Category Archives: Our Stories

Il Volo’s Viva Las Vegas (Almost) By Giovanna

Today it is exactly seven months to the day, since I was supposed to see Il Volo in the US for the first time.  It would have been my third Il Volo concert.  As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the last three shows of Il Volo’s 10th Anniversary USA tour.  The third of the cancelled shows was going to be the grand finale at the Pearl Theater at the Palms Casino in mid-March.

Since Il Volo was going to perform in Las Vegas, home of all Elvis impersonators, good and terrible, I was looking forward to how many Elvis songs they might do (“Surrender/Sorriento,” “It’s Now or Never/O Sole Mio,” “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” etc.) 

Maybe they would even do a little Freddie Mercury, while playing around at soundcheck.  I understood a certain high tenor named Boschetto does that sometimes with backup harmony from the others.  And, of course, Il Volo appeared with “La Streisand” when she had a residency at one of the clubs on the Vegas Strip 10 years ago.  I thought they might do “Smile” as they did with her back then.

Strange as it sounds, I was also looking forward to hearing the guys do the scripted joke routine that they do repeatedly in English on American stages.  Even though it may be “old hat” to Americans who have been to multiple Il Volo concerts in this country, the well-rehearsed wisecracks and gimmicks in English would have been new to me.

You see, the only two Il Volo concerts I’ve ever been to were both in Italia.  The guys, relaxed and on their home turf there, didn’t do their usual routine, but instead did spontaneous jokes suitable to the locale.  For example, at the Lecce concert in 2019, Ignazio admitted he no longer had a fidanzata (girlfriend) and was “available.”  As an afterthought, he remarked that maybe he needed to find a nice Salentina girl from among the local Lecce young ladies. (They are very slender and very dark, and as a rule very beautiful.)  That caused a predictable response:  a flock of young Salentina girls, dressed up for the occasion, tried to rush the stage.  Igna didn’t seem to mind at all.  He seems to like to cause a disturbance, then take it all in stride, while the other two want to know “Ma cosa sta combinando, ora?” (What is he stirring up now)?

And of course, in Taormina, Sicily, when Ignazio started razzing Piero about his chopped off summer haircut, it was in Sicilian slang (which I won’t repeat here).  He was implying, with rude words, that Piero cut it himself.  If you know Piero, you know that his usual response to that kind of thing from Ignazio is, “Ma che te ne frega?” So, what do you care?  Actually, I thought Piero’s summer haircut looked fine.  Check out the picture below from Italy last July.  What do you think?

By the way, Piero does occasionally cut his own hair. During the period when he was in voluntary quarantine after first returning to Italy this March, I saw him video-chatting with Gianluca.  He proudly announced that he cut his hair himself, then lifted some of it with his fingers and showed the shorn part of the side of his head, where he nearly scalped himself bald with the razor.  Gianluca responded that he would never consider cutting his own hair.  His own hair has to be done expertly, because it’s so curly and unmanageable.  He said this with a completely straight face.  I couldn’t tell if he was serious.  With these guys, you never know.

But I digress.  As I said, I had never heard Il Volo do their scherzi (stage jokes) in English, and the Pearl Concert Theater in Las Vegas was going to be the place.  Of course, as we know, it didn’t happen.

I was excited about Las Vegas because I thought I was going to have three opportunities to see the guys up close and maybe visit for a minute or two.  As it was: 1) My ticket included something called a Meet & Greet.  At first I didn’t even know what that was.  2) I was signed up for access to the soundcheck before the show.  3) I was signed up for the Fan Faire get-together with the guys which is hosted in Las Vegas by Myron Heaton and Jeanette Giglio at the lucky Penny Café at the Palms Casino Resort, where the theater is, and where I was staying.  Three for three.  I thought I had hit the Trifecta.

I had already met Jana VandeLaare, of Flight Crew fame, by phone when we decided to share my apartment in the Palms Place for a few days around the show.  She kept me informed by text as soon as she started hearing murmurs that the boys might need to cancel this show and go right home due to COVID-19-related travel issues.  I was on board my flight from Denver and taxiing out to the runway, when I got her text that it was likely cancelled!  My mouth fell open as I squirmed with disappointment in my seat belt.  It was too late to do anything except go on to Las Vegas.

