Category Archives: Our Stories

Fun and Games in Atlantic City by Giovanna

I’m from Colorado but made a trip home to New Jersey to have an Italian weekend with my old college buddy Biagio and his Calabrese family, my Venetian/Napolitana good friend Rosaria, my Aunt Florence whose family is from Avellino, and my cousin Ken.  I topped it all off with the Il Volo concert in Atlantic City – two more Siciliani and a Rosetone from Abruzzo. . .  With this crew, we had most of southern Italy covered.
The Atlantic City Borgata Casino concert proved to be many firsts for me.  In the past I’ve only heard Il Volo in outdoor venues in Italy.  This concert was my first time see Il Volo in the US, my first time to hear them in an indoor theater, my first time to attend a soundcheck, and my first time to hear them with my family and friends.
Since I had never attended an Il Volo soundcheck before, I had no idea how tense the guys can be before a performance, and how tough they are on themselves while they’re preparing for the show.  Our small group’s entry into the soundcheck was delayed several times because of Il Volo’s personal dynamic on the rehearsal stage that day.  I was surprised, but also impressed, by several things I observed.
1. Gianluca is a perfectionist and when critiquing the rehearsal, did not even spare himself.  Because some of us at the soundcheck understood Italian, the guys could not hide the sharp exchanges they do in Italian to get each song perfect.  For example, while we were walking in, Gian was urging Ignazio to change how he comes in on Nessun Dorma.  He was identifying note sbagliate (wrong notes) and some parts of the interpretation that made that song brutto (ugly).  He sang Ignazio’s entry and repeated it with a higher lift so they could hear and change it.
2.  Much to Ignazio’s credit, he listened patiently and adapted instantly.  When they sang Nessun Dorma in concert, it was perfect.  I was impressed with Ignazio’s flexibility, Gianluca’s professionalism, and how fast they shifted gears before showtime.  Despite the tough criticism and hard work beforehand, by the time the show opened, Gian was laughing, smiling, waving, and playing with the crowd like normal, and Gian and Igna were hugging and hanging all over each other, as usual.
3.  I had no idea Piero is such a complete and utter gentleman. He took the time to come downstage, talk to us and make us feel comfortable despite the working tension on stage.  He made us welcome, asked us about ourselves, and actually listened.  Throughout the rehearsal, he clued us in on which number they were going to rehearse next, and thanked us repeatedly for our patience.   He also jokingly asked if these front section seats were our actual seats during the show. For some of us, they were.  By the way, I never knew that Piero’s speaking voice when he’s right up close to you was so soft and dark.  He sings tenor but speaks in a velvety almost baritone.  He apparently never raises his speaking voice before a show, to save the volume and power for the stage.  Ragazzo intelligente.  Smart boy.
Piero had noticed how empty Atlantic City is for a beach town.  He wondered out loud to us what people actually do around there.  The answer? Giocano a carte e perdono soldi.  They play cards and lose money.   Piero himself had dragged some of the Il Volo crew down to the casino the previous night.  He insisted he didn’t lose any money.  Maybe that’s because he spent his time in the casino taking selfies with fans who spotted him.  A few of the fans I met during the VIP reception had done that.
At sound check, I took some close-up photos of each of the guys running around in their warm-up clothes, hanging all over Gianpiero’s piano, calling instructions to the sound guys, and visiting with us.  Sorry I cannot share the pictures.  Marianna, the fan manager at this location, said we could take all the soundcheck pictures we wanted, but insisted we cannot post any of them on social media.  The concert pictures are a different story.

