We’ve recently had so many intriguing posts about the Verona concert, the latest Il Volo TV interview, and the history of Il Volo, that I took a short break from writing and translating (while I worked at my day job)! In any case, Flight Crew still wanted you to get the translation of an Il Volo interview article that appeared in Famiglia Cristiana magazine right before the Verona concert.
The Famiglia Cristiana article pursued some of the things many other interviewers have already asked the guys: their memories, their feelings about returning to the stage, upcoming recordings. But this article touched on one or two things that most of the media don’t usually get Il Volo to talk about: supporting each other during crises, their faith, prayer, marriage, starting a family. See if you agree with me that overall, Ignazio said the least, but revealed the most.
The Cover Story Title is “Exclusive: Il Volo at the Arena of Verona in Concert for Morricone. Once Again in Front of the Public.”The cover quote from the guys is“Our Strength? It’s Our Friendship and Our Faith.”
This posting will be a little different than my previous ones, because I am giving you the actual magazine pages, so we can enjoy the whole thing together. I put the translation of the call-out boxes into our own call-out boxes. In case some of the magazine pages aren’t super sharp, we have also embedded some of the original shots here and there for you to enjoy.
(Each image in this post can be clicked on to view a larger version.)
As you can see below, the inside headline, besides repeating the cover, adds: “The Three Singers of Il Volo are the Stars of a Concert in Honor of Ennio Morricone, Whom We Lost One Year Ago.
When I first saw this article, it added to my impression that the Verona concert was dedicated to more different people than any other show I’ve ever heard. Daniela’s and my translations of the stage talk from the concert over the past month showed that in addition to the show being dedicated to the memory of Maestro Ennio Morricone, Ignazio dedicated the concert to those we lost during the pandemic, and Piero dedicated it to Ignazio’s late father Vito. Now, at the bottom of this magazine article, we see Gianluca’s statement “I’m dedicating this show to my grandfather Ernesto who recovered from the [Corona] virus. It’s he who helped me discover the westerns of Sergio Leone.”
Sergio Leone, as you probably know is the Italian film director whose “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” featured Maestro Morricone’s music, and like the other two films in that trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More, added up to help make Clint Eastwood a star. Leone also directed the “Once Upon a Time” series of western films. Given Leone’s Italia origins, he is the founder of the style that came to be called “Spaghetti Westerns.”
So, without further ado, here’s the translation of the article by Eugenio Arcidiacono. [Based on his name, he may actually be an archdeacon].
“The interview takes place remotely, with the three Il Volo guys linked by video from their homes. But on June 5 will put them back together again for the first big concert in Italy with the public (a live audience) since the start of the pandemic: 6 thousand people will listen to them in the Arena di Verona during their tribute to Ennio Morricone one year after his loss (and the lucky ticketholders will be allowed to return home later than the curfew hour). Many more are those who will follow them on TV, live on RAI1 and in other countries of the world, from the United States to Japan. A great challenge after a year and a half of inactivity for Piero Barone, Gianluca Ginoble and Ignazio Boschetto.“
“We’re only thinking about one thing: finally, we get to sing. We couldn’t stand it anymore!” exclaims Piero. “We prepared for months, partly because for us it’s a totally new repertoire, with the exception of Il Più Ti Penso, a song that was constructed by blending themes from Once Upon a Time in America and from Malèna, which we included in our first album.
EA: Did any of the other tracks have lyrics written purposely for you?
Ignazio: “No, they’ve already been performed with lyrics. The only “gem” is Ecstasy of Gold from the Good the Bad and the Ugly: the Morricone family gave it lyrics, so it was a debut performance.
Gianluca: “There have been so many tributes to Morricone, but this will be the very first time for a tribute done by a male group. A tribute that will be translated to a CD that will come out after the summer. Andrea Morricone came to us in the recording studio and will be a guest on the stage to conduct some of his father’s music.”
EA: You’ve been conducted by Ennio Morricone in concert in the Piazza Del Popolo in Rome in 2011. You weren’t even 20 years old. What memories do you have?
