Last week I was speaking with a friend about the new European Tour and the first thing that struck me was six concerts in Milan! WOW! Who would have thought back in the beginning that the guys would do a tour in Italy, no less six concerts in Milan. Their lives changed in 2015 but they changed even more after the pandemic. Italy finally opened its eyes and gave these three amazing guys the recognition they truly deserve.
Of course, there are those who are always going to be blind towards them because they are also deaf and dumb. Mostly dumb! When I think about where the guys are today, I have to say they’ve all worked so hard to get here. I think after the pandemic they took a new direction, one that opened new doors. It’s like they started all over. I remember Ignazio saying, “We started all over on a stage in Italy.” Yes, that’s what happened. The joy they got standing on that stage in Verona, restarting the music industry, was their new beginning The Second Time Around! They were starting again but this time it was in Italy.
The above words were part of a message that I sent to a friend. After I wrote those words I said to him, “I’m writing this and I’m thinking this is what I should be writing in my column. It’s the story of how these guys reached stardom not once but twice.” Thanks to my friend, I was suddenly very inspired! I came to life! I said, “This will be next week’s column!” Thanks, my dear friend, for the inspiration!
In 2020, like most of us, the one thing the guys 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.
One Saturday night in September 2020 they showed us what was missing!
But before they got to that Saturday, they took an unusual journey.
Some stories just write themselves and the author stands by with pen in hand, looks down at the paper and says yes, yes that’s exactly what I wanted to say! And you can’t even remember writing it but it’s there and it’s so spot on!
Life writes its own stories! Certainly, life wrote this one about three teenage boys. Teenagers! Think of your kid outside playing basketball or soccer. Could you imagine that he would walk off the court and into the limelight? I think your fondest hope would be that he would clean up his room.
How do you explain three amazing voices coming together on the same stage, at the same time? I have only one explanation. La Forza del Destino! It was fate! It was a plan! It was God’s plan!
Watching the guys on the stage in Milan for the beginning of their European Tour brought back fond memories of their beginnings. Before Ti Lascio una Canzone, before Sanremo, before they turned the music back on! In the real beginning….
In the beginning there were three guys named Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca. They were ordinary guys!
Piero loved his motorbike! “When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike.”
Ignazio loved to play soccer. “My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football.”
Gianluca, also, loved to play soccer! “How did I play soccer? I was good, come on, I did not like losing, I wanted to score goals by force, I never passed the ball, and when I had the ball, I scored.”
So, yes, they were ordinary kids but, they all had something special. They had a special gift from God. Their voice!
What was it that made them different? What was it about this baritone and two tenors that was different from other tenors or baritones? First and foremost, the delivery of these three voices was equal. The crispness and clarity in each voice was defined. They were alike but they were different. They were balanced! Roberto Cenci recognized these exceptional qualities and understood that they could blend into one beautiful voice, so he decided to put the three voices together. The result was they were an immediate sensation and they caused important people in the industry to stop and listen!
Each one separately was captivating, together, they were a gift that God gave to humanity!
Where did it all begin?
We have to keep in mind that in the beginning the guys were underage so any negotiations and plans for their future was handled by their parents. It was only after the parents first meeting with among others, Michele Torpedine, that the guys were informed that plans were being made for them. After this meeting the parents met again a month later and signed a contract for the guys to record with Universal.
I think Piero put it best when he said, “The day before, I went to my uncle’s workshop and the next day I signed a millionaire contract with an American label.”
Yes that’s how it happened. They stepped on the stage at Ti Lascio una Canzone sang one song together and their fate was sealed. Immediate stardom! But a stardom that would not take them around Italy, no! It was a stardom that took them around the world! They were an immediate success in America. They appeared on every morning and night show. Every station you turned on spoke of three Italian teenagers who were stealing the hearts of the American people! They certainly stole my heart!
But what about Italy. Let’s listen to what Ginauca had to say about that….
Before Sanremo, we lived two lives, two completely different lives. Abroad we were stars and, we came to Italy to rest. I took refuge in Montepagano, Piero in Naro, Ignazio in Marsala. It was nice to come back to a ‘normal’ life. But… we felt that something was missing, that it was bad to be so successful outside of our country and not be able to have it in Italy.
This was what they suffered in the early years. More than anything they wanted to be recognized in Italy! They never even hoped for the success they had in other countries, they just wanted to be recognized.
So now I will flash forward eight years and tell you about The Night the Lion Roared….
We know 2014 started out as a bad year for the guys but suddenly things were happening. They signed a new recording contract. They were invited to sing at the Italian Senate. This was an event of immense importance for them. It said Italy was finally noticing them so, it only made sense that it was time to take a giant step!