On to the Show

First off, they did not wear any white suits this time, so Ignazio did not have to complain he looked like a white salami or an ice cream vendor.
After they opened with The Ecstasy of Gold, Piero explained what was so special about the Atlantic City Borgata Casino.  That helped me understand why the guys had been so stressed earlier that day.  I didn’t know that Il Volo’s very first concert on their first tour in the US, when they were young kids starting out, was on this exact stage at the Borgata.  The New Jersey, Delaware, and Philadelphia fans who come here every year were the first to accept them back when they were 16 years old.  Since then, the guys try to make every return performance there more powerful than the last one, so they put themselves under a lot of pressure.
Piero described Il Volo’s first Atlantic City concert describing themselves as novice performers, just young kids.  Ignazio described the three of them as little “cuties.”  Piero played dumb and insisted he didn’t understand what “cutie” is in English.  Piero asked the audience if they know what “cutie” sounds like to an Italian, then gave an Italian lesson.  In Italian it’s not “cutie,” it’s chiudi, as in chiudi la porta (shut the door).  Of course, nobody shut the door on them when they were young performers, which is partly why they are where they are today.
Piero promised they would perform some Italian favorites, some American favorites, some opera, and of course some selections from the late Maestro Morricone.  If you follow the Flight Crew you have all seen this season’s approximate song list in other postings, so I won’t repeat it.  I will highlight a few of the surprises I enjoyed, and some of the funnies.
I liked how they freshened up the act by replacing some of the solos. One of the new ones was Ignazio interpreting Celine Dionne’s version of “All by Myself,” even though that was not originally her song.  Gianluca wanted to know why Ignazio insisted on singing a song about “Obama’s Elf,” or at least that’s what it sounds like with Ignazio’s accent.
I was looking forward to Gianluca doing “If I Can Dream” because I heard him rehearsing it at the soundcheck.  He really nailed it for all its worth that night.  His version was hot, bluesy, and rocked in a way Elvis Presley never did.
The ragazzi reintroduced Tom Jones’ Delilah, which they have not done on stage in some years, but they added a twist.  They no longer finish the song with a shoving match as they used to do when they were teens.  This time, Piero added a remarkably long sustain, and Ignazio chose to almost growl his lines about “the knife in my hand” and “she laughed no more.”  They are not little boys any more.
I have never heard them do the Great Caruso or Funiculi Funicula in concert before, except on a CD.  Of course, Il Volo got drowned out by the front section of the audience who all know the words to Funiculi Funicula and insisted on singing along.  It reminded me of concerts in the Teatro Antico in Taormina.
Gianluca spent a good part of the concert patting Ignazio’s pancia (belly) and teasing him “No more cannoli for you.”  Ignazio claimed he had gained 10 kilos since the last tour, but didn’t care, then promptly told Gianluca to cut it out.  Igna recited to the audience the Italian expression Uomo di pancia, uomo di sostanza.  He didn’t translate it, but he didn’t have to with this very Italian-American audience.  (Man with a belly is a man of substance).  The fact is, he really doesn’t have a belly.
I had really liked Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah from the first time I heard it in a Nicholas Cage movie.  I knew Gianluca and Ignazio have been doing it in the middle of their program as a memorial to those lost over the last two and a half years.  But I had no idea how moving and soulful their version is.
It was a delightful surprise that Piero and Ignazio chose to add La Donna e Mobile to the program.  Even though that piece has the most chauvinistic, insulting, anti-female lyrics ever written, it’s still a great song.  I took my daughter-in-law Anya to hear Verdi’s Rigoletto last summer performed by Central City Opera, so I have recently heard it live.  But Central City’s tenor couldn’t touch Il Volo’s two tenors, who simply blew him away.  Ignazio’s interpretation was creative and flat out powerful.  Piero revealed that when Ignazio first brought up the idea to duet this with him, Piero told him he was crazy.  However, they had so much fun practicing it with their voice coaches, they decided to let the rest of us in on the fun, and the result was amazing.
All the people I interviewed before the show wanted to send Auguri and other greetings to Ignazio on a card in anticipation of his birthday on October 4.  So, we collectively wrote him a handmade birthday card.  If you’ve ever heard Ignazio joking on American stages, he often laments that they don’t have decent Italian coffee like Lavazza or Illy in the US.  He also complains that Americans drink coffee in a mug the size of a swimming pool.  During soundcheck earlier in the day, I waved our handmade card to ask him if I could send it up to the stage later during the show.  He thumbed up that it would be OK.  But I deliberately didn’t show the back of it to him at that time.
What he didn’t know was that the funny-looking creased piece of cardboard we wrote on was the back of a Lavazza coffee poster.  It seems Igna was wrong about Americans and our coffee: we do have some good coffee here, at least in Italian communities.  You should have seen his face when he got the card in his hands, turned the used cardboard over and saw the coffee ad.  He was looking around but couldn’t find anyone in the crowd to make a face at.  (Or more likely gestures; you know how he is).  But he had already gotten even with us birthday greeters well before he got the card.  Early in the show he announced to someone near the stage who was wishing him happy birthday that, “It’s bad luck to wish someone happy birthday before it’s their birthday.”  I heard that, but it did not stop me sending the card to the stage anyway.  My thanks to Sandra Libretto from Delaware, a major Ignazio fan sitting next to me, who wanted to carry the card up to him on stage.  Thanks also to her husband Bob for letting her climb out over him in a rush to do that for us.
Most of you have probably already seen Piero and Ignazio do their “Sicilian sign language” and heard Gianluca joke about having to deal with two Sicilians all day every day.  This time when Gianluca made his usual complaint, and asked if anyone out in the audience was Sicilian (so he wouldn’t offend anyone) the whole front center section started shouting at him.  He was outnumbered.  Before the show, many people in our section were talking to each other in our various dialects and most of us in fact were Sicilian or Calabrese.  The man behind me was from Sciacca, Sicily (not far from Piero’s home), my family is from Palermo, and Biagio’s family is from near Cosenza, Calabria.  We all understood each other and of course the two Il Volo Sicilians, as well as Gianluca the “honorary Sicilian,” understood us when even when we shouted things in dialect at them.
The Covid years have not stopped the guys from roaming the aisles and playing with the fans during the show.  While they sang Here’s to You from Sacco and Vanzetti Piero came down my aisle and was fist-bumping, high-fiving, hugging and selfie-ing like the old days.
Normally, if you want a selfie with Piero, he takes the phone from you and takes the picture for you.  But the lady behind me had her phone ready to go, and he let her do-it-herself, as you can see.
You can tell how multi-talented Ignazio is, by watching just a few minutes on stage.   Beside his singing, he played the piano to jazz up Torna a Surriento, “conducted” the orchestra with his hands on several numbers, and announced Piero and Gian’s duet of My Way with the long, roaring rumble of a boxing emcee announcing a prize fight.  Piero shook his head teasing that with this crowd, Ignazio even got un applauso (an ovation) for eating a piece of bread behind the piano.
Let me explain.  One of the most remarkable things I saw at this show was something I’ve never seen at any concert, ever.  In my day, I’ve seen all kinds of stuff sent up to performing artists on stage, from love beads to flowers to hotel room keys.  You may even have heard the story about some young lady throwing her brassiere on stage to Gianluca, with her phone number pinned inside.  But this concert was a first.  A sweet little old lady struggled up my aisle hauling a huge double-thick paper shopping bag full of home-made Italian food.  When Ignazio caught sight of her, there was no stopping him.  He started waving and gesturing to everybody in our aisle to get out of his way and let her through, because she’s coming for him.  Then he personally came down to get the bag from her.  Two songs later, Ignazio was behind the piano eating fresh Italian bread.  Welcome to Il Volo in the New Jersey, Philadelphia ItalianAmerican style.
I think one of the best things about Il Volo is that they have great fans.  For two days I had so much fun meeting and interviewing fans from all around the NJ, Philadelphia, Delaware area, that I decided I need to do a whole second article.    Thank you to everyone who wrote birthday greetings to Ignazio, and to every fan who let me interview them.  You’ll get to meet them in my next article.
All photos by Giovanna Tischler

