With ‘O Sole Mio’ in hand, the boys set out for night four of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
It’s April 25th, 2009, and these three teenage boys who only met a short time before are getting ready to turn their world upside down. They are now Only One Step from Stardom!
Let’s see where do we begin? How about where they began, when they stepped on that stage, and immediately became stars?
The first time these three boys sang together everyone was amazed. Who wasn’t amazed, Roberto Cenci! He knew exactly what he was doing. He realized by putting these three voices together he would create an amazing sound! How right he was!
So, let’s turn to Piero who will tell us how the guys first sang together….
I remember Roberto Cenci calling us all three to the center of the stage during the rehearsals.
‘Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio, come here.’
They start ‘O Sole Mio’ and we sing as we had divided the parts. Gianluca begins with the first verse and then it’s my turn, I attack with ‘Ma n’ato sole,’ (but another sun). This ‘Ma n’naaaato’ with the note kept so long and vibrated, as we still sing it today, was born in that first test because I learned, ‘O Sole Mio,’ by listening to the Three Tenors, that is Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Josè Carreras. And Pavarotti made those three words of refrain with a very, fast, but difficult beat. I did not have that technique, so I did it slowly. Then I asked: ‘Roberto, sorry, can I do it my way the ‘ma n’ato sole?’ He answers ‘Yes.’ And I say, ‘Unplug the orchestra when it’s time and come behind me.’
Ignazio tells us about the reaction to their singing it on that Saturday night….
That Saturday night there was a great standing ovation for us, with ‘O Sole Mio.’ I think that that performance marked the real starting point of our career.
When I had agreed to do the auditions, I was aware that it would be a great experience and would last only two months. But I never expected that we could get all this great success.
Gianluca puts the event in the history books…
The theater came down.
Piero on my left, me in the middle, Ignazio on my right. In the history of music no one had ever seen three children of thirteen or fourteen sing these kinds of songs. So, we must also thank Roberto Cenci because, if it wasn’t for him maybe today, we would not be here. It was nice, it was something…. How can I tell you? It was natural. I immediately enjoyed singing together, there was no problem.
But it was also all unexpected.
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.
Piero looks back over the events since that night….
But can you think about how far we’ve come? We did not even know each other and now we have been working together for six years, we toast together, we cry together.
By now Gianluca and Ignazio, but let’s not let them know, they are a part of me, I do not know how I could do without them.
I’ll make you understand one thing: when I’m on stage singing my solo, as soon as I finish, I cannot wait for the other two to come because I feel their moral, psychological and even physical support. If I feel bad, I know that there are two of them that can help me, we can help each other, and this is fundamental for me, to feel that we support each other, that we are always together.
And if I think of how far we have come from Ti Lascio una Canzone, I am reminded of Antonella Clerici. Antonella was the one who, even after the program, has always supported our project. Every time someone spoke badly about us, she was ready to defend us, she never changed, she never, never, demanded a thank you and I must tell you that we still speak to each other every time there is something new. She’s just like you see her on TV: sincere.
So, let’s step away from the stage a moment and talk about what was going on behind the scenes. Well, we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!
In his book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again from Three) Michele Torpedine, their manager tells us what happened that night.
Alone in his apartment, Michele Torpedine was sitting on his sofa with the volume off on his TV. The show he was watching was Ti Lascio Una Canzone. He keeps looking at the screen and he suddenly thinks, Ignazio reminds him of Luciano Pavaroti, Gianluca seemed similar to Jose Carreras and Piero is similar to Placido Domingo. He still had not heard them sing. Out of curiosity, he raised the volume and Michele says, “here I am aware of another element, that is even more important than the first. The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.”
At this point Michele’s head is spinning. He’s thinking these guys are good and again repeats it to himself, they’re good! He thinks, “What if I try to put them together seriously? A trio he tells himself. Here’s what I could do….”
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”
For Michele it was a return to the beginning. Only this time it was better.
Michele explained in his book that the day the guys came together singing, “O Sole Mio” on Ti Lascio una Canzone, he was at the end of his career. For him it was truly over. All he had done for so many now seemed in vain. But with this vision before him, three amazing teenagers, he was able to see a new light. A light that would start the wheels rolling again. A light that would reveal truth. A truth that never before was revealed to him. A truth he searched for his whole life but would only find in his relationship with Il Volo.
And so it begins…
Now the guys will tell us how it all came together….
On June 9th, 2009, nine days after the end of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, my parents left for Rome. They were a bit mysterious about it. When I asked them what they were going to do in Rome they only replied that they had to meet a person and, I tell the truth, I did not even insist on knowing who.
They leave, and where am I going to sleep? At my grandparents, of course. The next day they come home and then, yes, I wanted to know something more. ‘Dad, what have you done in Rome?’
