Moving ahead, let’s pick up the story after their parents signed the contract.
Everyone goes home and life goes back to normal! No, throw out the word normal. That will never happen again. From this moment on, the guys will begin their journey to stardom. They step on A Virtual Roller Coaster and the ride of their life begins. They have now entered their own special amusement park where reality goes away, and dreams come to life. It’s a special ride that not many will ever have the opportunity to take. This roller coaster ride comes along with a new world and a new life! Buckle up, the ride is about to begin!
After the parents signed the contract, things began to move so fast that the parents and the boys could hardly keep up with it! Can you imagine how they felt? The parents’ heads had to be spinning and they had to explain it all to the boys and most of it they didn’t even understand themselves. Piero and Ignazio understood some of what was going on but Gianluca, not so much.
Let’s begin with Gianluca summarizing these events….
That is a period that I really cannot remember in general. I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the broadcast returned home to go to the beach and prepare to start a new school year, the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.
I really did not realize it. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I must have told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we started to have some lunch in Rome, at the Rome Cavalieri, with Tony Remis and to talk about music and recorded songs, but the contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.
During the period of Ti Lascio una Canzone it was rumored, ‘The three tenorinis after the program will make their way, of the three tenors you will hear talking.’ But as a child what can you understand?
Even when we first met Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali – who since then became the fourth member of the group, even if you never see her on stage – I did not understand just how it was possible that Andrea Bocelli’s manager, was interested in us.
It was something that upset me: I want to see Bocelli as my idol and now to work with the manager who had made him famous. A dream, in fact.
We were three funny and awkward children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: ‘But what came in your mind?’
Sometimes even today I look at the photos, the videos of when we were little ones and I still ask myself. He has really seen far away (He saw into the future). And he also had a lot of patience, because in addition to being funny and clumsy, we were very confused and, wherever we went, everyone looked at us in a strange way. Like that evening in Jesolo, when we met Michele.
It was finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno by the Jesolo Tourist Palace, conducted by Caterina Balivo and Biagio Izzo.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf’ I said. ‘Let me take a picture. I run to him like crazy. ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, he poured the Coca Cola on the floor in the dressing room, and it ended up on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says Barbara, ‘look’ I still remember him, with a face like saying ‘Oh my God.’
Piero picks up the story from Gianluca….
And after the Coca-Cola there were plums! Our first meeting with Michele Torpedine ends with plums that fly from one dressing room to the other and Michele comes out with white hair, indeed no, because already he had the white hair. He goes out with straight hair saying, ‘Are you three crazy?’
In practice we threw plums from the door of our dressing room, to the one next to it, where there was Raf and where Gianluca had gone immediately to ask to take the picture of which he spoke. We had a mess that night!
It all began well, calm and quiet. I was having lunch at the hotel restaurant and a gentleman with a sand-colored raincoat and graying hair arrived. I hear footsteps behind me and a ‘Hello, Piero’ with this deep voice. You recognize Michele’s voice everywhere. You know, when I tell of that meeting, I seem to tell things that I’ve seen in American movies. It was from this that we started, three fifteen-sixteen-year-old idiots, and Torpedine, who had already become an icon for me. So, he sits with us, and we start talking. He had arrived with a white Range Rover, a detail that I remember because it was from there that we began to see the luxury cars.
This is one of my favorite videos. They are so young so sweet. Look at them in that recording studio. Amazing then! Amazing now!
Then, after lunch, we get ready for rehearsals, let’s go to the dressing rooms, and you already know what’s going on between plums and Cola Cola.
What has changed from that day to today? Nothing. On tour, in the television broadcast rooms and sometimes even in the recording room, one of our favorite activities is the fruit launch. The best are the grapes (but we also appreciate the cherries). Ignazio throws them from a distance, and I have to take it on the fly with my mouth. That is the same if in the dressing room next to us is the Pope or Bono or U2 it does not make an impression on us.
Piero tells us how they reacted when they first heard about America….
In short, a little impression we had when we started to hear about America. And who knew us, there? Nobody. So, what happened? That is how we discovered what it means to have a manager.
Thanks to an American lawyer, Peter Lopez, a contact from Tony Renis, one of our auditions arrives at Interscope Records in the United States. It is a label of music production that is part of the Universal Music Group America, the largest record company in the States. To give you an idea, it is the label of Eminem, Sting, Lady Gaga, Nelly Furtado and Gwen Stefani, just to name a few.
Imagine the desk of Jimmy Iovine, the president of Interscope, a large desk in a large American office. They take a laptop, put it in front of him and they start ‘O Sole Mio recorded by Ti Lascio una Canzone. When the song arrives at the ‘Ma n’aaaatu sole!’ Iovine closes the computer and exclaims: ‘We got it! All right, we do it.’ And we sign a millionaire contract.
Now imagine this: The day before, I go to my uncle to work in the workshop and the next day I sign a millionaire contract with an American label.
At the beginning it was really a dream, even if I do not like repeating it, because you find yourself traveling the world and doing it, from one day to the next. However, I repeat, always without realizing the importance of the thing, without fully understanding what was happening.
Ignazio picks up at this point….
So, a dream that Piero, in the clouds, has forgotten to say the most important thing: that it was the first time that Italian singers signed a contract directly with an American record company. But it was not that, we signed the contract, the big thing was done, indeed, it had yet to start.
In 2009 we recorded our first album. It was not easy.
For us today there are seven takes to sing, then there were thirty or forty. What language does he speak, will you say? English, Spanish and also a little Italian. So, a take is the recording of the single phrases that each of us sing when we record a song. We continue to redo until we get to the best version. In 2009, on our first recording, it took almost two days to record a song, until it was good. I remember that I made the absolute record of take in Smile: I repeated my part for fifty-seven times.
We were small and inexperienced, the English language did not help, Tony Renis and Humberto Gatica – one of the best-known producers and sound technicians in the world, who worked with Andrea Bocelli, Eros Ramazzotti, Pino Daniele, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion – if they were not satisfied, they would tell it to us clearly.
Piero forgot to mention that ours was the first contract signed directly by Italian singers with an American label, but Ignazio forgot to mention that the first recording studio in which we entered all three together for our great adventure it was called Forum and it was in Rome.
I remember, and it is one of the few things that I have very clear in mind of that period, that we have compiled the lineup of the tracks with Tony Renis, and most were the ones we had sung at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, plus five other American songs.
But the first time in front of the microphone was still in Rome in the studio where we had done the auditions before the program began. Roberto Cenci had assigned the songs to all the children, he had arranged the arrangements, and we had recorded the compilation that came out in May after the end of the program and immediately entered in the rankings.
But that was the first time alone in front of a microphone, and it was … (Gianluca to Piero) What are you looking at? Do you want to say it?
Piero picks up the conversation….
… it was nice because it was the first experience.
We did not sing well because we had no technique, so it was as Ignazio said: we took a take in sixty, seventy times.
At that time, we arrived in the studio, and we found everything ready: the songs to sing, the subdivisions, the arrangement, this and the other. Now, instead, after the third album, we do everything together, we create everything with Celso Valli, our producer.
Those first times we did not have this freedom to do, everything was imposed because we did not yet have the skills to do it.
Now we have them, and we share the parts, we know each other better and, in the studio, we help each other. It is also nice to see that each of us now has his way to enter the recording room. To say, Gianluca and I sing with the light on in the recording room. Ignazio, on the other hand, enters and the first thing he does is turn off the light. They are small details, but they mean that we have grown and, we have our own way of working.
