So, the first album is done, the guys have a name, and they are on their way to America! But wait a minute, we talk about Their Amazing Voices, but we haven’t said what each voice is and how they work together. So, let’s listen to how the voices work.
I could go back to 2010 when they recorded their first album but for this story, I want to go back to March 2020 when the guys cancelled their last three concerts and went home. We were all locked in our houses! One world united in lockdown!
Think about how our lives have changed over the last two years. It’s surreal! During this time, many of us found a pleasant distraction by listening to our guy’s music. And the endless videos! Many of you told me that you got to know the guys better over these last year’s especially the first months when we were all in lockdown.
Remember how the guys would come on Instagram and Facebook and would invite us to listen to their conversations with their friends. And the funny videos of Piero and Ignazio.
In this video Piero is asking Ignazio to do an interview for him and Ignazio says he should ask Gianluca because he is very busy. Piero says Gianluca is not available to do it. Ignazio is surprised because he obviously knows Gianluca is not busy. Then Ignazio notices Piero’s very sunburned face. Ignazio asks did you use cream. Piero says, “no oil.” The video is really self-explanatory, and, in the end, we realize it is all a joke. The look on Ignazio’s face when he realizes this was a joke is priceless!
Ignazio, I have one question for you….
Where’s the payback?
It’s been a long time coming! Time to get even! It’s not like you to not payback!
Let’s not forget all the beautiful songs they sang for us. Especially their songs of prayer when things were really bad. They were with us every step of the way.
Piero’s “Ave Maria”
Gianluca’s “You Raise Me Up”
During the lockdown, I spent a good part of my days listening to these three amazing young men sing and at one point I said maybe I should do a review of what’s been going on in their lives over the last 10 years. After watching all the video clips including interviews and some full concerts, I was ready to talk about our guys.
But before I begin, let me say, since we are approaching the New World Tour starting in Barcelona on May 15th, this is a good time to revisit the story I wrote on March 29, 2020. A number of the fan pages picked up on the story and some have even used it on their Facebook pages to describe the voices of the guys. One person who read the story was Daniela Perani from Il Volo Flight Crew. After reading it she contacted me and asked if they could post my story on Flight Crew. The story was so popular that Flight Crew invited me to write for them. Now, I write the column Through the Fields of My Mind (www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) which explores the lives of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca, our guys ~ Il Volo.
So, let’s begin with the story that over two years ago started my collaboration with Flight Crew and my interpretation of the life story of our guys! An Extraordinary Adventure as seen through my eyes!
Let me start off by saying these three young men are extraordinary! They are remarkable, exceptional, men! And, they have revolutionized the music industry. Let’s take a look at each one….
Gianluca is known as the Velvet Voice! I don’t know who coined the phrase, but that is right on. Let’s use our senses to understand what that means. Take a piece of velvet and hold it in your hand. Now take your other hand and gently pass your hand across the velvet. What do you feel? You feel a smooth even surface that is crisp with no breaks in it. The sensation is so good that you automatically go back and do it again. And every time it’s the same. It’s pleasing!
Now take Gianluca’s voice, let the notes pass into your ears, what do you hear? A crisp, smooth, even voice with no breaks in it. The note barely passes into your ears, and you are going back for the next note. It’s always pleasing!
Gianluca is a lyrical baritone. He is exceptional because he can sing from the lowest to the highest note in the baritone range. Most baritones are limited in range. Gianluca’s voice is huge. He has a very rich chest resonance which creates a feeling of depth and drama in his voice.
A baritone’s voice is very romantic, very pleasing to listen to and is always inviting. Most songs are written for baritones. Gianluca starts, almost, every song. Why? In order for a song to be received well you must draw your audience into it. Gianluca’s voice draws you in in a romantic way and you hang on to every note. He can mesmerize you with songs like “Mi Mancherai” where he reaches into the depth of your being. His interpretation of “Surrender” is electrifying. And when Gianluca sings, “She’s Always a Woman,” he takes your breath away. The highs, the lows, the emotion, the expression. His voice expands like nothing I ever heard before. He has total command of the song. You walk away with your senses lifted to another level.
Let’s talk about Ignazio, who I call the bridge. He is a lyrical tenor. He is exceptional because he can sing from the lowest to the highest note in the tenor range. And God knows he can, easily, hit the high C. Waiting for it and knowing it’s going to happen is so exciting! He brings so much to the production, but I’ll talk more about the production later!
A lyrical tenor has a warm graceful voice which is bright and strong but not heavy and it can be heard over an orchestra. Ignazio’s voice is smooth, clean and clear, with an acute extension. His voice has the ability to increase the baritone voice of Gianluca while softening the spinto tenor voice of Piero.
Ignazio is very whimsical in songs like “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” from La Traviata. In an aria like “Una Furtiva Lagrima” from L’elisir D’amore it is necessary to have a voice that is flawless. Not only is Ignazio’s voice flawless but he has perfect intonation and diction. He can be very dynamic. He has absolute breath control, and he has elegance, agility and dramatic expression.
He’s an exceptional tenor whose voice explodes and expands in unusual ways. You glide along every note to arrive at another dimension in his voice. His articulation is exceptional! Every word is clear and crisp! Listen to the note extensions that form the complex sounds of his voice. Just beautiful!
To address only one side of Ignazio’s voice would be incomplete! In his dedication to Pino Daniele, you hear an interpretation that is emotional and a delivery that is so amazing that you get the sense that Daniele wrote his songs for Ignazio.
And finally, Piero. Piero is a spinto (meaning pushed) tenor. A spinto tenor has the brightness and height of a lyric tenor, but with a heavier vocal weight enabling the voice to be “pushed” to dramatic climaxes with less strain than his lighter-voice counterparts. His voice is warm, graceful, bright, and can be heard over an orchestra. Piero has a powerful voice that easily reaches the higher notes. Every note that comes out of his mouth reaches us with such intensity and remains with us for a long time. It’s the voice that reaches out to you and demands your attention. Think of him singing E Lucevan le Stele from Tosca. Or singing the beautiful Spanish aria No Puede Ser from A Tabernera del Puerto. From the first note Piero pierces your soul! His passion comes through in his music. Arias are very dramatic and, Piero brings all the drama of the aria into his performance. Always a showstopper!
Now let’s put the voices together. Gianluca starts most songs because he is a baritone, and as I said, most songs are written for baritones. He draws you into the song. Gianluca will sing (in most cases) to Ignazio and Ignazio to Piero. This is how the three voices become one. Select one of their songs. Now close your eyes and listen to them sing. What can you say about this song? You can say, that is Gianluca or Ignazio or Piero singing. In the progression of the song, you hear the voices blend to form a symphony for your ears. Their voices are very distinct.
The first time Tony Renis heard the guys sing he said “I could not believe that these three young kids could sing like men of 45 years old. Their voices were huge! I realized they had great potential.” Renis called his producer friend Humberto Gatica and said “…if you are available, I would like to collaborate with you to produce these kids.” When Gatica heard them sing, he couldn’t believe their voices, he thought it was a fake, “They can’t possibly be teenagers.” Renis believed these kids would appeal to kids, mothers, fathers, everybody. He was right! They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label. Universal Music signed them immediately.
Most groups sing and you hear just a song but with Il Volo you are surrounded by voices. And the individuality of their voices entices you and it stays with you. Think of what Piero says when he introduces one of the solos, “After we were together a while, we realized we had three different voices.” He wasn’t saying that they suddenly found out they had different voices he was saying we are “three voices and one soul” and, we also need to show you those voices individually.
Let’s look at how they described one another when they first started out. I think Ignazio said Gianluca was the serious one, and Piero was the Intelligent one and Gianluca and Piero said Ignazio was the funny one. So, let’s take a look at that.