Yes, the heartbreak was final after I got to the Palms Casino.  Jana, who had cancelled her trip, asked me to go and confirm the cancellation at the theater box office as soon as I got there.  When I did, it seems that the theater people, God bless them, had no idea what was going on and did not have the inside info that Jana already had.  When I asked them about the show, the young desk agent I spoke to told me something like:

“The band is OK with it and it’s still on.”

He was wrong on three counts out of three.  Il Volo is not a “band;” they were not “OK with it” (performing in a close crowd during a viral epidemic); and it was not “still on.”

The theater’s delayed reaction to the facts had one nice side effect.  The staff was unable to remove the Il Volo concert advertisements all over the casino, theatre, hotel hallways, in-room televisions, and outdoor marquee.  Everywhere I turned for the next several days, including all night on my apartment TV, I saw this:

Although two out of three events were now gone, at least the Fan Faire people chose to have their get-together anyway.  It would be a good way for the fans still in town to get to visit with each other, even though there would be no Il Volo guys this time.

Until then, I had two days to myself in Las Vegas, but I don’t know how to gamble.  I’m an engineering geek, so I just had to visit the Atomic Testing Museum, and I’m a Sicilian Jew from “New Joisey,” so of course I had to visit the Mob Museum.  That place was so “familiar” to me it was almost funny.  More than once, while looking at some of the old photos of Sicilian-American and Jewish-American mobsters, I did a double-take, thinking I recognized one of my old relatives.

I used the time to talk to all the young people working at these places to promote Il Volo, and was surprised to find out how many kids were interested in opera and bel canto music.  That was a pleasant surprise, and not what I expected from hardened Las Vegas natives.

On Sunday before the Fan Faire I just had to do something Italian.  I jogged up to the Venetian Casino on the north end of the Strip, past Caesar’s Palace.  As kitschy and artificial as the place is, it still made me homesick for the “old country” as we used to call it.

I came across this singing toy dog who does “O Sole Mio” in alternating Italian and English (“It’s Now or Never”).  Do you suppose that was copied from you-know-who?  It was cute, but the tenor voice they recorded in the singing dog was not that great.  Jana later said the dog reminds her of Ignazio’s mustache. Have a look.

The singing gondoliers rowing guests all over the indoor canal were iffy, except for the older baritone.  He was impressive – a mature voice, dark and smooth.

This authentic Venetian gondola below is there for display only, and is not used in the faux canals.  The black paint job is traditional, and became law in the 15th or 16th century, to stop wealthier Venetians outdoing each other with their outlandish, gaudily-painted, plush luxury vehicles.  The seven arms on the white mast represent seven of the main islands of Venice.  The one arm facing backwards represents the Jewish quarter on Cannaregio.

At least the rock and pop music outside on the piazza was in Italian.  As I picnic lunched there, I recognized some of the modern Italian music I heard in espresso bars and on cab drivers’ radios the last two years in Sicily and Puglia, and also some Italian hip hop thing that I knew the words to.  I had heard Ernie and Gianluca singing it once when they were goofing around on Instagram.  Have you ever heard Ernie sing?  His voice is as deep as Gianluca’s baritone.

I ate below this bridge facing Las Vegas Boulevard.  It’s supposed to be a reduced-scale model of the Ponte di Rialto across the Grand Canal in Venice.  Except this one has a Walgreen’s Drugstore and fast-food chain next door.

Do you remember this view from below the Ponte di Rialto, half a career ago?  It was posted on the Flight Crew page some years back.  It’s the “same bridge” I photographed, but it has a better view in the foreground.

Here’s an update of the foreground – Venice has been undergoing restoration.

This view from the bridge isn’t bad either.  Las Vegas’ Venetian Rialto didn’t have anything like this.

The Fan Faire people turned out to be superb and sweet.  Thank you to Myron and Jeannette for having the dinner.  Myron, Jeanette, Linda, Diane, (and I’m sure I missed several others) all told me Il Volo stories.  I like Myron’s story best.  He had sent flowers to Italy when the Boschetto’s grandpa died. Assuming Il Volo was back on tour, he telephoned Nina Boschetto’s pizzeria, to ask her if the flowers had gotten there in time for the funeral.  When Nina couldn’t understand him very well, she asked him to wait until she could find someone in the pizzeria who understood English.  Guess who came to the phone to interpret for Nina?

