All That Glitters is Not Gold by Susan

In one of the comments from an article I wrote, a woman named Linda wrote: “I wish Il Volo would be a household name in America!” I thought funny she should say that because Il Volo from the beginning was more popular in America than they were in Italy. It took a long time and a great decision for Italy to open their arms to our guys and there were many obstacles along the way. So, I thought maybe a little behind the scenes look at the guys and some of the challenges they had to overcome to get Italy’s attention would make an interesting story. There were some good memories and some not so good but, I’m getting ahead of myself….
Let’s pick up their story in 2013 with memories of the first South American Tour.
North America, South America and Latin America Tour ~ Memories 2013

One of the first things Gianluca remembered is Ignazio’s birthday in Messio, on the evening of the first concert of the tour. Let’s enter into their conversation to see where this is all going….
Gianluca: The most special thing about Ignazio’s birthday was that we celebrated with the fans.

Piero: Actually, I remember an important thing about the South America tour. This is when we realized we were really famous. The fans were in front of the hotel waiting for us. But it happened slowly, slowly, relatively slowly, month after month. Because two months before we were in Argentina and there were twenty fans, the next one there were a hundred, the one after there were three hundred, and then a thousand, two thousand. Now the situation is unbelievable if you have not experienced it, you will not believe it because we are with bodyguards twenty-four hours a day. It’s another world.
Ignazio: I only know that when I finished that tour in South America I was nicknamed “Ignazio the tank” by myself: I had done twenty concerts with bronchitis. The worst was in Caracas, Venezuela, six thousand five hundred people, at seven in the evening: soundcheck….
Let’s start with the first song. I try to sing and, the voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out. And here comes the most total panic, we stopped the soundcheck, the production calls a doctor and, I was punctured with Bentelan. In short, for a month and half I sang only thanks to the cortisone and breathing technique that our teacher Sergio Bertocchi taught us.
Piero: “Our,” because he is also my teacher. But maybe we should say master. Sergio Bertocchi is the person who helped me most in singing, the one that solves my doubts and my problems. If I enter a lesson with him with a doubt, I go out another Piero, happy and relaxed…. You do not know how important it is to have an experienced person like Sergio Bertocchi to guide you.
Ignazio: I know for sure, that without his breathing exercises I do not know how I would have sung. Without a voice I was completely out of it.

Yes, the boys had challenges! Long periods away from their families, concerts, recording sessions, interviews, just endless. Sometimes it’s just too much to handle and like anyone else they find a crashing point. For the most part they kept it together but there were times when everything would just fall apart. So, Ignazio made it through the tour but, Piero reminds him of something else in the tour that did not affect his voice one bit….
Piero: Igna’, but the voice, you had in that interview! It was March 2013 we were in Argentina at the famous Los 5 edicion broadcast of QMusica TV. What was the problem? We spoke Spanish and sometimes we were wrong, so we stopped the recording and went back. So, Ignazio was already a bit tired out, let’s say. But the worst thing is that in Argentina they do not have the V in Volo, they have the B, they say “Il Bolo”. And one, and two, and three, always “Il Bolo.” At that point, Ignazio begins to correct the guy who was in the studio and repeated to us the things to say, and once, and twice, and three: “Il Volo, it is said Il Volo, V!”. Until the guy in the studio runs off new “Il Bolo” and Ignazio starts with a string of bad words in precise Sicilian that are immortalized in the off-wave scenes.

