Tag Archives: agrigento

Journey to Stardom

Over the past week I have been thinking about where it all began for the guys. As you know, I have written excerpts from their story but, I thought it might be nice for some of the new fans to hear about where it all began for the guys. Three different stories but all with the same ending! This is the story of how they were discovered and of course their journey to Ti Lascio una Canzone.
Piero: The Beginning of the Journey

Young PIero in blue sweater

Most of you know that Piero was discovered by his grandfather. In the garden of his grandparents’ house there is a mulberry tree and hanging on that tree is an old-fashioned swing. Piero was swinging on that swing when his grandfather heard him sing for the first time! He was about four years old at the time. The following day Pietro had a recording made of Piero singing “Un Amore Così Grande.”
The evening of the recording would be the beginning of Piero’s journey to stardom. As always, Piero’s entire family ate dinner together. The family consisted of his great grandmother, all the aunts, uncles and cousins who were like sisters and brothers to him. After dinner all the kids played soccer while the adults went outside to chat and enjoy the cool of the evening on the terrace. But this evening would be a little different because just one day earlier, Piero’s grandfather Pietro discovered that Piero had an amazing voice.
They had just finished dinner when *Pietro called his wife. “Rina, get the recorder.” Rina brought in the recorder and placed it in front of Pietro. The recorder was already prepared with the cassette that had the recording of Piero’s voice. Pietro turns to Piero’s dad and says, “Listen to this voice, Gaetano.” He pushes play and starts the recording of “Un Amore Così Grande.” Gaetano is amazed like he has just heard a good thing, and he says, “It’s beautiful, who is it daddy?” (He calls his father-in-law daddy.) Pietro says, “Piero.” Silence. Gaetano has a questioning looking on his face “How did Piero?” Pietro says, “So?”
On that night Piero’s life changed! His father did everything he could think of to start him on a musical journey. He wanted Piero to start the festivals but, he was too young. He needed to “put in a base” because the voice alone was not enough. Gaetano asked himself: “What must Piero start to do?” And the answer was: “Piero must start playing the piano”.
Piero began to study piano at the age of eight but, economically the family could not afford the costs of the lessons. So, Piero’s grandfather paid for everything, and not just from the material point of view. Stefano Tesè was Piero’s first piano teacher. The mother of Piero’s teacher lived on the floor below in his grandfather’s house and the master came to see his mother every Monday. Pietro made an agreement with Mr. Tesè to give Piero lessons every Monday at six o’clock.

Young Piero playing piano

Piero says, “The road was very short to my grandfather’s house, I could even go there alone, but here was the problem, to get there I had to face a dog that was going around in that neighborhood, that dog would approach and bark furiously. And I had a fear of dogs. Squeezed under my grandfather’s arm, he who being blind needed to be guided, I felt protected as behind a shield: when the dog approached, Pietro shouted: “Passa arrassu!” (fast pass), go away, and the dog went away.”
Piero confesses there was another problem, “Every Monday at six in the afternoon was a nightmare for me, because I did not like going to the piano lesson. Or rather, I liked it only when the lessons were good, when I could play, but at the beginning I was bored a lot with the hammers, solfeggios and all the things that you rightly have to learn to play the piano. Maestro Tesè was a tough guy and, I was always worried that he would scold me. After a while I started to understand how the piano worked and the lessons started to please me.”
The advice everyone gave Piero was that he should join the choir that met in the church of Santo Spirito in Agrigento. Originally Gaetano objected to this saying they would “break my sons voice,” but, eventually he came to the reality that this was the right thing to do. And so it was that Piero joined the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento.

