Wait, let’s go home and I’ll tell you later.”
Piero recalls….
It was strange that he would act so mysteriously, but I always trusted him blindly and if he said ‘after’ he meant that it was okay. I was curious, for sure, but I waited calmly. We finished dinner, and daddy kept his promise and told me. ‘On the phone was a lady, a certain Isabella Abiuso. She is part of the casting for Ti Lascio una Canzone and she was given your name by the Tour Music Fest. Stop all and take a step back, ‘what is the Tour Music Fest? It’s a festival that I did not want to do. It’s not that I was undecided, I wanted to think about it. No, I did not want to do it because I won all these festivals and, I was a little tired. Yet it is a great European festival dedicated to emerging music born in 2003. It has several stages, runs throughout Italy and not just singers, but also bands and musicians participated. The stage closest to us was that of Cosenza. ‘I have to drive,’ dad had told me, ‘we have a comfortable car, you sleep and, I drive, you will not even notice.’ Twenty-four hours to do Naro-Cosenza, Cosenza-Naro. We arrive there, I sing, and they do not give me more news. But they gave it to someone else.
“Isabella Abiuso,” Piero says, “was one of the talent scouts who selected children for the broadcast Ti Lascio una Canzone.” She called the editors of the festival and asked for a name to try someone interesting for that kind of television program. They told Mrs. Abiuso, “Here there is nothing that we can give, apart from a certain Piero Barone, which for us did not work out because it’s not the kind of music that we deal with, but he certainly has an innate talent.”
Piero continues his conversation with his dad…
I was not sixteen yet, it was November 2008. ‘Dad’ I immediately said, ‘this Ti Lascio una Canzone, I’d like to do it. Let’s try, why not?’…. My father thought about it and said: ‘Wait, let’s talk with the maestro in Vittoria.’
‘You are crazy’ was the teacher’s answer. ‘You ruin him with these things because television takes the boys’ heads, it spoils the future.’ Is it possible? Before I was not good enough and, now I could not do the audition because I could ruin the future? My father did not see this anymore. ‘No, I have to make him do it.’
And so it was that Piero auditioned for Ti Lascio una Canzone!

Ignazio’s Competition….
I felt like crap. No, not when they called me to audition, before I felt like crap, so much so that I almost lost it that night when they talked to me for the first time about Ti Lascio una Canzone. The fact is that competition after competition, year after year, perhaps because I grew up and became less naive – now I was fourteen – at a certain point in 2008 I realized that, as wonderful as it was, the music world was starting to give me the first disappointments: people who paid to see their child win, recommendations and various scams.
My problem is that I have always been for healthy competition, getting to the first place because a person really deserves to be rewarded as such. But it was not like that anymore. I did not want to participate anymore in any competition. I began to give up many proposals. I was in a terrible mood when, in September of that year, I was offered a competition in Caltanissetta, which was presented by the great Nico di Gabbiani and had as president of the jury Franco Fasano, author and composer of songs like Ti Lascero,’ who won the Sanremo Festival, and also singer/ songwriter as E Quel Giorno Non Mi Perderai Piu’.
It seems Ignazio began to realize that life isn’t always fair and there are people in life who cheat you out of the things that can give your life meaning! Can you imagine working so hard and knowing you did your best but, someone walks in and takes it away from you for selfish reasons? That’s a hard lesson to learn at such a young age. I think this experience was one of the things that made Ignazio as compassionate as he is. He didn’t care about winning for himself, he cared about the competition being fair.
Let’s continue with Ignazio’s story….
Instinctively I said no. I did not want to take part in any competition that could turn out to be made up. But after so many evenings talking to my family and Liliana, who was always present and always ready to give me some advice, I convinced myself, I am happy to say that there are no recommendations in that competition. I reached third place. But the greatest satisfaction was not the result. At the end of the final evening Franco Fasano took the stage, proposing to do a test in Rome, he did not promise me anything for sure, for a television program that, having seen the great success of the first edition, had reached its second edition.
That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone!

Gianluca’s Phone Call
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 at Ti Lascio una Canzone, 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.
It is difficult to explain who Licia Giunco is.  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.
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.”
Gianluca continues….
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,’ my father replied to Mrs. Giunco. ‘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 took 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 and, as enthusiastic as they were of the idea of what I could do, they completely 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.
So, we find Gianluca already with one foot in the door. He was given an amazing opportunity. This woman saw his potential. She knew he would be the perfect competitor. For Piero or Ignazio, they had to wait and see if they would be accepted. But they were used to competition and so they understood how to be patient. 
Each one qualified! Next stop Ti Lascio una Canzone! The rest is history!
12 years later….