Ignazio: However, guys, we are serious people, now…. Where were we? Oh yes. The end of the Latin American tour.
Christmas 2013 was approaching and, the record company wanted to come out with a record of Christmas songs. So Universal decided to complete the EP that came out two years ago with just five Christmas songs. So, after the Latin American tour we started promoting the Christmas album
My house began to fail me. Being four months away, changing cities, hotels and planes almost every day is not easy. From the age of sixteen, finding yourself catapulted into a world completely different to the one I was used to, it was not a simple thing to manage. At first no, actually the first two years I thought “What a beautiful life!”. Then I realized that All That Glitters is Not Gold.
To get satisfaction and achieve the goals you have set yourself, you have to give up many things and, work hard. Stay focused on your work. It’s not easy.
Sometimes people say, “But these guys never get tired?”. Well, yes, we get tired too, sometimes. Personally, there was a time when I thought only of friends. I wanted to go out, I never answered the phone, the emails, the messages, I was out of this world.
It was thanks to my family, to the boys and to Michele that I realized that I was neglecting what was always important for me: the music.
Gianluca: True, Ignazio is right. It was not easy and, neither is it now.
In those years, in 2012 and 2013, no one knew us in Italy, we were just the three children who came from Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
But in America, in South America, in Europe we were very well known. And not only there. After the release of our first CD we went on tour in places that none of us could have imagined we would go to: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand. In Singapore we also had a gold record with that first CD.
So, before Sanremo, we lived two lives, two completely different lives. Abroad we were stars and, we came to Italy to rest. I took refuge in Montepagano, Piero in Naro, Ignazio in Marsala. It was nice to come back to a “normal” life. But… we felt that something was missing, that it was bad to be so successful outside of our country and not be able to have it in Italy.
The following interview is one of the best interviews the guys did in 2013. It showed how humble they are and that they are living their dream, but their heads are not in the clouds! The interviewer Larry London was so impressed with our guys.
The guys talked about being on the road and how much they miss their lives even though they are living amazing lives.

Ignazio: 2014 was not our best year. In fact, along with Eurovision, which is one of those things that I do not like to talk about, but we’re telling the truth, so let’s tell it all. That year the contract with Universal expired, so we started looking for a new record company.

It’s just that finding a new record company is not something you do in two days. We did not sleep at night. We talked with Michele about it until late in the evening to look for solutions.
The first thing that came to mind was to take charge of everything. Not that we could stop because we were looking for a new record company. So, we continued to work on the projects we had, new records and tours. We planned a new tour in Canada and the United States for that summer. We could do it.
You see, being brave brought us luck because, after a few months an email from Sony Latin arrived: they were interested in us. After a few weeks and long negotiations, we went to Miami to sign the contract.
This was unique and emotional because, we were underage when we were signed by Universal, our parents signed for us. This was the first record contract signed by our fist!
In the intermediate stages of negotiations with Sony, when it was not yet official, the final evening of the Billboard Latin Music Award arrived, that is the annual award linked to the American magazine “Billboard”.

In 2014 we were competing for the Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year – Duo or Group, in which we had already received two other nominations, in 2012 and 2013.

The concept is that, even though we are always compared with South American artists, it was really very difficult for us to win.
Gianluca: That year, then, was really special to us with all that was happening.             
We arrive at the BankUnited Center in Miami on the evening of April 24th, 2014. the theater is full of people.
When the nominations were announced, the choir starts from the public: “Il Volo! Il Volo!”. A moment later Paola Nunez, the Mexican actress who presented the award with her colleague Jorge Graciola, confirmed it: “Il Volo!”

I’m standing up, I jumped, I arrived on stage first, I hugged everyone. I could not believe it. I was bursting with happiness.

Piero: And who believed It? It was the first, really, important first prize we received. In Italy they still saw us as the Tre Tenorini (Three Little Tenors) put out by Ti Lascio una Canzone, but in South America we were a recognized musical group.
So, they found a record company to produce their music and they won the Latin American, Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year for 2014 but, still no recognition from Italy. But soon that would start to change…. 
Ignazio: However, Italy made us close in 2014 with a flourish. What started out very badly finished very well: with the Christmas concert in the Senate.

