The time is 21:10… and the doors at Teatro Arcimboldi are still open but the light slightly dimmed. The audience starts clapping their hands and making noises for the third time. A certain tension has arisen.
At 21:15 sharp, however, the lights are turned off, the curtain slowly pulls aside and bathed in a spotlight, three young men appear.
Dressed in black suits and shirts, standing completely still in the silence. A roar arose from the audience. A single voice is heard. No music. No lightshow. A pitch black stage.
Gianluca’s honey-like voice has softly started up the first lines of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” but is soon joined by Ignazio’s emotional interpretation of the words and Piero’s warm and strong emphasizes of the highlights. IL VOLO has taken the stage! The audience is brought in an instant awe with this a cappella version of the legendary song.
We are spellbound and in their hands from the very first note! The audience goes crazy. Standing ovations. What an opening – and so unexpected! Actually, I had just told my husband that I was ready for a bet that they would start up individually in each corner of the hall with their new version of “Granada” – in similarity with the openings of the TV-shows in Verona. So much for that! Those guys understand to surprise us, so what now to expect?
Coincidences happen and opportunities arise…
It wasn’t planned at all. I wasn’t going to attend yet an Il Volo concert this summer.
Having enjoyed the “rainy” concert in Verona with Daniela on May 1st , well, I figured that it would have to do for a while.
So I had tried to ignore and forget all about the upcoming Italian concerts. However… when with only a few weeks’ notice it was suddenly decided that my husband and I would do a European self-drive holiday at the end of August/primo September – and I sat down to plan the itinerary in detail – an unexpected “door” opened.
I needed an overnight stop somewhere between Austria and Umbria (mid Italy) as too far to drive in one day.
I looked at the date – Sunday, September the 3rd – uh wasn’t it one of the days of the IL VOLO concerts?
And Milan – uh wasn’t it just more or less right along the planned route? Yes! OMG it could work!
My husband needed a bit of persuasion but had to admit that it wasn’t too bad an idea 😊.
Only, what about concert tickets?
At first glance the concert was all sold out – oh NO – but yet again, if we were willing to sit not exactly next to each other, we could find acceptable seats – at least we thought.
And voila – we were going to enjoy one of the “Tutti per Uno” Concerts in Milan! 😁😉☺. And here we are!
Trees do not grow into the sky though…
and everything did not exactly turn out as we had hoped for with this concert arrangement.
Reaching the theatre and finding our seats we realized that the lack of understanding the Italian language had given us an incorrect impression of the location of the same. Not only were we not going to sit together, but apparently these seats were not in the back of the floor on an elevation nor on the front row of same, as we had understood – but actually on the first balcony! So absolutely not the same as being on the floor with the opportunity of having the guys pass by when mingling with the audience and furthermore, my seat was neither near the middle of the hall as thought but rather almost at the very end to the left with my husband even further away. Hence, we went to the ticket office trying to explain the situation hoping that they might have received some last minute cancellations that we could upgrade to. Nope. Absolutely no mercy here. We were told that we could purchase new tickets (at a totally sold out concert?) and then try to sell the original ones by the door (half an hour before the start of the concert?).
Disappointed, we walked back to our seats pondering about what a study of the word “service” could have done in this connection… In spite of a totally sold out concert we did, however, quickly noticed none the less than a section of some 15-20 empty seats in a rounding just in front of us… When the doors closed and the guys had finished their opening song these seats were still not occupied… We signalized each other: Let’s make a go for them.
So we did end up sitting next to each other – still on the balcony – but now kind of in the front row with better views, while the theatre lost out on the income of the difference in ticket prices and not the least happy clients!
Another point of disappointment relates to the “Sound Check” – or rather the cancelled one. Actually, having heard nothing from the official FanClub as to the possibilities of a sound check arrangement before we left Denmark, I did not anticipate that there would be any at all and had come to terms with that. But a few days before the concert I received an email gladly announcing sound check invitations to all the European concerts. Jihaaa – and a few minutes later I held a confirmation on my iPhone. YES, we were accepted to attend the sound check prior to our concert. My heart did beat a little harder – being the very best chance of meeting the guys. But not for long as shortly after I received yet another mail now telling me that all the sound checks in Milan but the very first one would not be carried through… for some rather unclear reason. My heart stopped beating for a bit. Oh no – why? Even worse, the next day I got a new email telling me that there would be a sound check in connection with the very last concert on the 9th of September to which we were welcome to attend… But on the 9th we would be far away from Milan without the slightest chance of attending. It was like a kick in the belly and a much bigger disappointment than if no invitations had been offered at all. I don’t know about that official FanClub… sorry to say. When in Rome at X-mas the sound check ended up with us standing for more than 1 hr. outside in the cold being let in only for the very last 10 minutes or so and with no following special “Meet & Greet” about the new book as clearly stated in the invitation. That did simply not occur nor did we get any info or explanation. And now we get an invitation – a confirmation – then it gets all cancelled followed by a “but you can attend another day”… I lack to understand what could possibly be a difference in technical conditions that could lead to a cancellation some days but functioning on the 2nd and the 9th of September?