Time to go to Sanremo!
But this story doesn’t start with Sanremo, nor does it end there! Sanremo was the door opener!
The Decision to go to Sanremo was a difficult one!
So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with….
Who’s in and who’s out!
From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”
Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!
Then there’s the second problem, the song! After much searching, its Grande Amore!
Ignazio: In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from my shirt that in a week we have eaten more than we sang. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m a boy who does not say cat if I do not have it in the bag, then until Carlo Conti said…. ‘The winner of the Sanremo Festival 2015 is … Il Volo!’
So what did the win at Sanremo do for them with the press? As I said before they are “deaf, dumb and blind!” Mostly dumb!
But this win set the guys on a new path. They began to do concerts and tour around Italy. They began to feel like they were finally home. The Italian people loved them. They always loved them.
And then, One Saturday night in September 2020 the guys showed us what was missing!
It’s 2020 what was going on in the world? Literally in the World!
We started hearing about a pandemic. And it seemed the worst of it was in Italy. The guys began to worry. And then, no it was time to leave. Leave now or get stuck in America! It was time! They turned off the lights and went home!
The first message from the guys on the Covid situation was sent when they were still on tour in America.
The last three concerts would be cancelled, and Il Volo will go home!
They canceled their last three performances and the next thing we knew they were on their way home. But being true to form, 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.
As you know the guys went into quarantine and stayed there for three and a half months.
Then the quarantine was over and, they left their houses. And something amazing started to happen!
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.
At Verona, they showed us what was missing!
Let’s start with September 11th 2020, the Friday afternoon before the performance, we watched the guys at sound check give a performance to the people who were scattered around 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 get’s Piero’s attention.
Ignazio: What are you doing?
Piero shakes his head and asks. What are you looking at?
Ignazio (points): 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.
That 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 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 for full concerts and full live by 2021.
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. It was their rebirth! 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 the 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 message. 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!”
What is so amazing about this is, over the months since they had left quarantine, they had almost single handedly brought back the music industry in Italy. All the work they’ve did after they left quarantine had been to move things forward in Italy. This includes their most important project the concert in Tribute to Ennio Morricone and the recording of their album by the same name.
Listening to them sing “Your Love,” at Sanremo, even under trying circumstances, gave us hope for the future. This preview gave us a look into the new album which we are all anxiously awaiting. But above all, the guys Hit the Restart Button! They played a major part in the restart of the music industry In Italy!
Now they are on a new journey! A new direction which led them to the stage in Milan where six concerts would be performed buy three amazing guys who only a few short years ago thought that Italy was only a place to rest their heads after a long tour abroad.
The Second Time Around in Verona led to a new adventure which included a new direction with their music. They came back this last season and introduced us to the new Il Volo. The three teenagers who stole our hearts in 2009 have now become three young men who are showing us their hearts in their music. They are opening up their hearts and showing us their emotions. Individually and together, they are the greatest singers in the world!
For your listening pleasure.
Concert in Verona 2015
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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Looking back over the last thirteen years, I see many changes along the way but never a departure from their style. They may sing different songs, but they never depart from their operatic pop. They introduce new music, but they never depart from where they started. They present the old with the new.
Their music is Operatic pop or popera. What is this movement? It’s singing Opera in a more classical style. While opera is very strict and regimented, popera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling, and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera.
This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason, three amazing voices! If the voices weren’t there, it wasn’t going to sell.
So, let’s begin this Musical Journey….
I’ve been writing about the lives of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca from the day they were born to the present day.
As I wrote each story, there were certain highlights in some stories that I thought should be put aside and revisited in another article. These were, what I consider, moments to remember.
Of course, before I begin, I have to mention the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys singing, “O Sole Mio.” They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and walked off stars!
The rest is history!
Their musical journey begins in Los Angeles….
February 12, 2010 “We Are the World for Haiti”
I’m sure many of you have never seen the official video of We Are the World 25 For Haiti. It’s amazing! Look at our guys singing with some great American singers! Legends! Just the beginning of their journey but the guys would become legends in their own right!
In 2010 shortly after arriving in America, the guys were invited by Quincy Jones to join “We Are the World for Haiti,” together with 80 international artists such as Celine Dion, Bono, Lady Gaga, Carlos Santana, Barbra Streisand, Enrique Iglesias, Usher, Natalie Cole to name a few. Il Volo were the only Italian artists to be invited. The three voices from the background caused such a sensation. “Who was that?” Everyone present couldn’t believe what they were hearing but, “Who were they?” Soon they would find out!
