Over the last four weeks we’ve followed the path that each guy took on the road to success! We learned it wasn’t always an easy road. Many curves and disappointments but finally we have all three guys in the same place at the same time. So now they meet! Not exactly! They still have to do what they were put on earth to do! Introduce the world to their magnificent voices. But I’m getting ahead of myself. They still haven’t met.
The Il Volo family is large and just about everyone is in Rome for the audition but let’s let Gianluca tell you about his first meeting with a member of the family on the day of the audition….
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, it seems Caterina Boschetto was the first to make contact, but little did she know what that meeting would lead to!
For me, I see this as the day their destiny is fulfilled. Call it La Forza del destino (the force of destiny)! I’ll call it as I see it! This was God’s plan! His hand was always guiding each of these young men. How else would you explain how they happened to be in the same place at the same time? We’re not just talking about three teenage boys with nice voices, we are talking about three teenage boys with phenomenal voices. Very unique voices! Truly one-of-a-kind voices! Touched by the hand of God! Let me call Gianluca back to explain what he thought about their voices….
I thought there were three hundred thousand boys singing like me, and instead that night I discovered that there are only two: Ignazio and Piero.
Of course, Gianluca was referring to the night they sang together for the first time on Ti Lascio una Canzone.
It wasn’t just that the voices were extraordinary, no, it was that they complemented one another. It was natural and it was apparent from the very first note that these voices worked well together! That their voices are in tune with one another. The first time they walked out on the stage, it worked!
So how is this possible? For me there is only one way to explain it! Before the Lord sent these three amazing young men to earth, he said what this world needs are voices that can bring joy to my people and so he chose three loving couples and sent each one a son who would bring joy to the world through his voice!
Alone each voice is phenomenal. Together they are a symphony! Listen to their voices when they sing. Their voices are coming from every direction like a symphony orchestra that is forming the music around you!
I always say I can tell you who’s singing at any given time. I can even hear their voices one over another and draw them out. That’s the other thing that makes them unique! Each voice is distinct even when they are singing together!
So, without further ado, let’s find out what each guy had to say about his experience at the audition at Via dei Gracchi! We start as we always do with Piero. Let’s see what he remembers are about the audition…
What do I remember from the audition?
I remember that it was in Via dei Gracchi in Rome and 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 Così…….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.
If you ask my father, what he remembers about that audition …. the first answer will be a number: 1280. Those are the euros that he spent to buy two or three complete outfits in a very nice Naro store, because as a good Sicilian he said, ‘How? I bring my son to an audition at RAI, I have to make a good impression, no?’ I felt like a king with those clothes.
What about Ignazio? What does he remember?
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 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. 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.
Okay, Gianluca, we know your experience was different but how was it different? What happened at Via dei Gracchi?
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. From Montepagano to Rome, the distance is not much, just over an hour. We got in the car in the afternoon, calmly. There was the complete family: dad at the wheel, mom sitting next to him, I in the back seat with the two Ernesto of the house, my grandfather, who was proud and satisfied with that trip even if we did not know yet how it would end, and my brother, who at the time was only seven years old.
‘How much is missing (When do we arrive)?’ I asked my dad. And after five minutes: ‘And now how much is missing?’. And after another five minutes: ‘And now how much is missing?’ Fortunately, the road was short, or I would have made him mad. I was very anxious I had never done anything so important. Already for me to go to RAI, in short, it is not something that I can explain in words.
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 in the meantime, 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.
Okay so they all made it. They were all accepted! But of course, you already knew that. So, let’s see what happened next.
Piero begins by telling us about the rehearsals in Rome in early March 2009….
Ti Lascio una Canzone was aired at the Ariston Theater in Sanremo but, the first of the rehearsals were in Rome starting in March. Upon landing at Fiumicino, there was a coach from the editorial staff waiting for us. We were still just a group of kids who did not know each other, we came from different parts of Italy, and we were all different ages. I did not know what to expect.
I get on the bus and the first person I immediately notice is a nuisance who sang (sang from morning to night, in continuation), who screamed, screamed, was never silent, never stopped. It went on all the way to Rome. I cannot forget it, especially because from Fiumicino to Rome center it is about an hour’s drive. All that time talking, screaming, and singing, damn him!
Anyone want to guess who it was?
We arrive at the hotel, and it was not difficult to start meeting other guys. But you know how certain things go! It was easy for people in the same room to communicate with each other. But I wanted to get to know the others, so alone, I went down in the hall, and I found Luigi Fronte, who was younger than me. I was fifteen. Then I met Micaela Foti and the guy who was singing on the bus.
“Hi, pleasure, I’m Piero.” I introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Manuela.”
And this other one? “I am Ignazio.” Present here!
From the first moment, Ignazio and I established a strong relationship. What do I mean? We were looking for each other. We were always together. I, him, and Luigi. Luigi was the mascot, the little one who was with us. We rehearsed with Ignazio, we talked, we joked. Maybe because he was Sicilian like me. I did not know Gianluca right away and, in the beginning, there was not a great bond but, in time we built one.
