Category Archives: Editorials

(Throwback/Repost…) How to Overcome Il Volo Depression, or IVD…

Hello folks!  I originally wrote this nearly 4 years ago, back in April of 2017!    I believe Lorna and I (and many others) had just returned from their “last” US concert for their Notte Magica tour in Atlanta.  It was recently brought to my attention again and I reread it, personally amazed that I even wrote something this amazing!  Haha!  Hope you enjoy it again, or for some, for the first time!  🙂  With everything going on, I felt we all needed an extra innoculation to help with the current vaccine going around!

This post got a lot of nice comments the first time around – grazie mille!  🙂

(just a “word or two” of warning – this is quite long…. 🙂 )

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Definition of IVD: noun

  1. State of being sad when Il Volo leaves your countryPicture14

Symptoms:

  1. Feeling of hopelessness of not knowing when they will return
  2. Excessive sleeping, hoping you will dream about them one more time
  3. Condition of feeling lost without their touch, hugs, or smiles
  4. Loneliness one is left with after seeing them too many times in a matter of a few months
  5. The desire to follow them to their next concert no matter where it is
  6. Your “no-limit” credit card is suddenly your best friend and you try to figure out how many mileage points you need for a free, or at least discounted trip to Italy – even if they won’t be there!
  7. Avoiding social media and looking at their pictures, or even listening to their music, because it just hurts too much (this is a very severe symptom, that must be dealt with ASAP!)
  8. If given the Rorschach test, no matter what blob you see, you say either Piero, Gianluca, Ignazio, or all three!
  9. There are likely more symptoms than those indicated above, however those stated are ones observed most often in recent concert-goers during the first leg of their Notte Magica tour in the United States.

Causes:

  1. Buying tickets with meet/greets for as many concerts you can afford
  2. Seeing them three or more times in a matter of a few weeks
  3. Tracking them down at their hotel, and hoping to catch a glimpse of them on the street
  4. Having awesome meet/greets, making you want to go back and have another and another!
  5. Knowing they have a new album coming out and just sitting there, frozen, until you hear their new music
  6. Some causes are unknown…as they may be personal to each individual, and have not yet been documented.

Cures:Picture12

There are no known cures for this, which is similar to Ilvoloitis. IVD is often a side-effect of Ilvoloitis, happening most often during their world tours. Ilvoloitis and IVD are especially dangerous for newbie Ilvolovers. Although Ilvoloitis and IVD are extremely contagious, no one really seems to want a real cure, however, there is the desire to learn to cope with the somewhat serious side-effects and symptoms of this condition.

There are many, many, websites out there on how to deal with depression. Two that I found are: http://www.wikihow.com/Overcome-Depression and https://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/dealing-with-depression.htm

Let’s see if we can adapt some of their suggestions to IVD.

The helpguide.org had 6 tips for overcoming depression:

Tip #1 – Reach out and stay connected

As the old AT&T catchphrase goes – “reach out, reach out and touch someone….reach out and just say ciao!” Ok, we can’t reach out and touch the guys at this time, but we can reach out and touch, and call, other local Ivolovers. Who doesn’t want to hear from a fellow fan and talk into the wee hours of the morning, all about their concerts, meet/greets, and fantasies of meeting them again on the street, or at their hotel? With recent technology, you could start a group text (however, I caution you with this one, be careful that those in your group will not be upset, or need to get up in the morning!)

This is also a good time to find more Ivolovers in your area. Plan a party with your current group. Get together to celebrate their birthdays – Piero’s is next on JunePicture15 24. Check out the various FaceBook pages – there may be some fellow fans lurking closer than you think!

If you can’t get together personally, plan a Skype party. I think you can have up to 24 or so people on one site. Find someone that has a big screen TV and hook up!

Tip #2 – Do things that make you feel good

One thing they suggest is volunteering. Why not do something in the “name of Il Volo?” Donate to your favorite charity. Spend time at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen, animal shelter, or spend time with those with special needs. All the while, you can share your love of the guys by sharing their music and introducing new fans. Remember, not all things contagious are bad?

This is also a good time to get in touch with your local PBS station and start volunteering. You may get the inside news on the next time they are coming back to town!

They also suggest getting in touch with your creative side… now is the time to sit down and write some prose – that meaningful poem you’ve been waiting to write, or now is the time for that fan fiction short story you always wanted to write. How about a little drawing or painting? Remember, we are not all DaVinci’s, but no one can duplicate what you are feeling in your heart. It will come through on the blank canvas or piece of paper. The hardest part is that first stroke or word…

If you haven’t already, clear a space in your house – a bookshelf area is a great place and fill it with all things Il Volo. We know everyone has saved every ticket, Picture20meet/greet lanyard, CDs, DVDs, VIP gifts, pictures, etc. that we don’t know what to do with. This is your opportunity to put it on display for everyone to see. I plan to do this, but just haven’t gotten the chance yet. You could even make a few shadow boxes with little Il Volo souvenirs and memorabilia. Get to the craft store and use your coupons!