Gianluca, in most cases, seemed to be the spokesman for the group. I’m not sure if this is by chance or choice. He seems to always take the lead when they are in interviews. And he is constantly monitoring the conversation.
Piero is the intelligent one perhaps because he thinks everything through. In interviews he thinks before he speaks, and his answers are always intelligent. He’s very serious and you can tell he thought out the answer before he spoke.
And, Ignazio, the funny one. And that he is! But is it really about the joke? Or is it more about the production. Let’s turn to the production.
The stage is simple. One sign that says it all – Il Volo. There’s the orchestra. Guitars, drum, piano, violins and whatever other instruments are needed for the performance. I want you to stop and think about the performance. We know these guys have three amazing voices but, what if they got on the stage and for two hours, they did nothing but sing. I don’t think it would work. A performance needs the ability to move on. There’s no change of scenery and no intermission so how do you move the performance along? Ignazio!!! The joking he brings into the performance provides the levity to relive the seriousness of the performance. He brings a certain ease and suspense to the performance. The audience is always wondering, what will he do next. But is it always about joking? I want you to think about what I’m saying. Ignazio is constantly moving around the stage. He’s dancing and keeping the rhythm. He’s swinging the microphone around and constantly nodding towards the orchestra, Gianluca and Piero. Is that the lead up to a joke? I don’t think so. Let me tell you what you are looking at. Ignazio is following every note that is sung or played on that stage. His mind is in motion. He is sensitive and passionate with the music. He has the ability to see the music as it is happening. He knows where every instrument should come in and out. That’s why you notice little things like him smiling, nodding, pointing towards the musicians, Gianluca or Piero. He also grabs the baton from the conductor, sometimes to joke but more often to conduct.
Think about Ignazio conducting the Asti Symphony Orchestra while Marcello Rota sang his tenor part. He wasn’t joking, he was conducting. And that’s why everyone was watching him in amazement. And when it was over, they were speechless. Look at Michele Torpedine go across the stage to embrace him. He is in awe of this young man. Ignazio is music! You call him funny I call him brilliant!
Let’s go to the beginning. When these three young men started out, they were 15 and 16 years old. Think of being 15 or 16 years old and you have a dream, and someone tells you that that dream, needs to be shared. To fulfill that dream you have to leave your family, your friends, your home, you have to go to another country, and you have to share this journey with two people who you really know nothing about except that they had the same dream you did. You have to trust that the decision that was made by you and your family, was the right decision. If not, it’s back to square one! You’re going to be lonely, and you have to learn to survive without the people you love. So, you learn to lean on one another. That dependence turns into a friendship and that friendship into a brotherhood. It enabled them to trust enough to collaborate and perfect something truly amazing. Something that revolutionized the music industry. Let me go further by showing you a collaboration by these three amazing, very, very talented, young men that is so unreal that it boggles your mind. This is a collaboration of love. Stop and listen to this performance of Por Una Cabeza
Look at how they smile at one another during the performance. A smile that says yes that’s it! Their faces are ablaze! Their expressions let one another know that it works. And, finally, when it’s over, they are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Look at their smiles, their faces are lit up in joy and their embrace says it all! They are brothers who love one another!
So, we listened to Their Amazing Voices, and we find ourselves waiting for the next song or the next album.
We will take a look at all those albums in a future story but for now the guys have just released “You Are My Everything” the English version of Grande Amore. The guys will sing it for the first time at Eurovision on May 12th. Available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music
This is the gift the guys gave us yesterday! It brought me to tears! They’ve done it again! Phenomenal!
Did you notice something unusual in this video? Pay close attention to the video itself. I was enjoying the song so much that I didn’t notice it at first.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
The Behind the Scenes video of the guys recording “Tous les visages de l’amour” inspired me to write this story. I know you’ve seen it a hundred times but here we go again!
In many of my stories I use this video because this best represents who the guys were when they began their journey. Three teenage boys, 15 – 16 years old! They were so wise, so intelligent, so far ahead of their time. So, so professional! Yes, they were led on this journey, but they were the moving force! They were able to pick up on everything so easily. Why? They had three amazing voices and an innate ability to naturally understand music! What does this mean? It means they had a born predisposition for music. Of course, their musical ability would be nothing without their experiences in very early life that realized that potential. Put another way, a seed is just a seed until it is given the soil, water and sunshine to grow.
And now the result of all the work in the studio!
Each one was discovered at a very early age! 1 – 5 years old. Let’s take a look at how it happened with each guy….
Gianluca’s grandfather was the first to think of bringing him closer to music.
They tell me that, when I was three years old, I sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who, sitting around the bar table, were listening to this little boy with such a particular voice.
This was my first audience but, of course I don’t remember it. My grandfather wanted me to study music, he always told me: ‘Gianluca, study the piano, study an instrument.’ I’ve never done it. It would be a dream to sit down on the piano and start playing and singing. Let’s say it’s one of my next goals: learning to play the piano.
As you know Gianluca has achieved this goal!
Ignazio tells us about his mothers’ recollection of him playing piano at the age of one….
When I was three or four years old – I played with the piano my parents had given Nina. My mother says I was one years old when I played. Nina taught me to play Happy Birthday with one finger. I was a happy child. My mother told me, ‘You’ve never been a child,’ in the sense that I was always quite serious and responsible.
Ignazio said he was mischievous in school but…
With the passage of time, I found something good to do at school, that is, an activity that was able to hold my interest enough to prevent me from slipping into some disaster. I joined the school choir. I always liked to sing, to be “in the middle” of the music. And more and more passionately I began to understand how to make better use of Nina’s famous pianola. I learned how to start the musical bases and flip through them. And that’s when I discovered ‘La Donna È Mobile.’ I liked it so much that I sang with the base and invented words. I don’t remember the words but, it certainly was a song about Pavarotti. Having seen Pavarotti on TV, I knew he always had a big handkerchief so I would invent text and sing on the air ‘La Donna È Mobile.’
Piero tells us, his grandfather Pietro, would come out on his terrace every morning and find a cool place to sit. Pietro always had a recorder with him. He has been blind for many years, and he used the recorder to record music, recite poetry and compose songs.
Piero said one morning he was in the backyard on the swing, and, on the terrace, Pietro was preparing to record a song. The song is only two lines, and it is pure Sicilian. E lu suli talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta petra luci ci duna, that is and, (the sun, look, look, look, to this stone gives the light.)
I was swinging on the swing, I was about four or five years old, I was really, very, small. I listened to him a little and at a certain point, when he stopped singing, I started: E lu suli, talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta pedra luci ci duna. What can I tell you? It just came out like that.
His grandfather turned off the recorder and called his wife. Rina came out on the terrace, and he asked her, “Unni è Piero?” (Where is Piero?)
She replied, “In Altalena” (He is on the swing)
Pietro asked, “Ma cu cantava? Iddru?” (But who was singing? He?)
She replied, “Eh, si.” (yes)
He told Rina to call Piero.
So, Piero got up and went to his grandfather. Pietro lifted him up and put him on the table next to the recorder and told him to “sing the song again.” Piero sang the song exactly as his grandfather sang it.
After this Pietro took charge of Piero’s early musical education.
All of this was the beginning, the foundation, the groundwork which opened the path to Ti Lascio una Canzone for our guys.
So let me give you a little insight into how things were in the beginning for the guys. Of course, it was all so strange. One day they’re competing on Ti Lascio Una Canzone and, the next day they’re on the road to stardom. Fate put them in the same place at the same time and now they were embarking on, as Gianluca put it, “a professional artistic career.”
After Ti Lascio Una Canzone the guys became one so, when one speaks, all listen and, all have a say in the conversation. We can now listen to their thoughts, their ideas and begin to understand what it meant to go from three to one!
So, we join Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca after Ti lascio Una Canzone!
First stop ~ Miss Italy!
At the end of this video Caterina Balivo spoke to the guys…. The following is a short transcript of what they talked about.
