As we get closer to the guy’s arrival in the United States I want to go back and revisit some of what they did in the beginning that got them to America!
You will recall how Piero and Ignazio were taking voice lessons and piano lessons and, Gianluca just sang for his own pleasure. Each one was approached in a different way to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. What we will look at today is how each one was approached to audition and what that experience was like!
Let’s begin with where they were in their lives when they were called to audition…
Piero, when not in school, was busy with his voice lessons and his festivals. In November 2008 a phone call changed Piero’s life forever.
Piero’s singing lessons were not in Naro. He had a long drive to his teacher’s studio. It became increasing difficult for his father to drive him to these lessons so, Piero made arrangements with his cousin Giuseppe, to drive him and he made arrangements with the student who had lessons after him to drive back home. At the end of Piero’s singing lesson, he would wait for the student to finish his lesson so they could travel home together. This student lived near his paternal grandmother’s house.
Let’s let Piero explain what happened one day…
Usually, as the boy who gave me passage lived near my paternal grandmother, he always left me at her house where my father came to pick me up when he finished work. Only that evening my father was already at my grandmother’s and was talking on the phone.
‘Who was that dad?’ Was the first thing I asked him when he finished speaking.
‘Wait, let’s go home and I’ll tell you.’
It was strange that he was mysterious with me, 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 finish dinner, and daddy keeps his promise and tells me: ‘On the phone was a lady, a certain Isabella Abiuso. She is part of the casting of 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 just 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 we go, you do 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 to someone else.
Isabella Abiuso, one of the talent scouts who selected children for the broadcast, called the editors of the festival and asked for a name to try, someone interesting for that kind of television program. The organizers of the Tour Music Fest told her, ‘Mrs. Abiuso, here there is nothing that we can give, apart from a certain Piero Barone, which for us has not gone well because it is not the kind of music that we deal with, but he certainly has an innate talent.’ 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?’
Let’s see what Piero had to say about the experience of the audition…
What do I remember from the audition? I remember that it was in Via dei Gracchi in Rome, that I arrived there with La Voce Del Silenzo and the unfailing Un Amore Così Grande and the suits that my father bought me, I felt like a king.
“Mr. Barone, we’ll let you know” they told Dad when I finished singing. After five days, the longest of my life, they call and say: “Prepare these five pieces for the next audition”. Those five tracks were:
Sei Nell’Anima of Gianna Nannini
La Voce Del Silenzo
Un Amore Così Grande
Voglio Vivere Così
Domenica è Sempre Domenica
The aim was to test me on different genres, of course, to understand which one was the most suitable for me. So, I get to the recording studio in Rome and start singing. Only shortly thereafter, they stop the music. The first so, the second and I was already demoralized, if a test does not make it even to the refrain, it’s not a good sign. The first thing I thought was that it did not go well. At the third track I attack the refrain, “Un Amore Cosi” …….and they stop the musical base. When I left the recording room and arrived in the mixer room, I found dad with my brother and a friend who had come to Cosenza with us at the Tour Music Fest, all three beautiful smiling, quiet. I died and they are happy. There is something wrong. Roberto Cenci looks at me and tells me: “Bravo, Piero, you are inside the program”. But I really believed it only when they brought me to the seamstress.
And how about Ignazio?
Ignazio was busy with his voice lessons and festivals but his experience with the festivals was very different from Piero’s. Ignazio has always been a person who believed in fair competition. It certainly is nice to win but he always felt that a person should win because they deserve to win. There was too much cheating and payoff going on. Young people were not winning because of their talent. It was very unfair for the other competitors who worked so hard to get to that competition.
Let me let Ignazio tell you the situation when Franco Fasano proposed that he audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone….
I felt like a crap. No, not when they called me to audition, before I felt like a 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 really a person 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 this terrible mood when, in September of that year, I was offered a competition in Caltanissetta, which was presented by the great Nico dei Gabbiani and had as president of the jury Franco Fasano, author and composer of songs like Ti Lascerò who won the Sanremo Festival, and also singer songwriter as E Quel Giorno Non Mi Perderai Più.
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, had reached its second edition. That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
So, Ignazio went off to Rome for his audition. Let’s continue with Ignazio’s experience….
But I did not really believe it. I remained as usual with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I must admit, at first, I was a bit perplexed at the idea of going to the audition because, I have always been a pessimist, but then, we talked about it in the family, as we have always been used to doing, we said to ourselves: “Why not?” So, in the end I went to do the auditions in Rome, funded by mom and dad who, in the meantime, were continuing to make great sacrifices for me.
I arrived with mom and dad at via dei Gracchi, where the auditions were held. There were many guys like me who were hoping for something positive without expecting anything, trying not to have too many illusions.
At the beginning, I was also quite calm, it could not be much different from singing on stage. Anxiety began to rise as my turn approached. And here they call my name: ‘Boschetto?’ I got up and went into the studio where the boys were singing. There was, Roberto Cenci, waiting for me. He looked at me and asked, ‘Dear Boschetto, what are you letting us hear today?’ I had chosen Ti Cerchero by Gigi Finizio and Melodramma by Andrea Bocelli.