Between the three of us, we have split up the roles. Ignazio if there is a problem with the mixer, he discusses it with the producer to fix things. Gianluca is the one who listens to the songs from morning to night and offers: ‘Guys, I discovered this songwriter,’ ‘Guys, I discovered this artist, what do you think?’ I like the managerial part, I like managing, I like to contact people, I like to propose new things to Michele, ‘Why do we not do that?’ ‘Why do we not try to do that?’ ‘How can we get to this person?’ I like this: put your head and think how you can improve. And a complete professional balance: we have grown physically, but also professionally. So even if we get a producer we do not know, we do not have any problems, we know how to talk to him and tell him what we want. This is the most important aspect: being at the same level. Which is the reason why for some months now I have this big folder, of black leather, that I always carry with me. If I have to tell the truth, Torpedine lent it to me and, as it brought good luck, I stole it from him and, as I told you, I always carry it with me, with the pieces we have to do, the notes, the notes of what is lacking to be fixed, what is not lacking, the notes to do: everything is much more professional.
Now we are working with Celso, one of the most important record producers we have in Italy, he has collaborated with Vasco Rossi, Lucio Dalla, Eros Ramazzotti, all the biggest ones. And he’s really a great person.
We have had a great luck: we can afford to deal with the older ones, it is not easy. It’s something that put Torpedine in my mind: you must always invest for your future. Celso has agreed to bet with us on our future and we worked together on the last album, Love Moves (L’amore si Muove) which came out in September. It is a pleasure working with him because he lets you talk, lets you express your ideas, lets you try, and this is a fundamental thing, the most important thing when you want to improve, to grow.
And we always have had the desire to grow, since we were little children. We have it since we were baptized, and we were ready to … take flight
So, the guys have settled into working together but before they move on to America, there is some unsettled business. They need a name….
The Baptism of Il Volo
Sometimes finding a name is much more complicated than it may seem.
Do you know what they wanted to call us at some point? La Scala.
Until that time, we are in 2009-2010, during the recording of our first CD, we did not have a ‘real’ name. In the transmission with Antonella Clerici we were baptized Tre Tenorini, for that thing that we resembled Luciano Pavarotti (Ignazio, for the waistline). Jose Carreras (Gianluca, for the elegance, says Torpedine) and Placido Domingo (me, for the tenor voice). But who imagined that one had to find another name? We did not even believe that we would continue to sing, imagine if we thought we needed a name.
Then, at that time when we were looking for it and we could not find it, we were recording ‘We Are the World 25 for Haiti.’ It is the beginning of February 2010, and we called ourselves The Tryo, which we then used as guests at the second evening of the Sanremo Festival. A week later, singing in front of Queen Rania de Jordan, only then we translated it to: Il Trio.
The problem of the name? It was one of those impossible marketing missions: it had to be short and easy to pronounce in practically all the world. For example, there is a group called Il Divo, and they also sing a genre similar to ours, and Il Divo was just the kind of name they wanted: short, easy to pronounce and also very international, because it has a clear meaning to everyone.
And that’s why the name La Scala came out. Elettra Morini, the wife of Tony Renis, had proposed it. Elettra, who was a dancer there, told her husband: ‘Why do you not call them La Scala?’ Surely everyone knows in the world what La Scala is.
And then, there was the question that they called us the Three Tenorinis, the lyric, La Scala, La Scala …
We chewed it a little, but we were not convinced.
But who was looking for the name? All of us: the three of us, Michele, our parents, whoever belonged to our family, or our working group said a name, two or three, and it was written on a list. That list had become worse than a telephone list: we got to more than five hundred proposals.
This thing of the name was becoming a joke. We were going to record the album, make a meeting, or engage in anything else, and we ended up talking about this name, but never get the right idea. In the end, one day out of the blue, a gentleman working from Michele, Stefano, says: ‘Il Volo.’
IL VOLO? what about IL VOLO? IL VOLO?
It began to turn in the air (ha ha) and so was born Il Volo.
But then we discovered that there had already been a group by this name in 1974, composed by Mario Lavezzi, Vince Tempera, Alberto Radius, Bob Callero, Gabriele Lorenzi and Gianni Dall’Aglio. It was a collaboration that lasted a year and a half and had gathered all of the best musicians. But now we liked the name, so we decided to keep it. Also, because it immediately seemed to us a good omen to fly, to take flight, get up in the air.
But we risked a little.
Think if this project did not start, if we were not really able to ‘take off,’ do you imagine how they would have made fun of us? ‘The Flight takes off? No, Il Volo has crashed!’ At that point, we had the CD, the name also and we left for the States.
Did you notice that this was not individual stories? The guys are now one and they are conversing with one another. They begin to understand each other’s needs and they can now speak up and say what is on their minds. They are learning to share their thoughts and express to their manger and producers what they would like to do. All of this is happening is a very short period of time. For others who have taken this journey, before and after them, it took many years and many disappointments to get off the ground and just approach what these guys did in a matter of one or two years.
This is what their career has always been about. A constant movement, A Virtual Roller Coaster ride, that makes so many twists and turns it’s impossible to keep up with it. Imagine you are 15 – 16 years old and you are suddenly faced with all of this. The only way to get through it all is to listen to the advice of your parents and your newfound manager and put all your trust in them. You also learn that in order to survive you have to learn how to lean on one another. For it to work, the Three must become One. This is what they begin to understand when they set off for America.
America here we come! Are you ready for us?
Note: Many of the pictures I used today were from Verissimo. The guy’s love doing the show and Silvia Toffanin loves having them on. This interview like all the interviews they do with Silvia, is very interesting. You can always be assured that she will ask all those question that we have on our minds, but I’m going to leave it to Daniela to tell you what they talked about.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: email@example.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Excerpts of this story are from “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia.”
In the last few weeks, we talked about the early years. Where the guys grew up, their school and musical education and now we’re at the part of the story that you all know so well. But I want to look at it in a different way this time. After writing about the guys for three years, I pretty much know who they are, where they came from, where they went to and where they’re going to. But to truly understand these men, we have to look at who they were when they stepped on the stage of Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
No, I’m not a mind reader but if you write about a person for such a long period of time, you have to get into their minds, you have to see things that other people don’t see reading the story, as opposed to writing the story. This is what I observed over the last three years. This is how I bring it all together.
Ti Lascio Una Canzone April 2009
We know that from day one, the golden boy was Gianluca. When he auditioned, they had never heard a voice like his before and everyone was in total awe of him. So, from the very beginning Gianluca was sassy and he brought that sassiness with him to the stage: that attitude that I’m here, this is where they want me, this is what they get. And he wasn’t wrong it was what they wanted.
Ignazio, on the evening of the first show is suddenly quiet, he is pondering what’s going to be and how am I going to do this. At such a young age his mind is already looking at how things should work and what was needed to prepare for the performance. He understands, even at such a young age that it’s more than just the song. You need to be a presence! And he certainly is a presence.
Piero was going to do what he did right along with the competitions. His idea was, I got it, I’m going out there and I’m going to beat them all because that’s what he always did in competition so to him this competition was no different than the others.
There was a certain confidence among them because they all enjoyed what they were doing but there was also a certain lack of confidence because of their young age. It was the things they had in common that made them special! They all had phenomenal voices, all three were fighters, and they all went out there to win.
The big draw card was Ignazio because he had that stage presence, and of the three he wasn’t afraid to take chances. But what was this sudden quietness? This is something that Ignazio does when he’s thinking. His mind is always working! He’s always preparing! Even at 14 he had it all together. Maybe he wasn’t as polished as he is today, but he certainly had it all together. He’s very personable and that has always been his key
Gianluca was a little laid-back a little less confident in that sense. Gianluca was too young to even to know what it was all about.
They were very different from one another! Yes, they were Three Very Different Boys, but who they were and what they were, got them to where they are and so that’s where the story begins.
We begin with three boys who had a dream and got to the stage to show what they were about, and this is how it all came together.