Fox Detroit September 10, 2022 (a.k.a. Jana and the Beast….)

 

 

It all started last November 8, 2021, when we were all scrambling for tickets for the front row, fingers ready to pounce on the keys, precisely at 10:00a EST!  In the waiting room we were, at tickemaster.com, impatiently waiting as the countdown when from 10 to 0!  Blast off, and there I was, adeptly moving around the site, page to page, frantically looking for the best front row seats, alas, I got 4 good ones, pretty much center, right in front of the stage, one more key and WHAT???  What do you mean it won’t go through???  After sweating many bullets, I was finally able to get in on my work computer and grab the last 2 tickets in the front row for Betty and I and two for Chris and her sister in the second row.  They actually had better seats.  Then Magdalena wanted 2 tickets and 2 tickets for Gin and Lorna. Ok, my 8 ticket limit was met.  Oops, we forgot about Barb!  We managed to snag her the last front row seat.  Ah, just waiting til March now.

 

It was Christmas, New Year’s, Gian’s birthday and Valentine’s Day.  Just 6 more weeks!  Wait, what??  The entire tour had now been postponed til September/October!  Oh no… Betty was coming from New Orleans and my new friend Gale was coming from Portland, Oregon.  I had to quickly call them and tell them so they could change their flights and hotel.  Gale was staying with me.  Of course, originally, mom was not here, so it was going to be a full house for a few nights in September!

 

Ok, a little more time to plan things and finish the condolences book for Ignazio’s father.  I had procrastinated way too long.  I replanned it several times, starting with Shutterfly and ending up just doing a PDF and having it printed locally for way cheaper!  It really did come out nice, almost too nice!  Then we found we couldn’t take bags into the Fox this time, nothing bigger than 4 x 6, or as big as your phone.  But wait, Jana had a plan…how was I going to sneak in his booklet???

 

I ended up getting this black fake fur wrap that had a black lining.  So, here’s the plan… I’ll cut a slit in the bottom of the lining, stick the book in between some foam and reseal it with Velcro.  Yeah, that will work. 😊  I also planned to give Ignazio 3 of them, one for him and one each for his mom and sister.  Well, the printer made it SO nice that they were printed on heavier paper and I did have them GBC bound and they were twice as heavy.  I also printed their birthday wishes from their last birthdays.  Could not get all of that in my little wrap, so I did the one book for Igna and the 3 packs of wishes.  I ended up getting a foam seat cushion that kind of had layers in it and I was able to push them apart and squeeze the books in there, then put the cushion back in the wrap and seal it up.  It was a little awkward, but no one even questioned it.  However, it did become a nuisance, as I had to ask people to keep holding it.  Betty nicknamed it “the Beast!”  lol!

 

In the midst of all this chaos, I got laid off from Ford the end of April.  Luckily, I had already been job hunting and was prepared, but now I had no choice.  I couldn’t be too picky.  Lucky or unlucky, I got hired and fired, in less than 2 weeks.  Ok, no more lawyers for me.  Then mom was here and I was so depressed!  I was fortunate to find a job at the Park West Art Gallery, in mid-July, just down the street.  But I was so stressed out!  I also reserved a mini-bus for our trans for our driver to get us to the Fox and back.  It was tough to find, but luckily Hertz had one.

 

 

The summer was quickly slipping away, plans were being made with Betty and Gale, and what we’d do and where we’d go, etc.  Who had what tickets.  It was a bit crazy.  Then August was gone and Labor Day was here!  One more week and it would be all over!