‘Thank you very much’ was the only thing Roberto Cenci told me when I finished singing. All there? But how was I doing? Was I okay? I had no idea but, climbing the stairs, Pannocchia, who was the manager who accompanied us, tells me that I have to study a song within thirty minutes. What song? The Winner Takes It All by ABBA. To help me there was Luca Pitteri, a vocal coach who collaborated with AMICI and who at that time worked for Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
They gave me a CD player and I started to listen and study the song, and after exactly thirty minutes they called me back, we went into the studio where Roberto Cenci was waiting for me. ‘Please, start’ he said, and the base started. I cannot say if I sang well, I do not remember anything other than the fact that somehow, they let me guess that I was inside the program, I had succeeded, but I tried not to build too many castles in the air as we returned home. What I did not know was that while I was inside singing The Winner Takes It All, outside my mother and Pannocchia spoke and he said: ‘Ignazio is in the program, madam!’ But they did not even tell me. Of course, I had a positive feeling, but how positive is the presentiment of one who is pessimistic.
Afterwards, like Piero, Ignazio wasn’t told anything. After a few days he was called back to Rome….
After a few days they called me back telling me that I had to go back to Rome. I did not know why but already the phone call filled me with joy. Maybe I had to take another test? I know it may sound strange, but I really did not know what to expect. Then in reality the reason for the summons to Rome was to tell me that I had been taken, I was in the cast of Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
And then there was Gianluca. Gianluca’s story is very different. You could say, unlike Piero and Ignazio who studied music in every spare moment of their day, Gianluca had a life. He enjoyed spending his days playing soccer and listening to Andrea Bocelli on his portable radio. He enjoyed being outdoors. Going to the forest with his brother and his friends and just singing for his own enjoyment. Gianluca never participated in the festivals. If it wasn’t for the Piccolo Choir of Roses, Gianluca may not have been discovered.
Let’s listen to Gianluca’s tell us how the Piccolo Choir of Roses got him the audition of Ti Lascio Una Canzone….
Do you see destiny? The story of Ignazio shows that things come and, you do not have to force them to arrive.
I only sang because it made me feel good, when I was singing, I was happy. Then what happened? I don’t really know. 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 this lady is, 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 my performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto” she told my father. “Let’s bring him to RAI.” My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.
“Let’s try,” he replied to her. “It would be a great opportunity.” What dad thought was just a different experience, something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco had made available to us her contacts: we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he took us to the audition with Roberto Cenci for a broadcast of RAI. Maybe 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.
I’m sorry for Piero and Ignazio, but I did not have to wait for a phone call to know the result of the audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Via dei Gracchi in Rome, I remember very well. It is in a fairly central area, in the Prati district and not far from the Vatican, a very long street full of very beautiful buildings….
When we entered, I realized that I would not be alone to support that audition. There were many other guys, all with their parents, a long line of people, but I was not worried because I was there just for fun, it was already an adventure.
When they called my name, I entered the registration room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was a bit so, because he has a very tough character, does 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.
I sang in the recording room and saw the others on the other side of the glass. There was Roberto Cenci, my grandfather was there with my mother, my brother, and my father, all in the other room. So, I sing and at one point, Roberto stops the music and says: ‘Stop all.’ ‘What happens?’ I thought. From where I was, I did not understand anything, I saw only the faces.
‘This boy’ continues Roberto, addressing my family, ‘he was kissed by the Lord.’ All I could see were only the faces of my parents and in my head, I kept asking ‘What’s up?’ And at a certain point I did not make it anymore and I opened the door, I went to Roberto, and I repeated: ‘What’s going on?’ I was small, I could not realize. My father, made a face, I do not forget, he looks at me and says: ‘Nothing, good!’
‘Congratulations’ Roberto tells me, hugs me, makes me sing another song, calls all the others on the staff. ‘Feel this baby, you feel like singing.’ I remember these scenes very well; I see it again. And I was very excited, I was very happy, I could not even sing, at one point I even stuck. Because I did not expect such a positive reaction from Roberto Cenci and all the others, producers, technicians and I do not know who else there was, that day, because Roberto had called everyone.
My mother and father never stopped smiling. My grandfather was very happy, if possible, more than when we left. My brother was small, but it was clear to him that it was a party. In the end, do you know until how late we stayed in that hall? Until nine in the evening, because Roberto Cenci called me back even after the audition to make me sing some more songs, to start making me try some duet. In short, when we said goodbye, I was exhausted, but I was bursting with joy.
From that day in Rome, I remember very well Ignazio’s mother. I do not remember seeing either Piero or Ignazio, but Caterina yes. During the audition they made us sing in a recording room, outside in the queue was Ignazio’s mother. Caterina heard the voice of someone singing, and she had listened to me. When I came out, she looked at me and said: “Congratulations! Bravo, very good!”. She heard me sing and she thought Andrea Bocelli was in the recording room.
So now we have all the guys accepted in the program but, we still need to get them together on stage.
From Via dei Gracchi the guys went on to Ti Lascio Una Canzone and we all know how that turned out! They won first, second and third place but the biggest win was Il Volo.
This was just the beginning of the journey that would lead them to the United States and around the world. Their name is known worldwide. They have become superstars! They have 4,500 fan clubs worldwide with over five million fans. Not bad for three Italian teenagers who came from families like yours and mine.
We await your arrival at Radio City Music Hall! And we will never forget your last performances there!
Radio City February 6, 2020 I Mondo ~ Un Amore Così Grande
Radio City March 4, 2017 ~ Caruso
Radio City September 27, 2013 ~ Granada
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!