Well, apparently it is just not for me to succeed in experiencing a well-functioning sound check. And for once I had ample time to take part and staying in a convenient hotel, just at 3 min. walk from the concert hall. Alas, one cannot win all battles, but I must admit, I was truly disappointed and sad at the time.
Back to the concert
As you do all know by now the concert was in many ways built up in the very same way as the big ditto ones in Verona, however, without guest stars. Each guy did about 5 solos, I think, and then a nice amount of their original repertoire together. Having some 60 songs to choose among, apparently the repertoire has varied from evening to evening. Daniela has most kindly made up and previously posted a list with all the songs performed during these 6 concerts – you can look them up. I must admit that my concentration was more on the show and performances than what songs were actually performed on my night particularly… sorry, so I did not make notes. But I recall some of those that I enjoyed the most.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all songs by IL VOLO but, of course, I have my favorites. All guys had a good evening and did great – but I recall particularly Ignazio in the good old Aretha Franklin song: “A natural woman”. In Verona he did it as a duet with one of the guest stars, but this evening he did it all by himself while likewise playing the piano. That song suits him well and he performed it with a lot of soul, emotion and the right amount of Motown ambiance. I loved it – and so did the audience.
Gianluca gave us his new Beatles medley, which likewise fits his soft voice really well and brings back good memories to me and my husband being big Beatles fans. He did also perform the old Freddy Mercury rock-´n-roll song and Elvis tribute “This crazy little thing” that seems to be his own favorite for the time being. It worked better for him than I recall from Verona and he is visually happy singing and performing it. His very embodied and emotional interpretation of the love song “Cura” did, however, capture the audience the most.
As anticipated Piero had chosen a selection of opera arias the names of which I do, unfortunately, not know or recall. One was, however, “Mamma quel vino è generoso”. But he is happy as a lark performing these songs that are all concluded with big wall-to-wall smiles clearly indicating that he has succeeded to his own satisfaction. One of the highlights to me was an operatic duet between him and Ignazio: “Miserere”. That duet he did with a rock singer in Verona – but Ignazio did a fabulous job taking over here – kudos to him. Ignazio has an incredible span in his voice and seems to be able to embrace almost any kind of musical genre.
Personally, I love when the guys sing together the most though – creating those awesome and beautiful harmonies that define the IL VOLO sound – and we were blessed with their core songs such as “Il Mondo”, “My Way” and, of course, “Grande Amore”.
Mingling with the audience
Is no doubt something the guys enjoy themselves tremendously – hence their choice of the smaller Teatro Arcimboldi according to themselves – giving them the opportunity to get close to the audience and their fans.
Therefore, to the tunes of the traditional Bel Canto song “Volare” they climbed down from the stage, opened the gate to the hall and wandered singing out among the audience who were lucky to get handshakes, selfies and even hugs while they sang their hearts out. The audience on the floor went crazy and embraced them standing, while we could only watch the fun from our closed balcony seats (said the sour grape being truly jealous of those having been able to obtain orchestra seats on the floor).
But there can no longer be any doubt to anyone that these guys are highly loved by the audience and their fans!
There was an incredible atmosphere in the hall – a true party – and lots of fans must have returned home with great memories of close encounters with the guys.
Due to our seating I was generally not able to take any good photos or videos – too far a distance for my old iPhone camera to deal with – but in spite of same I did try anyway to capture these emotions.
On top the attached little video from the same clip shows – apart from roof, floor and other uninteresting objects – that in the very back of the hall you do actually find Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali standing, enjoying it all.
The easiest guy to follow was Gianluca due to his white suit at this stage – I caught a glimpse of him getting up to them to say hi, and back again into the mass of people – while at the very end of the clip a split second Piero among the fans at the first row appears. Sorry for the quality and mess in this clip, but I thought you might enjoy seeing it anyhow.
Piero takes it all – almost…
It has been interesting to follow Piero over the last 3 years or so as he seems to evolve technically and artistically from concert to concert – this time no difference. In Verona he proved that he was ready for the bigger opera scenes and this he repeated this evening. His arias seemed flawless and he delivered them with great confidence.
And this did not pass unnoticed! The audience loved him and gave him one big standing ovation following the next. Kind of interesting to note as no doubt only few in the audience are true opera fans, but Piero understands to capture everyone’s heart. I myself am neither much into opera – but I do most certainly appreciate the efforts and the perfection with which Piero performs his songs.