 

With the new job, I couldn’t take off the time I wanted, so had to work til noon on Friday and then work Monday as well.  I really could have used Monday off!  Luckily, Chris had vacation all week, so she generously volunteered to get BOTH Betty and Gale from the airport.  So, Chris got Betty in the morning.  Her flight was delayed, so she was about an hour or so late getting in.  But it all worked out, she got here and we chatted a bit, then went to lunch.  I went to get a haircut and Chris went home, waiting to pick up Gale at about 6:30p, as her flight was delayed as well.  We all met at our “other” favorite Italian restaurant and I took Gale and Betty back with me.  Betty stayed at a nearby Hilton.  And, just to add injury to an already chaotic weekend, I banged my shin pretty badly on the bathtub Friday morning, so it was swollen and sore with a nasty bruise, the whole weekend!

 

We slept in a bit; Saturday was finally here!  We got up and got ready and picked up Betty from the hotel and went to brunch.  After that, we just came back to the apartment and I tried to take a nap before we got ready.  I put on the Pompeii video to entertain the girls while I dozed for a bit.  Oh, forgot to tell you, before all this, a few girls cancelled (thankfully) and our driver kind of missed picking up the mini-bus, as he was late and they closed at noon.  He got there at five after and they were gone and locked!  So, we were scrambling, trying to figure out how we were going to find trans for 9 people!  Sharon, bless her heart, wanted to drive herself anyway, so that was one less, we were down to 8.  Lorna ended up cancelling at the last minute and Barb had cancelled out earlier.  Les had a Yukon, that seated 7 and himself.  It was truly a miracle, but it worked out perfectly.  We all met in Dearborn, although I hadn’t planned on driving all that way myself and back, but we had no choice.  Les picked us up in Dearborn about 5:30p and we were on our way downtown!  Just a few more hurdles to go!

Cruising down I-75 we went and arrived at the Fox around 6p or so.  Thankfully, they were letting folks in and there was not the chaos as there was the last time.  I saw Deb and Jeannette in the first lobby area by this table, along with Rose Marie and we all said hello.  It didn’t dawn on me that that was the OMGVIP table for the meet/greets.  This is the first time I didn’t buy MG tx ahead of time.  So we had gone in and they were usually in the interior lobby area.  I asked and they said, oh, that’s the table out there.  Ok, we need to go back out there.  So, we had to go to guest services so they could DEactivate our tickets, so they could REactivate them when we got back in.  So far, my plan was working, this was the last hurdle!  We got out there, got our MG tx and went back in.  We were through!  About a 10 or 15 min wait and the doors opened about 6:30p.  After playing musical chairs with the tickets, we were allowed into the magical realm of the theatre.  Down we went, at least 2 or 3 checkpoints to get to the front row, and an extra bracelet for orchestra pit.  We made it.  Me, Betty, and the Beast, found our seats and we sat.  I didn’t realize that Donna and Sharon were to the right of us.  It was nice to sit amongst a few friends.  Concert wasn’t to start until about 7:45p as we heard they had had some trouble with the sound check.  It was 7:35p and Sharon made it to the front row.  When they started to sing, you could tell there were some issues with the sound, but I got over it quickly!

 

It started just about on time.  Out came the orchestra and Giampiero.  The music started and our 2.5 year wait was over!  They appeared like ghosts in the smoky lights and then the mirage became real.  It was the usual song list, starting with Ecstasy of Gold, and on down the line.  They were awesome, incredible, warm, funny, joking around, like the guys we knew and missed.  I even forgot for a few hours that I had a bad bruise on my leg and all of the chaos that led up to those moments.  They always tell the Detroit audience it’s like coming home to Detroit, because this is where they started out.  Ok, it never gets old – lol!  They had some new jokes.  Poor Ignazio said he felt like a white salami.  It did look like he had put on a few pounds.  He was looking so very thin, but certainly far from being overweight.  Just so glad they finally found some tailors to fit Ignazio right.

 

Their solos were incredible and Gianluca really brought down the house with “If I can Dream.”  Of course the video Gestapo was in full force in the front row.  It’s so not fair.  People in the middle where they can’t get to, can tape all they want!  But at least you could take pictures.  I think I got a few good shots. 😊  Certainly loved Igna’s “All By Myself.”  His intro is that he wanted to sing songs recorded by women.  Has anyone had the heart to tell him that Eric Carmen recorded it before Celine Dion?  😉  Of course Eric’s version pales in comparison to Igna’s!  And Piero’s staple of E Lucevan le Stelle was superb as always.

 

The duets – incredible.  I loved “Hallelujah,” and “La Donna e Mobile.”  I still say Igna could blow away Piero if he wanted to. Good thing he doesn’t want to.  Haha.

 

My personal surprise favorite was “Funiculi, Funicula!”  Haven’t heard that since like the first concert back in 2014.  The music started playing and I whispered to Betty, “what song is that?”  Then they started singing and I started singing!

 

Somewhere near the end, I think it was the song “Here’s to You!” (but I can’t remember) the guys jumped from the stage and came into the audience.  Igna sang to Mama Rita (Ruggiero).  The lady in pink with a pink hat!