Caterina Balivo (the presenter) greeted the guys and said the names of all the gymnasts who performed on stage, then she congratulated our guys and asked for a well-deserved applause from the whole Palasport of Iesolo (where the Miss Italy contest was being held).
She asks Ignazio how it feels to sing in front of so many people (it was one of their first performances) and Ignazio says that it is always very emotional.
Caterina asks what they do backstage before entering and Ignazio says that they have their own ritual, but they cannot reveal it (it is when they clasp hands and say shit [so I’ve been told]), even Gianluca tries to change the subject by saying that they review and criticize their evidence. As you can see, they did this from the very beginning!
A person in the audience wants to ask them a question but first Caterina says that the school has just ended, and she asks our guys how it went, with what vote they were promoted. Ignazio says 7/8 Gianluca 7 in short with a positive vote but not the maximum
Now to the man in the audience! Before I tell you who he is, let me present his question. He asked the boys at their age were they more excited to sing on stage or to see all the beautiful girls and Ignazio admits that backstage they made evaluations of the various girls.
So, to man that asked the question….
If Italy were still a monarchy, that young gentleman would be the King of Italy. He is Emanuele Filiberto, grandson of the deposed last King of Italy, Umberto II, who was exiled in 1945 when Italy became a republic. His father was Vittorio Emmanuele.
Nice detour let’s continue our journey….
Gianluca: We finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf!’ I said, ‘Let me take a picture.’ I run to him like crazy, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, poured Coca-Cola on the floor in the dressing room and it ended up on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says, ‘Barbara look,’ I still remember it, with a face looking like ‘Oh my God’
Piero:And after the Coca-Cola there were plums. Our first meeting with Michele Torpedine ends with plums flying from one dressing room to the other and Michele comes out with white hair, indeed no, because he already had white hair. No, he comes out with straight hair saying, ‘Are you three, crazy?’ In practice we threw plums from the door of our dressing room, to the one next to us, where Raf was and where Gianluca had gone immediately to ask to take the picture of which he spoke. We had a mess that night …
The day began well, calm, and quiet. I was having lunch at the hotel restaurant and a gentleman with a sand-colored raincoat and graying hair arrived. I heard footsteps behind me and a ‘Hello, Piero’ with this deep voice. You recognize Michele’s voice anywhere. You know, when I tell of that meeting, I seem to tell things like I’ve seen in American movies. It was from this that we started, three fifteen-sixteen-year-old idiots, and Torpedine, who had already become an icon for me. So, he sits with us, and we start talking.
After lunch, we got ready for rehearsals. We go to the dressing rooms, and you already know what’s going on between plums and Coca-Cola.
What has changed from that day to today? Nothing. On tour, in the television broadcast rooms and sometimes even in the recording room, one of our favorite activities is the fruit launch. The best are the grapes (but we also use cherries). Ignazio throws them from a distance and, I have to take it on the fly with my mouth. It doesn’t matter if the Pope or Bono is in the dressing room next to us, it doesn’t impress us.
A little impression we had when we started to hear about America. Who knew us, there? Nobody! So, what happened? We discovered what it means to have a manager.
Thanks to an American lawyer, Peter Lopez, a contact from Tony Renis, one of our auditions is at Interscope Records in the United States. It is a label of music production that is part of the Universal Music Group America, the largest record company in the States. To give you an idea, it is the label of Eminem, Sting, Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani, just to name a few.
Imagine the desk of Jimmy Iovine, the president of Interscope, a large desk in a large American office. They take a laptop, put it in front of Iovine, they start “O Sole Mio” recorded by Ti Lascio Una Canzone. When it arrives at “Ma n’aaaatu sole!” Iovine closes the computer and exclaims: ‘We got it!’ All right, we do it. And we sign a millionaire contract.
Now imagine this: The day before, I’m working in my uncle’s workshop and the next day I sign a millionaire contract with an American label.
At the beginning it was really a dream, even if I do not like repeating it, because you find yourself traveling the world and doing it, from one day to the next. However, I repeat, always without realizing the importance of the thing, without fully understanding what was happening.
Now we will listen to the guys tell us about their experience recording in the studio for the first time.
Ignazio:So, a dream that Piero, in the clouds, has forgotten to say is the most important thing: it was the first time that Italian singers signed a contract directly with an American record company.
In 2009 we recorded our first album. It was not easy.
For us today there are seven takes to sing. At that time there were thirty or forty. What language does he speak, will you say? English, Spanish and also a little Italian. So, a take is the recording of the single phrase that each of us sings when we record a song. We continue to redo it until we get the best version. In 2009, our first recording, took almost two days to record a song, until it was good. I remember that I made the absolute record of takes in ‘Smile’: I repeated my part for fifty-seven times.
We were small and inexperienced and, the English language did not help. Tony Renis along with Humberto Gatica, who was one of the best-known producers and sound technicians in the world, worked with us and if they were not satisfied, they would tell us clearly. They worked with Andrea Bocelli, Eros Ramazzotti, Pino Daniele, Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion.
Gianluca:Piero forgot to mention that ours was the first contract signed directly by Italian singers with an American label, but Ignazio forgot to mention that the first recording studio in which we entered all three together for our great adventure was called Forum and it was in Rome.
I remember, and it is one of the few things that I have very clear in mind of that period, that we have compiled the lineup of the tracks with Tony Renis, and most were the ones we had sung at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, plus five other American songs
But the first time in front of the microphone was still in Rome in the studio where we had done the auditions before the program began. Roberto Cenci had assigned the songs to all the children, he had arranged the arrangements, and we had recorded the compilation that came out in May after the end of the program and immediately entered in the rankings.
But that was the first time alone in front of a microphone, and it was … (to Piero) What are you looking at? Do you want to say something?
Piero…it was nice because it was the first experience. We did not sing well because we had no technique, so it was as Ignazio said. We did a take sixty or seventy times.
At that time, we arrived in the studio, and we found everything ready. The songs to sing, the subdivisions, the arrangement, this and the other things. Now, after the third album, we do everything together, we create everything with Celso Valli, our producer.
Those first times we did not have this freedom, everything was imposed because we did not have the skills to do it.
Now we have them and we share the parts, we know each other better and, in the studio, we help each other. It is also nice to see that each of us now has his way to enter the recording room. Gianluca and I sing with the light on in the recording room. Ignazio, on the other hand, enters and the first thing he does is turn off the light. They are small details, but they mean that we have grown and, we have our own way of working.
Between the three of us, we have split up the roles. If there is a problem with the mixer, Ignazio works on it with the producer to fix it. Gianluca is the one who listens to the songs from morning to night and offers: ‘Guys, I discovered this songwriter. Guys, I discovered this artist, what do you think?’ I like the managerial part, I like managing, I like to contact people, I like to proposenew things to Michele, ‘Why do we not do that? Why do we not try to do that? How can we get to this person?’ I like us to put our heads together and think of how we can improve. We have a complete professional balance. We have grown physically, but also professionally. So even if we get a producer we do not know, we do not have any problems, we know how to talk to him and tell him what we want. This is the most important aspect: being at the same level. This is the reason why for some months now I have this big black leather folder, that I always carry with me. If I have to tell the truth, Torpedine lent it to me and, as it brought good luck, I stole it from him and, as I told you, I always carry it with me, with the pieces we have to do, the notes, the notes of what is lacking to be fixed, what is not lacking, the notes of what we need to do: everything is much more professional.
Now we are working with Celso, one of the most important record producers in Italy. He has collaborated with Vasco Rossi, Lucio Dalla, Eros Ramazzotti, all the big names. He’s really a great person.
