Episode Two: Ignazio’s Story
When we last left Ignazio, he was ten years old and enjoying life and his friends in Bologna.
Ignazio was a part of the school choir and was becoming more passionate about his music each day. In short, finally a little tranquility. How long would it last? Four years, more or less but then, Ignazio tells us….
In July 2004 we were on the road again.
Finally, the family is established, and the decision is made to return to Marsala. For Nina this was a great decision because she always missed Marsala but for Ignazio, Bologna was always his home and honestly what ten-year-old child wants to leave his friends, his school, the only life he has ever known to move to a place where you know no one and have to start all over again in a new school.
So here we are, it’s 2004 and Ignazio’s life is about to take a major turn. The truth of the matter is, if the family did not make this move, Ignazio might never have stepped on the stage at Ti Lacsio Una Canzone and Caterina would not have had her dream come true, to open a pizzeria. If you combine Ignazio’s passion for singing and Caterina’s desire to open a pizzeria you get: A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we leave Bologna, let me have Ignazio tell you about one of his last days there.
The family was packed and ready to move and Ignazio was just winding down and preparing for the move that he really didn’t want to make.
Whenever Ignazio went out to play with his friends, he brought along a walkie talkie which he used to keep his mother informed about where he was and what he was doing. Ignazio tells us….
Near the end of July 2004, we had already packed everything, and we were ready for the move to Marsala. I went to get an ice cream with some friends near home, really, just a few steps away. Upon returning, I saw some guys in the building next to ours playing soccer. I could go home and do nothing but, it was the last days I was in town? And the game was in the courtyard next to mine, it was practically like it was mine. So, I stop. I did not think to call mom with the intercom, and I played soccer, all afternoon, without even a ‘Mom, I’m down here!’ And mom started looking for me, all over Molinella. She rode around the city and did not find me. Then she called my father, who was at the supermarket shopping: ‘Come I cannot find Ignazio.’ My father arrives, my mom throws the bike in a corner, runs in the car, then, out of the corner of her eye she sees my shorts.
At one point, my mother from anger also spoke Chinese. If it had not been that we had already packed everything for the move, I certainly would have had to iron two beautiful chairs full of clothes for punishment. Instead, as a punishment, no more backyard and no pizza for a month. What then, being without pizza for a month, was worse than two chairs of clothes to iron, because I always ate pizza. And pasta, too. Two other passions of mine, together with soccer and music. I know, I know, you could see from my form. In the canteen, at school, I liked to eat toasted bread! And I always asked for an ‘another serving of pasta.’ Mamma told the ladies who worked in the canteen at school: ‘Do not give him too much soup as he is chubby, just a little bit of pasta and if you do not give it to him, even better.’ One day, one of them replied: ‘But when he comes with that little face and tells me, please another little …. here, lady, how can I say no?’ I was a born actor.
But in all, the one that gave me the most satisfaction with pasta was Nina. I ate some huge dishes. Since mom and dad had to work at night, I ate with Nina and she cooked pasta. It was not that she cooked two and a half ounces! She cooked almost 9 ounces for two people. We ate really full dishes. And then, Nina would call mom at work and ask her for recipes: ‘How do you make ragout like grandmother does? How do you make crepes?’ And she started cooking for the whole family.
‘The moral of the story is in addition to my passion for soccer and volleyball, Nina gave me a passion for cooking.’
Now, let’s join, 10-year-old Ignazio in his early days in Marsala just before he took his first step towards stardom! Ignazio writes….
*In 2004 there was a great change, the economic stability that mom and dad were looking for had arrived. Mom has regained her health and then what do we do? We returned to live in Marsala.
Ignazio’s parents always thought that sooner or later they would be back in Sicily, but Nina also had her part in the choice. Every time they went on holiday in Marsala, for Nina, it was a pain to go back to Bologna, given the beauty of Sicily and since she left a lot of friends and all the rest of her family there. However, in the end, on July 24, 2004, the family moved back to Marsala.
So, let’s see how Ignazio is adjusting to life in Sicily….