 

Somewhere in the speaking portion, Ignazio was talking about something and he was having a hard time saying the word “tastes” with the “es” on the end.  Donna, pretty sure that Igna could not hear her, started laughing.  Alas, Igna did hear her and strolled over to our side of the stage and went right to her and said, “come here…”  Here is Donna’s literal 15 seconds of fame…. (I added both Sharon’s and mine.  Mine is first and came out a bit sharper, Sharon’s caught a bit more in the beginning.)

She was just slightly embarrassed…. 😉  But it was all in fun.

 

A few more songs and they announced Libiamo would be their goodbye song.  But we all knew they had to sing Grande Amore.  I really thought they’d try to sing the English version they wrote.  Especially here, but Grande Amore in Italiano, it was!  We didn’t have the pleasure of hearing them sing our national anthem, but as usual, it was over before we knew it.  Standing ovations and a promise to come back next time!  It was sad though, the Fox had barely sold half the theatre and one of the ushers, who is a friend of mine, told me they were bringing folks down from the upper balconies to fill seats on the main floor.  They also didn’t have the screens like they usually do.

 

Ok, concert over.  One last hurdle to my plan.  Get the book to Igna!  Since just Betty, Gale, and I had the MG passes, the others waited for us down the street.  I wanted to get in and out as quickly as possible, as it was a long ride home for me from Dearborn.  They ushered us all over to the right of the theater to await the guys.  We figured we were going to be moved along to another area, but everyone stayed there.  Of course, at those prices, there were not too many folks doing MG.

 

While we waited, I decided to look at my pictures.  Betty and I walked up a ways near the back and sat down on the end.  As we looked at my pics, a nice gentleman sat behind us and seemed very interested and joined in the viewing.  As we got to chatting, he said he was part of the guys’ Ferrari ride downtown the night before.  His name was Tom and he worked for the Ferrari dealer, just a few miles from my apartment in West Bloomfield.  What a coincidence!  He loved my pictures and was very interested in the Flight Crew site.  He said the Italian Consulate contacted them and they drove the cars down for the guys to drive.  He had some other pictures that hadn’t circulated the net.  See below! Looks like our guys, Barbara, and Tom, had a great time! Before our MG, Barbara came out to gather him and another group for a special meeting and off he went.

 

After he left, I decided I needed to take the secret out of the beast.  The Velcro worked really well and it was kind of tough getting it out of there, but I managed.  I ended up leaving the seat cushion there, since it had served its purpose.  I showed it to Rose Marie.  Then the OMG guy said to get in line.  Gale was standing in the front of the line and we just walked up to her, but we didn’t realize it was the front of the line!  No one really minded, as most always want to be last anyway, so every part of my plan worked.  I’m a logistic genius!  Haha!  😉  Betty was first, I was next, and Gale after me.  I gathered my presents and handed each of the guys their birthday wishes.  They seemed to like them.  I then handed Igna my pride and joy, my months of planning and labor, and sleepless nights.  I presented him the book and said, “I made this for you for your dad.”  He looked at the first page and then I wanted to make sure he saw the last page with the Flight Crew.  I said, “and here is your Flight Crew!”  He got somewhat excited, quickly looked at the pictures and landed on Lisa Joy’s photo.  “Where is she?” he pointed frantically.  I looked at him and said, “I don’t know, she’s in Philadelphia!”  Like who am I, chopped liver??  Apparently!  The other two were looking over his shoulder at the pictures.  I’m hoping he appreciates it later, or when he gets older.  So, the deed was done.  My promise of getting all of your condolences to Ignazio was done.  The usual, turn around, say cheese, and it was all over.  The police were at it again, making Betty and I go to the way far left out of the doorway there, so we couldn’t even watch Gale interact with the guys.  I don’t get why they are so mean!  Like what do they think 2 little old ladies are going to do?  Hmmm…. sneak something into the Fox??  😊  But he was a lot bigger than us, so we had no choice. ☹  Alas, it was over – Betty, the Beast, and I, hobbled up the two short flights of stairs to the outside air.  Into the night, to meet up with the rest of the girls!  I have to say, it was the most gorgeous September evening ever.  We had perfect weather.  Was about 80 with clear skies and a beautiful moon.

Above and below are pages from the condolences book.  I took just the covers and key pages.  The first written page is what I wrote on behalf of the Flight Crew Staff.  Our dear friend, Jo Ann, translated it into Italian for me (the above is in  English).  I had several more pages of pictures and the book in total was 36 pages!

Was thinking, Il Volo concerts are like Lay’s Potato Chips – you can’t go to just one and not want for more!  I could only afford one this year, but fearless Sharon went on to Cleveland a few days later!

Until we meet again?

Jana

TAORMINA REVIEW by Janet Dong and Mary Minton

A nice review of the Taormina concert by Janet. Thanks Janet for what you sent us. A hug Daniela: 🤗
First time I was in Taormina, maybe 20 years ago when my Mission Dolores choir did a singing/concert tour through Italy and Taormina. I do not remember which church we sang in, but many, many people came and we loved it.
Taormina is still beautiful and the theater is historic and perfect for a concert. My husband and I had 7th row seats one night and seats on the stone steps the second night.