You could also get together with some of your friends and share some pictures and make a scrapbook of all of your adventures and concerts together!

Also, getting some exercise or listening to music – or doing both at the same time!! How often do we see Piero or Ignazio walking away on the tread mill withPicture21 their ear buds in? Go outside and get some good ol’ “O Sole Mio!” See, just seeing the sunshine will remind you of the guys and their first signature song.

Tip #3 – Move vigorously

Ok, that may seem too difficult, but there’s nothing wrong with looking at a few “nice” pictures to at least get our hearts racing? If not our feet! However, as above, a little walk in the sunshine is wonderful. Maybe put on one of their peppier tunes and walk to the beat of the music. I bet you won’t even realize how fast you are walking. Volare is a great one to walk to!

Tip #4 – Eat a healthy, mood-boosting diet!

Of course, eating healthier will make you feel better. Most Italian food is healthy for you if you limit your cheese and alcohol and eat pasta in properly portioned amounts. Unless you are Piero and can walk 10 miles on the treadmill, I don’t think I’d recommend a plate of pasta every day. But mix that pasta with extra virgin olive oil and garlic and that’s a great treat for your heart and maybe a little red wine on the side. Can’t forget a little gelato for dessert. Some gelato actually has less calories than ice cream.

It’s also a great time to go on that diet and lose those 10 pounds we all want to lose – who knows, maybe it will turn into more. Every time we reach for that cookie, we can think – “what would Piero do?”

Tip #5 – Get more sunlight (we went over this one already….)Picture19

Tip #6 – Challenge negative thinking

You are thinking – “I will never see them again!” Do not think that, you WILL see them again, we just don’t know when. Until we see them again, refer to tips one through five! Or, you may think… I just can’t afford it! But this is the best time ever because they might not be back for over a year – we have time to save up for it now! Even if you can afford only ten or twenty dollars a week, or less, it adds up pretty quickly – at least enough for a ticket, and maybe even a meet/greet. (sure hope they don’t raise those prices anymore – or I may not be able to afford it either!)

Here are some personal tips from me!

  1. This may be difficult, but think back to when you first discovered them. How did you feel? The smile that slowly, or quickly grew on your face. The feeling that you just had to tell everyone you knew about the greatest discovery you ever found on PBS. How many people did you call?
  2. The time you saw them and decided you just HAD to see them in concert, no matter what, where, or when? For me, it was when I saw them for the 2nd time on PBS, about late August in 2013, during their We Are Love tour. I specifically knew the time because their next show was at the Fox on Sept 5 and it was my mom’s birthday. But it was during their rendition of Beautiful Day and Ignazio’s solo part that just took me in and I was an immediate goner and luckily, I was able to see them the following June in 2014.
  3. When did you become an official Ilvololver? Meaning, you suddenly could just not get enough of them? For me, it was after seeing them at Freedom Hill that late spring of 2014. When I got home, I feverishly combed the Internet each evening, soaking up every song, every interview and every video I could find of them for the remainder of the summer. Grabbing at each and every tidbit of info I could find, until I finally stumbled upon the Flight Crew site! I knew I had found my solace here, when I started reading all of the stories and comments from the readers. I was no longer alone in my quest, but felt at home.
  4. Do you remember that feeling you got when you found out you were going to meet them for the first time? I remember the giddiness of a schoolgirl, when us Detroit gals were putting 2 + 2 together and coming up with 4, figuring out they were coming to PBS to promote their Pompeii album. After I found out I was also volunteering that same night, I just could not sit still. I remember walking around the block and literally skipping along thinking, “I’m going to meet them, I’m going to meet them! OMG, what am I going to say, wear, etc.?” I knew others had met them before, but like many things, the first time is always the most special.
  5. Do you remember the first time you had front row seats? I felt guilty, but I turned in my PBS tickets for the last two front row seats at the Fox. I got front row, I got front row, I screamed to myself. It was at the end of the day at work and I could not sit still – good thing it was almost time to go home. I could not wait to tell someone who cared and my dear friend Ginny who was the lucky recipient of the other ticket!
  6. Do you remember that often dazed feeling you got after meeting them at a meet/greet after a concert? You are barely coherent and hardly remember anything because you are still in a hypnotic state after hearing their incredible voices.
  7. And last, but not least, the feeling you had and will never forget, of seeing them perform not, once, but twice in their homeland of Italy. Under the beautiful evening air, the feeling was magical both times.
  8. Think of all of the new friends you have made in the last several years – all over the world. Think of all of the new places you have seen and never would have seen, had it not been for Il Volo. Think of some of your talents that may have been hidden, that have blossomed forth all because of them. Think of all of the new techie things you have learned on the computer and your phone.
  9. Think of all things Italian you now care about, if you didn’t already.
  10. Think of all the love, joy, and passion you have given and received – all in the name of Il Volo. When we think of that, how could we possibly be depressed? How many of us have healed ourselves through their music and bonding with each other over this love of these 3 men? They have touched our lives in ways we never thought possible, nor existed. They have touched our lives in ways they will never know, no matter how much we tell them. Men and women; young and old, from all over the world.