We have had great luck. We can afford to deal with the older ones, it is not easy. It’s something that brings to mind the words of Torpedine. ‘You must always invest in your future.’ Celso has agreed to bet with us on our future and we worked together on the last album, ‘L’amore si Muove’ (Love Moves) which came out in September. It is a pleasure working with him because he lets you talk, lets you express your ideas, lets you try, and this is a fundamental thing, the most important thing when you want to improve and grow.
And we always have had the desire to grow, since we were little children. We have since we were baptized and, we were ready to … take flight.
So, we turn to the Baptism of Il Volo which tells how sometimes finding a name is much more complicated than it may seem.
Piero:Do you know that at one point they wanted to call us La Scala?
Until that time, in 2009-2010, during the recording of our first CD, we did not have a ‘real’ name. In the transmission with Antonella Clerici, we were baptized Tre Tenorini, for that thing that we resembled Luciano Pavarotti (Ignazio, for the waistline). Jose Carreras (Gianluca, for the elegance, says Torpedine) and Placido Domingo (me, for the tenor voice). But who could have imagined that one had to find another name? We did not even believe that we would continue to sing, imagine if we thought we needed a name.
Ignazio:Then, at that time when we were looking for it and we could not find it, we were recording We Are the World 25 for Haiti, at the beginning of February 2010, and we called ourselves The Tryo, which we then used as guests at the second evening of the Sanremo Festival, a week later, singing in front of Queen Rania of Jordan, only then we translated it to: Il Trio.
Gianluca:The problem of the name? It was one of those impossible marketing missions: it had to be short and easy to pronounce in practically all the world. For example, there is a group called Il Divo, and they also sing a genre similar to ours, and Il Divo was just the kind of name we wanted: short, easy to pronounce and also very international, because it has a clear meaning to everyone.
And that’s why the name La Scala came out. Elettra Morini, the wife of Tony Renis, had proposed it. Elettra, who was a dancer there, told her husband: ‘Why do you not call them La Scala?’ Surely everyone in the world knows La Scala.
Ignazio:And then, there was the question that they called us the Three Tenorinis, the Lyric, La Scala, La Scala …
We chewed it a little but, they did not convince us.
Piero:But who was looking for the name? All of us: the three of us, Michele, our parents, whoever belonged to our family, or our working group said a name, two or three, and it was written on a list. That list become worse than a telephone list: we got to more than five hundred proposals.
This thing of the name was becoming a joke. We were going to record the album, make a meeting, or engage in anything else, and we ended up talking about this name, but never got the right idea. In the end, one day, out of the blue, a gentleman working for Michele, Stefano, says: ‘Il Volo’.
Ignazio:IL VOLO? What about IL VOLO? IL VOLO? It began to turn in the air (ha ha) and so the birth of Il Volo.
Piero:But then we discovered that there had already been a group by this name in 1974, composed by Mario Lavezzi, Vince Tempera, Alberto Radius, Bob Callero, Gabriele Lorenzi and Gianni Dall’Aglio. It was a collaboration that lasted a year and a half and had gathered all of the best musicians. But now we liked the name, so we decided to keep it. Also, because it immediately seemed to us a good omen to fly, to take flight, get up in the air.
But we risked a little.
Think about it, if this project did not start, if we were not really able to ‘take off,’ could you imagine how they would have made fun of us? ‘The Flight has taken off? No, Il Volo has crashed!’ At that point, we had the CD, the name and we left for the United States.
And so, we end our little Behind the Scenes adventure! We leave the guys with their name, their first album in hand and on their way to America where they will steal the hearts of the American people.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
It’s been a while since I posted a letter from a fan. This is a letter I received from Leena in Finland. Our guy’s touch people in every corner of the world!
I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful website “Il Volo Flight Crew” that I have been following for about 6 months now. I have mostly been reading texts written by Daniela and Susan and felt touched every single time.
My name is Leena De Blasio and I live in Finland. I am married to an Italian man, and we have two children. I have always known about Il Volo but did not really pay attention to them until last October. I happened to watch a long interview with them where they talked about how the pandemic had influenced their career. By the maturity of their answers and their scenic presence on that occasion I immediately fell in love with them. After that I watched the concert at the Arena of Verona from last June four times and oh my God how much I cried watching it. Since then, I have been trying to learn everything about “our guys” looking at old recordings of their concerts, interviews, even ordering their book “Un’avventura straordinaria” which I unfortunately have not yet read because it is not possible to have it sent to Finland.
By profession I am a teacher of Italian, teaching at an institute which offers evening courses to adults. Currently I have 39 students in four different groups. My students are mainly elderly people, about 60-80 years old. Every semester when I get new students, I speak about Il Volo to them and some of my students have fallen in love with the boys too. Just before Easter with one group we listened to “Ave Maria Mater Misericordiae” and one student of mine started crying. I consider that this was the biggest moment of my career and I feel like crying myself too when I think about it.
As we live in Finland, I was convinced I would never be able to go to an Il Volo concert because I am sure that Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio will never come to sing here. Miraculously, last week I realized that this summer they will be having a concert in Ostuni not very far from where we will be on holiday. This was only on the third day of the ticket presale that I realized it. I rushed to the computer to buy the tickets but was totally sure they would have been sold out already. To my amazement I got four tickets to this concert and not bad places at all, the fourth row!!! How can this even be possible? This is unbelievable, I feel like crying, yelling, shouting and running at the same time. I am sure that I will cry through the whole concert. This is a miracle. I would like so badly to have a small chat with the guys before or after the concert… Let’s keep the fingers crossed there will be an occasion to do that.
I wish every reader of this wonderful blog a wonderful springtime and thank you once again to Susan and Daniela for their effort in keeping these fantastic stories going on!
We thank you for your readership, Leena! I hope you will be able to meet the guys. Keep an eye open on www.ilvolomusic.com for Sound Check and Meet & Greet!
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.
Thank you to Danilea Perani for the translation of the video!
*Excerpts from: Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinario, La Nostra storia
Looking back over the last thirteen years, I see many changes along the way but never a departure from their style. They may sing different songs, but they never depart from their operatic pop. They introduce new music, but they never depart from where they started. They present the old with the new.
Their music is Operatic pop or popera. What is this movement? It’s singing Opera in a more classical style. While opera is very strict and regimented, popera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling, and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera.
This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason, three amazing voices! If the voices weren’t there, it wasn’t going to sell.
So, let’s begin this Musical Journey….
I’ve been writing about the lives of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca from the day they were born to the present day.
As I wrote each story, there were certain highlights in some stories that I thought should be put aside and revisited in another article. These were, what I consider, moments to remember.
Of course, before I begin, I have to mention the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys singing, “O Sole Mio.” They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and walked off stars!
The rest is history!
Their musical journey begins in Los Angeles….
February 12, 2010 “We Are the World for Haiti”
I’m sure many of you have never seen the official video of We Are the World 25 For Haiti. It’s amazing! Look at our guys singing with some great American singers! Legends! Just the beginning of their journey but the guys would become legends in their own right!
In 2010 shortly after arriving in America, the guys were invited by Quincy Jones to join “We Are the World for Haiti,” together with 80 international artists such as Celine Dion, Bono, Lady Gaga, Carlos Santana, Barbra Streisand, Enrique Iglesias, Usher, Natalie Cole to name a few. Il Volo were the only Italian artists to be invited. The three voices from the background caused such a sensation. “Who was that?” Everyone present couldn’t believe what they were hearing but, “Who were they?” Soon they would find out!
May 2011, Il Volo, American Idol
By far the performance that set them on the road to success! There was no turning back after this! They stole the heart of America!
October 25, 2011, the recording of “Tous le visages de l’ amour”
For me, this is one of those moments that you don’t forget. Look at these amazing teenagers. They are singing in French perhaps for the first time. Look at how professional they are. This is only two years after they met! Each one is developing his part and by the end of the recording they bring their three amazing voices together.