The Fan Faire bunch took this group photo before we left.  I’m the Sicilian runt, the one whose head barely reaches above the sign.

The Las Vegas that didn’t happen was valuable despite Il Volo’s cancellation.  Without it, I would not have met Jana and Pat, the Fan Faire folks, and Daniela and the rest of the Flight Crew, and I would not have started writing to all of you.

I also came home all cranked up about helping in some way.  I understood we need to develop something akin to Fan Faire for when Il Volo next comes to Denver, whenever that will be.  It’s been several years since they’ve been here, so I’m hopeful that when touring eventually resumes Denver will be back on the schedule.  More importantly, I have heard the guys often say that their favorite concert events are where there are lots of young people.  We really need the next generation to catch their fire.  I repeatedly hear the guys say they want to and need to get in front of kids.  And we need to make their next trip to the mountains better than the last time.  Piero had an attack of cold-induced asthma on one trip, and Denver Airport nearly lost one of his suitcases (with his eyeglass collection) on another.

I’ve been learning my way around the music community here in Denver to create settings to get Il Volo in front of kids to give them more publicity among their own generation.  Folks that I know are involved in the University of Denver’s opera school, and their youth vocal program, who would love to hold something Italian and interactive between their vocal students, or their children’s chorale, and Il Volo.  I even started visiting with managers of Italian restaurants in downtown Denver, and found one who would love to host a Fan Faire-type event at their place near the Pepsi Center or the Opera House.  The Dante Alighieri Society (Italian language, food, and culture society) would probably spoil the Il Volo guys, feed them (knowing their allergies and special diets), and throw an Italian open sing-along complete with accordion and mandolin.  I can picture Ignazio, whom Gianluca calls “Il Canta-Cuoco” (the singing chef), taking over the Saint Anne’s parish kitchen.

I’m in the process of calling/emailing Barbara Vitale to ask her to put this in front of Piero, Gianluca, and Ignazio early enough for future planning, long before they confirm a new tour schedule.  Touring has to wait until post-COVID of course, but planning early won’t hurt.

If you are from any large city in the US, you probably have been to and have experience with Il Volo receptions and such.  We Denver folks can learn from you.  If you are from the Colorado Front Range, or even if you’re not but want to help, get in touch with me. Email me comments with ideas, contacts.  If you are from the old Denver Il Volo on-line fan club, tell me.  When the touring resumes, let’s don’t wait for an Il Volo event to appear.  Let’s create one.

Oh, by the way, Denver has already started doing something for Il Volo.  As of now, we have two synagogues praying for Alessandro Quarta’s complete recovery. Che Dio sia misericordioso e che la sua guarigione sia rapida!  May God be merciful and may his healing be quick.

Credit to the owners of all photos.

MOMENTS TO REMEMBER by SUSAN

Over the last seven months 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.

If I asked you “What would you consider to be a memorable moment in the career of Il Volo?” I’m sure you could come up with at least 10 if not 50 moments. So, I needed to take these moments and decide what I thought were the most memorable and I actually got it down to 13 memorable events.

So where do we begin? Well you might say the night the three won first, second and third place (Gianluca, Ignazio, Piero) of Ti Lascio Una Canzone. Yes, that certainly was a memorable moment but, I think there was a moment before then that was more memorable. Gianluca points to that moment, “I thought there were three hundred thousand boys singing like me, and instead that night I discovered that there are only two: Ignazio and Piero.” Of course, Gianluca was referring to the night they sang together for the first time on Ti Lascio Una Canzone.  So, let’s begin there!

Ti Lascio Una Canzone, Night 4 and Michele Torpedine – I have to put these two together because one wouldn’t happen without the other!

It is the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys are given the music for “O Sole Mio.” They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and walked off stars!  

Alone in his apartment, Michele Torpedine was sitting on his sofa with the volume off on his TV. The show he was watching was Ti Lascio Una Canzone. He keeps looking at the screen and he suddenly thinks, Ignazio reminds him of Luciano Pavaroti, Gianluca seemed similar to Jose Carreras and Piero is similar to Placido Domingo. He still had not heard them sing. Out of curiosity, he raised the volume and Michele says, “Here I am aware of another element, that is even more important than the first. The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.”