For Ignazio it’s always been ~ it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. For sure, Piero and Ignazio both understand how to play the game. Piero didn’t have Ignazio’s attitude about competition, but he understood and what he presented in his competition proved it. Gianluca never understood about competition, at least not in music, soccer yes, but not music!
Gianluca was too young and inexperienced in the game of competition, and even though he won, he didn’t know how to play the game, and this created a problem going forward not a big problem but one that would have to be resolved before the future could be sealed. As with all teenage boys they had their arguments, their disagreements, but when reality hit, Gianluca understood, he wasn’t the ONE they were the THREE ~ Il Volo.
Let’s think a moment about Gianluca being sassy. Who could blame him! Here you are 13 years old, and you get the opportunity of a lifetime. You go into a studio to audition with no expectations. Nothing “just for the fun of it” as your father said, and you have some of the biggest producers fainting over you. Going out of their way trying to figure out how they can best produce you. They feel you are the one. To them you are the winner even before the performance begins.
When Gianluca finally stepped on the stage at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, he did have the edge. Not because of what he expected but because of what was anticipated by the producers. Of course, the producers would have a reality check before the competition was over. People anticipated so much more for Gianluca than he anticipated for himself! The good thing was that this gave Gianluca a lot of confidence!
The producers were behind him 100% but they weren’t making the final decision the people were.
Everyone was enthralled by Gianlucas voice. They even went so far as to bring Bocelli on the show to compliment him! That was because Gianluca tried so hard to be like Bocelli. He had his style; his music and he was studying him for a long time and at times he certainly sounded like him. Yes, Gianluca, you were a little boy, but you were sassy, and you had every right to be. But you also were really shy!
Let’s listen to two of Gianlucas videos from the show….
Ignazio, we know you weren’t shy. You had a great presence on that stage, but in the sweetest possible way. You worked very hard, and you brought to that stage your beautiful personality.
I looked at the videos of some of the singers Ignazio was duetting with. He was singing their songs and they were in total awe of him! They were looking at him in total amazement! He wasn’t trying to be like them, he was presenting their songs in a very new and different way, and they loved it! I think in the category of duets, Ignazio, you have to be the winner! I watched singers like Al Bano, Massimo Ranieri and Fausto Leali just stare at Ignazio in total amazement because they couldn’t believe that such a magnificent voice was coming out of the mouth of such a young boy! His presentation was phenomenal. I always call Ignazio Mr. Personality but even back then, he understood that his presence on stage was as important as his voice! And everyone he sang with saw the ease in which he presented their songs. Ignazio, you truly understood that in order to prove yourself as the best, you had to bring more than your voice and you did! True professionalism at a very young age! That’s something that is still with you today! Your personality, your whole production, your amazing voice is what makes you a very special part of Il Volo.
It’s amazing Ignazio that you had all that and you were only 14 years old!
Let’s stop a minute and listen to some of Ignazio’s duets! Let’s start Ignazio singing with Fausto Leali to one of my favorite songs “A Chi”.…
Piero you brought your classical education with you and it’s evident from the minute you opened your mouth. There’s so much strength in your voice. You were very different from Ignazio or Gianluca. The strength in your voice amazed the people around you and your knowledge of music of how your voice worked made you stand out because of the musical education you had, which was your base and that’s what made you different from the other two.
The advantage Piero had was he always wanted to be a singer. Piero was the one whose heart was always with the song and because of this he was very serious about his music. This seriousness made the difference. The potential for Piero to be an opera singer was already there. Piero had everything he needed to someday be an opera star. His musical education was the best of the three and so the judges were looking at a teenager who had the opera voice of a 30-year-old and was well on his way in his professional career. Most opera singers aren’t ready for the stage until around 30 years old and that’s when they establish themselves. But here is Piero at 16 years old already presenting that voice. Totally amazing!
This is what the judges were working with. Three totally phenomenal voices. The others in the competition took a back seat to these three amazing boys!
When the producers had all three on stage, they began to see how the voices complemented one another and that’s when the wheels started turning!
They all performed exceptionally well right up to the end. When they won first, second and third, Piero and Ignazio showed great respect for Gianluca who won first prize. They may have been disappointed, but you would never know it to look at their faces. Their reaction to Gianluca winning was beautiful! Look at the video….
These were the Three Very Different Boys who stepped on the stage at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, gave it their all and walked off super stars.
On 9 June 2009, nine days after the end of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, all the parents left for Rome. They all met with Michele Torpedine at Bibi Ballandi’s office to decide the future of the three boys. After several meetings, they all agreed, and they signed the first managerial contract for the boys. And all the rest is history!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
When the guys set out for the Auditions at Via dei Gracchi there was no way they could have known that they were on a Road Trip to Stardom.
Along the way, the guys had to be thinking about how this will all play out. I think they were thinking, “How do I present myself?” I’m sure they already had their music prepared but, they must have been thinking, “Is this the right song? Does this song really show them who I am….and what my voice is about?” They have to be wondering what will take place. “Do I just go into a studio and sing and…. will they ask me to sing other songs too?” Great pressure for such young boys. But they did have many things in their favor. For one their voices. It was certain that beyond the three there would be no voices to compare to theirs. As to Gianluca, he sang with the choir and so this would be his first experience in a competition. As to Piero and Ignazio, they were used to competitions so for them it was just another competition, or was it? I think if anything, Piero and Ignazio had a better feel for what they were up against. It was more realistic because they knew the ups and downs and all the drawbacks.
When they arrive for the audition at Via dei Gracchi in Rome their story and the Audition begins. Let’s listen to what Gianluca had to say about his experience….
I’m sorry for Piero and Ignazio, but I did not have to wait for a phone call to know the result of the audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. Via dei Gracchi in Rome, I remember very well. It is in a fairly central area, in the Prati district and not far from the Vatican, a very long street full of very beautiful buildings. From Montepagano to Rome, the distance is not much, just over an hour. We got in the car in the afternoon, calmly. There was the complete family: dad at the wheel, mom sitting next to him, I in the back seat with the two Ernesto of the house, my grandfather, who was proud and satisfied with that trip even if we did not know yet how it would end, and my brother, who at the time was only seven years old.
“How much is missing? (Are we there yet?)” I asked my dad. And after five minutes: “And now how much is missing?”. And after another five minutes: “And now how much is missing?” Fortunately, the road was short, or I would have made him mad. I was very anxious I had never done anything so important. Already for me to go to RAI, in short, it is not something that I can explain in words.
When we entered, I realized that I would not be alone to support that audition. There were many other guys, all with their parents, a long line of people, but I was not worried because I was there just for fun, it was already an adventure.
When they called my name, I entered the registration room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was a bit ‘so, because he has a very tough character, does not convey much sympathy at the first meeting. But the essential thing is that I start to sing: “I wanted to be a little alone to think, you know ….” I had chosen The Voice of Silence. I remember it perfectly. I was thirteen – the first audition was in November 2008 – and I already had this deep, baritone voice.
I sang in the recording room and saw the others on the other side of the glass. There was Roberto Cenci, my grandfather was there with my mother, my brother, and my father, all in the other room. So, I sing and at one point, Roberto stops the music and says: “Stop all”. “What happens?” I thought. From where I was, I did not understand anything, I saw only the faces.
“This boy” continues Roberto, addressing my family, “he was kissed by the Lord”. All I could see were only the faces of my parents and in my head, I kept asking “What’s up?”, And at a certain point I did not make it anymore and I opened the door, I went to Roberto and in the meantime, I repeated: “What’s going on?” I was small, I could not realize. My father, made a face, I do not forget, he looks at me and says: “Nothing, good!”