2012 “Back to Brooklyn Tour” with Barbara Streisand
In 2012 Barbra Streisand invited the guys to be an integral part of her “Back to Brooklyn” tour. They performed with her in America and Canada. They were not an opening act, no, they shared the stage with Barbara. To the guys this was a dream come true!
2014 Latin Billboard Music Awards
In 2013, “Más Que Amor” was certified “Gold” in Mexico and Argentina. And this catapulted the guys into the Latin market. From that day on they took the Latin market by storm.
In February 2014, at the Latin Billboard Music Awards they receive two nominations “Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Duo or Group” and “Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year, Duo or Group.” At the awards show they were awarded as “Best Group of the Year in the Latin Pop Album” category and they also won the “El Pulso Social Award,” as the artist who dominated interactions on social networking sites during the Billboard Awards. This is unheard of! Three Italian kids taking over the Latin market! What a win!
December 21, 2014, The Christmas Concert at the Italian Senate
Ignazio wrote in their book: “We want to talk about the thrill of singing in front of the highest offices of state! What twenty-year-old boy has something like that happen? It happened to us, and it seems to me a beautiful result, an honor. You cannot imagine the emotional feeling to be called “guests of honor” inside the Senate. We were accompanied by the, fantastic, Filarmonia Orchestra Veneta conducted by Diego Basso. Half the beauty of the song is in the orchestra.
The most exciting moments? Everyone! But the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one, the first song, singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano, (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate). It is one thing that I cannot explain.
And then, of course, the pleasure of shaking hands with the President of the Republic and of feeling that he knows Marsala, he has been there.
I have to say that when the guys sang ‘O Sole Mio with the children signing in the background, I got very choked up. It was very emotional for me! And the whole Senate seemed to be emotional too! An absolutely beautiful moment!
2015 Sanremo Music Festival
On February 14, 2015, the guys participated in and won the Sanremo Music Festival with “Grande Amore.” This is the top award in the Music Industry in Italy. With this win the guys really came home. They were finally recognized by the Italian people. This win also gave them the opportunity to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.
As Italy is a member of the Big Five, Il Volo went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23, 2015. Grande Amore came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and won the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press.
The extended play Sanremo Grande Amore was released in Italy on February 20, 2015, and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. The people speak!
July 1, 2016 “Notte Magica” Piazza Santa Croce in Florence
2016-2017 were the years dedicated to the “Notte Magica” project, the tribute to the 1990 event where the Three Tenors, Josè Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, enchanted the whole world from the stage of the Baths of Caracalla.
On July 1st in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence Il Volo presented on stage “Notte Magica – A Tribute to the Three Tenors,” which was broadcast in prime time on Canale 5. The guys were joined by Placido Domingo who conducted the orchestra. This marked the beginning of the world tour of “Notte Magica – A Tribute to The Three Tenors” which debuted on March 4, 2017 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. The show was sold out. After 15 stops in the United States, all sold out, the tour is extended to Europe from May 5, 2017, for 29 performances and from September it extended to Latin America. The concert “Notte Magica – Tribute to the Three Tenors” was filmed and broadcast in the United States by the national television network PBS, and in Italy by Canale 5 and, starting in June, it was broadcast in over 500 cinemas in Italy and around the world.
Jul 5, 2017, Ignazio Conducts the Asti Symphony Orchestra
During the rehearsals of the last date of the Notte Magica Tour in Naples, Ignazio stepped in as conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra of Asti while Maestro Marcello Rota sang Ignazio’s tenor part! They sang “Libiam ne lieti calici.” Ignazio had everyone in awe of his performance as a conductor. The guys enjoyed singing with Marcello who usually conducts for their Concerts. Gianluca enjoyed it so much that he hugged Marcella in the middle of the song! All good sports! They all had lots of fun! A unique performance!
Jan 27, 2019 World Youth Day
If you ask the guys after winning Sanremo, which truly brought them home, “What was your greatest performance,” they would probably answer, singing for the Holy Father at World Youth Day. I know for Piero it was one of the most amazing events in his life!
June 5, 2021, The Tribute to Ennio Morricone
When I wrote about this event I said, “I’m going to use the word phenomenal a lot in this article.” Let’s relieve the opening of this fantastic concert!
I can write at least five pages just on the opening of the concert. If I wrote what I felt, saw, experienced in this concert, I would have to write a book!
Let’s set the scene!
The first note and we immediately know it’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” The whistle of the wind!
The setting is gold! Then white! Then gold! Look at the gold flecks that come in and out! The orchestra vibrates! Each note intensifies our senses. We’re drawn to the back of the stage. To a tunnel where we know our guys will appear! The focus is always rear center stage! The lights change to intense red and now we are looking at the stage from the back of the arena. We are coming forward. The shadow of Il Volo turns into a force that is coming towards us! Thetheme of the concert is set!
Listen to the intensity of their voices! What force! Watch their motions. Look at Gianluca! Watch his body react to the music! The fist that comes at you saying this is the punch, just the beginning. Listen to how Ignazio rides the note that guides us into the story! Now we’re sailing on the wind! Piero intensifies the moment with his powerful voice that says the journey has begun! Follow us!
The scenery is in motion again. In the background, the movie comes into view and blends with the voices! Everything on the stage comes to life! We’re now inside the film. Even the guys are taken by the movement around them. They look around and they are feeling the moment! Andrea Morricone steps up the music and we step back and look, in amazement at what is before us!
What exactly is before us? A work of art! A Titian painting. In Venice there is a very magnificent painting by Titian called the Assumption. It is a painting in motion! Believe me, when I tell you what you are looking at on that stage is a Titian painting. Titian was known for his movement in painting! Titian was 24 years old when he painted the Assumption. Our guys are in their mid-twenties and they have painted the scene before you. If you don’t know the renaissance artist Titian, Google him! You’ll understand what is going on here!
Now let me explain what is before you. Movement. Lots of movement.
Take a look at the stage! You the audience are the spectators! You’re being drawn to the stage. You watch the guys’ approach and, you are in awe of their presence. You feel the intensity of the music, you and the guys are pulled into the movie. The music is all around you! Their voices are a force in your head. You look up in amazement! You are a part of the scenery! You are a part of the orchestra! You are a part of the movie! You are a part of ~ Il Volo! You have arrived and you are ready to follow the guys no matter where this journey leads you! It’s only the beginning! Fasten your seat belts. Phenomenal!
You will note this is out of order. Let’s backtrack…. I want to show you what has happened with these guys over the years. As I said in the beginning, they were with all these legends in the music industry. Now they have become legends! But what I want you to see is in the beginning they worked with many people to start on this amazing road. Now they have moved to another place. A place where they present themselves. A place where they bring all the magic together! We see this in The Tribute to Morricone, but this started long before then. Let’s go to Luna Park October 2019. Here you will see a magical moment!
October 30, 2019, Il Volo at Luna Park Buenos Aires Por Una Cabeza
I will end by going back to the beginning. This last moment tells me how far the guys have come and how the strangers became brothers.
When these three young men started out, they were 15 and 16 years old. Think of being 15 or 16 years old and you have a dream, and someone tells you that that dream, needs to be shared. To fulfill that dream you have to leave your family, your friends, your home, you have to go to another country, and you have to share this journey with two people who you really know nothing about except that they had the same dream you did. You have to trust that the decision that was made by you and your family, was the right decision. If not, it’s back to square one! You’re going to be lonely, and you have to learn to survive without the people you love. So, you learn to lean on one another. That dependence turns into a friendship and that friendship into a brotherhood. It enabled them to trust enough to collaborate and perfect something truly amazing. Something that revolutionized the music industry. Let me go further by showing you a collaboration by these three amazing, very, very talented, young men that is so unreal that it boggles your mind. This is a collaboration of love. You will notice that the whole Orchestra is in awe and Giampiero Grani can’t stop smiling. Stop and listen to this performance of “Por Una Cabeza”.