At this point Michele’s head is spinning. He’s thinking these guys are good and again repeats it to himself, they’re good! He thinks, “What if I try to put them together seriously? A trio, he tells himself.”

The rest is history!

“We Are The World for Haiti”  – 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. 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!

Barbara Streisand’s Back to Brooklyn Tour – 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, 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 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!

The Christmas Concert at the Italian Senate,  December 21, 2014.  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.

Sanremo Music Festival 2015 – 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. 

Eurovision 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. 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!

Ignazio’s Accident in Tampa March 7, 2016 – While they were singing in concert in Tampa, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca brought 3 children on to the stage. The stage was narrow and, Ignazio picked up a child and carried him in his arms to take him to the center of the stage. There were electric cables on the ground and Ignazio tried to avoid them, but he tripped, and fell on the stage with the baby in his arms. To defend the child, who in addition to the fall would also have Ignazio on top of him, Ignazio twisted his body, so that his shoulder hit the ground and the child was protected. The two of them immediately got up and Ignazio finished the song.

When Ignazio began the next song, it was clear he had a problem with his arm but, he managed to finish the concert. He did not stay for the final greetings instead Barbara immediately took him to the hospital. At the next concert he had a splint on his arm and for the next two concert his arm remained in the splint. It was also recommended that he rest. Fabio Ingrassia, Ignazio’s dear friend, was in Miami, and he immediately came to help Ignazio. Ignazio was disheartened by the experience and Fabio remained with him to help him through it. Fabio made a nice drawing to dedicate to the fans with two hands that clasped. What a Friend!!!

Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, July 1, 2016 “Notte Magica” – 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 marks 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.

Ignazio Conducts the Asti Symphony Orchestra while the guys sing with Marcello Rota Jul 5, 2017 – During the rehearsals of the last date of the Notte Magica Tour in Naples, Ignazio steps in as conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra of Asti while Maestro Marcello Rota sings 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!

Mexico Earthquake September 8, 2017 – On Thursday evening September 8th, at 11:49 PM Mexico City time, (in Italy it was 6.49 on Friday) an earthquake of 8.2 on the Richter scale sowed panic in the country. The earthquake, defined by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto as “the strongest since 1932”, had its epicenter off the south west coast of Mexico, but its strength reached the capital where the guys had just finished their concert at the Theater Metropolitan. Gianluca gave Facebook a short message shortly after the earthquake: “Thank you all for the messages, we are fine despite the strong shock that hit Mexico a little while ago.” Read the full story here!

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World Youth Day Jan 27, 2019 – If you ask the guys after winning Sanremo, which truly brought them home, “What was your greatest performance,” they would probably answer, there were two. Singing for the Holy Father at World Youth Day was one of the most amazing events in their life!

Por Una Cabeza, Il Volo at Luna Park Buenos Aires October 30, 2019 – So 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 smiles, their faces are lit up in joy and their embrace says it all! They are brothers who love one another! This is truly a Moment to Remember!

Credit to owners of photo and videos.

TURN ON THE LIGHTS! by Susan

Turn On the Lights!

Il Volo fans are not like any other fans in the world. To them Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca are family! To the older fans, they are our children. They are very much a part of our lives. Family!

I started writing my articles back in March because I realized that these fans were truly concerned about these three young men. They worried about them going home to Italy where we were hearing horror stories about Covid and how it was killing Italians. So, everyone went into panic mode. It seemed their departure was so sudden. They turned off the lights and went home! They canceled their last three performances and the next thing we knew they were on their way home.  But being true to form, what did they do? Like good children, they checked in with us as soon as they got home and told us they were safe and, they needed to be with their families now.

Over the next three months they went into quarantine but, they stayed with us and shared their lives with us. A day didn’t go by that one or more of them appeared on Instagram and Facebook to cheer us up. They shared conversations with their friends and, they shared their everyday lives with us. We joined Piero at 4:00 PM every afternoon for his singing lessons. Ignazio brought in singers and comedians to entertain us and let’s not forget he took the time to introduce us to Nico! As to Gianluca, we watched him play piano and sing beautiful songs to us! And then there were the special songs of prayer by each of the guys and who can forget Ignazio’s “Almeno tu nell’universo.” No, they never left us.

