All posts by Jana

Administrative Assistant to the Chief

Giovanna in Taormina & Lecce 2019!

Finalmente il Primo (e il Secondo) Concerto (Finally, the First and Second Live Concert)

By Giovanna

After Italy and our planet recover from the current viral onslaught, the world may be different.  As Gianluca said in his live videocast last week, when this is over, it may be hard for many people and many things to go back to the way they were.  But we can still look forward to the fact that music and laughter are universal and unstoppable.

In my last submittal, I promised to describe my first Il Volo concert(s) from 2019.  But first, I wanted to recount a funny story from my 2018 trip to Sicily.   That was my fourth hiking or cycling trip in Italy. Due to the travel dates, I knew I would not be able to hear any Il Volo concerts.  I spent the time becoming addicted to the Mediterranean and Ionian coasts of Sicily.

When we first arrived a few days before the start of our hike, I had trouble calling our bed-and-breakfast host near the Palermo Vucceria.  So I ended up pressing the citofono and climbing stairs looking for his suite.  A middle-aged guy in the street, who was a friend of his, called him on the telefonino (cell phone).  While on the phone this buddy was ribbing me in Sicilian, telling Claudio that he better come down quick, because his guests “si stanno impazzendo” (are going crazy) and every other tease he could think of, winking the whole time.  My helper was a typical Sicilian – extraordinarily courteous and kind on the one hand, and ‘nu sperto (smart aleck) on the other.  Then he hugs us and tells us his name is Piero.  I burst out laughing.  Of course, it is.  What else would it be?  (But it’s a common name, right?) 

Even wilder was the historian/guide at Segesta a few days later.  He was a little bantam rooster of an athlete in his 20’s.   Black jeans, dark curls, trim beard, soft eyes, deep dark voice, movie actor face.  He announced his name was Gianluca.

I was in tears laughing at this point, and just had to ask him if he sang tenor or baritone.   He pulled me aside and we promptly got into an argument (‘na schariatina) in Sicilian.  Two Sicilians arguing – what else is new?  He insisted that our driver, Maurizio, lied when he said we were Americans.  As short as I am, and with my left hand in the air for every other word, I had to be Italian.  I also learned that this particular Gianluca refers to himself as “Sicilianissimo” (ultimate Sicilian) and considers himself an expert in recognizing his own kind. 

I’ve had this happen in a number of places in Italy over the years, where Italians sometimes confuse me for an Italian, not an American.  A few examples:

Near Catania: “Si pare dalla faccia” (It shows on your face).

Rome: “L’accento si senti”  (I hear your accent).

Giardini, Sicily after two days of swimming in the Ionian Sea: “Una verissima Siciliana – nera, nera come ‘na magrebina” (A real Sicilian – dark as the rest of us Mediterraneans.)

Storekeeper in a negozio in Florence:  “You remind me of my mother in Calabria.  I’ll take off 40 euros if you come in the back with me for an espresso e una chiacchierata” (some conversation).”  I told him the last thing I wanted to hear from a handsome young Italian is that I looked like his mother.

Our driver outside Cefalu: “How long since you emigrated from here to the States?”  My answer, “Non ho mai messo piede qua!” (I’ve never set foot here!).

Near Milano:  If you’re a ciclista, you’ll know who the great designer Ernesto Colnago is.  He refused to make me a custom road racing frame years ago.  “Sei Italiana, ma sei troppo bassa. La bici uscira brutta!” (You’re Italian but you’re too short.  The bicycle will come out ugly.)

Eventually I gave up arguing. 

I didn’t meet any Ignazios in 2018, but I didn’t need to.  I have two Sicilian-American cousins called Ignazio.  One’s tall, one’s funny.