In the beginning I did not accept Sicilian life. It was difficult for me to set myself up at school because the programs were very different from the school where I had trained. The consequence? I was seen by everyone as ‘the polentone’ of the situation, it was the Bolognese accent….
(A “polentone” is a somewhat derogatory term that is given to the citizens of northern Italy.)
In the beginning I did not take it very well. At lunch at my paternal grandmother’s house, my mother was so hurt by my words that she started to cry: ‘I recommend you, if I die you must take me to Bologna.’
Fortunately, Ignazio met new friends close to his home and this changed his mind.
If you combine the damage in Bologna, the notes at school and various red crosses and the punishments: ironing, washing dishes, cleaning the floors, in short, housework. You can now imagine the teasing that I had to hear from Vito, Vincenzo and Ivan, my new friends in Marsala, every time I did something wrong, mom made me do the housework. One day, I faced my mother. ‘Dear mom,’ I tell her, ‘the pleasure is over, I’m not going to have you make fun of me anymore.’
Here in Marsala, it was the same as in Bologna’s straight straight ‘nu puzzu’ (it refers to the well) it was there that I went after school, in time to eat something, and then everyone ran behind the house to the well, that is a square in the center which had a closed water well.
Ignazio, Vito and Vincenzo, and sometimes Ivan, would meet every day at the well and decide what to do. They would build huts, play the game of the week, go for a bike ride, in short, everything and more, and this is also where they met to go to school soccer that was just two kilometers from their homes. And sometimes, in the middle of a challenge or under a hut, under construction, you could hear shouting ‘Ignazio!’ and everything stopped….
We stopped breathing for a second and descended silently. Mom wanted me to go home and do my homework. She wanted, but I did not always agree….
During the first year we were back in Marsala, mom had gone back and forth every day to the center of Marsala to be able to secure her great dream: to open a pizzeria of her own.
In order to open the pizzeria, mom had to do certain things. First thing: she went back and forth to the office for the permits and all the bureaucratic things that she needed to do. Second thing: she used the ovens of friends and made pizzas. I remember it very well. She went from one oven to another and tried so many types of flour, she tried the dough, she tried so many types of mozzarellas, so when she finally opened the pizzeria, she already knew how to prepare the right dough. It is different to make pizza in Bologna than making it in Marsala, take the word of a son and brother of a pizza maker: it is different because it depends on the humidity, the temperature and the type of flour. It’s not a simple matter to make a really good pizza.
So, mom did these two things alone, but to build the pizzeria physically the job was for a team and involved the whole family. My father with the savings accumulated over the years began the work. He was now working in a company that built wooden structures and being an experienced bricklayer, the dream could be realized, and it could be built in front of the house.
For a whole year, in every free moment, my father dedicated himself to building the pizzeria for my mother and I loved to help him, so much so that when there were a few days of school vacation I went to work with him.
You will think that I tell you about the pizzeria under construction, but I am not a pizza maker, of course, but if there had not been the pizzeria, perhaps I would never have started singing seriously.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within me. It was a passion for electronics and music. I had started to be part of the elementary school choir and my dad, who was more passionate about electronics than me, had bought me a mixer, a microphone and two speakers, with which we started doing the easiest thing that could be done with those instruments: karaoke. I really enjoyed singing the songs of Andrea Bocelli and Giorgia.
Finally, in 2005 the pizzeria was completed, and mom opened the Pizzeria dei Desideri.
Within a few months mom already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when I was singing at home, even the customers heard me. One day a gentleman said to my mother, ‘You know, my daughter is studying singing, why don’t you come with your son once? Even just to try.’
Listening to Ignazio sing Il Mar Calmo delle Sera I could imagine how it must have been sitting in the pizzeria and hearing his beautiful voice. It’s no wonder this customer suggested that Caterina have Ignazio take singing lessons.
Like everything else, we talked it over within my family and everyone was enthusiastic about it. It was decided I would go and see what this singing lesson was like.