Look at how they smile at one another during the performance. A smile that says yes that’s it! Their faces are ablaze! Their expressions let one another know that it works. And, finally, when it’s over, they are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Look at their faces lit up in joy and their embrace says it all! They are brothers who love one another! This is truly a moment to remember!
It’s ironic that when I started this story, I was randomly choosing moments in their lives that were very memorable. There are so many memorable moments, but I had to limit how many I could use. I had no idea when I started this musical journey that I would end up with thirteen events. How appropriate! One for every one of the Thirteen Amazing Years they’ve been together!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Now we have arrived at the part of the story which is the main event ~ Ti Lascio una Canzone! I’m going to say a few words about it for all the new fans out there and then I am a going to skip to The Night the Lion Roared. Why? Because everyone who knows Il Volo knows their amazing story! But I will share a few important facts and some videos of that amazing night.
Their amazing 1,2,3 win, as important as it was, was not the most important part to this story. The the biggest win of all was ~ Il Volo!
Let’s begin with Episode Four…
It is the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys are given the music for “O Sole Mio” but in three parts. They thought it was strange because until then they were singing alone or doing duets.
They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and it was like they had been performing together for years. Flawless!
But before the trio came together, there were some amazing performances….
Let’s talk about some of the people they performed with on the show. Really great names in the Italian music industry. Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Al Bano, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti.
What I witnessed in those performances were great performers who were in awe of these three teenage boys who were singing, in some cases, their songs and they were totally amazed. It was written all over their faces. They could not believe what they were hearing.
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!
We know when Michele Torpedine heard them sing for the first time, he thought the three possessed an incredible vocality for their age.
He instinctively knew signing these kids would be for him the find of a lifetime!
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”
Michele continues, “Another great story started, a new story at a time when it seemed to me that there was no future for me, for my profession: a breath of oxygen in my environment.”
After years of disappointment, loss of trust and gratitude, missing or denied, with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, Michele rediscovers the values of gratitude. Michele says, “The boys allowed me to really go back to my job.”
And the results….
They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label.
Universal Music signed them immediately. Michele said, “It is important to give due recognition to the man who made all this possible, the great record manager Peter Lopez. Peter immediately sensed the enormous potential of our artistic project. To him we owe an incredible international contract signed simply trusting that the boys would have audiences all over the world.”
But what did they bring to the table to win over the kids, the parents, and the grandparents? They had an idea and it worked….
Their music was Operatic pop or Pop-Opera. What was this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern style. While opera is very strict and regimented, Pop-Opera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling, and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera. This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason is three amazing voices! If the voice wasn’t there, the song wasn’t going to sell.
They started their career in America and immediately went around the world! There was no stopping them. Everyone everywhere loved them and their music. There are some great memories along the way but that’s a story for another day….
So now I will flash forward six years and tell you about The Night the Lion Roared….
When I read Un’avventura Straordinaria, the story that I loved the most was the story of Sanremo. The decision by the guys to take on the Sanremo Festival. This story brought out their personalities, their differences and how they are so bound to one another that they could make the decision of a lifetime together even if it meant they could lose what was so important to them, their country and their people!
We know 2014 started out as a bad year, but suddenly things were happening. They were invited to sing at the Italian Senate. This was an event of immense importance for them. It said Italy was finally noticing them so, it only made sense that it was time to take a giant step!
But this story doesn’t start with Sanremo, nor does it end there! Sanremo was the door opener!
They will tell you that the decision to go to Sanremo was a good one but, in contrast going to Eurovision may not have been their best decision. My reply, going to Eurovision was an excellent decision!
Let’s see how these decisions were made and what path they chose….
So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with….
Who’s in and who’s out!
From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”
Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!
Then there’s the second problem, the song!
At Sanremo you must perform an unpublished song. How do you begin to find such a song?
Now this is the part of the story that’s really interesting and sometimes funny! Oddly enough, the one who wanted this the most was the one who did not agree to the song. I so enjoyed listening to this dialogue between the guys. This is where we begin to hear the guys make important decisions together. They’re really good. When they begin, they’re not agreeing but as time goes by…. well, why don’t I let them tell you how they finally got to Sanremo….
Gianluca:I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say that the next time I must reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because our voices change the songs. We arrange them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not take this fact into consideration. The song when we first listened to it was not very ugly!
Ignazio:It’s not that we’ve heard only that, no. Do you think it is easy to choose a piece for Sanremo? We started to do a search and a selection of unpublished tracks. Our policy was: either we go with something strong, or we do not go, right?
One day this song comes to us through Michele: Grande Amore by Francesco Boccia and Ciro Esposito, two Neapolitan authors. As usual, I am pessimistic. I listen to it and it does not make me crazy. Not even Gianluca was convinced. The only enthusiast was Pie …
Piero (interrupts):I loved ‘Grande Amore!’ I did not believe that we would have won, but I was the one who pushed, I and Michele pushed for ‘Grande Amore’ because the audition that we heard was not beautiful, but we imagined it if it was made by Celso Valli and, I must say that we had guessed right.
Ignazio (interrupts): And I said it too if you let me talk. I was saying, in fact, that ‘Grande Amore’ was not as we hear it today. It was always called ‘Grande Amore,’ but it was totally different. So, we start to think: who can produce the piece? And Michele calls the great Celso Valli. After several weeks of work in the studio, we manage to churn out a song that could leave its mark at the Sanremo Festival.
Gianluca (interrupts): That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced we had the piece, the right project.
Piero:He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious ….
Gianluca:Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I say: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Piero (interrupts):Do you know what a week like this means?
Ignazio:Piero and I were all day touching iron and the low parts. Gianluca was convinced that the little lion (the Sanremo award is represented by a lion) would be ours? And the two of us tried to keep the situation under control.
Gianluca (interrupts):What should I tell you? I am an optimist. They took it something like ‘he makes fun of us,’ but I felt it inside. I do not know why.
So many interruptions! Ignazio, before he was interrupted, was about to tell us about the first night they sang.
Ignazio:The 65th edition of the Festival begins on Tuesday, February 10th. We sing the second night, Wednesday the 11th. The strange thing is that normally my legs tremble before the performance, but mine trembled even after the performance! Perhaps too much adrenaline, it never happened before.
Piero (interrupts):Or maybe it was because we came back to the Ariston stage after going around the world. It was like coming home, because we experienced the beginning of our career here with Ti Lascio una Canzone. One thing that cannot be described: in Sanremo, in Italy, to sing and receive the applause of the Italian public. It cannot be explained.
Gianluca:Can you imagine for me this was also my birthday? I turned twenty on the Ariston stage! Of course, I was moved in the end, and it was too much emotion to my sensibility to play bad jokes at times. And then, we felt the pressure in the air. Even though I was optimistic, the tension was there.
Although we had taken care of the smallest details of the song, we had tried and tried again, and we had taken care of even the smallest details of the clothing. First evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket. Because when we do our work the image matters, too.
I really wanted to use the video of “Ancora” at Sanremo but I couldn’t get it to work so, instead I chose the one from Verona. Amazing no matter where they sing it!
Piero (interrupts):Count, of course that counts. But do you remember how we were dressed before? I remember that time at Una Notte per Caruso, in July 2009, it was the second time we saw Torpedine. Michele arrives with another white Range Rover, not that of Jesolo, and as soon as he arrives, we do not even say hello and we go to see the car. Let’s run, let’s open the car. Ignazio immediately goes up to the car. We went crazy for cars, one like that, we did not see every day. The day after we go for a ride in downtown Sorrento, a shopping trip, and we enter Gucci’s. Michele spent almost two thousand euros and we with that written number at the counter, we exclaimed: “Mizziga! (Damn!) Two thousand euro” with wide eyes. And we still have those clothes, at least I personally still have them.
