So, when we left the guy’s last week, they were teenagers, and they were starting to realize their potential. Well at least Piero and Ignazio were! Gianluca, not so much!
An Amazing and Playful Video
When Piero started elementary school, there were no music classes and this was a great disappointment for him but now that he was in middle school, the music lessons became an important part of his day. And his teacher Professor Nisi made sure that Piero was a part of every aspect of music even to the point of having him enter the festivals around Sicily. Of course, that was interrupted by the change of voice!
At the age of fourteen Piero was back on track. When he resumed his singing, he was in high school, an accounting school, and there was no music, no music teacher and no festivals.
Could Piero live without the festivals? Not a problem! His father took the situation into his own hands, and he started the festivals again. As Piero said, “One summer I took part in six festivals, and I won all six. And Piero was more and more convinced that if there was one thing he wanted to do in life, it was singing, living for and with music.
So, let’s join Piero as he steps on the road that leads to Rome….
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, there was the master who had advised me to go to the teacher Bavaglio of Palermo. It was a two-hour drive in the first leg and as many on the return.
Having to travel to sing was not new to Piero, he always traveled with his father. 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.”
At the first lesson, with the teacher Bavaglio, 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. One evening, when he arrived, 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.”
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!
So, Piero has made the leap and stepped on the road to Rome. Let’s turn to Ignazio and see how he made the decision to go to Rome.
When we left Ignazio last week, he was traveling back and forth to Siracusa to study with Giovanna Collica.
You will remember Siracusa is on the east coast of Sicily and Marsala on the west coast. No matter the distance, studying with Giovanna was a great opportunity, so the sacrifice had to be made and once a week Ignazio took the bus with Nina, or drove with his parents to Siracusa.
You also remember, finances were not so great by this time. 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. But Ignazio tells us, “The decision was made to ask a person dear to us, 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.”
Ignazio was happy with the lessons and with the direction he chose with his singing but, he was at a point where he 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!
So, let’s pick up on Ignazio talking about his decision to not go to anymore competitions….
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 dei 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.
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!
So, we leave Ignazio on the road to Rome and turn to Gianluca….
Last week we left Gianluca at the recording studio recording what he thought would be his only CD. He recalled, “If I think about it today, it makes me smile. But never, never would I have thought that it would not be the only one, that I could make music my life. I told you: I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy!”
And so, we sum up where Gianluca was when his father received the call that would change his life.
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.
Gianluca was thirteen when his father received a phone call that changed his life. He recalls….
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.”
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 a great 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.
I have told these three stories before but each time they seem somehow different. Why? Destiny! La Forza del destino! Who could imagine that at the same time in history, three boys who come from three different cities in Italy, Naro, Bologna and Montepagano, would be born with absolutely amazing voices? Three different voices but voices that complement one another. Truly gifts from God! Who would imagine they would show up at the same time in the same place on a show which was looking for one special talent but found three special talents?
After each guy made the decision to go to Rome things started to move very quickly!
Suddenly, the guys found themselves on a collision course with life. All they did to get to this point, the great sacrifices made by their families especially Piero and Ignazio were about to pay off. What they learned from this experience is All Roads Lead to Rome but not everyone gets the opportunity to follow that road!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Next stop the Audition!
The source for many of my stories is the guy’s book “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia,” (An extraordinary adventure, our story). If you can read Italian, I advise that you read it. It truly is an extraordinary story! (Available on Amazon)
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