Two years ago, I was in discussion with Flight Crew about the column I was writing. I was at a point where I felt there was only so much I could write about. I had already gone through the book two times, and I needed to rethink what I was writing about! The decision was made that there was no choice, my information was limited and so I needed to write a column that would present old stories in a new way. That’s when the idea of Through the Fields of My Mind came into play. It was an opportunity to rewrite the stories in a different way always respecting the guy’s words but looking at it in different ways. So, it came into being that the stories would be their stories as seen through my eyes.
So, here we are two years later and I’m still writing and rewriting the stories. As frustrating as it is for me at times because there is only so much I can say, I have to admit, with every column there is a new interest. The guys have many new fans, and they love being filled in on what went on before they became fans. And then there are the old fans who just love reading about the boys. I usually get comments like, “I could read the stories about our wonderful boys over and over again and each time I find something new in the story.” Or, “where did you find that video, I never saw it before.” The bottom line is when you’re a fan you’re a fan and it doesn’t matter how many times you read the story, it’s always interesting to you!
Yes there is a new book out there and maybe a year from now I will write about it but for now I have to stick with the first book.
So, here we are two years later, three years since I started writing for Flight Crew and I still enjoy writing the column every week. I love reliving their dream!
Before I move on I would like to thank the guys for giving me a free hand in their story.
So. let’s go back to where we were and tie up the stories of the last few weeks.
Two years ago, I asked the question, “How do you begin to tell a story, more like a fairy tale, about three teenage boys who conquered the music industry?”
Let’s start there….
They came from Italy from very different regions, very different families, very different backgrounds but, they had one thing in common, the ability to capture audiences with their amazingly, beautiful, voices.
Thinking back over the years, I realize they have put so much energy into such a short period of time. It’s been 14 years of a lifetime but, in reality, they did it in five years! How is it possible that these three men could do, in such a short period of time, what most men cannot do in a lifetime? The Secret Is In The Voices!
Going back to the beginning, I remember what Gianluca said, “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.
Let’s take a look at our guys when they stepped on the stage together for the first time….
We begin by seeing how all those years of studying and sacrifices, for Piero and Ignazio paid off. We know Gianluca never had even one singing lesson. This was the night three boys set out to win a competition, but the results were so much more than the win!
When they came together as contestants on Ti Lasacio una Canzone, they never dreamt that they would walk off the stage as stars! Individually, they sang with some very famous Italian singers, Al Bano, Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti and, they were singing their songs and these men were in absolute awe of these teenagers.
From the first note that came out of their mouths, everyone recognized how unique their voices were. Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of Ti Lascio una Canzone recognized the importance of these three voices. He recognized that the voices were different but alike in their uniqueness. Cenci understood if you put the voices together, they will blend beautifully and, they will be very appealing. How right he was! An experiment that turned into stardom.
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.
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!
Let’s listen to Piero who will tells 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 O Sole Mio….
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….
The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.
Watching them on TV Michele is 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?
Michele and everyone else felt they were incredible!
But it needed much more than just a feeling and it went beyond incredible. It needed something to come to life. It needed a new idea. It needed to be different because they were different. So how do you make it different? Bel Canto!
Bel canto is Italian for “beautiful singing.” From the mid-18th century through the early 19th century, Italian opera developed what is now known as a bel canto style. Composers began to write long, sustained vocal lines intended to show off the beauty of the voice.
Well, that works! They certainly have beautiful voices!
If you start with the premise that bel canto can make the difference, then you need to find the best way to present it! First, have them sing all the Italian classics. If you look at the music industry at the time you have to say “it won’t work” but, it did. Why? It worked because their voices were unique, the presenters were teenagers, and the world was waiting for something different. The difference was they needed to go back to what was and present it in a different light. A unique idea. A little risky for sure but, a lot of very talented people in the industry felt it could work. And it did!