‘Nothing’ he answers, ‘we met a certain Torpedine.’
The first thing I do, is go on the Internet and look up ‘Torpedine.’ A lot of things came up, musician and record producer of people like Pino Daniele, Lucio Dalla, Fabrizio De Andre, Giorgia, Biagio Antonacci, Zucchero (and he took him to the Kremlin in 1990) and Andrea Bocelli, only to name some names. He has managed Gianna Nannini’s America tour, has edited the records and events for the thirtieth anniversary of Pino Daniele’s career, and has had the artistic management of an edition of Thirty Hours for Life. He was also the artistic director of the first two editions of Pavarotti and Friends, and he did a lot of other things that it would take a book just to tell them all.
Anyway, I read everything I found on the Internet and the same day I went back to dad: ‘But what did this Torpedine tell you?’ My father was very vague, really, very vague. ‘No, nothing, we talked like that.’
I did not know what to expect, there was a strange atmosphere since the show was over. I knew that the parents of Ignazio and Gianluca had gone to that appointment, but I did not know what to think.
After a month, my parents make another trip to Rome to meet the legendary Torpedine, while my brother, my sister and I go back to sleep at our grandparents’ house. The day after, mom and dad came back to Naro with a check. It was the advance of the contract.
‘Piero, we signed a contract with Torpedine for a record’ my father told me, immediately and without being vague this time. And do you know what I thought? ‘Wow nice.’ But so, very simply. I did not understand the importance of the thing, I swear, I did not understand it.
And what was Ignazio’s reaction….
And who understood it, Pie?
Immediately after the end of the program my parents, like those of Piero, received a call from the office of Bibi Ballandi.
Who is Bibi Ballandi? Eh, even here we should open not just a chapter, but a whole book to explain it because he is the producer with a capital P. Some examples? The shows on Rai Uno de Fiorello and Celentano, Dancing with the Stars and also Ti Lascio una Canzone.
From Ballandi’s office, they wanted the parents of the three boys – we did not have a name yet – to go to Rome to discuss their children’s future. I stayed at home, just like Piero. On their return, as usual, mom and dad sat down with me and my sister around the table to talk about what had happened in Rome. Michele Torpedine who came back after seventeen years of managing, Andrea Bocelli, and Tony Renis, Mister Quando, Quando, were interested in us. What did I think? What could I think, one who in the last five years had done nothing but sing from morning to night? After several meetings we signed our first managerial contract.
But, of course, Gianluca remembers it differently….
I do not remember all these things, Igna.
That is a period that I really cannot remember in general.
I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the broadcast returned home to go to the beach and were preparing to start a new school year, the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.
I really did not realize it. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we went to lunch in Rome, at Rome Cavalieri with Tony Renis to talk about music and recording songs. The contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.
Yes, during the period of Ti Lascio una Canzone there was a rumor about these three tenorini’s. After the program there was much talk about the three tenors. But as a child what can you understand?
Even when we first met Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali, who since then became the fourth member of the group, even if you never see her on stage, I did not understand just how it was possible that Andrea Bocelli’s manager was interested in us. It was something that upset me. I went to see Bocelli my idol and to work with the manager who had made him famous. A dream, in fact!
We were three funny, awkward, children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: ‘But what came into your mind?’
Sometimes even today I look at the photos, the videos of when we were little ones and I still ask myself had he really seen into the future. And he also had a lot of patience, because in addition to being funny and clumsy, we were very confused and, wherever we went, everyone looked at us in a strange way. Like that evening, in Jesolo, when we met Michele.
We finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno by the Jesolo Tourist Palace, conducted by Caterina Balivo and Biagio Izzo.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf!’ I said. “Let me take a picture. I run to him like crazy, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, he poured the Coca-Cola on the floor in the dressing room, and it ended up also on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says to Barbara look, I still remember it, with a face looking like ‘Oh my God.’
So, until now, I did not talk about the results of Ti Lascio Una Canzone because I was waiting to tell you all three stories. So how did everyone do in the competition?
Gianluca won the first night singing “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”
Ignazio won the second night with the song, “Quando l’amore Diventa Poesia.”
Gianluca won the third night with the song, “La Luna che non c’è.”
And, Piero won the fourth night with the song, “Un Amore Così Grande.”
Gianluca won the competition with the song “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”
Ignazio came in second with “Quando l’amore Diventa Poseia”
Piero came in third with “Un Amore Così Grande.”
And the biggest win of the night, they walked off the stage, Only One Step from Stardom!
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)
And while you’re at it, Michele Torpedine’s book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again From Three) is also a good read. It is in Italian and available on Amazon.
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org