Piero: Actually, Igna, “first there was Taormina. Our first concert in Italy on July 20th, and then the encore on the 21st. I hold these events very close for many reasons. In the meantime, not only was it the first time in our home but, it was in Sicily, at the Greek Theater of Taormina. If you’ve never seen it, you must go there, it is a “place of magic.”
So, it was already emotional plus the fact that there were our relatives and all the friends who until then had never been able to hear us because we were doing concerts in America, in South America and how could they get there? And moreover, among all my relatives was my grandfather.
Since he has become blind, he never leaves home, never. Before Taormina, he had only come out one other time and always for me. When we were in Rome, he took the plane for the first time in his life, to participate in Arena of Massimo Giletti.
In Taormina it was even more beautiful because I dedicated, to my grandfather, Pietro Ognibene, “Non ti scordar di me” and I told everyone that he was the first person to hear me sing, and that if it were not for him, I would never have done this job.
It was the first time he had heard me sing since we became singers by profession, the first time, just goosebumps. A great emotion!
Ignazio: We also want to talk about the thrill of singing in front of the highest offices of state! What twenty-year-old boy has something like that happen? It happened to us, and it seems to me a beautiful result, an honor.

The concert was on December 21st. You cannot imagine the emotional feeling to be called “guests of honor” inside the Senate. We were accompanied by the, fantastic, Filarmonia Orchestra Veneta conducted by Diego Basso. Half the beauty of the song is in the orchestra.
The most exciting moments? Every one! But the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one, the first song, singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano, (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate). It is one thing that I cannot explain.
And then, of course, the pleasure of shaking hands with the President of the Republic and of feeling that he knows Marsala, he has been there.
In short, in the end, instead of remembering it as the worst year of our lives together, 2014 brought us well: great changes and an important step towards Italy, towards home.
So now the boys have been recognized in the Senate and by the President of the Republic of Italy but still, no recognition from Italy. But wait, they have an idea….
Piero: Meanwhile, the first thing that comes to mind, after so many years of great success abroad, the greatest successes there has been, one wakes up one morning, indeed, three wake up one morning and decide to go to the Sanremo Festival.
When one is famous all over the world, there comes a moment when he must also be able to say: “Wow, they love me even in Italy”. He must be able to say: “They also love me in my country”.
You go abroad and, during the interviews, you hear the fateful question: “You are loved even in Italy, right?” And you have to answer no. No one can understand how much we suffered in those moments.
Also, in meetings with Universal, in the United States, we sometimes tried to say: “Why do we have concerts all over the world, except in Italy?” We wanted the record company to try to support us in this sense too.
I remember that once, during a meeting with the president of Universal, I asked him for the thousandth time. And what does he do? He had a globe on his desk, I’m not joking, he gives it to me and says: “Turn it around, then stop it and find Italy at the first shot”.
The problem is that you have to look for it because it is a small country, very small compared to the United States and Latin America or Australia. Then I got mad: “Oh, no, it’s my country, and the country where I was born, and the country where we come from, you cannot say it’s not important, do not think about it.”
For us, Sanremo was a decisive opportunity to let us be known to Italians, to say to Italians “We exist”. And we are proud and really happy that our music genre was appreciated.

Ignazio: As they say, Piero? A prophet is not recognized in his own land, so we were snubbed, perhaps because they never had the opportunity to really know us and show, once and for all, who we are personally and humanly, as well as being singers.
Then, after a few months of night phone calls with Michele, towards the end of 2014, we finally decided: “new year, new life: we go to the Sanremo Festival”.
In the beginning the guys were living in a dream world but they found out that All That Glitters is Not Gold!
Next time we will watch the guys fulfill their dream! The Night the Lion Roared!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*Excerpts from: Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinaria., La nostra Storia
Credit to the owners of all photos and videos

26 thoughts on “All That Glitters is Not Gold by Susan”

  1. These intimate stories are what separates Il Volo from all other entertainers that we have known. Do you think Sinatra would have professed his love for his Grandfather? Thanks for this lovely edition Susan.

    Universal’s “go big” attitude must have cost them millions in ex post facto?

    1. I totally agree! NO other group or individual would take the time to talk about their family! Only our guys!

  2. Thank you so much Susan! So interesting to read what you write. You put it together so well. I am looking forward to the continuation.

  3. Grazie mille Susan for bringing us these fabulous stories! To see the thoughts and feelings of Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio is a precious gift.