He had bought us a jacket, but above all the need for us to dress all in white and blue. I had the blue jacket and the white shirt, Gianluca had blue trousers and white shirt, Ignazio the blue shoes and everything else white, Michele the blue jacket. And we took a picture in front of the hotel.
Gianluca (interrupts):We were just dressed badly to be singers by trade, we were children, we came from families of workers. What could I buy? There was not even the need.
Piero (interrupts):And then you remember the restaurant? Afterwards we went to a restaurant near the sea. When we finished eating, the three of us took off our shoes and ran to the beach. Michele ran behind us telling us: ‘Guys, calm down. Guys, slow down.’
At this point Ignazio loses his patience. YES, but, what does that have to do with it, Pie? We were talking about Sanremo. What has Sorrento got to do with it?
Ignazio gets the conversation back on track!
Sanremo 2015, from the 10th to 14th of February, we sang on the second evening, legs shaking, Gianluca’s birthday.
This video has English subtitles
Among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni … We had fun with the diary!
It was a sort of ‘pill.’ A very few minutes, in which we recorded from the 9th to 14th of February. We talked about some of the emotions we felt. For example, the time that Gianluca almost stumbles on stage or the happiness of seeing the audience get up and applaud the first night we sang ‘Grande Amore.’ The recording, then, went online on the site of the magazine.
What was I saying? Ah, yes, among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, meetings and press conferences …
Piero (interrupts):And the criticisms we felt in those days? People at home voted for us, appreciated us, and journalists gave us votes that we thought were postponed until September, I also said this at the press conference after the victory. Five that flew (bad votes given by critics). But we see that the criticisms have done us good.
Ignazio:Can I do a criticism of you?
Piero:Ah, tell me…
Ignazio:You interrupted me. I was about to tell the final. I can continue?
Ignazio:In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from my shirt that in a week we have eaten more than we sang. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m a boy who does not say cat if I do not have it in the bag, then until Carlo Conti said….
Piero (interrupts):And indeed, whoever wins does not know it until the end! Sorry, Igna’. Speak you!!!
Ignazio:Until Carlo Conti said: ‘The winner of the Sanremo Festival 2015 is … Il Volo!’ I said to the boys: ‘No, guys, we do not win, it’s difficult.’ And on the one hand I had Piero with shining eyes and on the other Gianluca with a smug smile as if to say: ‘Do not worry.’
Gianluca:The truth is that I was right from the beginning, and no one had ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look on my face when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, ‘Thank you, Italy!’ from that stage. I look at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said. The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: “Who would have told me that in life I saw Modugno win at the Festival and then I saw you win?”
Taking the conversation back, I have to say, to me this was the best conversation we could listen to. They disagree, they find middle ground, and they agree but, most importantly they listen to one another and that’s what makes the bond so great!
In the end Gianluca said: In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions.
You might ask why did I put these two stories together? I wanted you to see what six years in their lives did for them. They started on the Ariston stage as three teenagers, went around the world gaining success everywhere along the way, only to come back to the Ariston Theater to win not only Sanremo but the hearts of the Italian people; the one thing they wanted from the beginning!
Over those six years they sang in concerts hall around the world. Their songs went gold and platinum. They won many awards including the Latin American Music Award’s Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year for a duo or group. They sang with people like Barbara Streisand and joined some of the best singers in the music industry for “We Are the Whole Haiti” but what they wanted more than anything was to be accepted in their own country and they did that by coming back to their beginnings! Going full circle and taking a big chance paid off on the Ariston Stage for the second time.
As the winners of Sanremo, the guys went on to Eurovision. They came in third. They saw it as a loss but, I saw it as a win because here the press came out for them awarding them the Marcel Bezencon Press Award. The press has spoken!
As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the guys went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23rd, 2015. “Grande Amore” came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press.
And, the extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore” was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015, and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI.
The Night the Lion Roared, the guys felt they had finally achieved their dream to be number one in the hearts of the Italian people!
Against all odds they pulled it off. The part of the story they missed was about the Italian people. They were always on their side. Even when they were traveling around the world and hoping to perform concerts in Italy, the Italian people were always waiting for them. The press was against them but never the people. They wanted them home as much as they wanted to go home.
How does Michele Torpedine sum up our guys….
These three guys have very clear ideas and I have never seen them impressed in front of audiences that many would shake their legs. I never heard a wrong attack, and if some inconsistency arose that made something happen professionally, they knew how to handle the problem at the origin. They are always extraordinary, their voices grow with them, they mature in body and soul. There is no other team or artistic team so complete.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
In one of the comments from an article I wrote, a woman named Linda wrote: “I wish Il Volo would be a household name in America!” I thought funny she should say that because Il Volo from the beginning was more popular in America than they were in Italy. It took a long time and a great decision for Italy to open their arms to our guys and there were many obstacles along the way. So, I thought maybe a little behind the scenes look at the guys and some of the challenges they had to overcome to get Italy’s attention would make an interesting story. There were some good memories and some not so good but, I’m getting ahead of myself….
Let’s pick up their story in 2013 with memories of the first South American Tour.
North America, South America and Latin America Tour ~ Memories 2013
One of the first things Gianluca remembered is Ignazio’s birthday in Messio, on the evening of the first concert of the tour. Let’s enter into their conversation to see where this is all going….
Gianluca: The most special thing about Ignazio’s birthday was that we celebrated with the fans.
Piero:Actually, I remember an important thing about the South America tour. This is when we realized we were really famous. The fans were in front of the hotel waiting for us. But it happened slowly, slowly, relatively slowly, month after month. Because two months before we were in Argentina and there were twenty fans, the next one there were a hundred, the one after there were three hundred, and then a thousand, two thousand. Now the situation is unbelievable if you have not experienced it, you will not believe it because we are with bodyguards twenty-four hours a day. It’s another world.
Ignazio: I only know that when I finished that tour in South America I was nicknamed “Ignazio the tank” by myself: I had done twenty concerts with bronchitis. The worst was in Caracas, Venezuela, six thousand five hundred people, at seven in the evening: soundcheck….
Let’s start with the first song. I try to sing and, the voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out. And here comes the most total panic, we stopped the soundcheck, the production calls a doctor and, I was punctured with Bentelan. In short, for a month and half I sang only thanks to the cortisone and breathing technique that our teacher Sergio Bertocchi taught us.
Piero: “Our,” because he is also my teacher. But maybe we should say master. Sergio Bertocchi is the person who helped me most in singing, the one that solves my doubts and my problems. If I enter a lesson with him with a doubt, I go out another Piero, happy and relaxed…. You do not know how important it is to have an experienced person like Sergio Bertocchi to guide you.
Ignazio: I know for sure, that without his breathing exercises I do not know how I would have sung. Without a voice I was completely out of it.
Yes, the boys had challenges! Long periods away from their families, concerts, recording sessions, interviews, just endless. Sometimes it’s just too much to handle and like anyone else they find a crashing point. For the most part they kept it together but there were times when everything would just fall apart. So, Ignazio made it through the tour but, Piero reminds him of something else in the tour that did not affect his voice one bit….
Piero: Igna’, but the voice, you had in that interview! It was March 2013 we were in Argentina at the famous Los 5 edicion broadcast of QMusica TV. What was the problem? We spoke Spanish and sometimes we were wrong, so we stopped the recording and went back. So, Ignazio was already a bit tired out, let’s say. But the worst thing is that in Argentina they do not have the V in Volo, they have the B, they say “Il Bolo”. And one, and two, and three, always “Il Bolo.” At that point, Ignazio begins to correct the guy who was in the studio and repeated to us the things to say, and once, and twice, and three: “Il Volo, it is said Il Volo, V!”. Until the guy in the studio runs off new “Il Bolo” and Ignazio starts with a string of bad words in precise Sicilian that are immortalized in the off-wave scenes.