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Even though there is no known cure, I hope that coming to the “Flight Crew – Share the Love” site each and every morning fills at least a small part of this void in your life. Just reading the comments everyone makes, even while I’m at work, will put a smile on my face. Our fearless Editor-in-Chief, Marie, along with Kelly, Leelee, Mary, Jane, Daniela, Dani, and all of the other contributors from around the globe take time out of their busy days to keep us all informed the best they can of where the guys are. I think we need a new category – “where in the world are the guys now?”  I know I feel better now, having written this. Just remembering all of those things, makes you happy. Although they are as fleeting as a beautiful sunrise or sunset, the memory of them remains in your heart and soul, just as their voices lift us to incredible highs, so we can deal with some of the worst lows. It is such a joy and honor to know all of you! I feel truly blessed to have you and Il Volo in my life!

 

In the words of Charlie Chaplin… “Smile….! Life is still worthwhile, if you just smile… (and think of Il Volo!)”

So, we want to hear from you!  What tips do you have to get you through the day without the guys?  For those new to this site, tell us your story!  Do you have a favorite CD or concert you watch?  If you like sushi, does it remind you of the guys when you eat it?

All photo credits to Judy Thurman from the last concert in Atlanta. Edits are mine.  🙂

and to Marie, for the inspiration to write this – I texted her complaining of IVD and she said the more you see them, the worse it becomes…

Ciao – Jana

 

p.s.  this is my new Il Volo shrine!!   Be sure to click on it to see the larger view!  🙂

IL VOLO, FROM MAURA’S EYES – PART 2 BY DANIELA

And here, Maura did not wait long with the second part of her publication.

Very well Maura, I think this will start a nice debate.

Daniela

Why do you like Il Volo so much?

The answer is found in a video on Youtube: “Il Volo. The ten ingredients of global success” published by Trishia on 9 January 2017. 

Who is Trishia? It is the pseudonym of Patrizia Ciava: a flagship for the Il Volo fandom. Graduated in philosophy, writer and winner of literary awards, teacher, lived in various countries of the world, a career of the highest level in the Public Administration. Among her institutional tasks is the promotion of Italian “excellence”, of the Italian language and culture. 

Here are the elements that make up the success of the group, identified by her:

1) Three prodigious voices 

2) The ability to excite 

3) Spontaneity and sympathy combined with talent 

4) Empathy with the public 

5) The ability to joke and to create a friendly atmosphere 

6) Collaboration with other artists 

7) Friendship and team spirit 

8) Charm and elegance 

9) Availability towards fans and simplicity 

10) Love for family and for Italy.

I could only add that their knowledge of English and Spanish helps to maximize the possibility of interacting with the public in every part of the world.

That said, let’s see if the definitions of “popular” offered by the vocabulary of the DEVOTO (vocabulary name) fit the music of our group.

Popular is what “represents the continuity and importance of an unbroken tradition, as opposed to what is innovative.” 

Here I would like to make a “distinction”. 

The definition is general. Wanting to refer it to music, in regards the first part it adapts to the music of Il Volo: “represents the continuity and importance of an unbroken tradition”. 

Then popular music, understood here as traditional, should be “opposite” to what is innovative, and this, in my opinion, is a commonplace, a convention, it’s only another genre of music.

Music is a universal category in which all genres, ancient and modern, born before or born after, have found their place with equal dignity, joining, rather than opposing, each other and satisfying every taste and need.

I think I also interpret the thoughts of the components of Il Volo, who have always respected all types of music and all the singers, not “opposing” nor considering “against” anything or anyone.

It is popular, those who “enjoy sympathy and favor in a remarkable way”.

Let’s say that the music of Il Volo and its performers are …  very, very popular.

Popular is “something that opposes aristocratic choices and discrimination”.