“Congratulations” Roberto tells me, hugs me, makes me sing another song, calls all the others on the staff. “Feel this baby, you feel like singing.” I remember these scenes very well. I see it again. And I was very excited, I was very happy, I could not even sing, at one point I even stuck. Because I did not expect such a positive reaction from Roberto Cenci and all the others, producers, technicians and I do not know who else there was, that day, because Roberto had called everyone.
My mother and father never stopped smiling. My grandfather was very happy, if possible, more than when we left. My brother was small, but it was clear to him that it was a party. In the end, do you know until how late we stayed in that hall? Until nine in the evening, because Roberto Cenci called me back even after the audition to make me sing some more songs, to start making me try some duet. In short, when we said goodbye, I was exhausted, but I was bursting with joy.
From that day in Rome, I remember very well Ignazio’s mother. I do not remember seeing either Piero or Ignazio, but Caterina yes. During the audition they made us sing in a recording room, outside in the queue was Ignazio’s mother. Caterina heard the voice of someone singing, and she had listened to me. When I came out, she looked at me and said: ‘Congratulations! Bravo, very good!’ She heard me sing and she thought Andrea Bocelli was in the recording room.
Bravo for Gianluca. Let’s see what Ignazio has to say about it….
But I did not really believe it. I remained as usual with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I must admit it: at first it was a bit perplexed at the idea of going to audition because it is so, I am always the pessimist, but then, we talked about it in the family, as we have always been used to doing, and we said to ourselves: “Why not?” So, in the end I went to do the auditions in Rome, funded by mom and dad, who in the meantime were continuing to make great sacrifices for me.
I arrived in Via dei Gracchi, where the auditions were held, with mum Caterina and dad Vito. There were many guys like me who were hoping for something positive without expecting anything, trying not to have too many illusions.
At the beginning I was also quite calm, it could not be much different from singing on stage. Anxiety began to rise as my turn approached. And here they call my name: “Boschetto?”.
I get up and go into the studio where the boys were singing. There he was waiting for me, Roberto Cenci, who looked at me and asked me: “Dear Boschetto, what are you letting us hear today?”: I had chosen ‘Ti Cerchero’ ‘by Gigi Finizio and Melodrama by Andrea Bocelli.
‘Thank you very much’ was the only thing Roberto Cenci told me when I finished singing. All there? But how had I done? Was I okay? I had no idea but, climbing the stairs, Pannocchia, who was the manager who accompanied us, tells me that I have to study a song within thirty minutes. What song? ‘The Winner Takes It All’ of ABBA. To help me there was Luca Pitteri, a vocal coach who collaborated with AMICI and who at that time worked for Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
They gave me a CD player and I started to listen and study the song, and after exactly thirty minutes they called me back, we went down again in the studio and Roberto Cenci was still waiting for me. ‘Please, start’ he said, and the base started. I cannot say if I sang well, I do not remember anything other than the fact that somehow, they let me guess that I was inside the program, I had succeeded, but I tried not to build too many castles in the air as we returned home. What I did not know was that while I was inside singing the Winner Takes It All, outside my mother Caterina and Pannocchia spoke and he said: ‘Ignazio is in the program, madam!’ But they did not even tell me. Of course, I had a positive feeling, but how positive is the presentiment of one who is pessimistic. After a few days they called me back telling me that I had to go back to Rome. I did not know why, but already only the phone call, it filled me with joy. Maybe I had to take another test? I know it may sound strange, but I really did not know what to expect. Then in reality the reason for the summons to Rome was to tell me that I had been taken, I was in the cast of Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Bravo, Ignazio, you’re in! What does Piero remember about the Audition….
What do I remember from the audition?
I remember that it was in Via dei Gracchi in Rome, that I arrived there with La Voce Del Silenzio and the unfailing Un Amore Così Grande and that with the suits that my father bought me, I felt like a king.
‘Mr. Barone, we’ll let you know’ they told Dad when I finished singing. After five days, the longest of my life, they call and say: ‘Prepare these five pieces for the next audition.’ Those five tracks were:
Sei Nell’Anima of Gianna Nannini,
La Voce Del Silenzio,
Un Amore Così Grande
Voglio Vivere Così
Domenica E’ Sempre Domenica
The aim was to test myself on different genres, of course, to understand which one was the most suitable for me. So, I get to the recording studio in Rome and start singing. Only shortly thereafter, they stop the music. The first so, the second so and I was already demoralized: if a test does not make you even to the refrain is not a good sign. The first thing I thought was that I did not go well. At the third track I attack the refrain, ‘Un Amore Così …….” and they stop the musical base. When I left the recording room and arrived in the mixer room, I found dad with my brother and a friend who had come to Cosenza with us at the Tour Music Fest, all three beautiful smiling, quiet. I died and they are happy. There is something wrong. Roberto Cenci looks at me and tells me: “Bravo, Piero: you are inside the program.” But I really believed it only when they brought me to the seamstress.
Bravo Piero you’re in too. Actually, thinking back, did anyone ever doubt they would get in with those three amazing voices.
So what happens next is like watching a train go by. Everything is moving fast and coming into place. The competition has begun, and people are starting to understand who these three boys are. Not just some kid who came to a competition with hopes, no they were three kids with voices that could knock you out. The producers, directors everyone around them is feeling something special. The next thought is what do we do with amazing voices like theirs?
To see where this is all going, let’s return to Piero who will begin by telling us what happened with the Rehearsals….
Ti Lascio Una Canzone was aired in the Ariston Theater in Sanremo, but the first rehearsals for the transmission we made in Rome starting in March.
Upon landing at Fiumicino, there was a coach from the editorial staff waiting for us. We were still just a group of kids who did not know each other, we came from different parts of Italy, and we were different ages. I did not know what to expect.
I get on this bus and the first person I immediately notice is a nuisance who sang (sang from morning to night, in continuation), who screamed, screamed, was never silent, never stopped. It went on all the way, I cannot forget it, especially because from Fiumicino to Rome center there is about an hour’s drive. All that time talking, screaming and singing, damn him.
Arrival at the hotel it was not difficult to start meeting other guys. But do you know how certain things go? It was easy for people in the same room to communicate with each other. But I wanted to get to know the others, so alone, I went down in the hall, and I found Luigi Fronte, who was a little one for me because I was fifteen, Micaela Foti and the guy who was singing on the bus.
‘Hi, pleasure, I’m Piero’, I introduce myself.
‘Hi, I’m Manuela.’
And this other one? ‘I am Ignazio, presents himself.’
With Ignazio from the first moment, a strong relationship has been established. What do you mean? We were looking for each other. We were always together: I, him and Luigi. Luigi was the mascot, the little one who was with us. We rehearsed with Ignazio, we talked, we joked. Maybe because he was Sicilian like me. Gianluca, I did not know him right away, there was not a great bond from the beginning, he built himself with time.
From that very first Wednesday of trials, I remember perfectly because I seemed to see the same images of the choir: I and Ignazio sitting on the left and around a lot of females. I sang, ‘Non Ti Scordar Di Me,’ at the first episode and ‘Mamma’ at the second, ‘Granada’ at the third.
We sang on Saturday night on Sunday I had the flight back to Sicily. Monday, Denise was preparing all the things to learn, she told me the pages to study, ‘Of history, do this.’ ‘I have stressed the words to remember.’ I arrived at school on Tuesday morning, I did all the interrogations and left the following day.
When I got to the rehearsals, we had to have already prepared the pieces that had been assigned to us. The editorial staff sent us all Monday and we had to study them at home for the next installment.
On Monday, between the end of the third episode and the beginning of the fourth, I get the text of ‘Un Amore Così Grande’ to sing alone – so far, all normal – and of ‘’O Sole Mio’ divided into three parts. What will this thing be?
In which it is said that alone you can go far, but in company even more. And it’s even more fun.