Gianluca: “It’s true, we return to being children when we think of him. We were really naïve. I remember that during the general rehearsals with a one-hundred-piece orchestra he gave me the cue to start singing, but I didn’t start. Morricone turned to me [for not starting], and then I said to him, “So you give me the start cue?’ I saw the first violinist turn white [with shock] because I addressed the maestro as “tu” [the familiar/intimate form of you, which is not supposed to be used to conductors and music directors]. But he just smiled at me and said to me ‘Guys, don’t worry about it. I’ll deal with it.’”
EA: What is the first film with his music that you saw?
Piero: “Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. As a real Sicilian I recognized myself in that little boy who wanted to get away from his homeland to find his own way, and who listened to the adult he was most attached to, who counseled him to not get trapped by nostalgia. I’ve only cried a few times in my life, but when I saw it and heard that poignant music, I melted like a popsicle.”
Piero stops, and begins to hum the theme song from Nuovo Cinema Paradiso. “Who knows these notes? With our concert we want to make our audience take a dip into their past, rediscovering the emotions they experienced the first time they saw these films.”
Gianluca: “I, on the other hand, am fond of westerns, because I watched them with my Grandfather Ernesto, whom I’m extremely attached to. When I let him hear The Good, the Bad and the Ugly sung by us, he got very excited. I dedicate the concert and the CD to him, because at 87 years old he became sick with COVID and took a month in the hospital to recover. We were very scared, but in the end, he made it.”
EA: The concert was originally expected to be in St. Peter’s Square, but instead became the season opener in the Arena of Verona.
Piero: “We thought of St. Peter’s Square because Morricone was from Rome, but they didn’t have the conditions to guarantee [everyone’s] safety there. At the Arena of Verona, on the other hand, these conditions were present and it’s as magical a place as any, and recognized all over the world. But we still want to return to St. Peter’s Square as soon as possible.”
EA: Morricone has also composed musical scores thick with spirituality. Will you also perform one of those?
Gianluca: “In Fantasy, a track based on the theme of Gabriel’s Oboe, from the film Mission, one of the most mystical melodies ever composed by the master, accompanied by words like “In fantasy exists a warm wind which blows over the cities, like a friend. I dream of souls that are forever free.”
EA: As ambassadors of Italian music to the world, what do you think about Maneskin’s victory at the Eurofestival?
Piero: “We’re very happy. They are young people with great personality who present an “unpublished” side of Italian music to the outside: rock.”
Gianluca: “They do a completely different genre than ours, but we like them. We don’t listen to lyric music from morning to night. I grew up with David Bowie and Elton John.”
EA: In these months of forced inactivity, how has the relationship among you been, especially as friends?
Piero: “We got to know each other better. We talked a great deal, not just about music; and above all, we learned how to listen to each other.”
EA: How do you feel about those three child prodigies who in 2009 appeared on Ti Lascio Una Canzone?
Piero: Much tenderness, but also pride. We have been fortunate but also good at not getting sucked into the most ephemeral, fleeting parts of show business. We have managed not to lose contact with reality, because we have always remained anchored to our families.
EA: All three of you are believers and practicing [Catholics]. What reflections have sustained you in these times we’re living in?
Ignazio: “Like Piero said, this pandemic has made us grow as persons, because we have held each other up in difficult times, like the death of my father and the illness of Gianluca’s grandfather. But our faith has been fundamental in helping us. Prayer, in particular, has proven its power.”
EA: After the Arena of Verona, you won’t be doing concerts [in Italy] for the rest of the year. You can take advantage of this to start having your families.
Gianluca: “I’m still such a kid, that I can’t imagine myself as a father.”
Piero: “For sure, the first of us to get married will be Ignazio.”
Ignazio: “Yes, it’s true that I have always dreamed of a wife and children. With the job I do it’s not easy. But I’ve been working on it…”
Credit to Famiglia Cristiana and owners of all photos.