Despite following Il Volo for years, and even going back and forth to Italy, I never attended a live concert until 2019.  As I mentioned, I returned to Italia to hear them on their home turf in Taormina, Sicily and Lecce, Puglia, both shows in July.  It gave me an excuse to be around the beaches, the white marble architecture, the restored synagogues, and the marketplaces of eastern Sicily and southern Italy for a month.  Americans haven’t discovered these areas, but the northern Italians flock there for vacanze and ferragosto.  I was delighted not to hear a word of English for a month.  Siracusa and Ortigia, with exotic fruit, baking hot sunshine, blinding white marble, noisy markets, singing in the stalls, street signs in Greek and Hebrew, the sparkling Adriatic visible at every turn, make me ubriaca di gioia (drunk with pleasure).  I finally found a place I feel really at home.

Besides, there’s nothing like Sicilian pasta al salmone, and the Pugliese really know how to roll their dark bread dough in black sesame seeds.   And where else do the vending machines along the beach have bottles of Inzolia Sicilian white and Nero d’Avola red instead of Coca Cola?  Antonio, one my limo drivers, told me that Italians have a name for a meal without wine.  They call it colazione (breakfast). E magari, a volte… (Even then, sometimes, too).  Using wine all day is not the case for every Italian since, for example, Piero Barone, and even my landlord in Giardini, sono astemi (don’t drink at all). 

Ora Arriviamo al Dunque (Now We Get to the Point)

Jana, Daniela, Pat and others in the Flight Crew reviewed last year’s concerts as they occurred.  I wanted to tell you about some things that didn’t make the web pages or the blogs.  These things will not change, even if the Meet and Greets, Wine and Dines, and whatever else they’re called, come to an end.  I’ve never been to any of those things, anyway.

Aside from their voices and their stage presence, in the short time I was around the Il Volo concert setting, I was most impressed with the humanity and grace of these young men, and what veri gentiluomini (real gentlemen) they can be, when they choose to.  Non fraintendermi!  Don’t get me wrong!  I raised an Italian Jewish son exactly their age.  With young guys, including mine, sometimes they are delightfully charming, and other times “it gets real.”  I suppose these three guys are the same as mine.  Here are some examples of what they can be:

First, my all-time favorite, and Sicily’s greatest mystery writer, Andrea Camilleri, died the Thursday before the Il Volo Taormina concert.  If you’ve ever read Il Commissario Montalbano Mysteries or watched them on TV (starring Luca Zingaretti, Cesare Bocci and Peppino Mazzotta), you know who Camilleri is.   I didn’t hear the news until I went up to Taormina that Friday to buy some paperbacks in the tabbacheria and catch the local gossip in the cafés on Corso Umberto.  Those of us who are Sicilians were still lamenting his death a few nights later at the Il Volo concert.  (Sicilians are really good at that).   During the concert, Piero and Ignazio, Sicilians both, had the extraordinary sensitivity to ask for a few minutes to honor the memory of our Sicilian hero with a farewell aria in the middle of the show.  Lots of hugging and swaying in the audience – but well deserved.

Second, some of you may have seen the 2019 Taormina concert photo of Piero holding a teenaged girl at the left side of the stage, late in the show.  I think I even saw the picture on the Flight Crew page.  What wasn’t obvious is that this very disabled young lady, in her prettiest summer dress and barely able to walk on her brace supports, spent the length of two songs being held by Piero, while he sang his parts.  To take care of this young lady who had trouble standing, Piero had to crouch and sit at the edge of the stage to hold her so she wouldn’t fall, as her caregivers temporarily took her walking equipment away, and he stayed that way a long time.  This brave young lady didn’t want any crutches in her arms; she wanted Piero in her arms, and he obliged her.  I was really touched by the look on his face afterwards, as he sighed with compassion, moved by what this young girl went through to get near him, and watching her struggle on her supports as she left him with her helpers around her.  I didn’t expect a young star to be that human.  In Yiddish we would say What a mentsh! and in Italian Che persona! (What a person he is!)  But of course, if he’s like his coetani (guys his age) there are probably other sides to him. 

These are Flashes of Memory and a Few Things to Look Forward to When Italy Recovers

 Snapshots from Taormina Concert

  • Ignazio teasing that every time Gianluca tries to speak Sicilian, he growls like a Mafiusu.