Piero, I think you boggle Ignazio’s mind. Slow down for a minute and let the others tell what happened to them. Ignazio seems to have some other concerns….
How much do you run Piero!
He is already on the fourth installment and I’m still here thinking about how nervous I was that night. It was April 4, 2009, the evening of the start of the program. Who had ever faced a television experience? It is also true that this agitation of television I only had it at the beginning. Yes, we were all aware that this was television, but for the ingenuity we had at that age, for us it was like singing in the home theater. And then, I had already seen theaters and stages. The thing that made me understand that there was something different was to see all the famous guests. But for the rest, we realized little of the difference.
Even stranger was that until then I had arrived as quiet as usual. Perhaps also because in the previous week I had the opportunity to meet my fellow adventurers, and I had immediately linked with Veronica Liberati, Sonia Mosca and Piero Barone, a Sicilian boy like me who did a little the kind that belonged to me. I had also known Gianluca Ginoble but I attended him less because he was part of the group of ‘jocks’ (even today we take it around because some remained so!)
‘La Nostra Favola’ was my debut song on the first episode, I even got the words wrong, but it went very well. On returning to Marsala, I clearly felt that things were changing, people recognized me, but I tried to take everything with great humility. The first rule for me has always been to keep my feet on the ground. The more weeks passed, the more people recognized me, but I tried to remain the same as always.
To get ready for rehearsals, the week before the episode, they gave us the songs to study for the evening. And at the third night I get the songs that I would have to sing the following Saturday, at the fourth episode. There was something strange. There were songs that I would have done alone, but also ‘’O Sole Mio that’ I would have to sing with two other guys.
What news was that?
Okay, so it seems Ignazio has it together. He understands the situation and what is expected of him. Actually, not very different from what he was used to in competition except for the special guests and this strange trio thing. And what did Gianluca think about the rehearsals….
Ignazio, I do not believe you were amazed by that news! In my opinion, the earthquake-Ignazio was not astonished, but he surprised others. At the audition, I told you, I have no memory of having seen neither he nor Piero. But once the selections were over, we were all put together in Rome, I do not remember in which hotel, from where we started by coach to go to rehearsals with the RAI orchestra.
Here, from there it was impossible not to notice Ignatius. We were a total of about thirty kids with their parents, and he was screaming, singing, making a mess, he alone seemed to be the choirs of the southern corner of Rome (football team) all together. Ignazio has always been like that, even today he is, he will never lose this way even at the age of fifty, and that’s what makes him special.
And Piero? Of him, I’m sorry to admit it, I have no particular memories of that period. We were all in the same hotel, but we were many and I tied up with other guys first. But there was a nice climate, we all have a lot of fun together.
Of the Ti Lascio Una Canzone period, I also remember another emotion, that of the long journey I did every week by car from Roseto to Sanremo.
My week was organized like this: on Monday and Tuesday I went to school, I was doing the eighth grade, and on Wednesday morning between six and seven we went to Sanremo with my father. The time to arrive and the tests were announced for three days, until Friday. On Saturday there was the transmission and on Sunday morning we left for Roseto. It was a long journey, a bit for the many hours in the car and the miles we did every week, a bit because I was away from home, in the hotel, away from the rest of my family and all my friends. But I’ve never been sad, I never complained, because I was so happy to sing.
On the first trip to Sanremo I remember the arrival. What do I mean? The first episode of the broadcast would have aired on Saturday 4 April. I arrived at the hotel on Monday, March 30th, while everyone else arrived on Thursday. There was nobody, the desert. Of the other trips I remember Andre Bocelli. When in March we started the rehearsals in Rome, I spent Tuesday afternoons, strictly only after the homework, to listen to his CDs, and I continued to do it also in the car to Sanremo. That’s how I learned all his repertoire. ‘Do you know this?’ they asked me to see how far I could know his songs. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘I know all of them by heart:’
Among other things, from mid-January to mid-March of that year, ‘TV Sorrisi e Canzoni’ had published every week a disc of the discography of Bocelli, consisting of ten CDs. Every Monday I went to the newsagent and bought the newspaper with the attachment. Imagine a child of thirteen who goes to the newsstand, punctual and excited because I was very happy, to buy a CD of a musical genre that his peers do not even know exists. But I was like that, I was really in love with that music. At that time, we say that it was as if each of us three had a role in transmission.
Piero was the Claudio Villa of the situation, Ignazio was Massimo Ranieri and Albano, and I was Bocelli. It was like having entered a little in one part and I became even more passionate about Bocelli’s music, which had become for me an idol and an inspiration.
My idol, however, was absolutely forbidden on school days, Monday and Tuesday, the only two who were free from the commitments of the TV. Ti Lascio Una Canzone started on 4 April 2009 and ended on 30 May, a period that coincided with the school months in which I had to prepare for the eighth-grade exam. Before that, there had been rehearsals in Rome throughout the month of March.
From March to the end of May, it was impossible to study on the days dedicated to rehearsals. I did homework and school questions on Monday and Tuesday, before returning to Sanremo. I told you, at school I have always been a lazy man, but despite all that year I managed to keep my average, in some matters I had the capacity six and some other seven. At the school interviews with the parents before the exams, my father heard the same thing from all the teachers: ‘All right, he kept the average.’ They were not telling me that I was a genius, I never was, but I managed to do well despite my commitments. So, my dad was satisfied.
From May 30th, when the broadcast ended, I had time to prepare for the eighth-grade exam, which went well.
If I really have to tell it all, what hurt me at the time were the comments of some of my peers in the country, who said that I was promoted only because I went on television. Imagine: I was thirteen, I had lived a dream, I had committed myself to be able to meet all the deadlines at school and then those comments come. Fortunately, that summer took another turn.
It started taking it on Monday before the episode of April 25, 2009, when I got the songs that I had to prepare and I saw that there was one, ‘’O Sole Mio,’ divided into three parts. Of course, a little strange it seemed to me. Almost all of us had made duets in transmission, but no trio had been composed until that moment.
I had no idea what to expect. Maybe I did not even ask. The important thing, I told you, was to sing and have fun.
So, The Audition is over, but the Rehearsals go on. Soon everything will change. No one could even imagine what would happen next.
That was quite a journey from home to Via dei Gracchi and on to Sanremo. The thoughts of how it would be are now in the past. Now it’s time to concentrate on what will happen next. The guys are in place to meet their destiny but are they prepared for what lies ahead. And are their families ready for what will happen in their lives and the lives of all their family members. It’s all moving to fast now. The train has left the station and it is now in high speed. Next stop Stardom. See you there!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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*Excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
You read that right, “When the Stars Aligns!” I’m talking about our guys, not the planets. This is the part of the story where I see the guys on a road trip to their destiny! Destination Ti Lascio Una Canzone. Gianluca starting from Montepagano, Ignazio starting from Marsala and Piero starting from Naro! Put that in your GSP and let’s go! It is the road trip of a lifetime.
I wonder what their parents were thinking! Were they thinking, “If my son doesn’t make the cut will he be very disappointed and how will I console him?” Or were they thinking, “If my son makes the cut what happens next?” They were probably thinking how do we get to Rome and deal with this audition! Let the chips fall where they may!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, they have to be invited to audition. No one just picks up a phone and says, “Hey! How would you like to audition for the second edition of the hottest new show on RAI, Ti Lasci Una Canzone!” Or do they?
Let’s see how the guys were invited to audition.
We begin, as always, with Piero. He is at the point where his voice is changing. So, we listen to what happened over those two years and where Piero went from there….
That moment of change is something excruciating because you cannot sing, so no longer being a white voice, I had to leave the chorus. But Marisa Bonfiglio did not let me go like this, ‘Goodbye, Piero, see you soon,’ she cared about me and then helped me again: she took me to Palermo to a conservatory professor, a tenor. That master’s verdict was again: ‘Let’s wait.’