Bel canto for sure! But those voices that embody bel canto needed to go beyond and so where do you go? In their concerts they sing beautiful arias because they have beautiful operatic voices but, they will tell you, they do not sing opera. So, they reinvented the idea of opera. Just as bel canto reinvented opera, so did they reinvent it with their Operatic Pop. Always light, free flowing, ethereal! They took away the rigidness and left the beauty of the words which they present in their special ways with their special voices!
During an appearance on the Marzia Roncacci show Michele Torpedine was surprised with an appearance by Piero. She asked one very important question, that is the question I just presented. So, I would like you to hear it in Piero’s own words.
Marzia: Listen, Piero, and also Michele, how do you explain this great success of yours, of three young people, because you are now very well established, even abroad, it is not so easy, there are only a few who are known and, they can be counted on your fingertips.
Piero: Our success is the echo! It is the resonance of the music we sing. As Pavarotti did in the past, bel canto is the winning weapon. Bel canto is the most popular Italian music in the world, and it is nice to hear in any theater or arena in the world, even in Japan, when the public hear these melodies, written right here in Italy, they go into ecstasy. Our voices also contribute, it is clear, and to hear young people with these voices …. but it is clear that if we didn’t sing this kind of music, it would be much more difficult.
Piero is very modest! Their voices are very important. They brought bel canto back to life in a unique way! Bravo!
So, where do you begin? How do you present these amazing singers? Simple! You go to America!
Their first stop was Miami. It was like stepping into a dream for them. Everything in America was different from Italy. The streets, the houses, the cars, everything was different. But above all, they really could not comprehend all that was happening to them. After Miami they went to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, they were invited to participant in the charity event “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”.
Three beautiful angels who took Los Angeles by storm. This is truly the beginning of IL VOLO!
By now, they were in a whirlwind!
We were fifteen and sixteen when we found ourselves in this American dream. We had signed a contract with a record company that includes famous artists like Beyonce and many others. We were invited by the record company to a party. We turned and saw, Quincy Jones; we turn around and we saw Rihanna; we turned and shook hands with Lady Gaga. We talked with them, some singers who were idols for us and for our peers.
In fact, the guys only began to understand that something was changing when their first record came out. The boys had met all the big names and performed with them in We Are the World, but reality had not yet set in. Let’s hear what Ignazio had to say about this….
It was already in May 2010 and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive, but I did not feel the anxiety of the job like today. The first major television show we appeared in, in America, was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show.
And what a performance that was. They sang ‘O Sole Mio” and in that moment, they captured the hearts of thirty million people. Not to mention Ignazio giving five to Steven Tyler. But that’s another story!
During the last three episodes of American Idol’s tenth season, they performed and promoted their first album, Il Volo. The international edition of the album was released on April 12, 2011.
In its first week, the album reached the tenth spot of Billboard 200 and topped the Classical Albums chart. The album also entered the top ten in other countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and it peaked at number one on the Austria Albums Chart. It would later be certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry.
Back in Italy, in their hometowns, the people were ecstatic. These three teenagers had achieved what only a few Italian artists had achieved, success in America!
By now, every program in America wanted them. The phone was ringing off the hook! They appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Early Show. There was no stopping them. The people of America had spoken and what they were calling for was, Il Volo. And slowly, the rest of the world also recognized their achievements.
The chatter began about these three teenagers with voices like “angels!” But what’s most important is what happened to the boys! These boys who came to America thinking, “who will know us there,” were now becoming a household name. And how did that happen, a little thing called PBS…
Next week I follow the guys to Detroit where they stepped on the stage at the Detroit Opera House and sealed their fate and we found out The Secret Is In The Voices but it was a secret no more!
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at http://www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
What I have written here are excerpts from the book the guys wrote about their lives. “Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinario, La Nostra Storia.” (An Extraordinary Adventure, Our Story) This is just a small piece of each mans’ story. The book is written in Italian. If you can read Italian, I would highly recommend that you read it. It’s wonderful! If not, I can only hope that someday it will be translated into English. Or you can use Google Translate to translate it.
I also recommend you read their second book “IL Volo: Quello Che Porto Nel Cuore” (What I Carry in My Heart).