And what did we do? Over three and a half months we learned about them, their childhoods and their private lives by sharing, every Sunday, an episode (total 17 episodes) in one of their lives.

Then the quarantine was over and, they left their houses. But the messages continued, go out but wear a mask.

The one thing they wanted more than anything was to get back to work. Well they did have the commitment with Dolce & Gabbana which gave us a spectacular Sunday event. And there was the concert in Monte Carlo but, something was missing.

Saturday night they showed us what was missing!

But let’s step back a minute! When the guys were entering the Arena on Friday, they were stopped and asked about the situation of Covid. Ignazio answered. “It’s time for us to leave our houses, start having fun again but with responsibility.”

Friday afternoon we watched them at sound check give a performance to those present at the Verona Arena that would rival most concerts. And then later in the evening they returned to the Arena for light check. Ignazio and Gianluca were making videos with their phones, while Piero was wandering around. Ignazio got his attention.

Ignazio to Piero: What are you doing?

Piero: What are You looking at?

Ignazio: The light that is there.

Gianluca: It’s Beautiful.

Ignazio: The gorgeous light. Gorgeous! Gorgeous!

Of course, Piero pulled out his phone and started to video.


But what was it about the lights that got Ignazio’s attention? Well they were as Ignazio said, “La Luce Stupenda! “The lights were gorgeous,” but I think he was thinking about the last lights that he saw on stage.

Saturday night when the guys were entering the Arena before the show they were stopped and asked this question by a woman reporter:

Reporter: You are International entertainers therefore you know how much the live dimension is missing.  But above all you have defined the stage as your natural element. So, how is it for you to return to a live performance tonight?

Ignazio: It’s like giving candy to a baby. We are happy because we missed it. We missed it to die for but not only for our personal thing but because this is to me the music slowly restarting with the safety measures. But we are restarting it all with Italian music. It’s like I am starting again to grow up on stage and hope that it can be a message of hope for the groups, in the cities, in the emerging local areas who want to start making music.  We have to continue making music and we hope that by 2021 full concerts and full live.

It was an absolutely beautiful statement that said it all! What I liked best about this statement was Ignazio saying “It’s like I am restarting it all with Italian music. I’m starting again to grow up on stage…” What did he mean? This time he is starting in Italy not America. He finally feels like he is at home! Bravo Ignazio! You are home.

When the guys arrived on stage, they had a message for the world and all people in the industry:

Ignazio: 2020 will be remembered as the year where the world would be constrained to be turned off.

Gianluca: For the music employees the verb turn off means the end of the show, when the curtains close and it is the waiting moment for the next show, but this time the waiting lasted more than expected, the silence was unavoidable.

Piero: Now, the world is getting ready to start again! Now the moment has arrived to raise the curtain! Now, we will turn on the music!”

This beautiful statement was followed by the performance of the evening. Their choice of “Nessun Dorma” sent an even stronger message. It’s says we may have to perform under these new world conditions, but we don’t have to change who we are or why we’re here. In this ancient Arena we look to the past while following the path to the future. From their first note the whole arena lit up. Their voices were clean and crisp. Their presence was illuminating. Their notes rose above the Arena into the night sky to let the world know music is back! The final note of their song sent the final statement. All three voices rose in unison and their voices sent forth a note that took our breaths away! It said We Have Returned! ”Turn on the Lights.”

Credit to owners of all photos.

IL VOLO and CARUSO by SUSAN

History Repeats Itself!

Italy is an emotion and in the center of that emotion is a passion and that passion is Naples. Naples is like no other place in Italy or, for that matter, no other place in the world. Neapolitans are the most diversified people in all of Italy. Naples is a feeling you can never shake but, above all, Naples is Music!

In the mid 1800’s Naples began to see a new movement in music. In 1835 a new song “Te voglio bene assaje” appeared. This song is considered to be the first modern Italian song.