I remember it as if it were yesterday, and instead ten years have passed! And now, I was eleven. I wore a yellow shirt with green stripes, fashion was never my strong point. Arianna, the daughter of the pizzeria customer, who had heard me sing, and her mother and I waited in front of the school for more than twenty minutes for Liliana Andreanò, the singing teacher.
Lilliana Adreanò arrived in a grey Opel Astra. She got out of the car and immediately entered the school.
I was worried, almost embarrassed. Hard to believe, right? Even as a child I’ve never been the type to be speechless.
Lilliana begins to talk about music, what kind of songs I like to sing. It was already a strange thing because usually I just sang, no one asked me why and how.
You know, Liliana I like to sing Giorgia’s songs. Lilliana said: ‘Strange for a kid to sing this kind of song.’ She asked, ‘And which song of Giorgia would you like to make me listen to?’ Gocce Di Memoria (Drops of Memory), I said. I didn’t even have a doubt. I start singing and Liliana was amazed by my extension but asks me to try a male song too.
That unique and amazing extension. Like no other tenor in the world! He had an amazing voice, even at eleven years old.
I thought a little bit and then I said to her: sometimes I even sing Con Te Partiro by Andrea Bocelli. I started singing and, when I finished Liliana told me: ‘Ignazio, this is your musical direction.’
From that first lesson I began to study songs like Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, Un Amore Così Grande and all those that came to mind, and I liked it. It approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic. With Liliana I found myself very comfortable. We understood each other immediately because she is a sociable person, simple, as are all of us in my family.
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that I take part in a bullfight (competition) organized in Paolini. I wasn’t completely convinced that I wanted to get on a stage. Until that moment I had only thought about singing, but I had never seriously thought that all that singing one day could bring me into the spotlight. In short, I was afraid. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not being able to face the stage, but just to gain mastery on stage, Liliana urged me to participate, and so in the end I decided to do it.
I was about to get on the bullfight stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with the song by Bocelli “Con te partirò” (Time to Say Goodbye), a song that I had studied and re-studied with Liliana, but as soon as the music started I had a terrible fear of forgetting the words. So, what did I do? I looked down all the time. So, the audience, the place, what happened around me while I was singing, it’s not that I do not remember anything, I just do not know because I only saw the tips of my feet.
Fortunately, however, I remembered all the words and it is not so obvious because sometimes it happens that I forget the words even today now that I have become professional, the emotion continues to take us despite everything and.… I came in third.
Once the ice was broken and the stage panic was over, that ended up being just the first of many competitions for Ignazio. In general Ignazio would go with Arianna to Lilliana and a beautiful friendship developed. On those occasions they always had a lot of fun and Arianna always came a step ahead of Ignazio. Ignazio third, Ariana second; Ignazio second, Ariana first.
They just had fun, without envy. That is until….
Ariana changed teachers and our streets became a bit divided. We still found ourselves in competitions together, but a rivalry was starting that was not healthy.
This is the same period in which I started taking piano lessons, with various teachers: I changed three in three years. In the end, let’s say, I can play something, but a little, just enough for me to compose. I am not prepared like Piero, who has a very classical education.
And, speaking of Piero, it is a mystery that Piero and I had never met in some competition. He has done almost all those in Sicily and yet I have made some of them and I also started in the same period, around eleven-twelve years, after more or less a year that I lived in Marsala.
After two and a half years, three that I was studying with Liliana, one day she told me that for the genre that I was going to sing another teacher was better suited to give lyrical singing lessons. So, I was convinced and started to follow another singing teacher, Roberta Caly.
So now it becomes complicated. I went to Lilliana for singing lessons and interpretation. I went to Roberta for lyric singing. And I took a diction course from Lilliana and Roberta. I also went to a diction course with Lilliana and a diction course with Roberta but taught by other teachers in the school. And I also attended a jazz workshop.
The study of singing was used to learn the technique and interpretation to understand what I said when I sang, so that I could express my emotions with the words of the songs. However, I must say that despite the studying, I have remained a more pop voice than, for example, Piero who is a pure tenor and even today he studies and dreams one day of singing in an opera.