From that very first Wednesday of trials, I remember perfectly, that I thought this seems to me the same image of the choir. I and Ignazio sitting on the left and around a lot of females. I sang, Non Ti Scordar Di Me, at the first episode and Mamma at the second, Granada at the third.
We sang on Saturday night, and, on Sunday, I flew back to Sicily. Monday, Denise was preparing all the things to learn, she told me the pages to study, ‘Of history, do this.’ ‘I have stressed the words to remember.’ I arrived at school on Tuesday morning, I did all the interrogations and left the following day.
When I got to the rehearsals, I had I to have prepared the pieces that had been assigned to me, by the editorial staff and sent to me on Monday. We had to study the pieces at home for the next installment.
On Monday, between the end of the third episode and the beginning of the fourth, I get the text of Un Un Amore Così Grande to sing alone. So far, all normal! And ‘O Sole Mio divided into three parts. What will this thing be?
Ignazio remembers every detail from the beginning and Piero is racing off to episode four! Let’s listen to Ignazio….
How much do you run Piero!
He is already on the fourth installment and, I’m still here thinking about how nervous I was that night. It was April 4th, 2009, the evening of the start of the program. I had never faced a television experience! It is also true that this agitation of television I only heard it, only at the beginning. Yes, we were all aware that this was television, but for the ingenuity we had at that age, for us it was like singing in the home theater. And then, I had already seen theaters and stages. The thing that made me understand that there was something different was to see all the famous guests. But for the rest, we did not realize the difference.
Even stranger was when I arrived, I was unusually quiet. Perhaps, because in the previous week I had the opportunity to meet my fellow adventurers, and I had immediately linked with Veronica Liberati, Sonia Mosca and Piero Barone, a Sicilian boy like me who was a little like me. I had also met Gianluca Ginoble, but I spent less time with him because he was part of the group of “jocks” (even today we take it around because some remained so!)
La Nostra Favola was my debut song on the first episode, I even got the words wrong, but it went very well. On returning to Marsala, I clearly felt that things were changing, peoplerecognized me, but I tried to take everything with great humility. The first rule for me has always been to keep my feet on the ground. The more weeks passed, the more people recognized me, but I tried to remain the same as always.
To get ready for rehearsals, the week before the episode, they gave us the songs to study for the evening. And on the third night I get the songs that I would have to sing the following Saturday, at the fourth episode. There was something strange. There were songs that I would have done alone, but also ‘O Sole Mio, that I would have to sing with two other guys. What news was that?
Let’s turn to Gianluca to get his take on how the rehearsals went….
Ignazio, I do not believe you were amazed by that news! In my opinion, the earthquake-Ignazio was not astonished, but he surprised others. At the audition, I told you, I have no memory of seeing either Ignazio or Piero. But once the selections were over, we were all put together in Rome, I do not remember in which hotel, from where we started by coach to go to rehearsals with the RAI orchestra.
From there it was impossible not to notice Ignazio. We were about thirty kids with their parents, and he was screaming, singing, making a mess, he alone seemed to be the choir of the southern corner of Rome (football team) all together. Ignazio has always been like that, even today he is, he will never lose this way even at the age of fifty, and that’s what makes him special.
And Piero? Of him, I’m sorry to admit it, I have no particular memories of that period. We were all in the same hotel, but we were many and I tied up with other guys first. But there was a nice climate, we all had a lot of fun together.
From March to the end of May, it was impossible to study on the days dedicated to rehearsals. I did homework and school questions on Monday and Tuesday… I told you, at school I had always been a lazy man, but despite all that year I managed to keep my average, in some matters I had the capacity six and some other seven. At the school interviews with the parents before the exams, my father heard the same thing from all the teachers: ‘All right, he kept the average.’ They were not telling me that I was a genius, I never was, but I managed to do well despite my commitments. So, my dad was satisfied. What matter was missing? Music. Could I go wrong with music? Yes. To the point of risking the insufficiency. In my opinion, the teacher was joking. Real teacher? The truth is that in addition to the commitment that I put myself in, I had to thank the principal and my teachers at the school ‘Gabriele d’Annunzio’ of Roseto who had always understood that my life was changing.
Gianluca tells us that suddenly things changed….
It started on Monday before the episode of April 25th, 2009, when I got the songs that I had to prepare and I saw that there was one, ‘O Sole Mio, divided into three parts. Of course, a little strange it seemed to me. Almost all of us had made duets in the show, but no trio had been composed until that moment.
I had no idea what to expect. Maybe I did not even ask. The important thing, I told you, was to sing and have fun.
All three have succeeded at The Audition and Beyond! The Ariston Theater awaits them. They are ready to step on the stage at Sanremo!
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 Ti Lascio una Canzone!
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)
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org