GRAZIE MILLE TO GIOVANNA FOR TRANSLATING THIS FOR US!! 🙂
Anyone who has been to an Il Volo live concert knows that the guys are NOT stuffy, straight-laced, performers. The description I hear most about their stage presence, besides “thrilling,” is “warm.” In addition to great music sung by spectacular voices, a large part of the fun of an Il Volo concert is the guys’ non-stop joking, ribbing and “fuoco incrociato” (cross fire) on stage. Daniela gave us a lovely and letter-perfect overview of the magnificent music in her post on 6 June, 2021, never missing a single guest name, movie name or song title. I have the privilege of sharing with you the other fun part of the show – the “Chiacchiere Sul Palco,” the stage chatter. Sometimes it was pensive and touching, sometimes it was immensely funny. I didn’t translate everything verbatim, but my narrative is mostly in the order of the action on stage, so you can use it to follow much of the repartee if you don’t understand the Italian.
The “chiacchiere” didn’t start on the stage. Daniela showed and translated much of the Anteprima filmed backstage right before the show opening. Marco Giallini, former movie actor turned Italian TV comedian and TV host, was supposed to be getting the Il Volo guys ready for their big entrance by encouraging them on their opening with “Ecstasy of Gold” from the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Piero comes on screen warming up, with Gian telling him not to force it. Ignazio limps on complaining of his shoes, which Marco thinks must be wood. Marco doesn’t help; he only manages to ask the guys if they’re nervous. Then the guys were too busy getting Marco ready, to get themselves ready. While adjusting Marco’s tie, Ignazio chastises him “Put yourself together better, this is an important event.” Gianluca, predictably, had to fix Marco’s hair. (Ignazio will razz Gianluca about his own hair later on). Piero does the last-minute run back to smooth Marco’s whiskers. It didn’t look like Marco got to do much for the guys at all.
After the opening number, Ignazio very gratefully expressed that after a year and a half of silence, their guests of honor were really the entire live audience.
Gianluca explained that this was the highest moment of their career, and it was such a responsibility that his legs were shaking. Ignazio quips that his legs are shaking, too, but in his case it’s because his shoes are a little too tight. He reassures the audience he can handle it, though. Piero, straight-faced, complains that even after a year and a half not singing in public, Ignazio hasn’t changed a bit. The rest of Piero’s remarks are to thank the Morricone family and Maestro Andrea.
The guys often talk about how inexperienced they were when they started as 15-year-olds. They decided to share what happened their first time rehearsing the theme from C’era Una Volta inAmerica with Maestro Ennio Morricone at Piazza del Popolo in Rome. Ignazio asks who made “la brutta figura” (the lousy impression/bad mistake) that time. Gian admits it was him, so he’ll finish the story. At that age, he had no training and no idea how to respond to the conductor, who is the only one who can tell them when to come in, or even how to address him. When the Maestro pointed at Gianluca to lead off, he didn’t make a sound. Confused, he turned to the other guys and the Maestro, calling him the informal “tu, instead of the formal “lei.”” (No Maestro is never addressed as “tu” in front of the orchestra or audience). The Maestro, ever the forgiving father, told them, “It’s OK guys, just do what you do, I’ll handle it.” I noticed that as he told the last few lines of the story, Gianluca lapsed into Abruzzese. It may have been an embarrassing memory.
Piero, to rub it in to Gianluca, then (loudly and properly) asks the current Maestro (Andrea) Morricone, “Maestro, we’re ready. Can you kick us off now?”
Ignazio announces that now that they are grown up they don’t goof up like that anymore. (You should always check out the eyes on the other two, when he says things like that).
When they introduce “Nessun Dorma,” Ignazio explains they sang it during a different tribute (to the Three Tenors) in a different place (Florence), adding that some of the folks in tonight’s audience were probably there. When Ignazio gets no audience response, Piero throws in, “No. I guess no one at all was there.” After they gave a breathtaking performance, Piero got visibly shaken by the deafening applause, and had to explain that it was very emotional to hear that welcome response again after a year and a half of silence.
It’s at this point that we start to understand exactly how extensive their responsibility was. Piero mentions that he hasn’t slept in 40 days, since it was decided that the three of them would host and help plan the entire show. Piero explains he couldn’t sleep because of Ignazio. He was worried about managing the behavior of the usual crazy one. If you follow Instagram, you know that Ignazio is a self-confessed “rompiscatole” (pain-in-the-rear prankster).