CARUSO 01

The first “hit” may date back to 1835 but the golden age of song, in Naples, was from 1890 – 1910 when immigration to America began. Men left with the dream of a better life but what they found was even harder than what they left. They left their homes and families, and, in some cases, they never went home again. They found themselves alone with nothing but their music. Many Neapolitan songs were written about these times. Most of these immigrants lived in New York City in lower Manhattan in an area which became known as Little Italy. Small music companies would put on one act plays. Little vignettes. The stories were always the same, they were about home and family. They were about the mother they would never see again.

In 1903, Enrico Caruso made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Caruso’s debut on November 23, 1903 was in a new production of Rigoletto. Marcella Sembrich sang opposite him as Gilda. A few months later, he began his lifelong association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He made his first American record on February 1, 1904, having signed a lucrative financial deal with Victor. Thereafter, his recording career ran in tandem with his Met career, both bolstering each other, until his death in 1921.

CARUSO 02

Caruso was the first International singer to come to America. He introduced America to Italian Music. Caruso loved to sing Neapolitan songs and they were so popular that when he performed at the MET at the end of the show he would come out and sing Neapolitan songs. Among these songs were O Sole Mio, Torna Sorrento and Santa Lucia. As a result, Neapolitan songs became a part of an opera singers’ repertoire and every opera singer after Caruso would sing opera and Neapolitan songs including Il Volo.

Neapolitan music as it was at the turn of the century, in Naples, really didn’t change much but with the arrival of US troops in World War II, Naples woke up to a new beat. The US troops introduced them to the buzz and rhythm of jazz and boogie, and the Neapolitans immediately liked it.

I would not do Neapolitan Music or Il Volo justice if I didn’t mention Pino Daniele.

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Pino Daniele was an Italian singer-songwriter, and guitarist, whose influences covered a wide number of genres, including pop, blues, jazz, and Italian and Middle Eastern music.

Pino Daniele made his debut in the Italian music world in 1977. He defined his music with the term “tarumbò.” His lyrics, written and sung in intense Neapolitan, attracted praise, though critical at times, because of his strong and bitter accusations against the social injustices of the times.  Authorities say Pino Daniele brought about the rebirth of Neapolitan song.

He wrote and sang his own music and this music was known in America.

I started this piece by saying Italy is an emotion and Naples a passion. If Naples is a passion that passion was Pino Daniele. Songs like Napule è, Quando and  Quanno Chiove are just a few example of his songs.  Examples I chose because I know Il Volo fans know these songs. 

(Pino Daniele live in Napoli 2013 – Quanno chiove)

They are very deep passionate songs. Many artists have sung Daniele’s songs but in order to do justice to a Pino Daniele song you have to bring passion, emotion and Neapolitan dialect to the song.  Enter Ignazio Boschetto! Ignazio’s tribute to Daniele is amazing and emotional. You can feel the depth of the song because of the presentation of the song and, I’ve said it before and I will say it again, it’s as if Daniele wrote his songs for Ignazio.

(Ignazio Boschetto live in Arena  2015 –  medley of: Napule è – Quando  – Quanno Chiove)

Let’s look back a moment to see how Il Volo fit into the picture I presented here. Well we know they sing opera and we know they sing Neapolitan songs. Why? Remember what I said about Enrico Caruso. Every opera singer after Caruso would sing opera and Neapolitan songs. As a result, Neapolitan songs became a part of an opera singers’ repertoire and that includes Il Volo.  

But do we see any other similarities here?

20th Century the year is 1903 – Enrico Caruso comes to America at the turn of the century. He brings with him a new kind of music. The music changes Americas way of viewing Italian music. To Americans, Italian music was opera. But now, they have Caruso singing Neapolitan songs at the MET. A few months later, he begins his lifelong association with the Victor Talking Machine Company. He made his first American record on 1 February 1904, having signed a deal with Victor Talking Machine company. Thereafter, his recording career ran in tandem with his Met career, both bolstering each other, until his death in 1921.

(Enrico Caruso – O Sole mio)

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

Fast forward 100 years to the 21st century – the year is 2009, Il Volo signs a major contract with Universal Music. They come to America where their music immediately catches on and causes a revolution in the music industry. Over the next ten years they sell out every American Concert. All their albums and concerts are a tremendous success. And their success is from singing Opera and Neapolitan songs. Thereafter, their recording career runs in tandem with their Concert career, both bolstering each other.