Hence, it is not incorrect to say that Piero did take most of the praises home this evening – in fact so much that my husband at a stage, after Gianluca had performed “La Cura” and earned a big standing ovation, commented: “Phew, I am glad that – finally – he did likewise get a huge recognition”.
My husband did actually feel a bit sorry for both Gianluca and Ignazio for not receiving the same overwhelming appreciations as Piero. Or in other words, he found all three equally worthy of standing ovations. 😊
and then it was all over…
All good things come to an end and in no time 2 hrs. and 10 min. had vanished and it was time for the guys to bid us good-bye which they did in their traditional way by singing “Grande Amore” while thanking the conductor, the orchestra, their own musicians etc. etc. and Ignazio doing his backwards countdown “3-2-1” and taking a big jump and away they were without the audience being able to bring them back to stage for “extras” in spite of long lasting standing ovations. I always find myself in an awesome vacuum following such an intense and much looked forward to experience and I need time to digest it all.
Luckily, we had a lovely little balcony to our hotel apartment so husband and I had the opportunity to sit down in the warm, mild Italian summer night and enjoy a glass of wine and take it all a bit better before calling it a day.
Teatro Arcimboldi, Milan
The guys have clearly expressed their excitement about Theatro Arcimboldi – based on the intimacy and possibility to get closer to their audience – and I can follow their thinking to a certain degree.
At the concert Ignazio did highlight another positive angle – no worries for rain 😁.
Having said this I do, however, find that there are pros and cons at all venues and in this case – apart from being stock if seated on one of the balconies and hence not able to join in the “fun” when they mingle with the audience (read, if you go be sure to purchase seats on the floor) well, then I missed thoroughly “big screens”. I didn’t realize until then how much they add to the experience. Seated high on my balcony I could hardly see who was whom – just 3 little “ants” moving about – and I had no idea as to whether Ignazio was having a big beard or a goatee only; what kind of glasses Piero was wearing nor if Gianluca did still have his signature curl or… Even worse, I could not see and enjoy their gorgeous smiles nor perceive their little sweet antics such as giving each other a high five, a caring hug or a kiss on the cheek… – these things that are so special for the IL VOLO guys.
I do now realize how much more I enjoy their music being able to watch their facial expressions and hence, admittedly, you get more out of watching a video or TV-transmission than being present at a live concert – unless you are seated in the very front rows and/or big screens are provided for. Add to that the difficulties of getting to/from Teatro Arcimboldi. It is located in a suburban area next to a University some 25 minutes by Metro from downtown Milan and with few hotels in the close vicinity only. Ignazio mentions in a video that you can easily access the theatre by train – that is true, but he forgets to mention that there are few or no trains leaving from this regional station after midnight, so no way of getting back home the same evening by this means of transportation. The Metro runs a little later but personally we do not feel comfortable using it late at night – after all Milan is a big city – and getting hold of a taxi could be difficult, so we ended up purchasing the most expensive accommodation on our entire trip just in order to be within close walking distance of this venue. And without the big screens… I am not sure that we will choose Milan for our next IL VOLO experience. Verona seems like a much more attractive venue in a lovely environment with many accommodation options and easy access – so in spite of the possibility of rain, well, I think – as a foreigner and tourist – that I will prefer to go there. (in Arena)
In the footsteps of IL VOLO.
Luckily, the concert in Milan was only the very beginning of our 2-weeks long holiday in Italy, so albeit having to leave Milan and IL VOLO behind the following morning, we were having some great and lovely experiences to look forward to. Having visited the major Italian tourist areas several times before we had decided to do something new – and inspired by the IL VOLO guys – I had planned an out of the ordinary Italian holiday itinerary including among others a visit to The Frasassi Caves (where they filmed the Storaro documentary singing Morricone), we enjoyed refreshments at the town square in the lovely town of Ascoli di Piceno, (where they performed a fantastic al fresco concert this summer and Gianluca un-announced appeared on his own at a special event), enjoyed swimming and lounging at the inviting sandy beach of Roseto as well as explored the beautiful and awesome landscapes and hidden medieval towns in Abruzzo (Gianluca’s home base).
So IL VOLO was not out of mind in spite of out of sight, the following weeks and we learned a lot new about Italy. Next time we must explore Sicily – a region we have yet to visit too. The IL VOLO guys ought to receive a price of honor – namely the one of being fantastic ambassadors of their country!
Prior to the Milan concert my husband and I did likewise have the opportunity to meet up with Daniela for a very lovely evening in Brescia. Only sad that she could not join us at the concert the following evening, but it is always great to meet up with fellow fans. The IL VOLO guys most certainly connect us regardless of nationality, age or social backgrounds. This is exercising international understanding in the very best way. 😉
Thank you so very much for taking the time to read my story – I hope you have enjoyed my comments and reflections. Warmest greetings – KIRSTEN❤