  4. Another great story Susan. Thank you so much. That’s so odd to not be recognized in their own country, yet super stars everywhere else. It must have taken a huge adjustment to start touring so much. The packing, unpacking, checking in, checking out, on to the next venue. Good thing that they are young. That would exhaust me.
    Ignazio being sick and yet having to perform must have been difficult and hard on his voice. They are definitely professionals. I guess that saying is true “all that glitters is not gold”. This was a wonderful story Susan. I always enjoy reading them. Than you again!

  5. Another wonderful group of stories, Susan. Thank You so much!

    It must have been heartbreaking for our boys not to be recognized in Italy. It would be like your parents favouring relatives over their own children. But, over all their perseverance, they finally came out on top and were only too happy to be finally seen by their country for the exceptional singers and young men they really are.

  6. Just another thought, Susan. I always read your stories first, then go back to listen to the videos you’ve supplied. With most of the morning gone, and still five videos to watch, I’d better get on with what I have to do around the house. Many thanks, again, Susan.

  7. Grazie mille, Susan, for all the translating, and I especially enjoyed the interview with Larry. But I do want to say that the guys weren’t entirely ignored in Italy in the early years. Thought I remembered a Sony exec saying that the first album went platinum there without advertising. And in 2011 when I was in Italy, my tour guide loved them and had the album, which she played for us on the bus.

  8. Dear Susan, I hope you will tell the fans a little about Barbara Vitali, she has been their road manager for a very long time. I don’t think she gets the recognition from the fans that she deserves. She is their friend, confidant and stand in mom. Thanks.

    1. Thank you Susan I,ve been waiting long time to hear the ins and out of the life of my 3 favourite singers in the world and how hard they worked to get here it makes me love them even more . Bit disappointed about Italy 🇮🇹 for not supporting one of the most thing that makes Italy more special but they made it anyway well done Boys we wish you long success for the future I listen to your your songs everyday. And I like to hear more with their future life events.. Thank you Susan 😊 from Australia ⁸

  9. I really enjoy your stories. We get to learn about the early days. Thanks!🙋‍♀️🙋‍♀️

  10. I just love reading about everything these three beautiful young have achieved , I listen to them every day without fail . Bless them and their families always,

  11. An important addition to my previous comment:
    Happy Easter to all from glorious Boston at 70 degrees. Alleluia, Alleluia !

  12. Thank you Susan. This was a really good one. There was a lot in it that I hadn’t heard about before.

  13. Happy Easter to all from White Lake, Canada, where it is just 14 degrees Celsius, or close to 58 F, a cold dreary day! I envy your 70 degrees, Boston Girl!

  14. Thank you l find reading about my favourite singers very interesting l have their book which is in italian l dont speak italian but with the help of the internet are gradually translating it x

    1. Go ahead, Mark! Rub it in, but summer will be here soon and the 85 temps. even in Canada!

  15. Thank you Susan…always so fascinating… they certainly are very special, very talented young men!

  16. It is difficult to understand how Italy failed to recognize their talent while so much of the world was falling in love with Il Volo. They were very young when they faced real obstacles which could deter others from continuing; just goes to show how dedicated they were and are to music and their audiences/fans. Thanks again, Susan.

  17. Judith, IMHO people who listened to music in Italy thought that what IL Volo were singing was old fashioned stuff. More knowledgeable people on this blog can correct me if I’m wrong.
    I think it’s a parallel to what happened to blues music in the US. Black people were putting that style behind them. Blues artists had a very hard time until a new crop of white listeners came along to save the genre.

  18. Bocelli is coming to Boston soon and is getting huge coverage on local TV. Every day we see personal clips of him amounting to advertising and tickets sales info. Will Il Volo get this publicity in advance of their show in Sept.? I’m guessing it’s all about money – or does the venue advertise their coming attractions? Any experts out there?

  19. Looks like I got my curiosity satisfied. Immediately after the 7 PM news, there’s Bocelli in various poses with background scenes of Italy and live audiences clapping and cheering. It’s a bona fide commercial for his Boston appearance on Dec. 10, 2022. Ticketmaster, etc. Such an expensive production must be on him. Venue would never pay.

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