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero on stage

So, I come back to where I started this story on stage with Antonella Clerici and 12 years later, they can relive the moment on Alessandro Cattelan’s program Da Grande. But this is a story   for another day! Instead let’s listen to what the guys have to say about how far they’ve come in the last 12 years.
A short time after the Tribute to Morricone, the guys sat down with Pascal Vicedomini from FELICITÀ.
Pascal was interested to know how the guys got from Ti Lascio una Canzone to the Verona Arena. These are just a few excerpts from that interview.
Pascal: Ignazio, when did you realize that your life was changing?
Ignazio: But maybe we haven’t noticed yet, because fortunately, and I say fortunately, we live things with simplicity, always trying to put music, our passion, in the foreground. It’s normal, there are many responsibilities, we are no longer kids, where there is the novelty of three kids who have important voices, adult voices, so now is the time to work, to develop new ideas. With our manager Michele Torpedine we always try to renew ourselves, we lock ourselves in a room for days to understand what the best thing is and the next step to take.
There was the Arena di Verona, and we are already thinking about another project, so we must never stop.
Gianluca talks about their relationship after 12 years….
Let’s say that, certainly the novelty was that, as Ignazio said, of three children singing pop-lyric, because it was the first time, so let’s say that from this point of view, we have always tried to be unique, and to propose to the public, to the people who follow us, something different.
Then, it is clear that over time, it is necessary to demonstrate and consolidate success, because being the novelty, it is also easy to be a meteor, therefore, as Ignazio said, sorry if I repeat myself, we must renew ourselves, with hard work, with constancy, with sacrifices and always staying on track, this is important. I must say that there is not only a working relationship, but also our friendship has been consolidated over time, and this helps us to be cohesive, strong and to develop ideas that allow us to renew ourselves.
One of the shows the guys really enjoy going on is Red Ronnie. The guys are always so relaxed when they do his show. Let’s listen to what Red Ronnie had to say about the guys….
I want for them, all that is good for the soul, because even if they joined almost by chance, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca, they have three totally different personalities, who together have a crazy cohesion, so much so that they have invaded the world.
I hope they enjoy the happiness they deserve and are experiencing, because …… because they are still spontaneous, they still have the desire to see with their eyes what happens and, this is important, also with the heart. They are perfect when they are elegant, at the Verona Arena or on an important stage, or when they are like this, a little “discarded” when they come to my program and let themselves go. Because they are three guys, very lucky, and very alive.
Pascal says that Red Ronnie is right, three very different guys, who complement each other on stage, three particular characters, united by their common talent and love for music: Piero the professor, Ignazio the philosopher and Gianluca the seducer, two Sicilians and an Abruzzese.
After all, they are three young people of today with the ancient passion for opera, to be merged with pop, a characteristic that makes them appealing in a transversal way to the different civilizations crossed in their first twelve years of common career in the world.
And where are the journalist today?
…. the journalist and writer Pierangelo Buttafuoco points out….
It is up to the village boy to “take flight”. If that of IL VOLO is the story, or rather the novel, or better still the epic, of those who, like the guys, know how to go away. Because the commandment given to the country guys is always the same, and it is this: “Who goes out, succeeds” (it’s a pun that says whoever leaves the country, succeeds, that is, is successful, in life), and said in Sicilian it becomes: “cu nesci, arriesci”.
The writer/journalist Antonella Boralevi tells us what is special about Il Volo.
….in this name, you already hear it! This name, takes you somewhere else, and then the fact that, we never say Il Volo, but we say “the boys of Il Volo.” I think that the three members of Il Volo group will have to get used to being called “boys” even when they are 70 years old.
But above all I would like to thank them, the guys from Il Volo, because they have the characteristic of giving joy. The guys from Il Volo put you in a good mood. The guys from Il Volo, you look at them and you feel better, you listen to them and, you hum them and, you feel better. So, as they say, go go go, guys from Il Volo and thank you for the joy you give us.
Pascal swings the interview in another direction….

IL VOLO on stage with Plácido Domingo

Pascal: What does it feel like to follow in the footsteps of three legends, who started the history of opera-pop? Tell me the thoughts of Il Volo about this.
Piero: The three tenors, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras, were the three who cleared opera, classical music, outside the theater and brought it to the general public.
Let’s say that we are trying to follow, humbly, without emulating the three tenors, we are trying not to let this music die, which will never end, because classical music, the classical term, is synonymous with eternal.
We were in Florence, in Piazza Santa Croce, it was not a normal evening, it was a Magic Night, in fact it was the title of that project that we have taken on tour everywhere.
Clearly when we conceive a project, if there is no trust on the part of someone, there is no encouragement. When the idea of doing the Tribute to the Three Tenors was born, there was the foundation of Pavarotti who supported this idea, many messages with Josè Carreras, but the maestro Plácido Domingo did us the honor.
Ignazio: Besides he (Placido Domingo) is a great friend of ours!
Piero: He did us the honor of accepting our invitation, coming to Florence, conducting and singing that repertoire with us, so having his support gave us so much strength.
Gianluca: I would also like to add that we have just done the concert at the Arena di Verona, the Tribute to Morricone, and there too, as Piero said, there was support, and of course it continues to be there for this recording project that will be released soon, by maestro Andrea Morricone and the whole Morricone family.
So, this gives us that encouragement Piero was talking about.