Did I read that right? Did Caruso and Il Volo do exactly the same thing in two different centuries? Did history repeat itself?

Like Caruso in 1904, Il Volo in 2009 revolutionized the music industry. These three teenage boys were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label even before they arrived in America. They presented Operatic pop or popera to America. What is this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern 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 become a big draw.

Continuing on this amazing journey, their music evolves and, they crossover. In 2018 they released 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 ear. The delivery is smooth and beautiful. It’s one of those songs that stays with you forever. This album is so Exciting! Exciting! Exciting! I sat and 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 the guys 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!

(Il Volo – Amame) 

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. Musica che resta!

The difference between Caruso and Il Volo is Caruso came to America towards the end of his career while Il Volo came at the beginning of their career. 

Lucky for us! 😉

(Il Volo pays homage to Caruso with the song CARUSO by Lucio Dalla)

(Lucio Dalla, begins the song)

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

GOODBYE FOR NOW by SUSAN

We have come to the end of our journey. Over the last three and a half months I have been sharing with you An Extraordinary Adventure as Seen through My Eyes. I hope you enjoyed the stories as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.

I took the original book which consisted of mostly dialogues and short stories between the boys and changed it to a narrative so you could truly appreciate their stories.

And what extraordinary stories they were. I acted as the narrator and lead you from one story to another always allowing the boys to tell the story in their own words. After a while, the boys took over and carried me along on their journey. A very exciting adventure!

What did I find out about the boys in this book? I found out that Piero is an excellent storyteller. When he tells you a story, he includes every little detail so when the story is over you know everything there is to know about that story. I found out that Ignazio is an excellent writer. He is the only one who wrote his story. Ignazio is very articulate. His words just flow off the page. Because of this, his story was the easiest to edit. As to Gianluca I was surprised to find out he was such a romantic. Everything that is important to him is a passion. He invests himself in what he loves and believes in: Family, Music, Country and Soccer!

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I have read the book about 10 times over the last three months. Going back and forth from Italian to English to be sure that the facts were correct. I have edited other books but this one was truly an adventure. Maybe because the characters meant something to me.

Before I go any further there are some people who I would like to thank for giving me the opportunity to share this story. First and foremost, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca. They were aware that I was telling their story yet, never once did they ask me to stop telling it. It’s their story and they could have stopped me at any time. Next, I would like to thank Michele Torpedine for also giving me a free hand to share it!

As to the book Il Volo Un’avventura Straordinaria, La nostra storia, (An Extraordinary Adventure, our story) let me say it is a wonderful book and anyone who can read Italian should read it.

Many people have asked me why I don’t translate the book. It’s not my book to translate. All I can say is I would love to translate and edit the book for the English version.

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Before I hand you over for the last time, let me leave you with this thought. This story truly was an extraordinary story about three young boys, child prodigies, who travelled the same path but started in different places: Naro, Bologna and Montepagano. I often think and I have just recently said in one of the stories, how is it possible that three amazing boys, with three extraordinary voices, that complement one another, wound up in the same place, at the same time, in history. My only answer is divine intervention. God had a plan and what a plan it was! He gave us three voices that would stay with us for a long time and certainly for me till the end of my days.

So, before we bid the boys farewell, I’ll let them tell their final story which is about the one disappointment they had. Or as Ignazio put it, “Eurovision… one of those things that I do not like to talk about, but we’re telling the truth, so let’s tell it all.” So, for the last time let’s join Piero as he tells us about what happened at Eurovision….

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Piero: Vienna, the 60th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest, was a rather strange experience because we came as favorites. So, we were loaded, convinced! From February 14th to May 17th , the day we arrived in Vienna, we sang “Grande Amore” so many times that we convinced ourselves even more that we would make it. I mean, Gianluca and I, convinced ourselves while Ignazio was pessimistic as usual. However, Gian, your presentiment this time is really wrong.

Gianluca: But do you know what happened to Eurovision? Unlike Sanremo, the vote of the public was not as important as the Festival: fifty percent vote from home and fifty percent vote of the jury of journalists. And this put us at a disadvantage. But the public had voted for us, we arrived first for the people at home.

I cried when it was over. Why did I cry? I knew we had lost not because people did not love us, but for other reasons. Mom, I cried….