As Piero mentioned, it was decided that the Il Volo guys would not just be the stars, but also do the music selection and be hosts. That meant choosing songs, scripting the stage act, interacting live with the guest stars, and coordinating with other artistic media. On top of that, it was being filmed live. That’s why you keep hearing Ignazio make comments throughout the concert about “il bello della diretta,” meaning “the beauty of what happens when you film live.” Even more, this was not a concert; it was a multi-media tribute. As you watch, you will notice that in addition to the 100-piece orchestra, choral backup choir, and powerful vocals, there were film clips, ballet choreography, still photo backdrops, and narrative readings. Our guys had to mesh these with the parts they scripted and performed themselves. Major responsibility, yes, and they carried it off beautifully.
Ignazio promises he could behave and feel better if he had “una piciottedda, una fimminedda.” Daniela explained these were Sicilian for a young girl or young lady. Gian decides Ignazio means he needs a muse. That’s when they bring on actress Laura Chiatti. She says she’s flattered because she’s never been a muse. Piero corrects her that she’s a muse for him and Gian, but for Ignazio she’s “una piciotta, una fimminedda.”
Ignazio brings her to his side, explaining, “We rehearsed where to have you stand. These other two told me, ‘Ignazio, you stand next to Laura.’ You see, those two have a fear of heights (paura dell’altezza).” In Italian, “altezza” doesn’t mean only high places. It also refers to a person’s physical height. Igna was intimating that Piero and Gian are afraid to stand near tall women. (But we know they are not!) Laura admits that without her heels, her height wouldn’t be a problem for anybody. Igna tells her he wants her to leave them on. Laura helps them introduce “Se Telefonando” by playing around with Ignazio using the three notes it’s known for.
Afterwards, Gian recounts that because they have been travelling since they were 15 years old, there were times when they got on stage and totally forgot where they were. Piero claims that Ignazio was the worst of the three. Ignazio explains that once when they arrived in Vienna, he shouted out to the crowd, “I love Germany”, but of course they were in Austria. Gian insists Ignazio also said “Good evening, Berlin,” when they were in Vienna. Ignazio argues that it was the exhaustion. Piero fires back to Igna, “No, that’s just you. Exhaustion has nothing to do with it.” Then Piero underscores Ignazio’s forgetfulness even more, saying “Let me tell you what he’s like: When we go on stage wearing socks, he forgets his socks. Then he forgets the bowtie. Then he forgets the cufflinks.”
As Ignazio slinks away in ignominy, Gian interrupts Piero, “Excuse me, but he has this incredible voice.” Piero goes after the escaping Igna calling “But without him… but without him…” and wins Ignazio back.
Piero explains that Ennio Morricone arranged the most requested song at all Il Volo concerts. When they get ready to sing “Il Mondo,” they get their places mixed up and Piero is headed downstage towards the audience. Ignazio is fussing that Piero has to be on stage to sing this next song, unless he intends to sing it from up in the balcony. (I have actually seen Piero do that for Puccini arias). This is another place that Ignazio remarks on “il bello della diretta.” (live filming). When they sort it out, Gian promises they’ll come down into the audience later. Read Daniela’s post to hear how gracious Piero can be when he’s down in the crowd.
After Riccardo Cocciante performs with the guys and announces he’s had 50 years of career, Gian says he hopes Il Volo will be able to say that someday, too.
Marco Giallini finally joins the guys on stage. In preparation for the next love song, he asks the guys about their first kiss. Igna tells a story most of you already know. He remembers being four years old and crawling under the sofa to hide from his first kiss. Marco asks Gianluca about his first kiss. Gian says he doesn’t know, he hasn’t had one yet. Marco encourages him, “There’s still time.” When he turns to Piero, Gianluca says it’s better if Piero doesn’t answer this one. (I don’t know what that was about). Gianluca also asks Marco if they can call him “Zio”, Uncle Marco.