May 2011, Il Volo, American Idol
By far the performance that set them on the road to success! There was no turning back after this! They stole the heart of America!
October 25, 2011, the recording of “Tous le visages de l’ amour”
For me, this is one of those moments that you don’t forget. Look at these amazing teenagers. They are singing in French perhaps for the first time. Look at how professional they are. This is only two years after they met! Each one is developing his part and by the end of the recording they bring their three amazing voices together.
2012 “Back to Brooklyn Tour” with Barbara Streisand
In 2012 Barbra Streisand invited the guys to be an integral part of her “Back to Brooklyn” tour. They performed with her in America and Canada. They were not an opening act, no, they shared the stage with Barbara. To the guys this was a dream come true!
2014 Latin Billboard Music Awards
In 2013, “Más Que Amor” was certified “Gold” in Mexico and Argentina. And this catapulted the guys into the Latin market. From that day on they took the Latin market by storm.
In February 2014, at the Latin Billboard Music Awards they receive two nominations “Top Latin Albums Artist of the Year, Duo or Group” and “Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year, Duo or Group.” At the awards show they were awarded as “Best Group of the Year in the Latin Pop Album” category and they also won the “El Pulso Social Award,” as the artist who dominated interactions on social networking sites during the Billboard Awards. This is unheard of! Three Italian kids taking over the Latin market! What a win!
December 21, 2014, The Christmas Concert at the Italian Senate
Ignazio wrote in their book: “We want to talk about the thrill of singing in front of the highest offices of state! What twenty-year-old boy has something like that happen? It happened to us, and it seems to me a beautiful result, an honor. You cannot imagine the emotional feeling to be called “guests of honor” inside the Senate. We were accompanied by the, fantastic, Filarmonia Orchestra Veneta conducted by Diego Basso. Half the beauty of the song is in the orchestra.
The most exciting moments? Everyone! But the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one, the first song, singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano, (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate). It is one thing that I cannot explain.
And then, of course, the pleasure of shaking hands with the President of the Republic and of feeling that he knows Marsala, he has been there.
I have to say that when the guys sang ‘O Sole Mio with the children signing in the background, I got very choked up. It was very emotional for me! And the whole Senate seemed to be emotional too! An absolutely beautiful moment!
2015 Sanremo Music Festival
On February 14, 2015, the guys participated in and won the Sanremo Music Festival with “Grande Amore.” This is the top award in the Music Industry in Italy. With this win the guys really came home. They were finally recognized by the Italian people. This win also gave them the opportunity to represent Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015.
As Italy is a member of the Big Five, Il Volo went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23, 2015. Grande Amore came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and won the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press.
The extended play Sanremo Grande Amore was released in Italy on February 20, 2015, and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. The people speak!
July 1, 2016 “Notte Magica” Piazza Santa Croce in Florence
2016-2017 were the years dedicated to the “Notte Magica” project, the tribute to the 1990 event where the Three Tenors, Josè Carreras, Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, enchanted the whole world from the stage of the Baths of Caracalla.
On July 1st in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence Il Volo presented on stage “Notte Magica – A Tribute to the Three Tenors,” which was broadcast in prime time on Canale 5. The guys were joined by Placido Domingo who conducted the orchestra. This marked the beginning of the world tour of “Notte Magica – A Tribute to The Three Tenors” which debuted on March 4, 2017 at the Radio City Music Hall in New York. The show was sold out. After 15 stops in the United States, all sold out, the tour is extended to Europe from May 5, 2017, for 29 performances and from September it extended to Latin America. The concert “Notte Magica – Tribute to the Three Tenors” was filmed and broadcast in the United States by the national television network PBS, and in Italy by Canale 5 and, starting in June, it was broadcast in over 500 cinemas in Italy and around the world.
Jul 5, 2017, Ignazio Conducts the Asti Symphony Orchestra
During the rehearsals of the last date of the Notte Magica Tour in Naples, Ignazio stepped in as conductor of the Symphonic Orchestra of Asti while Maestro Marcello Rota sang Ignazio’s tenor part! They sang “Libiam ne lieti calici.” Ignazio had everyone in awe of his performance as a conductor. The guys enjoyed singing with Marcello who usually conducts for their Concerts. Gianluca enjoyed it so much that he hugged Marcella in the middle of the song! All good sports! They all had lots of fun! A unique performance!
Jan 27, 2019 World Youth Day
If you ask the guys after winning Sanremo, which truly brought them home, “What was your greatest performance,” they would probably answer, singing for the Holy Father at World Youth Day. I know for Piero it was one of the most amazing events in his life!