But in the wait I could not remain completely silent.
In reality, the wait for the change of voice lasted less than I thought, because towards the fourteen and a half years my voice had already matured.
In the meantime, every now and then I would sing the Ave Maria at weddings (very little, in order not to risk ruining my voice), and so I earned my first money with music: they paid me a hundred euros and I settled with that money.
To say, in times of ‘crisis’ my mom wanted to buy something for the house? ‘Mom, I have the money,’ I told her because I could always put the money aside, always.
I went to my grandfather to make a musical base with the keyboard, and he gave me ten euros, tips and gifts that I saved to make me a nest egg.
And then there were the cups. At home I have a full wall. In Sicily it is used to make things big, so when you win a festival they give you huge cups, two meters by four, heavy, bigger than you.
But how did I start making regional festivals? With the school.
And here a great chapter opens up.
So, I went to school, of course, but I never liked school. I just went there to have fun. I was there and I had fun with friends, always sitting at the first desk, but I was also the one who made the most mess.
In elementary school no music was played, so I had less fun. But I knew that in middle school there would be the music lesson. But not only that, I was even told what was done in this lesson of music and how was the teacher.
And what did we do as a first lesson on the first day? We sang! Professor Nisi called everyone one by one in alphabetical order and made everyone sing.
I could not wait because the teacher was not from Naro, so she did not know me, she did not know that I was already singing.
So, I was looking forward to that day to arrive the first day of school, the first hour of music, getting up to sing.
I was the second on the list. The professor calls ‘Baldacchino’ and Baldacchino sings; in short, a normal thing. Then she calls ‘Barone’ and I sing, ‘Un Amore Così Grande’, my battle horse from that afternoon under the carob tree in the garden of Riolo.
In practice, from there I started, and I never stopped: with the schools there were musical reviews, and the music teacher brought me to make them all.
I did the first Valledolmo festival singing ‘Un Amore Così Grande’ again, and I finished third. I remember it as it was yesterday: I with a tuxedo, all classic, pulled.
After Valledolmo I went to Vallelunga, I won that festival and from then on, I won them all.
Three years of middle school, three years of regional music festivals. Until it has arrived, and their return, the change of voice, between the thirteen and fourteen and a half years.
So, what happens? When I resume singing, I’m in high school, an accounting school, and there’s no music, no music teacher and no festival.
But is it possible that I could quit like that, to participate in festivals?
My father took the situation into his own hands, and I started again.
I won them all. One summer I took part in six festivals, and I won all six.
I sang ‘La Voce Del SiIenzo’ and ‘Un Amore Così Grande,’ I arrived and all the guys who saw me already knew that I would ruin them the evening.
I had a lot of fun, I accumulated cups – always two meters by four – and I was more and more convinced that if there was one thing I want to do in life it was singing, living for and with music.
For Piero music was more important than school. He explains his studies this way….
…. I can say that I was always ordered, I was not rude and not even a licker (suck up to someone), but I was studying only the necessary, I did what I could. It is not that I did not study because of bad will, it was that I had other projects and the professors knew and understood it. I was not a tramp that ran from morning to night with the motorbike, I was one who was at home studying piano, solfeggio, I had many commitments, I always had something to do.
In the country I was known, I never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs of any kind, I never went to the disco, I never did stupid. In short, never. If you listen to my father, he will surely tell you about the wheelie with the motorbike. It was the only thing that did not go right down, the friends told him that with the motorbike I did the wheelies and he got angry. When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the town, voom, and I did the wheelie with the motorbike. Just that. But even in those cases I was very responsible. Do you know what I was doing when I was driving the motorbike? My father gave me the sheets of newspaper, I put them on the chest, under the shirt and I went around so because the wind did not enter the chest, understood? Full helmet, strictly integral.
If you’re wondering, yes, I was a little weighed in those years. I always lived controlled because, having also a thousand allergies that put me ‘in danger’ my respiratory tract, I never went to school trips, I could not go to the disco, I could not do certain things that all my peers did.
But now, when I return to the country, I like being with them and recovering some of what I could not do then. We go to the disco, we are never less than twenty, twenty-five people, and Dad is calm because I’m even more responsible than before and because in the group there are also people older than me, even forty years and married.
I like being with people much older than me maybe because, even if I’m only twenty years old, I have to manage my life in a very serious way and at a certain point I had to grow by force. It’s strange if I think about it, because that little boy Piero, who was attentive to everything he did in order to not ruin his voice and not to get some asthma attack, would never have imagined becoming a singer. He had other plans.
If I have to tell the truth, my project was to become a tenor and a singing teacher. Many opera singers have this double life because, unless you reach certain levels, you cannot always live by doing only the singer.
I, who always thought I would sing alone for the rest of my life, imagined myself a tenor divided between theater and teaching. But before we got there the road was very long, and it was also in the strict sense of the word. From Naro to Vittoria, where there was the master who had advised me the teacher Bavaglio of Palermo, there are two hours’ drive in the first leg and as many as the return.
Having to travel to sing was not new to me, indeed for us, because I always traveled with dad.
Every Saturday my father took me to Agrigento to the rehearsals of the choir of Santa Cecilia, those afternoons were so beautiful. He sacrificed those afternoons he could have spent at the bar playing cards with his friends and he took me to Agrigento, a fifteen – twenty-minute drive from Naro.
I remember that we were following the Serie B because the time of the matches was the same as the choir rehearsals, from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm, so I went to sing and, my father listened to the radio.
On the return to Agrigento-Naro, we commented on the results and in the meantime, we stopped at the Eurospin to do the shopping, at the shopping center ‘The swallows’ of Porto Empedocle, and we did shopping, but not clothes, no! We were buying ham and food for the whole week. We came home with these three-meter receipts, and I was so happy.
Going to Vittoria was a different matter. Yet when the teacher told me: ‘You must study in Vittoria,’ my father answered only: ‘Okay’ and changed the car to travel more comfortable.
At the first lesson we get to Vittoria to see this baritone, all excited, and that makes me do the vocalizations and comments: ‘I expected more from you as the master Bavaglio spoke about it.’
I was really demoralized. But the goal was there, I wanted music to become my life and so, despite the disappointment, for four or five months I kept going to him. But, in the meantime I continued with the piano lessons.
My first master Stefano Tesè could no longer come to Naro and had sent me to Canicattì to the master Pietro la Greca. He was young and good, I felt like I was with my contemporary and I was more motivated to study. Sometimes, since my father worked, my cousin Giuseppe was bringing me to the teacher La Greca.
Before the baritone of Vittoria, for about two or three months, I had studied with a soprano from Caltanissetta. It was at that time that Giuseppe had begun to accompany me to singing lessons when dad could not. So, from the teacher La Greca my cousin brought me and, on the way back I was given a ride by a boy from Naro who was studying the next hour to mine.
Phone Call number one!
I waited for him to finish, and we would go home with his father. What happens one day? Usually, as the boy who gave me a ride lived near my paternal grandmother, he always left me with my grandmother, where my father came to pick me up when he finished work. Only that evening my father was already at my grandmother’s and was talking on the phone.
‘Who was that dad?’ Was the first thing I asked him when he finished speaking. ‘Wait, let’s go home and I’ll tell you.’
It was strange that he acted so mysterious with me, but I always trusted him blindly and if he said ‘after’ he meant that it was okay. I was curious, for sure, but I waited calmly. We finish dinner, and daddy keeps his promise and tells me: ‘On the phone was a lady, a certain Isabella Abiuso. It’s part of the casting Ti Lascio Una Canzone and she gave your name to the Tour Music Fest.’