Ignazio: However, guys, we are serious people, now…. Where were we? Oh yes. The end of the Latin American tour.
Christmas 2013 was approaching and, the record company wanted to come out with a record of Christmas songs. So Universal decided to complete the EP that came out two years ago with just five Christmas songs. So, after the Latin American tour we started promoting the Christmas album
My house began to fail me. Being four months away, changing cities, hotels and planes almost every day is not easy. From the age of sixteen, finding yourself catapulted into a world completely different to the one I was used to, it was not a simple thing to manage. At first no, actually the first two years I thought “What a beautiful life!”. Then I realized that All That Glitters is Not Gold.
To get satisfaction and achieve the goals you have set yourself, you have to give up many things and, work hard. Stay focused on your work. It’s not easy.
Sometimes people say, “But these guys never get tired?”. Well, yes, we get tired too, sometimes. Personally, there was a time when I thought only of friends. I wanted to go out, I never answered the phone, the emails, the messages, I was out of this world.
It was thanks to my family, to the boys and to Michele that I realized that I was neglecting what was always important for me: the music.
Gianluca: True, Ignazio is right. It was not easy and, neither is it now.
In those years, in 2012 and 2013, no one knew us in Italy, we were just the three children who came from Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
But in America, in South America, in Europe we were very well known. And not only there. After the release of our first CD we went on tour in places that none of us could have imagined we would go to: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand. In Singapore we also had a gold record with that first CD.
So, before Sanremo, we lived two lives, two completely different lives. Abroad we were stars and, we came to Italy to rest. I took refuge in Montepagano, Piero in Naro, Ignazio in Marsala. It was nice to come back to a “normal” life. But… we felt that something was missing, that it was bad to be so successful outside of our country and not be able to have it in Italy.
The following interview is one of the best interviews the guys did in 2013. It showed how humble they are and that they are living their dream, but their heads are not in the clouds! The interviewer Larry London was so impressed with our guys.
The guys talked about being on the road and how much they miss their lives even though they are living amazing lives.
Ignazio: 2014 was not our best year. In fact, along with Eurovision, which is one of those things that I do not like to talk about, but we’re telling the truth, so let’s tell it all. That year the contract with Universal expired, so we started looking for a new record company.
It’s just that finding a new record company is not something you do in two days. We did not sleep at night. We talked with Michele about it until late in the evening to look for solutions.
The first thing that came to mind was to take charge of everything. Not that we could stop because we were looking for a new record company. So, we continued to work on the projects we had, new records and tours. We planned a new tour in Canada and the United States for that summer. We could do it.
You see, being brave brought us luck because, after a few months an email from Sony Latin arrived: they were interested in us. After a few weeks and long negotiations, we went to Miami to sign the contract.
This was unique and emotional because, we were underage when we were signed by Universal, our parents signed for us. This was the first record contract signed by our fist!
In the intermediate stages of negotiations with Sony, when it was not yet official, the final evening of the Billboard Latin Music Award arrived, that is the annual award linked to the American magazine “Billboard”.
In 2014 we were competing for the Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year – Duo or Group, in which we had already received two other nominations, in 2012 and 2013.
The concept is that, even though we are always compared with South American artists, it was really very difficult for us to win.
Gianluca: That year, then, was really special to us with all that was happening.
We arrive at the BankUnited Center in Miami on the evening of April 24th, 2014. the theater is full of people.
When the nominations were announced, the choir starts from the public: “Il Volo! Il Volo!”. A moment later Paola Nunez, the Mexican actress who presented the award with her colleague Jorge Graciola, confirmed it: “Il Volo!”
I’m standing up, I jumped, I arrived on stage first, I hugged everyone. I could not believe it. I was bursting with happiness.
Piero: And who believed It? It was the first, really, important first prize we received. In Italy they still saw us as the Tre Tenorini (Three Little Tenors) put out by Ti Lascio una Canzone, but in South America we were a recognized musical group.
So, they found a record company to produce their music and they won the Latin American, Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year for 2014 but, still no recognition from Italy. But soon that would start to change….
Ignazio: However, Italy made us close in 2014 with a flourish. What started out very badly finished very well: with the Christmas concert in the Senate.
Piero: Actually, Igna, “first there was Taormina. Our first concert in Italy on July 20th, and then the encore on the 21st. I hold these events very close for many reasons. In the meantime, not only was it the first time in our home but, it was in Sicily, at the Greek Theater of Taormina. If you’ve never seen it, you must go there, it is a “place of magic.”
So, it was already emotional plus the fact that there were our relatives and all the friends who until then had never been able to hear us because we were doing concerts in America, in South America and how could they get there? And moreover, among all my relatives was my grandfather.
Since he has become blind, he never leaves home, never. Before Taormina, he had only come out one other time and always for me. When we were in Rome, he took the plane for the first time in his life, to participate in Arena of Massimo Giletti.
In Taormina it was even more beautiful because I dedicated, to my grandfather, Pietro Ognibene, “Non ti scordar di me” and I told everyone that he was the first person to hear me sing, and that if it were not for him, I would never have done this job.
It was the first time he had heard me sing since we became singers by profession, the first time, just goosebumps. A great emotion!
Ignazio: We also want to talk about the thrill of singing in front of the highest offices of state! What twenty-year-old boy has something like that happen? It happened to us, and it seems to me a beautiful result, an honor.
The concert was on December 21st. You cannot imagine the emotional feeling to be called “guests of honor” inside the Senate. We were accompanied by the, fantastic, Filarmonia Orchestra Veneta conducted by Diego Basso. Half the beauty of the song is in the orchestra.
The most exciting moments? Every one! But the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one, the first song, singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano, (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate). It is one thing that I cannot explain.
And then, of course, the pleasure of shaking hands with the President of the Republic and of feeling that he knows Marsala, he has been there.
In short, in the end, instead of remembering it as the worst year of our lives together, 2014 brought us well: great changes and an important step towards Italy, towards home.
So now the boys have been recognized in the Senate and by the President of the Republic of Italy but still, no recognition from Italy. But wait, they have an idea….
Piero: Meanwhile, the first thing that comes to mind, after so many years of great success abroad, the greatest successes there has been, one wakes up one morning, indeed, three wake up one morning and decide to go to the Sanremo Festival.
When one is famous all over the world, there comes a moment when he must also be able to say: “Wow, they love me even in Italy”. He must be able to say: “They also love me in my country”.
You go abroad and, during the interviews, you hear the fateful question: “You are loved even in Italy, right?” And you have to answer no. No one can understand how much we suffered in those moments.
Also, in meetings with Universal, in the United States, we sometimes tried to say: “Why do we have concerts all over the world, except in Italy?” We wanted the record company to try to support us in this sense too.
I remember that once, during a meeting with the president of Universal, I asked him for the thousandth time. And what does he do? He had a globe on his desk, I’m not joking, he gives it to me and says: “Turn it around, then stop it and find Italy at the first shot”.
The problem is that you have to look for it because it is a small country, very small compared to the United States and Latin America or Australia. Then I got mad: “Oh, no, it’s my country, and the country where I was born, and the country where we come from, you cannot say it’s not important, do not think about it.”
For us, Sanremo was a decisive opportunity to let us be known to Italians, to say to Italians “We exist”. And we are proud and really happy that our music genre was appreciated.
Ignazio: As they say, Piero? A prophet is not recognized in his own land, so we were snubbed, perhaps because they never had the opportunity to really know us and show, once and for all, who we are personally and humanly, as well as being singers.
Then, after a few months of night phone calls with Michele, towards the end of 2014, we finally decided: “new year, new life: we go to the Sanremo Festival”.
In the beginning the guys were living in a dream world but they found out that All That Glitters is Not Gold!
Next time we will watch the guys fulfill their dream! The Night the Lion Roared!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!