June 5, 2021, The Tribute to Ennio Morricone
When I wrote about this event I said, “I’m going to use the word phenomenal a lot in this article.” Let’s relieve the opening of this fantastic concert!
I can write at least five pages just on the opening of the concert. If I wrote what I felt, saw, experienced in this concert, I would have to write a book!
Let’s set the scene!
The first note and we immediately know it’s “The Ecstasy of Gold.” The whistle of the wind!
The setting is gold! Then white! Then gold! Look at the gold flecks that come in and out! The orchestra vibrates! Each note intensifies our senses. We’re drawn to the back of the stage. To a tunnel where we know our guys will appear! The focus is always rear center stage! The lights change to intense red and now we are looking at the stage from the back of the arena. We are coming forward. The shadow of Il Volo turns into a force that is coming towards us! The theme of the concert is set!
Listen to the intensity of their voices! What force! Watch their motions. Look at Gianluca! Watch his body react to the music! The fist that comes at you saying this is the punch, just the beginning. Listen to how Ignazio rides the note that guides us into the story! Now we’re sailing on the wind! Piero intensifies the moment with his powerful voice that says the journey has begun! Follow us!
The scenery is in motion again. In the background, the movie comes into view and blends with the voices! Everything on the stage comes to life! We’re now inside the film. Even the guys are taken by the movement around them. They look around and they are feeling the moment! Andrea Morricone steps up the music and we step back and look, in amazement at what is before us!
What exactly is before us? A work of art! A Titian painting. In Venice there is a very magnificent painting by Titian called the Assumption. It is a painting in motion! Believe me, when I tell you what you are looking at on that stage is a Titian painting. Titian was known for his movement in painting! Titian was 24 years old when he painted the Assumption. Our guys are in their mid-twenties and they have painted the scene before you. If you don’t know the renaissance artist Titian, Google him! You’ll understand what is going on here!
Now let me explain what is before you. Movement. Lots of movement.
Take a look at the stage! You the audience are the spectators! You’re being drawn to the stage. You watch the guys’ approach and, you are in awe of their presence. You feel the intensity of the music, you and the guys are pulled into the movie. The music is all around you! Their voices are a force in your head. You look up in amazement! You are a part of the scenery! You are a part of the orchestra! You are a part of the movie! You are a part of ~ Il Volo! You have arrived and you are ready to follow the guys no matter where this journey leads you! It’s only the beginning! Fasten your seat belts. Phenomenal!
You will note this is out of order. Let’s backtrack…. I want to show you what has happened with these guys over the years. As I said in the beginning, they were with all these legends in the music industry. Now they have become legends! But what I want you to see is in the beginning they worked with many people to start on this amazing road. Now they have moved to another place. A place where they present themselves. A place where they bring all the magic together! We see this in The Tribute to Morricone, but this started long before then. Let’s go to Luna Park October 2019. Here you will see a magical moment!
October 30, 2019, Il Volo at Luna Park Buenos Aires Por Una Cabeza
I will end by going back to the beginning. This last moment tells me how far the guys have come and how the strangers became brothers.
When these three young men started out, they were 15 and 16 years old. Think of being 15 or 16 years old and you have a dream, and someone tells you that that dream, needs to be shared. To fulfill that dream you have to leave your family, your friends, your home, you have to go to another country, and you have to share this journey with two people who you really know nothing about except that they had the same dream you did. You have to trust that the decision that was made by you and your family, was the right decision. If not, it’s back to square one! You’re going to be lonely, and you have to learn to survive without the people you love. So, you learn to lean on one another. That dependence turns into a friendship and that friendship into a brotherhood. It enabled them to trust enough to collaborate and perfect something truly amazing. Something that revolutionized the music industry. Let me go further by showing you a collaboration by these three amazing, very, very talented, young men that is so unreal that it boggles your mind. This is a collaboration of love. You will notice that the whole Orchestra is in awe and Giampiero Grani can’t stop smiling. Stop and listen to this performance of “Por Una Cabeza”.
Look at how they smile at one another during the performance. A smile that says yes that’s it! Their faces are ablaze! Their expressions let one another know that it works. And, finally, when it’s over, they are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Look at their faces lit up in joy and their embrace says it all! They are brothers who love one another! This is truly a moment to remember!
It’s ironic that when I started this story, I was randomly choosing moments in their lives that were very memorable. There are so many memorable moments, but I had to limit how many I could use. I had no idea when I started this musical journey that I would end up with thirteen events. How appropriate! One for every one of the Thirteen Amazing Years they’ve been together!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Credit to owners of all photos and videos
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