And so it was that Piero started his classical musical education that would end at Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Of the three, Piero is the only one who said, “…. if there is one thing I want to do in life, it is singing, living for and with music.”
The original story I wrote about Piero’s beginnings I called **The Mulberry Tree because Piero was swinging on a swing which hung from a mulberry tree in his grandfather garden. Around the time of this event, I was at home in New York busy writing a screenplay. The name screenplay was “The Mulberry Tree!”
Ignazio: The Beginning of the Journey

Young Ignazio at the Satiro d’Oro Festival

In this story, Ignazio leaves his friends and his school in Bologna and starts all over again in Marsala. He fought this move every step of the way but this move would bring him to the start of his journey to stardom! All the What if’s, come into play! What if the family didn’t return to Marsala? What if Caterina didn’t open the pizzeria? What if that customer didn’t hear Ignazio sing? What if Ignazio decided not to take singing lessons? Ignazio’s story begins shortly after his arrival in Marsala
In 2004 there was a great change for Ignazio’s family. Ignazio’s mom had regained her health and finally the family was financially stable so, they returned to Marsala.
Ignazio’s story of the building of the pizzeria was so inspiring that I called my original story, “A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side.”
During the first year they were back in Marsala, Ignazio’s mom had gone back and forth every day to the center of Marsala to be able to secure her great dream: to open a pizzeria of her own. In order to open the pizzeria, she needed to do certain things. First thing: she had to get the permits and all the bureaucratic things that she needed to do. Second thing: she used the ovens of friends and made pizzas. Ignazio said: “I remember it very well. She went from one oven to another and tried so many types of flour, she tried the dough, she tried so many types of mozzarellas so, when she finally opened the pizzeria, she already knew how to prepare the right dough. It is different to make pizza in Bologna than making it in Marsala, take the word of a son and brother of a pizza maker: it is different because it depends on the humidity, the temperature and the type of flour. It’s not a simple matter to make a really good pizza.”
While Caterina was preparing permits and trying different kinds of pizza, it was left for the men to build the pizzeria. With the savings Vito accumulated over the years he began the work on the pizzeria. He was now working in a company that built wooden structures and being an experienced bricklayer, the dream could be realized, and the pizzeria could be built in front of the house.

Teenage Ignazio

Ignazio said: “For a whole year, in every free moment, my father dedicated himself to building the pizzeria for my mother and I loved to help him, so much so that when there were a few days of school vacation, I went to work with him.”
Ignazio continues; “You will think that I tell you about the pizzeria under construction, but I am not a pizza maker. Of course, if there had not been the pizzeria, perhaps I would never have started singing seriously.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within me. It was a passion for electronics and music. I had started to be part of the elementary school choir and my dad, who was more passionate about electronics than me, had bought me a mixer, a microphone and two speakers, with which we started doing the easiest thing that could be done with those instruments: karaoke.”
Finally, in 2005 the pizzeria was completed and, Caterina opened the Pizzeria dei Desideri.
Within a few months Caterina already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when Ignazio was singing at home, even the customers heard him. One day a gentleman said to Caterina, ‘You know, my daughter is studying singing, why don’t you come with your son once? Even just to try.”
Ignazio said: “Like everything else, we talked it over within my family and everyone was enthusiastic about it. It was decided, I would go and see what these singing lessona were like.
I remember it as if it were yesterday! I was eleven. I wore a yellow shirt with green stripes, fashion was never my strong point. Arianna, the daughter of the pizzeria customer, who had heard me sing, and her mother and I waited, in front of the school for more than twenty minutes for Liliana Andreanò, the singing teacher.
Lilliana Adreanò, arrived in a grey Opel Astra. She got out of the car and immediately entered the school.
I was worried, almost embarrassed. Hard to believe, right? Even as a child I’ve never been the type to be speechless.
Lilliana begins to talk about music, what kind of songs do I like to sing. It was already a strange thing because usually I just sang, no one asked me why and how. You know, Liliana, I said, I like to sing Giorgia’s songs.”