The concert was magical from both places. Our guys were relaxed, funny, sweet and the singing was magnifico. The night was warm and a full moon rose over the theater.
Igna’s solo, “All By Myself”, was so emotional and well done it brought tears and a standing ovation.
Piero sang an aria I had not heard him sing before and it was beautiful. I hope he sings this on the US tour.
The audience seemed to feel connected to them and repeatedly called their individual names, called out greetings from places like Marsala and one woman sort of stopped the second night show calling for a selfie with Igna, and he posed as she came down from her seat for the photo.
This theater and stage are much smaller than the Arena in Verona and it felt more intimate. Near the end of the concert The audience was allowed to stand along the edge of the stage to hopefully touch the guy’s hands as they passed by, and they reached down to touch the hands of many fans. A love fest between these 3 wonderful artists and their fans.
Around town:

We saw GG up close in the restaurant. First he and Eleanora walked by the two tables of fans visiting from afar and he greeted us with “ciao” then he was eating with his parents, Barbara, Michele, Giampiero and their drummer. All sitting casually in a corner of a sidewalk cafe not being bothered by anyone.

Then a nice conversation with Barbara and Michele as they sat near the theater watching the audience go in. Barbara was so sweet and willing to converse for a minute.
Then I saw Piero having lunch with friends the day after both concerts. I wanted a picture but did not want to interrupt his privacy. So we just walked on. But he and the others and the crew mingle with the public and the public respects their privacy it seems.
Then I met and chatted with Dario twice at Bam Bar.

They are all such nice real people who just blend in with us common people. That is why we love them.
A trip I will always remember: Janet 😘🤗
Some of my photos!
Even Mary and Mark Minton were in Taormina.
Here is their review. Thank you for your words and photos. I am so glad you came to Taormina and also that you met our friends.
 A hug: Daniela 🤗
My husband and I attended both concerts in Taormina. We looked forward to them with great anticipation since we purchased the tickets two and a half years ago!
An added bonus was that Gianluca and his girlfriend were on the same plane as us flying from Rome to Catania!
The first night we had tickets in the fourth row at the incredible Teatro Antico and met Jeanette and Deborah there.

It was amazing to be up close and the guys did not disappoint. They sang all the same songs as in Verona with the exception of a new one by Piero. There were standing ovations for almost every song. I particularly enjoyed the new songs from the tribute to Ennio Morricone. The guys came into the audience during “Here’s To You” which was a thrill for everyone.

The second night we got tickets for further back so that we could also enjoy the scenery as Mt. Etna was steaming and the lava was flowing in the background. It was also better to get a view of the whole stage and the incredible lighting. During the Hallelujah song everyone had their phones lit up and there was also a full moon to add to the beautiful atmosphere. Visiting Taormina to attend these concerts is something I will never forget, it was a wonderful experience!
Goodbye Italy, to our next Italian adventure: Mary and Mark 🤗🤗
Here’s some of our photos.

VERONA AFTER THE CONCERT by Daniela

At the Verona concert, I met some friends of Flight Crew, not many this time, because most of them went to the concert in Taormina, how lucky !!
To friends who came to Verona, I asked them to tell me their impressions of the concert, as I did with Kirsten who did a long review that everyone liked.
The others weren’t that lengthy in their comments, so I’ve grouped them all here.

LAURA and UGO = They are Italians, from Trieste, but I met them through the Flight Crew blog that they always read.
I don’t have a photo with them, but here’s their comment:
“They were amazing, beautiful, elegant and talented. You know that we love classical pieces very much and it was very nice to hear LA DONNA È MOBILE and several pieces taken from operas. The voices were top!”

SUSAN and her brother = They had the tickets for June 4th and I for June 3. We couldn’t meet by a whisker, but it’s like I saw them and hugged them.

Here is Susan’s comment:

Hi dear! What a wonderful concert !!
I LOVE the song “Hallelujah”.
The concert was truly fantastic. The orchestra was smaller and the guys seemed different…still as wonderful as ever but more mature….more settled in their skin. They seemed more comfortable with themselves.
The difference in them, after two years without live concerts, was unmistakable.
They are professional men at the top of their game!
It was wonderful to hear new tweaks on familiar songs and I especially enjoyed the “montages” they did on several songs with a part of a song leading into another.  The duet Gianluca did with Ignazio “Hallelujah” was really good. I never cared much for that song but the way the guys sang that song makes me hope they will include it on an album.
The audience was really involved in the concert..singing along to their favorite songs. There were also quite a few people who attended both nights, the guys asked.
A beautiful evening!

Here is a picture I took.

This year, together with my husband and me, my son’s mother-in-law Mariella also came to the concert.
It was the first time he had come to an Il Volo concert and that he entered the Arena. Here she is with me.
And here is her comment.
Hello dear Daniela.
Thank you for inviting me to the wonder of the evening at the Verona Arena with the wonderful trio Il Volo, I have never experienced an evening like this !!!
In addition to the skill, which I already knew, I discovered their sympathy, which I never would have thought !!
I lived almost three hours, and if I remember correctly 27 thrilling songs.
For me, it was the first time of their concert, but now I think it is the first of a long series …. Thanks to Il Volo and their organization ….❤❤❤

Here is my video of the concert finale!