  • Ignazio doing a fake Italian TV commercial with a dial-in phone number to raise money to save Piero’s home village of Naro. Every time the other two interrupt him, he starts the “tape” over.

  • Piero charging up the center aisle to sing at the back of the amphitheater, then unable to get back to the stage because he’s nearly covered in girls.

  • Gianluca completely cranked up, running victory laps back and forth at the front of the stage hand-slapping all the young kids, while everyone in the audience is standing and singing “Volare.”

  • Late night after the concert, people singing Il Volo songs up and down Corso Umberto, even those who didn’t go to the show.

Snapshots from Lecce Concert

  • After centuries of never having public entertainment in the Piazza del Duomo, watching as the stage was being built up each day across from the archbishop’s palace – for Il Volo,

  • Gianluca accidently delaying the show because he left his stage clothes at the hotel. Ignazio joking that they decided to wait for Gianluca’s clothes because it didn’t seem right to make him do an entire concert in front of the Archbishop of Lecce in mutande (in his underwear).

  • Gianluca personally thanking Archbishop Michele Seccia “chi mi ha dato la crisma” (who gave him the oil of anointing at his confirmation 12 years ago), because look what happened to his life since then.

  • Folks watching the show for free from the roof of their apartment building above the piazza teasing Ignazio. Ignazio, always in fine form, yelling at them to go buy a ticket.  

  • Gianluca doing a goofy American accent to make fun of how badly Americans pronounce “Arriverderci Roma.”

  • People in front of me betting on whether Gianluca could make it to the end of the show without climbing off the stage to play with a small boy down front. (He didn’t make it to the end).

  • Piero describing how ten years ago they were so young that they were this short . . . except Ignazio, who was this wide . . .

Che Dio vi benedica tutti voi, e anche i ragazzi e le loro famiglie.

May God bless you all, and the guys and their families, too, during this time.

Some pictures….

They need more publicity than this
They needed more publicity than this!
Taormina The light crew can do wonderful things on that backdrop in the Teatro Antico
Taormina – the light crew can do wonderful things!
String bending on a Fender Stratocaster Brownie
String bending on a Fender Stratocaster Brownie
Lecce Gianlu got his pants back but he may be noticing his shoes are different.
Gianluca got his pants back, but notices shoes are different?
Alessandro Quarta actually wore a T shirt long enough to cover his belly when he bends backwards
Alessandro got a shirt long enough to cover his belly!
10th anniversary thank you poster
10th Anniversary thank you poster…
This is how short I am. I cannot even reach the floor.
Yours truly – my feet do not touch the floor –  kind of like an Il Volo concert!

 

C’è di più.

There is more to come. 

Jo Ann…

 

TIME CORRECTION: Gianluca on Billboard Italia March 26 – 11a EST (16:00/4p Italy time) via Instagram!

(Sorry, I was off an hour, didn’t realize Italy hadn’t changed time yet!  It is 11a EST….)

Hello folks!

Looks like Gianluca is reaching out to his fans and will be live on Billboard Italia, via Instagram.  If you don’t have Instagram, you can go to www.instagram.com to download it.  You can also access Instagram on your computer, but I honestly don’t know if it will work for the live feed.  There are not a lot of details, but I believe Billboard Italia will be contacting Gianluca via live video on Instagram.  You will need to be sure to subscribe to Billboard Italia and wait for the notification the live feed is active.  You should get a notification that Billboard Italia is starting a live video.

So, have your questions ready!  Thank you Dani Ci for the heads up!  🙂  

(Cosa vorresti chiedere a Gianluca = What would you like to ask Gianluca?)  🙂

gg2

gg3

I’m sure it will be flooded with fans!

 

Jana

Gianluca on Billboard Italia March 26 – 11a EST (16:00/4p Italy time) via Instagram!

Hello folks!

Looks like Gianluca is reaching out to his fans and will be live on Billboard Italia, via Instagram.  If you don’t have Instagram, you can go to www.instagram.com to download it.  You can also access Instagram on your computer, but I honestly don’t know if it will work for the live feed.  There are not a lot of details, but I believe Billboard Italia will be contacting Gianluca via live video on Instagram.  You will need to be sure to subscribe to Billboard Italia and wait for the notification the live feed is active.  You should get a notification that Billboard Italia is starting a live video.