The guys bring on Salvatore Cascio who played little Salvatore “Toto” Di Vita in “Cinema Paradiso” in 1988. (My late Uncle Salvatore was also Toto). Igna describes Toto as “The little boy (“picciuteddu”) who has grown up a lot.” Igna tells him he wanted to speak to him on stage in Sicilian but he’s not allowed, so, they will visit backstage later. Note though, that Ignazio had been throwing Sicilian around on stage all evening, anyway. I don’t know what put Ignazio in that mood, but he may have been remembering and honoring his late father in some way. Before Toto leaves, Piero remarks how many people he made cry during that film, but Toto adds, “and made them laugh, too.”
Nina Zilli joins them for “Metti, Una Sera a Cena.” After pianist Raphael Gualazzi says his goodbyes, Ignazio brings Nina forward saying “Look at all this splendor.” She flirts back with “You’re not looking bad yourself.”
After the break, Piero starts the next “battuta” (gag) by saying “When we meet people on the street they often say, ‘I remember you when you were this little.’” Ignazio gibes that Gian and Piero may once have been that little, but he was never that little. Piero snipes “Let’s look at a picture of Ignazio when he was little, so darling, so fascinating, so attractive.” They show the pudgy, round-faced little guy he was. Gianluca points at today’s Igna, saying “What a miracle. Look at how handsome he is now.” Ignazio rebuts Piero with, “Ok, do you want to talk about what you were like: ‘pafutello’ chubby.” We see a chubby Piero with the wild ears and chopped hair. Gian is waving at the current Piero and calling out “Miracle 2.0!” Then they show Gianluca as a child. Same smooth face, same smoldering eyes, same daring stare. Piero is yelling “Always the same. Same pose, even. Peter Pan. Never even a wrinkle.” Gian says he can still do that look, does a spin and comes around in the same pose.
Marco Giallini shares a narrative about the lives of Sacco and Vanzetti before the guys sing “Here’s to You”. Afterwards, he tells a story about Ennio Morricone having a face-off with Franco Zeffirelli who rejected “E Più Ti Penso” for one of his films, and chose a Diana Ross song instead. Marco always manages to slip in F-bombs and funny Italian obscenities into his stories, and of course does it here. That doesn’t mean I’m going to repeat or translate them.
Ok. Next skit. After “E Più Ti Penso,” Ignazio uses one of their old lead-ins that “We are three different personalities, with three different tastes in music, and three different heights. But, of course while we’re sitting down right now you can’t see that.” You can almost tell what’s coming. Piero reacts with “Yes, three different personalities, and three different musical tastes. But the three different heights, Non c’entrava niente.” (Had nothing to do with anything). Igna insists, “Yes it does. For Gianluca to look as tall as me, he had to start styling his hair up really high (“allungare il ciuffo”) like he does.” Gian points out that he had his hair styled lower this evening. (He did).
Igna explains how their different tastes led them to start performing solos. Gian remarks that it’s hard to be alone for a solo after 12 years of performing nearly everything together. He also recounts being distracted by music even as a schoolboy constantly wearing earphones. It struck me that he introduced Elton John’s “Your Song” by saying it was 51 years old. (It was a pop hit when I was in high school, and that can’t be 51 years ago). It was easy to figure out where Mama Eleanora Ginoble was in the audience, because after dedicating the song to her, Gian kept pointing her out. Afterwards. Gian came back to the other guys asking how he did, saying he values their opinion. Piero congratulated him on how beautiful it was, then told him next time he sings it to turn around and look at the beautiful ballet choreography behind him. So, we can expect to hear this one again.
When it’s time for the next solo, there’s another Sicilian argument. Piero stops Igna who’s moving forward with a microphone in hand, saying he’s going to the solo area downstage to get ready. Piero reminds him, “Always the same story. This was the agreement: him (Gian), then me, then you.” Igna then insists he was just putting the microphone on the stand. (Right). Gian tells Piero “OK, let’s hear what you got, Il Torrucciddu.” You can tell my two paesanos are still teaching him Sicilian.