Stop all and take a step back: what is the Tour Music Fest? It’s a festival that I did not want to do. It’s not that I was undecided, I wanted to think about it. No, I did not want to do it just because I won all these festivals, and I was a little tired. Yet it is a great European festival dedicated to emerging music born in 2003. It has several stages, runs throughout Italy and not just singers, but also bands and musicians participated. The stage closest to us was that of Cosenza. ‘I have to drive,’ Dad had told me. ‘We have a comfortable car, you sleep, and we go, you do not even notice. Twenty-four hours to do Naro-Cosenza, Cosenza-Naro.’ We arrive there, I sing, and they do not give me more news. But they gave to someone else.
Isabella Abiuso, one of the talent scouts who selected children for the broadcast, called the editors of the festival and asked for a name to try, someone interesting for that kind of television program. The organizers of the Tour Music Fest tell her, ‘Mrs. Abiuso, here there is nothing that we can give, apart from a certain Piero Barone, which for us has not gone well because it is not the kind of music that we deal with, but he certainly has an innate talent.’ I was not sixteen yet, it was November 2008. ‘Dad’ I immediately said, ‘Ti Lascio Una Canzone, I’d like to do it. Let’s try, why not?’ The first edition was very successful and the second was aired from April 4 to May 30, 2009, every Saturday evening for a total of nine episodes. The director would once again be Roberto Cenci, as in the first edition, produced by Ballandi Multimedia, and the management would have always been entrusted to Antonella Clerici. My father thought about it and said: ‘Wait, let’s talk with the maestro in Vittoria.’
‘You are crazy’ was the teacher’s answer. ‘You ruin him with these things because television takes the boys’ heads, it spoils the future.’ Possible? Before I was not good enough and now, I could not do the audition because I could ruin the future? My father did not see this anymore. ‘No, I have to make him do it.’ But if you ask my father what he remembers about that audition, he certainly will not tell you about the master of Vittoria, but the first answer will be a number: 1280. These are the euros that he spent to buy two or three complete clothes in a very nice Naro store, because as a good Sicilian he said, ‘How can I bring my son to an audition RAI, I have to make a good impression, no?’
I felt like a king with those clothes.
And so, Piero’s road trip begins! Set the GPS for via dei Gracchi, Roma! Next stop The Audition….
Back in Marsala we find Ignazio still playing football and going to singing lessons with Arianna the pizzeria customer’s daughter. But soon a big decision about football would have to be made. Let me let Ignazio tell you what happened next….
My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football. It has been less so since I started studying singing, I had less free time – and then no free time – and then I realized that singing was more important than all the rest. But in general, soccer was really a big passion for me. From an early age I had a passion for football, also because my sister played football when we lived in Bologna and then she continued, even in Marsala. She played volleyball first, and I also inherited that passion, then she moved her passion to soccer.
The issue of soccer needed to be resolved but, in the meantime, Ignazio continues his singing lessons, but soon the atmosphere will change. His beautiful relationship with Arianna, a person who he enjoyed being with, has suddenly changed….
In general, I used to go with Arianna, the little girl I went with to meet Liliana; indeed, with Arianna, a beautiful friendship began. On those occasions we had a lot of fun, she always came a step ahead of me: I third, she second; I second, she first. We just had fun, without envy.
At least until she changed teachers, and our streets became a bit divided.
We still found ourselves in competitions together, but a rivalry was starting that was not as healthy as before.
It was the same period in which I also started taking piano lessons, with various teachers: I changed three in three years.
In the end, let’s say that I can play something, but a little, just enough for me to compose. I am not prepared like Piero, who has a very classical education.
After two and a half years, three that I was studying with Liliana, one day she tells me that for the genre that I was going to sing, I started to approach what I do now, another teacher was better suited to give me lyrical singing lessons.
So, I was convinced and started to follow another singing teacher, Roberta Caly, in another school. In practice (pay attention because it is complicated) I went to singing lessons and interpretation with Liliana, lyric singing with Roberta and also a diction course from Liliana and a course of diction by Roberta but held by two other teachers in the school. And I also attended a jazz workshop.
The study of singing was used to learn the technique and interpretation of a song so that I would understand what I said when I sang, so that I could express my emotions with the words of the songs. However, I must say that despite the studying I have remained a more pop voice than, for example, Piero who is a pure tenor and even today studies and dreams one day of singing in an opera.
I went to class every day except Sunday.
And on Sundays we went to see Nina’s football matches. She was now playing in Serie B.
Between the school, the singing lessons, the piano lessons and diction I was always busy, so much so that I was forced to leave the school of football.
The choice is now made. Nothing is more important than music! And so we come to a turning point in Ignazio’s life!
I could not do everything, also because of the not fantastic economic conditions in which my family was.
But I did not really want to miss anything and so I immediately found another thing to do: an extracurricular musical laboratory.
Although I was so busy, I did not want to give up that workshop, it was about setting up musicals, one of the most beautiful experiences of my life. That is, it started with a musical, but then they became three.
The first I did when I was small and fat, was Streetlight, which tells a story of rivalry between two bands in Chicago of the seventies.
We staged it at the Teatro Impero of Marsala on May 31, 2007, it was beautiful.
I was the protagonist, the voice was certainly not like the one I have now, but there I was with this baseball cap, something to see.
Then I did Grease, the American musical from which the film of the same name is taken with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and then Rugantino, the musical comedy of Garinei and Giovannini of 1962 still represented today with great success all over the world.
In Rugantino I played the lead role. I still remember the songs ……….. and that time mom made me a fantastic hat with a fishing net: grip, dyed blue and adapted to the size of my head. Spectacular.
Returning to my education, in 2007, I stopped studying with Roberta and I met Giovanna Collica, a very good soprano who gave lessons in Siracusa.
I met her thanks to one of the first works I had, opening a fashion show. The gentleman who organized fashion shows in summer around Sicily had called me to open a fashion shows.
And so, in Palazzolo Acreide in the province of Siracusa I met Giovanna and I arrived at her school.
Geographically speaking, this city is exactly opposite of Marsala, but studying with her was too important because she was a very good soprano I knew because she had even duetted with Luciano Pavarotti.
Her lessons were a great opportunity, so once a week what did I do? I took the bus with Nina, or I would leave with my parents in the car, and we would go to Siracusa.
Every time I entered Giovanna’s house, I asked her “How is the cat?” because she had a very plump white cat that threw himself from the balcony at least once a week.
It took a lot of money to cover the travel expenses, the lessons and in the meantime also the registration for competitions that in many cases were not free.
So it was that at a certain point, mom and dad found themselves not having enough money to send me forward.
They were more hurt than me. Having always worked and being accustomed to face sacrifices for the family, they did not want to surrender to this obstacle but at the same time they did not know what to do.
In the end, however, it was necessary to make a decision.
And the decision was to ask a person dear to us, a loan that, as soon as mom and dad had settled a little, would be returned.
This person has helped us with great generosity so as to allow me to continue to pursue this dream.
Being able to go forward, Ignazio continued with the lessons and competitions until the day it all stopped. No, it didn’t go away, Ignazio pushed it away. He had all he could take of the competitions. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to do them but, I’ll let Ignazio tell you what happened next….
Instead, I felt like a crap. No, not when they called me to audition, before I felt like a crap, so much so that I almost lost it that night when they talked to me for the first time about Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The fact is that competition after competition, year after year, perhaps because I grew up and became less naïve, now I was fourteen, at a certain point in 2008 I realized that, as wonderful as it was, the music world was starting to give me the first disappointments: people who paid to see their child win, recommendations and various scams.