Lilliana said: “Strange for a kid to sing this kind of song.” She asked, “And which song of Giorgia would you like to make me listen to?” “Gocce Di Memoria (Drops of Memory),” I said. “I didn’t even have a doubt. I start singing and Liliana was amazed by my extension but asks me to try a male song too.”
Ignazio thought a little bit and then he said he sometimes sang Con Te Partirò by Andrea Bocelli. He started singing and, when he finished Liliana told him: “Ignazio, this is your musical direction”.
From that first lesson Ignazio began to study songs like “Il Mare Calmo Della Sera,” “Un Amore Così Grande” and all those that came to mind, and he liked it. The songs approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic.
Ignazio was very comfortable with Lilliana and they understood each other immediately because she was a sociable person, simple, as are all of Ignazio’s family.
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that Ignazio take part in a competition organized in Paolini. Ignazio wasn’t completely convinced that he wanted to go on a stage. Until that moment he had only thought about singing, but he never seriously thought that all his singing one day could bring him into the spotlight. In short, he was afraid. Fear of making mistakes. Fear of not being able to face the stage, but just to gain mastery on stage, Liliana urged him to participate, and so in the end he decided to do it.
Ignazio said: “I was about to get on the stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with Bocelli’s “Con te partirò” (Time to Say Goodbye), a song that I had studied and re-studied with Liliana, but as soon as the music started, I had a terrible fear of forgetting the words. So, what did I do? I looked down all the time. So, the audience, the place, what happened around me while I was singing, it’s not that I do not remember anything, I just do not know because I only saw the tips of my feet.
Fortunately, however, I remembered all the words and it is not so obvious because sometimes it happens that I forget the words even today now that I have become professional, the emotion continues to take us despite everything and.… I came in third.”
Once the ice was broken and the stage panic was over, that ended up being just the first of many competitions for Ignazio.
After two and a half years, three that he was studying with Liliana, one day Lilliana told him that for the genre that he was going to sing another teacher was better suited to give lyrical singing lessons. So, Ignazio was convinced and started to follow another singing teacher, Roberta Caly.
So now his life became complicated. He went to Lilliana for singing lessons and interpretation. He went to Roberta for lyric singing. And he took a diction course from Lilliana and Roberta. He also went to a diction course with Lilliana and a diction course with Roberta but taught by other teachers in the school. And he also attended a jazz workshop.
Ignazio went to class every day except Sunday when he went to see Nina’s soccer matches. Nina was now playing in Serie B.
Between the school, the singing lessons, the piano lessons and diction Ignazio was always busy, so much so that he was forced to leave the school of soccer.

Young Ignazio in blue sweater

Ignazio could not do everything because of the economic conditions of his family. At this time Ignazio found another thing to do: an extracurricular musical laboratory. Ignazio was so busy but, he did not want to give up that workshop, it was about setting up musicals. Ignazio said, “It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.”
In 2007, Ignazio stopped studying with Roberta. He met Giovanna Collica, a very good soprano, who gave lessons in Siracusa. Even though Giovanna was in Siracusa, which was a long journey from Ignazio’s home, she was too important to give up.  She was a very good soprano, she had even sung a duet with Luciano Pavarotti.
Ignazio concludes, “It took a lot of money to cover the travel expenses, the lessons and the registration for competitions that in many cases were not free. So, it was 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, it was necessary to make a decision. The decision was to ask a person dear to us for 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.” Next stop Ti Lascio una Canzone!
Gianluca: The Beginning of the Journey

Young Gianluca smiling

So, finally, we come to Gianluca. I must tell you Gianluca’s journey to stardom was different from Ignazio and Piero. The end result was the same but, the beginnings were different.  Gianluca says: “Yes, we were lucky all three to have the families we had. Ignazio and Piero were able to study music thanks to the sacrifices, big sacrifices, of their families. I’ve never studied it, if I have to tell the truth, but the music at home has always been there.
Mom and dad tell me, when I was three years old, I sang ‘O Sole Mio’ in the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who were sitting around in the square.”
This was the beginning of Gianluca’s journey to stardom.
Gianluca says, when he sings, he “doesn’t forget instinct.” What does that mean? Gianluca has never studied singing. He learned to ‘use’ his voice only thanks to his musical ear. He listens to the music and, it transmits everything he knows. And, for this, he is especially thankful to the Little Choir of Roses.
When Gianluca was about eight or nine, all those who knew him gave him the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo. They 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 Gianluca’s dad, Ercole.
The choir was nice because they studied the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because they did not study the notes and how to do them, rather they studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what their ear heard.