Ignazio went to class every day except Sunday when he went to see Nina’s soccer matches. Nina was now playing in Serie B.
Between the school, the singing lessons, the piano lessons and diction Ignazio was always busy, so much so that he was forced to leave the school of soccer….
I could not do everything, also because of the not fantastic economic conditions in which my family was. But I did not really want to miss anything and so I immediately found another thing to do: an extracurricular musical laboratory.
Although Ignazio was so busy, he did not want to give up that workshop, it was about setting up musicals, one of the most beautiful experiences of his life. That is, it started with a musical, but then it became three….
The first musical I did when I was small and fat, was Streetlight, which tells a story of rivalry between two bands in the Chicago of the seventies. We staged it at the Teatro Impero of Marsala on May 31, 2007. It was beautiful. I was the protagonist the voice was certainly not like the one I have now. With this baseball cap, one thing to see (and, in fact, somewhere on youtube you can find it too). Then I made Grease, the American musical from which the film of the same name is taken with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and then Rugantino, the musical comedy of Garinei and Giovannini of 1962 still represented today with great success all over the world.
In Rugantino I played the lead role. I still remember the songs …. and that time mom made me a fantastic hat with a fishing net: grip, dyed blue and adapted to the size of my head. Spectacular!
Yes Ignazio I can see you in a musical, writing, singing, producing, being the whole performance as you are in Il Volo!
In 2007, I stopped studying with Roberta. I met Giovanna Collica, a very good soprano, who gave lessons in Siracusa. A gentleman who organized fashion shows in summer around Sicily, had called me to open the fashion shows. The show was in Palazzolo Acreide in Siracusa and that is where I met Giovanna.
Geographically speaking, Siracusa is on the east coast of Sicily and Marsala on the west coast. No matter the distance, studying with Giovanna was too important to pass up. She was a very good soprano she had even dueled with Luciano Pavarotti.
Her lessons were a great opportunity, so once a week what did I do? I took the bus with Nina, or I would leave with my parents in the car and we would go to Siracusa. Every time I entered Giovanna’s house, I asked her ‘How is the cat?’ because she had a very plump white cat that threw himself from the balcony at least once a week.
It took a lot of money to cover the travel expenses, the lessons and in the meantime also the registration for competitions that in many cases were not free. So, it was at a certain point, mom and dad found themselves not having enough money to send me forward. They were more hurt than me. Having always worked and being accustomed to facing sacrifices for the family, they did not want to surrender to this obstacle but at the same time they did not know what to do.
In the end, it was necessary to make a decision. The decision was to ask a person dear to us for a loan that, as soon as mom and dad had settled a little, would be returned.
This person has helped us with great generosity, so as to allow me to continue to pursue this dream.
So, we come to the end of this week’s story about Ignazio. We learned that there was a place in Marsala where you can have A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side. But above all we learned that, through the generosity of a special person, Ignazio had the opportunity to continue his lessons and take the next step which will lead him on the road to stardom!
In conclusion, I sometimes I feel like I spend every day of my life writing about Ignazio! In the last four years I’ve written over two hundred stories about the guys, and it seems as if half of them are about Ignazio. Why? Because Ignazio wears many different hats. He is an Entertainer, Lyricist, Manager and Entrepreneur!
And let’s not forget about Bosky TV where he chats with us every chance he gets. That is when he can run away from his busy schedule of singing, arranging and producing. The amazing thing about all of this is we can’t seem to get enough of him!
Next time we will follow Ignazio to the competition which will lead him to Ti Lascio una Canzone.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Next week we follow Gianluca to the event where he will meet his fate.
*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).
Just in time for Christmas, the guys released a new EP 4Xmas Amazing Grace, O Tannenbaum, Feliz Navidad and Happy Xmas (the War is Over) order yours now on Spotify, Amazon, etc.
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 www.ilvoloflightcrw.com and don’t forget to visit the Archives.
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