Now I want to tell you some gossip about things that happened during the concert.
First of all Torpedine, it was just a few rows in front of me, I managed to take this photo of him.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t at the beginning of the line, so if I wanted to get up and say hello to someone, it meant getting several people up, and I did it once, but I knocked over the bottles of water of the people who were next to me, so, then I never got up to avoid making more disasters.
The concert was starting, the orchestra was already on stage, and 4 people were advancing in front of me and I recognized them immediately.
I took a picture, it’s not very clear so I’ll explain it to you.
Behind the man with the blue shirt, there is Ernesto, Gianluca’s brother, so Rachele, his girlfriend, can be clearly seen, behind her, you can only see the raised arm of Eleonora, Gianluca’s girlfriend, and after her, Eleonora, Gianluca’s mother.

Without being too conspicuous, they sat two rows in front of me, and never moved from their position.
While Gianluca was singing and descending into the audience, he passed behind them and bent down to give a light kiss to his brother, his girlfriend and his mother.
Everything was done very delicately and without giving too much emphasis. When the concert ended, immediately after the confetti was thrown into the air, I realized that the four of them had already gone out, without being noticed, they were gone, they took advantage of the final moment of distraction to go out.
The same scene was repeated the following evening, but perhaps Gianluca and Eleonora took more courage and Gianluca exposed his love for Eleonora more to the audience.❤❤
I find them adorable !! 😘❤😘
Another nice thing that made me laugh a lot was another thing that happened at the second concert.
During one of the dialogues between the boys, Ignazio teases Gianluca, imitating the expression on the face that Gianluca makes while singing. Laugh watching this video, while Gianluca sings Il Mondo and Ignazio moves his face and mouth.
Some of you have asked for Maestro Grani, he is a good pianist, but also a good conductor, usually abroad he directs the orchestras, but above all he is a great friend of Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero. He always helps them and keeps their voices trained throughout the tour.
I got to know him in Florence during Notte Magica. I was wearing the Il Volo shirt, which he immediately noticed, he said words of great esteem for the boys. We took a picture together.

These are the words and the photo he posted immediately after the concert in Verona, on his Facebook:

È iniziata alla grande !! It got off to a great start !!

Bruno Farinelli, the drummer, is also part of the band.
I interviewed him (search for the post named INTERVIEW WITH THE DRUMMER OF IL VOLO) and he had very nice words of esteem for Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.

Here is his comment and his photo posted on Facebook after the concert.
The two concerts at the Verona Arena with IL VOLO were, as always, a unique emotion !!
A special thanks goes to all the staff, the orchestra, the band and the artists who have been and are simply magnificent !! ❤️
However, I believe that the biggest thanks goes to the 20,000 wonderful fans of IL VOLO, who filled the Arena with love for two days !!! ❤️❤️

Now I want to tell you about a fortunate situation.
After the concert in Verona, on my way home, I read the various comments on the concert on Facebook and I saw the comment of a person who is my friend and who lives near my town, Donatella.
I immediately got in touch with her and asked her if she was at the concert and she replied that she was there with her husband, Maurizio whom I know very well.
She told me that their children had given them concert tickets for Christmas and it was the first time they had come to hear Il Volo in concert and they were thrilled.
What few people know is that after the second concert in Verona, therefore on Sunday 5th, Gianluca and Piero went to Gardaland.
Gardaland is Italian Disneyland, it is the most beautiful amusement park in Italy, and is located near Verona and also in Brescia.
Also Donatella and Maurizio, on Sunday decided to go to Gardaland and you guess with great surprise who they found ????

Gianluca, Piero and Barbara!

I saw the photos posted on Facebook and the comment below says so:
“When you decide to go to Gardaland, and meet Il Volo, a welcome meeting.”
I immediately called Donatella and asked her to tell me about her experience, here are her words:
It was a stroke of luck, because we usually enter Gardaland from the main entrance, but this time we parked where the buses are and entered from the side. We saw them right away and I said to my husband:  “Look, Maurizio, are those the guys from Il Volo?”
The guys heard her question and answered, “Yes, it’s us!”
I asked them if we could take a picture and they immediately said yes.
Look Daniela, I didn’t think they were like that. I was really surprised, it seemed to be talking to our children, they were very kind.
Piero told Gianluca: “See he (Maurizio) will ride a roller coaster and she will follow him out of love, I’m sure it is.”
They told us that Gianluca had already been to Gardaland years ago, but he was very young, while Piero had never been there.
They asked Maurizio:  “But if you go on a roller coaster, do you go in front or behind?” And he replied “I’m going in front.”
I was stunned, I didn’t think they were so humble, you know, the notoriety, I thought they pulled a little, instead nothing. We were really delighted to have met them.
Wow, what luck Donatella !!!
I’m so happy for you !!
I hope you liked these last things about the Verona concert, now the tour has continued and therefore we will soon talk about Taormina !!!
Plus, coming soon, there are two short translations  in TV shows where IL VOLO has participated in !!
 Daniela 

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

VERONA CONCERT REVIEW by Kirsten

I met Kirsten in Verona on June 3, inside the Arena, ready to listen to the concert.
Kirsten is a member of Flight Crew, she comes from Denmark, first time hearing the Flight in concert.
Our meeting was short but really nice, she introduced me to her husband, with whom she will make a nice trip to different Italian places, and I introduced her to my husband.
Here we are at our meeting:

I asked Kirsten to write down her impressions of the concert.
She sings in a choir, so she is familiar with the use of voices.
Here is what she wrote to me and also some of her photos.
She was very lucky, at the beginning of the concert her place was on the road crossed by Ignazio, who greeted her and hugged her, what luck, I’m happy for her.
Congratulations Kirsten, you did a nice long review so a full post was born.
Next time there will be short reviews and gossip about what happened during the Verona concerts.
Kirsten, it was great meeting you and your husband.
A hug: Daniela 😘

I AM STILL FLYING HIGH after the concert
in Verona Arena Friday

I’ll start with the conclusion: It was a fantastic and awesome evening in all aspects! A magic night I shall never forget! It fulfilled my wildest expectations and more. Their voices were exactly as I have heard them on videos/albums – stunningly beautiful. The chosen songs among my personal favorites and a mix of the songs on their 10 years jubilee album and the new Morricone one. Add to that the most awesome setting – a more than 2000 year old Roman Arena – seated under the stars in the warm Italian summer night. What could possibly be better? I was mesmerized – and on top of it all I got a personal handshake of Ignazio when he came singing down the aisle…

When finally I entered the Arena after 10 months waiting I was a bit overwhelmed and out of focus… was it really true? Was I actually going to see and hear our guys live? There had been quite some obstacles to overcome since I purchased the tickets last summer. At first I could only get one good ticket (all good seats sold out), so I planned to go on my own and fly down to Verona, but a couple of weeks later I found yet another good ticket just a few rows and blocks from mine, so now my husband could come along too, and we decided to take the car and drive all the way and combine it with our summer holiday.
We live in Copenhagen, Denmark, so it was quite a drive and actually we left home already on May 31, to have sufficient time and arrive a day before the concert. Never having been neither at the Verona Arena nor to any Il Volo concert I needed help in planning and hence I took contact to Flight Crew and Daniela was so kind to help me and we agreed to meet up at the concert. Yet another great thing to happen! But the Coronavirus returned to Denmark at the end of December and stayed active till spring and I feared that we could travel nowhere until June. But luckily Denmark was past the pandemic my by end March and hope was back.
Just a week before our departure some serious illness hit our family and we thought we should have to cancel the entire trip and we got very sad….but things turned around at the very last moment and we could start driving. For weeks I had kept an eye on the weather situation in Verona and it looked very good up to the night before the concert when suddenly it changed and rain was to come in the afternoon and stop around 20:00 hrs. Oh NO this could not be true.. but it could. So the last couple of hours up to the concert I was a nervous wreck with stomach pain. But then it dried up and hubby and I walked the few meters to the Arena and entered one hour before the start. Walking into the Arena and suddenly standing in the middle of this epic historian place made me almost loose my breath.. what a place!
A few minutes later we met Daniela and I started realize that this was no longer a dream but reality. I was indeed going to experience a concert with my beloved Il Volo guys in this stunning place!
Time flew away and suddenly the lights and the music started… it was so exciting – and in a few moments the guys would be on stage. Well that did actually not happen – but suddenly I heard noise and screaming behind me and there up by the entrance a spotlight beamed on a person – Ignazio!!!
 The guys had decided to start in three different corners and sing their way down the aisles and enter the stage this way. While singing they were greeting people in the audience and shaking hands and suddenly I realized that Ignazio would pass straight in front of me!!! For seconds I was all bewildered but then here he was just next to me taking my hand and looking me right into the eyes… I could only barely say that I was happy to meet him and he was gone. It was a firm and real handshake – I was truly excited. What a great start of the concert! And then everything exploded on the stage – the light show blew the entire back of the stage up with blue “flames/spots”on black which immediately gave a fantastic ambiance. The boys started to sing for real and I felt drawn into each single song.
You feel captivated as their emotions reach you and embrace you… from that moment I forgot everything around me and simply enjoyed each single minute. People around me were likewise all engaged and sang along on several if their songs – and so did I, only la la as I know no Italian at all. The latter left me out of the jokes and what ever they told the audience, but it did not matter much. Practically all songs were known to me and I love the way the sing a classic song one moment followed by a pop song or a Bel canto – never experienced such a variety in the one and the same concert. All the guys sang fantastic – I am truly impressed by their strong voices that never fails them. They looked extremely happy to be on stage and they were smiling more than ever – so good to observe. There were a huge response from the audience – not the least in connection with their solos. I believe Piero did get the biggest standing ovations for his two classic songs –  but he did most certainly also sing fantastically!
The song that touched me and the audience the most was the old “Hallelujah” that felt so proper in a Europe in war. That went straight into the hearts of us. I enjoyed Ignazio’s “All By Myself” tremendously – what a beautiful interpretation! Likewise did Gianluca sing his new solo very, very beautifully. But they were all great and I loved each moment of the concert! For two hours I was mesmerized!!
Hope this is in line with what you would like? Sorry for the length – I could not stop myself.
Love, Kirsten 😘