So, have your questions ready!  Thank you Dani Ci for the heads up!  🙂  

(Cosa vorresti chiedere a Gianluca = What would you like to ask Gianluca?)  🙂

gg2

gg3

I’m sure it will be flooded with fans!

 

Jana

Introducing Flight Crew’s New Contributor: Jo Ann!

Ciao!

I had the pleasure of discovering Jo Ann, when she answered my plea and so graciously offered her room to share at The Palms in Vegas!  We were so excited to meet each other after several long phone calls.  Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to Vegas, but she did, which she will tell us about in a future post.  🙂   Of course I am always on the hunt for new recruits, so I asked if she’d be interested, and she said yes!  She speaks, Italian and Sicilian, as well as English and hales from the Denver area.  She will be working with Daniela in sharing some of the workload on the various translations, etc.  So, Igna and Piero, you have no more secrets!  Now, if she could pick up some Abruzese, well, the guys would have no secrets at all!  🙂  Welcome aboard to the crazy Flight Crew, Jo Ann!  Without further ado, here she is!


By Giovanna

Ciao a tutti!  Since this is my first time writing for the Flight Crew, let me introduce myself.  I grew up as Giovanna Singer di Marchione in New Jersey.  I answer to Giovanna, Yochanah, or Jo Ann, depending on what country I’m in. 

Guarigione a Distanza: Long-Distance Healing

Nine or so years ago, my mother and son, watching a film clip on television, shouted across the house for me to come out of my office and hear something.  I know my mother was really affected by it, because she was joking with me in Sicilian dialect Giovanna, veni ca, e tale!”  (“Jo Ann, come here and look!”).  My mother hadn’t spoken Sicilian in 25 years, due to depressive illness and traumatic memories, and I despaired of my son ever hearing her speak it with me.  I ran into the room in time to hear one of three boys, ‘nu ragazzinu (a young guy) with eyeglasses stretching “ma na-a-a-a-a-tu sole” into an 8-beat measure.  I was dumbstruck at the smooth richness in such a young voice, in a teen my son’s age.  I also couldn’t believe the “cioccolato fondente” (molten dark chocolate) baritone coming out of the smallest one, or the powerful vibrato from the tall one. 

Up to that moment I was frustrated that Mama had abandoned her past.  This was a woman who grew up singing with Tommy DeVito and Frankie Vallie (of the 4 Seasons), whose own mother sang in the chorus at La Scala in Milano.  Her cousin, Lou Monte, sang Italian fun songs on the Ed Sullivan Show, after he re-recorded “Hello Dolly” silly-style with Louis Armstrong, where even Satchmo did a verse in Italiano.  (I can tell what generation any reader is if they used to watch the Ed Sullivan show, or remember Louis as “Satchmo”).  I don’t remember what was the TV show or clip where Mama saw and heard Il Volo.  I only know that it triggered something good in Mama’s memory.   For the last years of my mother’s life, we read Sicilian joke books, spoke and sang Sicilian and Italian, and immersed my son in the pride of where we came from.  I have Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio to thank for that, although we’ve never met and I didn’t even know who they were yet. 

Eventually I figured it out, but it took a few years.  I was running around the world on engineering projects, and they don’t have much bel canto music in Zambia, Zimbabwe, the mining towns of Slovakia, or the mine camps of upper Saskatchewan. 