Piero introduces his accompanist, Andrea Griminelli, by saying that he has seen and heard him accompany Luciano Pavarotti, Sting and other powerful artists. After Piero’s heart-stopping “No Puede Ser,” Ignazio tells him he sounded better than ever. Then Ignazio shifts gears, saying we all know what we lived through this past year: separations, distance, missing people, losing people. He adds if you have a love far away, you can call them near again. He adds there were great losses, yet great satisfactions. Most touching, he dedicates the concert to all those who at the start of this year, were no longer with us, adding “Our thoughts are with them who are now up there” (pointing to heaven).
Then Ignazio goes to the solo mike stand and says, “OK. My turn. I really feel alone over here.” Piero assures him he’s not alone and reminds him to do a mini-interview with his coming guest. Ignazio introduces his saxophonist, 8-year-old Julian. Ignazio described him as a big and little surprise. Big, because he’s insanely talented. Little, because he’s of short stature. Gian interjects “Like me and Piero.” Daniela gave us a literal translation of the little mini-interview Ignazio did with Julian after the solo of “Listen.”
After the solo, Marco narrates the story of “Mission”, and how Ennio Morricone came to compose for the protagonist, Padre Gabriel’s, oboe. Gian tells us that the film allowed us a peek into places paradisical and un-contaminated. Piero adds that that we need to protect our planet and preserve the beauty of these places. Ignazio explains that it’s not just because two of them are Sicilians that he wants to thank the ecological rescue team that has restored one of the most magnificent beaches in Lampedusa, one of the most beautiful there is. They restored it from a state of degradation to a place now magical, especially because of the indigenous turtles, the Caretta Caretta. Ignazio is always Ignazio, so he quips that if you’re not familiar with these turtles, they are friends of his. Then he mis-reads “nitificare” on his prompter, and also misreads the text on the migrations, settling for “They’re there every season.” Gian is giggling “See, what happens filming live.” It also happens that June 5 was World Ecology Day. Piero provides an Italian text number 45593, for donations to support eco-restoration, then has trouble reading his own prompter. Ignazio is gibing, “Now we can’t even read anymore.”
Of course, Gianluca starts in with, “Well now that you have mentioned Sicily, I need to mention Abruzzo, and greet all the Abruzzese watching.” Piero throws out, “I was actually asking myself, how is it Gian still hasn’t mentioned his home, yet.” (Because we all know Gianluca does that at every show.)
When Laura returns after “Volare,” she tells the guys that in her role as muse, she requests a favor that they cannot refuse her. She asks them to sing “Un Amore Così Grande.” Igna offers it from the bottom of his heart “corazon” in Spanish, but Gian has him say it in Portuguese “curação.”
After describing their appreciation for American music and artists, they try to introduce “My Way.” Piero explains that they’re turning their back to the audience so they can talk on camera to those at home. Ignazio is trying to pontificate and have a suspenseful introduction with a flourish. You can see that Piero, losing patience, blurts out the title too early. The other two chastise him, “You ruined it.” “Don’t interrupt.” You’re too intense, calm down.” That’s why Piero finally runs up to the camera face first and announces “My Way” really hard.
This one is followed by Andrea Morricone’s s new composition, “Il Colore dell’Amore”. Then the guys take turns “conducting” the audience for “Libiamo de Liete Calici.”
When Marco gets ready to leave the stage for the last time, Ignazio thanks him for being a pillar of strength for Il Volo, because he believed in them, supported them, and taught them how to relax and take all the mistakes in stride when recording live.
Before singing “Conradiana,” Piero dedicated the concert to Ignazio’s late father, Vito. There are no words to add to Daniela’s impressions of how moved and emotional the three of them were. I can only echo Piero’s promise that he knew Vito was watching from “up there.”
Afterwards, what grabbed the Italian media reviewers besides the spectacular vocals and professionally polished delivery? They latched on to Ignazio’s dedication, and have started calling the Verona concert what Il Volo calls it, “Il nostro concerto per chi non ce l’ha fatta”: Our concert in honor of those who didn’t make it.
We are grateful for Il Volo’s sensitivity and care.
Credit to owners of all photos.
Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!