Ignazio: Do we really have to talk about it? I’m not so happy to talk about Eurovision because I do not have a great memory.

Piero: What a blow that night …

Gianluca: I started crying, then I looked at Piero, he too cried …

Piero: Gianluca in the end had convinced me to say: “We win, we win.” We had taken it in Sanremo, it could be that we would take it in Vienna, right?

Gianluca: Look, I guessed, because we won the televoting, I repeat it.

Ignazio: And I always am the pessimistic one, with my feet on the ground, saying, “No, guys, it’s hard. It does not say that we succeed.” Even though I had believed it myself a bit.

But it happened that we got third, behind the Russian Polina Gagarina, second with A Million Voices, and the Swedish Mans Zelmerlow who won with Heroes.

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Gianluca took it very badly, he cried. Piero as well. Everyone took it very bad. What could I say?: “Come on, guys, we got third, not everyone does that, the last one was Modugno.”

Piero: In the end, however, Gianluca and I looked at each other, a look as if to say: “Now what do we do?”, and a moment before we cried and the next moment we laughed. We had lost, what could we do? By now, it had happened.

Gianluca: We could not cry forever. And then, the public’s heart was ours.

Ignazio: Instead, the undersigned, after having done a little shoulder to others, the next morning I felt very bad, but very bad. For two or three days I was very bad, I threw it all out, later.

Piero: In life you cannot always win, that’s what we learned.

Where’s the beauty? Not all women can say yes to you. After that, how do you try to seduce one, if you already know that she will tell you yes?

So, when we came back from Vienna, many people in Italy asked: “Are you sad about the third place?”

Absolutely not, indeed we are very satisfied, but maybe even too satisfied, because our goal of Eurovision was to show us to two hundred and twenty million people. Even in Australia they saw us. But think how many are two hundred and twenty million people? A sea, is, a sea!

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And can I tell you something? I have never loved the tricolor flag so much in my life.

Knowing we were there at the Wiener Stadthalle with the roar of sixteen thousand people to hear us sing live and another two hundred million to see us at home, to know that we at that moment represented Italy for all of Europe is a great responsibility, however it is also a great stimulus to do it in the best possible way.

We represent it around the world with singing, with belcanto, and we believe we have done it better in Vienna. We put it all, we worked hard, we really gave our heart for this occasion.

It was a completely different experience from the others because it was not a competition between artists, it was a competition between Countries, it was a competition between origins, and we were there to defend our nation.

It was really very strong!

It would be nice to come back there, but first we should win another Sanremo Festival!

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Goodbye for Now

In which the true and only secret of the success of our three lives is told.

When they asked us to write this book, our first thought was, “Finally,” finally we can tell the truth.” In a three-minute interview you cannot tell a life, but in a book yes.  And that’s what we tried to do in these pages: tell our true story.

Which is a normal story, of three guys like many who had a great passion and were lucky enough to be able to transform that passion into what today makes them live and makes them famous.

Being successful is beautiful, it would be stupid to say no after we have so dreamed and desired, but you need to quickly understand something, and that is, that it is not only our merit.

The people who follow us have a large part of that merit.

And knowing it is what gratifies us the most.

It is wonderful to know that we have shared our emotions with those who listen to us.

That’s why we work, and that’s why we try to give everything when we sing, we live in a concert or recording studio. And that’s why we do our work always with the maximum of passion, so that we can create what for us is magic, the magic of emotion that passes from our voices to people.

Fans are the reason, the only real explanation of what happened to us from 2009 till today, the records, the tours around the world, the victory at Sanremo, what we are finally living in Italy.

During a concert we would like to embrace all the people before us, one by one, we would like to be able to say: “Thank you!” with our voices to all. And we want to thank them if we are in the studio to record, if we fill the halls in concerts, if we are in the charts, if we go around the world.

Our “fans” are everything!

We do not know what we will decide to do after the new album and the winter tour. We do not know if we will return to Sanremo, if we will take a vacation, if we will immediately start thinking about another album, new songs to fill your emotions and our emotions.

But for sure, for all we have done so far, let’s say thanks to those who have followed us. And we will continue our great adventure together! Goodbye for now!

PIERO, IGNAZIO and GIANLUCA

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Credit to owners of all photos.