POP is only an abbreviation of POPOLARE. Pop music is what was once called “light music”, that is songs. Vasco, Pausini, Ramazzotti, Ferro etc. (Italian singers) sing pop music and they are pop singers, and they are Italian … Their music is therefore national-popular. 

And journalists and music critics should know that.

Instead, the giornalist, uses the expression “national-popular” in the derogatory sense, identified precisely as to define the music of Il Volo, praising the new genres imported from the United States (rap, trap indie).

These journalists, many of them with white hair, are only intent on tickling the tastes of teenagers, discriminating, not between beautiful and bad music, as they should, but based on the date of birth of that music, in a momentum of “youthfulness”, to appear fashionable and in step with the times.

Il Volo, predominantly interprets the ITALIAN classical musical tradition, with SONGS in the Neapolitan language and dialect, and this justifies, as already said, its nature as a national-popular. But we cannot forget that their repertoire also contains songs of the classical tradition of the Spanish language (Cielito lindo, Historia de un amor and others), and English (Smile, My Way and others).

How about coining a less restrictive and more appropriate neologism for their music? This: INTERNATIONAL-POPOLAR.

All of the above considerations are strictly personal opinions. If you want, and as always, the debate is open.

Maura

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

IL VOLO, FROM MAURA’S EYES – part 1 by Daniela

My dear friend Maura Pucci, whom you all have already known, wrote a nice post that I will translate with great pleasure, knowing that you will surely appreciate it.

Maura, please don’t keep us waiting too long for the second episode !!😉

Daniela 😘

Today, I will answer two questions I asked myself.

The first is: “Who is the audience of Il Volo?”

It is necessary to start from two irrefutable statements:

1) Il Volo is an internationally successful musical group.
2) Their audience is mainly female.

Like all the artists who have had great international success, Il Volo is not aimed at an elite group of connoisseurs, but at a vast and heterogeneous audience, both from a socio-cultural point of view and from the point of view of age. As far as the latter is concerned, internationality constitutes the discriminating element, since age varies according to … longitudes and latitudes.

For example :

~ in Europe and the United States the public is on average more adult, but no less passionate;

~ in Mexico, Central America and South America a young audience prevails, made up in particular of chicas, which are unleashed like fans of rockstars; 

~ a more composed audience of all ages is found in Asia, where classical music is a true cult (many oriental youths come to study in our conservatories) and, during the concerts, we witness the individual performances of the pieces in religious silence until the final ovation.

10 YEARS OF IL VOLO

I take this opportunity to add here, incidentally and for the avoidance of the usual misunderstandings, that, in their repertoire of about two hundred songs, we find only four arias taken from lyrical works (two by Puccini, one by Verdi, one by Donizetti) a tarantella by Rossini and a romance by Leoncavallo …..

The fact that the public in general (fans in particular) is a large female majority is an element common to many if not all the fandoms of famous singers. 

But in the case of the Il Volo boys the difference consists in the fact that in Italy and in the United States in particular, they were known when they were almost children, and the sentimental and romantic women, enchanted by their voices, became tender and affectionate. They saw them grow and from teenagers to become young men. They followed their physical transformations, and the maturation of their voices, establishing a particular relationship with them.

Ultimately the audience of Il Volo can be divided into the following groups:

A) The real fans, active on social networks, connected by a dense network of fan pages or fan clubs, in the number of about four thousand. They “adopted” the three boys, creating an intense relationship with them, I dare say visceral. Depending on the age, they are considered older brothers, object of desire, children, grandchildren. These fans follow Il Volo daily through news, photos, videos, interviews. They participate in numerous concerts, including moving from region to country and continent.

B) The most consistent band is represented by the television audience. In Italy, it is the one that contributes to procuring the famous “listening peaks” of Auditel for Il Volo and to make their concerts sold out. The same can be said for the United States where the PBS network has recorded some concerts since 2012 and broadcasts them, I believe periodically, through over 300 television stations that it represents.

A nod to a category of people that I do not consider “audience” but who have a positive relationship with Il Volo. It can be consideration, appreciation, affection, friendship, collaboration. Which does not automatically and in any case entail the liking of their music. I speak of VIPs, characters known in every field. They are too many and I don’t list them. I will only mention two names of “men of power” characters: Pope Francis and Kim, the leader of North Korea, namely the devil and holy water! …

I refer you to the next episode, again for an interlocutory answer. (Why does Il Volo like it?) And finally for my conclusions.

Maura Pucci

Credit to owners of all photos.

A MUSICAL JOURNEY by Susan

In 2009, a Musical Journey began! The American music industry opened its door to three teenage boys who were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract directly with a major American music label.