IL VOLO standing on an outdoor stage

The guys have taken us on a journey that joined them and, they showed us how the most important thing to them is to constantly renew themselves.
Well, this last year has certainly showed us how far you can go when you are constantly looking for new ways to approach your music. None more so than the Tribute to Morricone. I think this will probably be one of the best decisions of their lives. This project has sent them in so many different directions. It has opened up a whole new world for them. And it’s not over yet! There is so much more which we haven’t seen or heard yet. Every day we learn something new from the guys!  It’s amazing how they keep moving forward in a world that has chosen to stand still over the last year and a half. They never let the world situation get in their way. They continue to move forward always looking for new projects.  We know there will be an announcement about a new project soon!

What has this story taught us? That success is as close as Two Phone Calls and a Competition away!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvolo flightcrw.com.


Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

14 thoughts on “Two Phone Calls and a Competition”

  1. I cannot find words to say how appreciative I am for your sharing this beautiful information with us all! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  2. Love, love, love them, their music and antics take me to a very happy place. Each one is so different and so talented. Not a day goes by when I don’t listen or watch them. I am so truly happy for their success, please don’t ever change.i wish them all life has to offer.

  3. Susan, Susan, I didn’t realize it but this was the story I was waiting for–the part of their lives leading up to Ti Lascio Una Canzione. Thank you for bringing this to us.
    I have a question in the section about Ignazio. When you say “people who pay to see their children win” do you mean that the judges were taking bribes? If that was true that is really a tough experience for someone as young as he was.

  4. Thanks so much as always, Susan, for translating sections of Michele’s book. It’s amazing that Ignazio was already burned out at 14! So happy that he changed his mind and tried one more competition!! You’ve included some cuts from the 2014 Taormina concert–one of my favorites. Ignazio outdid himself in the charm department here.

    1. I think it was on this blog that I learned that Ignazio’s range covers all that a tenor can be expected to sing. I’m probably not stating this correctly because I’m ignorant of anything technical regarding music.
      Anyway, in that video of the Taormina concert I was able to discover how low he can go. We already heard the highs when he sings IL Mondo.
      I’m paying more attention and not just appreciating how they sound, not to mention their charm.

  5. Susan, like always just beautiful thank you I always wait when I’m relaxing to read your story so nobody can bother or disturb me .. again thank you 🙏🏼 🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹

  6. Hi Susan,
    Thank you for the many stories you have wtitten.
    I’m a 74-year-old grandmother who discovered Il Volo only in May 2021. I’ve been having a wonderful time catching up on their development during the past 12 years, thanks to having access to the internet.
    Your stories are interesting and have given me greater insights.

    My best wishes to you and all the friends out there!

    Peckyin Toh (frm SINGAPORE, in South-East Asia)

    1. Hello, Peckyin Toh! Welcome to the Club! I’m 89 years old and just became a member about the same time you found them. Look forward to many wonderful postings by Susan, Daniela and Patti. They are so informative and bring “our boys/men” even closer. Dolores (DeeBee)

  7. Oh, Susan! What can I say but THANK YOU again! Such a treat to read about our boys and their experiences before doing the all important competition that became IL VOLO! As much as we love them, it really makes them even more human and relatable to their fans and I’m sure I don’t only speak for myself.

    The individual videos of them singing made this posting even more special. I’ll never get tired of hearing their glorious voices. Hugs, Dolores

  8. Like the previous comment I only found the boys this year and wow they are amazing. Thank you for the history lesson, being retired I looked on thier tour schedule and discovered they have been to London, but i missed out. Not being put off I have bought 2 tickets for thier Rome concert next October 7th, 2022, all I have to do is get there and find accommodation a minor problem lol. I’m taking my daughter n law as a suprize trip to see Rome and the boys I can’t wait.

  9. Thank you once again Susan. I have been following Il Volo since their first PBS special and there is still so much to learn about these wonderful young men. From an early age, they were exceptional in so many ways and not just their beautiful, mature voices. Gianluca’s early days were obviously different than Piero and Ignazio. Ignazio and Piero, especially, was really dedicating so much time to piano lessons, singing lessons, choir and school. You can see why he is so disciplined and very focused. And they all had such wonderful, loving and supportive parents!

  10. Thank you again for another wonderful, informative blog Never get tired of reading about these guys. Thanks goodness Piero and Igna decided to audition. Just think of what we all would have missed out on. Have been following them since the PBS program and so thankful I just happened to turn it on when they were on. Did have the opportunity to see them in concert in Florida and also did the M&G which was a big thrill. Love these guys

    1. Mary Jane, I also first saw them on PBS a few years ago. Most of you won’t believe this. I had to see two of their PBS concerts before they captured my heart. Now I don’t understand why.
      There have been a few people who posted that they only found IL Volo recently. I’d like to know how it happened.

  11. Susan, thank you for another interesting article. I especially liked the interview with Pascal. No matter when our guys respond to interview questions they handle themselves professionally, their answers are thoughtful and they support each other as needed.
    I am looking forward to next week’s aricle. Have a safe and happy weekend.

Leave a Reply