My problem is that I have always been for healthy competition, getting to the first place because a person really deserves to be rewarded as such. But it was not like that anymore. I did not want to participate anymore in any competition. I began to give up many proposals. I was in this terrible mood when, in September of that year, I was offered a competition in Caltanissetta, which was presented by the great Nico dei Gabbiani and had as president of the jury Franco Fasano, author and composer of songs like ‘Ti Lascero ‘ who won the Sanremo Festival, and also singer songwriter as ‘E Quel Giorno Non Mi Perderai Piu.’
Instinctively I said no. I did not want to take part in any competition that could turn out to be made up. But after so many evenings talking to my family and Liliana, who was always present and always ready to give me some advice, I convinced myself. I am happy to say that there are no recommendations in that competition: I reached third place. But the greatest satisfaction was not the result.
No phone call for Ignazio. Even better, an invite at the end of the competition!
At the end of the final evening Franco Fasano took the stage, proposing to do a test in Rome. He did not promise me anything for sure. The test was for a television program that, having seen the great success of the first, had reached its second edition.
That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
We leave Ignazio starting on his road trip. Set the GPS for via dei Gracchi, Roma! Next stop The Audition….
Even when I sang, I did not forget instinct. What does it mean?
As I said, I have never studied singing. I learned to ‘use’ my voice only thanks to my musical ear, to the music I listened to, and which transmitted everything I know. And thanks also to the Little Choir of Roses.
When I was about eight or nine, all those who knew me gave me the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo.
We sang the songs of the ‘Zecchino D’oro’ or other famous songs with arrangements in that style, with music for children. The Mago Zurlì, that was the presenter of the situation, was my dad, he has been for at least a couple of seasons.
(The “Zecchino D’oro” was a very famous television program in Italy where the children sang and the presenter was Mago Zurlì).
I started there. It was nice because we studied the songs throughout the winter season, not the technique of singing, the songs. It is the same thing, but it is different, because we did not study the notes and how to do them, but we went, as I said, a little instinctively, following what the teacher said and what our ear said. Then, in the summer, we demonstrated the work of winter: we did essays at the municipal villa of Roseto, sang in the squares during the local festivals, in the lidos, in the bathing establishments, around the whole of Abruzzo, all these tiny villages of I do not even mention the names, because I’m sure you do not know them. Instinctively, then, I acted once in particular just during one of those shows.
During the performances with the choir, besides the repertoire of the Zecchino D’oro, I sang the songs of Bocelli: ‘Miserere,’ ‘Il Mare Calmo Della Sera,’ ‘La Voce Del Silenzo.’ The teacher often had me do the soloist and this gave birth to a little envy among the parents of the other kids because none of them believed that my parents were not pressing to make me have that role but, as I said, my parents always left events followed their course.
One evening we were on the seafront of Roseto. I had to sing in a duet with a girl A Star In Bethlehem.’
She starts singing, considering that there were three hundred, four hundred people on the waterfront and my mother sitting in the audience listening. The little girl who sings with me ends her part, I begin and I forget the words. At that point what do I do? I’m leaving, I leave them all there, the little girl, the music that went, everyone. And it’s not like I’m running away and I’m hiding behind the stage, no: I got off the stage and started running like hell. I was ten or eleven, my father still remembers: he had to chase me for a while before he could stop me.
So, we come to the point in Gianluca’s story where he recognizes his destiny! Gianluca continues….
Do you see destiny?
The story of Ignazio shows that things come and, you do not have to force them to arrive.
My story is not different from his. Better, a little bit is different because, apart from the Little Choir of Roses and those modest performances with my father’s theater company, I’ve never done anything else, no competitions, no festival. At home we do not have a bulletin board with the prizes that I won in the singing competitions because I did not want to do them, I never thought about it.
I participated in the Festival of the Adriatic, it could be 2006, and I won it, and in 2007 in Ascoli Piceno to that of young talents, always at the local level and always for fun. I sang at weddings, that’s it. I sang Schubert’s Hail Mary, and they paid me. My first money earned with music. And for fun, in 2007 I recorded a CD in a studio in Roseto degli Abruzzi: it was called Start from Here. The study was by Vincenzo Irelli, a very good musician. His band has accompanied names like Pierangelo Bertoli and Giuni Russo, as well as many others. I remember he’d heard me sing, probably in one of the Little Rose Choir’s performances, and he said to my father, ‘He’s good, Gianluca. Take him to me.’ I had chosen songs by Bocelli and Alex Baroni, the singer who died in 2002 and famous for songs like ‘Change’ and ‘Write Something For Me’ and that was another of the voices I liked a lot. We spent a couple of weeks recording the CD and then we gave it to all the relatives. If I think about it today, it makes me smile. But never, never would I have thought that it would not be the only one, that I could make music my life. I told you: I only sang because it made me feel good, when I was singing. I was happy.
Gianluca, your phone is ringing!
I do not know exactly, because everything happened very quickly. I mean, I won Sanremo and I still do not believe it. I think about it, I look in the mirror and say: “Yes, I won Sanremo, I sang with Barbra Streisand, I did all this”, but I swear that these years have passed too quickly. If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio a Ti Lascio Una Canzone,’ it seems to me yesterday. Instead, six years have passed. To tell you the truth, seven years passed from the casting sessions because it was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.
It is difficult to explain who this lady was, an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala. The event has reached its thirtieth edition, although the last one organized by Mrs. Giunco before leaving was the twenty-sixth and continues in honor of this extraordinary person who has decided to use the sport to raise funds to donate to charity. For the gala, skating champions come from all over Europe and singers like Alessandra Amoroso and Biagio Antonacci also take part. It is a very well-known event throughout Italy. The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was my performances with the choir. ‘We have a great talent here in Roseto’ she tells my father. ‘We bring him to RAI.’ My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined me to participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.
‘Let’s try,’ he replied to her. ‘It would be a great opportunity.’ What dad thought was just a different experience, something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco has made available to us her contacts: we would have talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he would have taken us to audition with Roberto Cenci for a broadcast of RAI. It was not a talent, maybe it was this that I liked: the idea that it was only a life experience to do, an experience that would allow me to sing for a while. My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least and, as enthusiastic as they were of the idea of what I could do, they completely left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.
So Gianluca is now ready for his road trip. Set the GPS for via dei Gracchi, Roma! Next stop The Audition….
With their GSP set for via dei Gracchi in Rome our soon to be super stars are headed for their destiny! What was going on in the minds of our guys? A million different thoughts, I’m sure. I don’t think anyone of them went there thinking this is my moment. This is when I become a super star. More likely, they were trying to deal with what will happen at the audition. How will I present myself. Will they like me? Will they like my music, my voice? I’m getting butterflies and jitters just thinking about it! Talk about pressure!
So, let’s review where their thoughts were when they started out from their homes! We know Piero said to his dad, “Ti Lascio Una Canzone, I’d like to do it. Let’s try, why not?” But thinking about his father Piero said, “If you ask my father what he remembers about that audition, he certainly will not tell you about the master of Vittoria, but the first answer will be a number: 1280. These are the euros that he spent to buy two or three complete clothes in a very nice Naro store, because as a good Sicilian he said, ‘How can I bring my son to an audition RAI, I have to make a good impression, no?’ I felt like a king with those clothes.”
And Ignazio said, “After so many evenings talking to my family and Liliana, … I convinced myself to do the competition at Caltanissetta. I reached third place. But the greatest satisfaction was not the result. At the end of the final evening Franco Fasano took the stage, proposing to do a test in Rome. He did not promise me anything for sure. The test was for a television program that, having seen the great success of the first, had reached its second edition. That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone.”
Gianluca said, “My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least and, as enthusiastic as they were of the idea of what I could do, they completely left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.”
And so, we leave our story this week with the three guys on the road to via dei Gracchi to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the moment “When the Stars Align.”
Let’s take a look into the future of our super stars.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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