Their music was Operatic pop or popera. What was this new 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 is three amazing voices! If the voice wasn’t there, the song wasn’t going to sell.

Journey 01

When I’m writing these pieces, I do a lot of research and I watch a lot of videos. And this is what I found. I looked at videos of the promos the boys did, for their albums. They were 16 – 17 years old and I found many teenagers at these promos. I saw teenage girls and boys singing opera and Italian songs. They liked it because the music is easy and catchy and, they picked it up very easily. And I might add, the guys are very attractive and likeable. The young girls love them not because they are very handsome but because they can relate to them. They were 16 – 17 years old and they were telling these young kids we love this music and you can too. And they did and still do! Once the kids were sold the parents followed.

Who wouldn’t want their kids singing this music? In turn the parents found it just as pleasing. As to the grandmothers they were the ones who were fainting over these attractive young men.

In 2010, they joined Quincy Jones’ “We are The World for Haiti” charity event. They performed alongside 80 other international artist including Celine Dion, Bono, Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand, Usher, Natalie Cole, and more. They were unknown to the group and all were amazed at their voices and anxious to know who these three young men were. It didn’t take long for them to find out.

In May 2010 their first album Il Volo was released.

Their first album is self-titled Il Volo. It received platinum certification in Italy and the Spanish edition of the album received a nomination for Best Pop Album by a Duo or Group with Vocals at the 12th Annual Latin Grammy Awards in 2011. The album also debuted at number 1 on the US Top Classical Albums Chart.

And so the awards begin!

In April 2013 they release a Spanish version of We Are Love, titled Más Que Amor, which includes a duet with Mexican singer Belinda. The album débuted at number 1 on the Billboard Latin Pop Albums. Más Que Amor was certified “Gold” in Mexico and Argentina. And this catapulted them into the Latin market. From that day on they took the Latin market by storm. This is unheard of! Three Italian kids taking over the Latin market!

In February 2014, they receive two nominations at the 2014 Latin Billboard Music Awards, as “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 won “El Pulso Social Award,” as the artist who dominated interactions on social networking sites during the Billboard Awards.

On February 14, 2015, they won the Sanremo Music Festival 2015 with “Grande Amore” winning 39.05% of the total vote over the 2 leading challengers. This win gave them the opportunity to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015. As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the group 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. At the Latin Billboard Awards, they dominated the social networking sites and now, they win the televote and the best song according to collective voting by the accredited press. The people speak!

Journey 02

This is just to mention a few of their achievements. There are so many more achievements but, they are too numerous to mention. And, let’s not forget they sang with entertainers like Placido Domingo, Eros Ramazzotti, and Belinda.

In 2012, Barbara Streisand invited them to join her “Back to Brooklyn Tour,” which included 12 performances in the United States and Canada.

The albums keep coming! The success keeps coming, the tours in North and South America keep selling out and the boys have grown into fine attractive young men. And, now they’re ready for a new experience. The music evolves and they are ready to crossover. In 2018 they release one of the most exciting Latin albums to come out in years. I would go so far as to say Amame is the most exciting Latin album that was ever produced. It’s opera, it’s rock, it’s classical, it’s pop and it never stops giving. The rhythm in songs like Noche Sin Dia is amazing. You have to move with the music. You can’t sit still.

Songs like Maldito Amor is a phenomenal experience for your ears. The delivery is smooth. It pulls away from the traditional Latin music and it delivers a sound that is very intense. Different! Very Different! The sound is pure and clean and, their voices are spot on! It’s one of those songs that stays with you forever.

This album is so Exciting! I thought about this album the other day and how I would write about it. These three amazing guys absolutely floored me. The beat is so intense and, they are spot on. I think they knocked it out of the box with Noche Sin Dia. With Latin music you don’t just sing it, you feel it, and if you don’t feel it, you don’t cut it. This album cuts it! Good move!

As if that wasn’t enough, they follow up with Musica! This is the album that proved that great can get greater. This album is representative of where these young men are now. It’s beautiful, it’s sensitive, it’s romantic. It’s about love. It’s about them being ready for love. It comes from deep within them. All the sweetness and humility of these guys is in this album. It moves your senses. What I am saying is they have evolved and, their voices have evolved. They’ve grown into their voices. Their voices are mature and have expanded in such an amazing way. There’s an intriguing balance in their voices. To experience this amazing evolution in voice and song you need go no further than “Be My Love.” Gianluca’s voice vibrates and expands to realms I’ve never heard before. Ignazio makes your heart stop as you journey along his notes which lead to absolute ecstasy. Piero fills all your sense and brings you to such heights that you have to stop and breathe.

This is Musica che resta!

Journey 03

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

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…