Il Volo Parte:  The Flight Takes Off

A birthday hiking trip in Toscana, Italia in late 2015 started changing things.  Stepping out of my hotel the first morning in Firenze, I noticed a poster with the name “Il Volo,” (which was probably an ad for a CD or something).  The name struck me funny, since I was standing outside the Santa Maria Novella train station, not the airport!   I took a good look, and recognized one of the young men in the photo, the one in the eyeglasses, which were no longer red.  The tallest one now had a

jt2
Chiesa Santa Croce. The Notte Magica concert was held on the piazza in front of this beautiful façade.

striking young man’s face and an earring, and lost his round cheeks.  The youngest one was starting to look like a matinee idol.  My second thought was, “They had spectacular voices even as young teens.  I wonder what they sound like now?”  My first thought was “Italian boys really grow up well, don’t they?”  The answer to what they sound like came quickly.  The guys had won San Remo earlier that year, so the radios in some of the negozi in Firenza, Pienza, Volterra, and Volpaia, played “Grande Amore,” occasionally.  That was my Benvenuti in Toscana: my Welcome to Tuscany, Il Volo style. 

Ecco Che Arrive Il Bello (Here Comes the Funny Part)

Back in Colorado the following autumn, I got irritated at a friend who kept calling me to turn on the TV and watch PBS while I was trying to take a nap after a long workout.  I finally gave in.  There were the three faces from the poster, now in tuxedoes with even more stellar voices, shaking the Piazza di Santa Croce with Maestro Placido Domingo.  That did it!  No mistaking who they were now.  This time I got irritated that I had been in that piazza six months too soon.

But I already derived great pleasure from Il Volo’s music even before I ever went to my first concert.  These three boys always seem to be associated with good things happening in my family.  I will always keep the warm memory of my son (a

jt3
Tempio Maggiore Synagogue of Florence.  Almost a next door neighbor to Santa Croce.  It’s home to some of the best cantorial in Europe.

drummer and baritone) and his sweetheart Anya (a soprano), eating dinner Italian style al fresco on my deck, announcing their engagement to me to the background music of Il Volo’s recording of “L’Amore Si Muove.” 

When I took my third or fourth trip to Italy, my first to Sicily, in 2018 I was frustrated that due to the needs of one of our group, we scheduled the trip so we reached Taormina just a few days after the Il Volo concert there was over.  It was

jt6
The Teatro Antico in Taormina with the beautiful backdrop of Mt. Aetna, which becomes the stage for Andrea Bocelli, Il Volo, and others.

obvious, though, that Il Volo’s presence in the Italian press had expanded since 2015, mostly for the better.  They were on covers and center spreads in magazines in many of the edicole (newsstands), on the coffee table magazines in my hotel, the CD displays in the music store.  Buon per loro! (Good for them!)

Next time:  Finalmente!  At long last, I attend my first Il Volo concert.  I decided my first should, of course, be in Italy, where the guys harass each other in Italian and everyone knows all the lyrics . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

jt5
This is what happens when everyone knows all the words to every verse.

Giovanna

 

 


Grazie Mille, Giovanna!  What a lovely intro and such celebrities that reign in your family!  We can’t wait to hear about your first concert with the guys in Italia!  🙂

I was also able to find this video, along with many others of Lou Monte!  https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Lou+Monte+Lazy+Mary&&view=detail&mid=F80461EBE13A2BC3E508F80461EBE13A2BC3E508&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3DLou%2BMonte%2BLazy%2BMary%26FORM%3DVDMHRS

Along with several movie clips with the beautiful Sophia Loren!

Jana

SMILE!

It is with sadness that we announce officially the last 2 concerts being cancelled.  But we also know the guys would have sung for us if they could, but they needed to get home.  I’m sure we will all meet again, hopefully soon – but another time and place.  I am also saddened that I am not able to meet all of you (old friends and new!) who were planning on being in Vegas and those I missed in Verona.   I think it is fitting to post this video of SMILE, along with the words.  I’m sure this is in the hearts of all of Il Volo, management, crew, and fans!

 

Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what’s the use of crying?
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

 

I know many of us are trying to smile through our tears (myself included), it is not easy, but hopefully there will be a next time for all of us to meet again.  In the words of an old Irish blessing… (St. Patrick’s Day is next week….)

May the road rise to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face. The rains fall soft upon your fields. And until we meet again, until we meet again. May God hold you in the palm of his hand. And until we meet again, until we meet again.

 

I think this almost says it all…. ciao amici!  🙂 

Jana