Gianluca said: “If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, it seems to me like yesterday.
Ignazio’s story shows that things come and you do not have to force them to arrive. It is not different from mine. Maybe, a little bit 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 festivals. I did not want to do them, I never thought about it.”
Gianluca participated in the Festival of the Adriatic, in 2006, and he won it. In 2007 he participated in Ascoli Piceno, for young talents. He sang at weddings, that’s it. He recalls, “I sang Schubert’s ‘Ave Maria’ 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.” It was a study by Vincenzo Irelli, a very good musician.” Verilli heard Gianluca sing, probably in one of the Little Rose Choir’s performances, and he said to Mr. Ginoble, “Bring him to me.” Gianluca recalls, “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. Never, never would I have thought that it would not be the only one, that I could make music my life. I tell you I only sang because it made me feel good, I was happy.”
Then what happened? In his story, Gianluca said: ‘I do not know exactly, what happened, because everything happened very quickly. If I think of 2009, the year in which I met Piero and Ignazio, it seems like 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.

Young Gianluca singing at the Ti Lascio Una Canzone show

Who is Licia Giunco. She’s an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala. For the gala, skating champions come from all over Europe to participate. The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was Gianluca’s performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto,” Mrs. Guinco told Mr. Ginoble. “I would like to bring him to RAI (Italian TV Station).” Gianluca says, “My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined that I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.”
“Let’s try,” Mr. Ginoble replied, “It would be a great opportunity.” “Dad thought it was just a different experience something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco made available her contacts, we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he would take us to audition with Roberto Cenci for the broadcast of RAI. Maybe this is what 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. They 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.
At the studio, when they called my name, I entered the recording room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was big because he has a very tough character and, he did 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.”
And so, we have arrived at “Ti Lascio una Canzone.”

Left to right: Gianluca, Antonella Clerici, PIero and Ignazio on the Ti Lascio Una Canzone show

These were the guys’ beginnings, but the real beginning was when they stepped on the stage and sang “O Sole Mio,” and began their real Journey to Stardom.

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero sitting on the edge of a stage singing

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:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
*All quotes are excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.
**You can read my original stories “The Mulberry Tree,” “A Slice of Pizza with Ignazio on the Side,” and “And Then There Were Three,” on my Facebook page.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

COOKING IL VOLO STYLE 3 by SUSAN

Piero’s – Pasta with Tomato Sauce

I’m sure by now you figured out that Piero loves Pasta. So, I will make Pasta with Tomato Sauce.
In Sicily they use a very rich tomato sauce. But, before I get to the recipe, let me tell you a little bit about the town Piero lives in.
Naro is a small medieval town in the province of Agrigento, not far from the Valley of the Temples.
The hill town offers stunning views of the surrounding hills, all the way down to the sea.

This monumental city has a very ancient history, dating back to the Sicani, the most ancient inhabitants of the island. According to ancient Greek writers, Sicans, where the original inhabitants of central Sicily. The Greek historian Thucydides believed the Sicani to be Iberians from Spain who were driven out by the invading Siculi into the central parts of the island. (From Sicans and Siculi derives the name Sicily.) They were also invaded by Arabs, Normans and Swabians. We can find remnants of their presence everywhere: from the ancient city gate, the only one left from the seven gates, to the mosque which was transformed into a Norman Duomo. There is also an ancient Jewish quarter and the Medieval Chiaramonte Castle which rises high above the city.

The monuments, also, tell us about Naro’s important history. The city received the title Fulgentissima (Splendor) and had a seat in the Sicilian Parliament. There are many churches, in particular, the Church dedicated to Maria SS Annunziata (Our Lady of the Annunciation). Within the church we find many treasures including the statue of the Madonna of the Chains by Antonello and Giacomo Gagini. This beautiful church also has a medieval baptismal font.

Note: When the Spanish invaded they brought along Empanadas which Piero mentions in his story and calls by its Sicilian name “impanate.” This is how Piero described them, “Impanate are rolls of pizza dough with vegetables inside, a typical dish of my area.”
In Naro, there is an old tradition which says, “The righteous, before going to paradise, take a tour of the island to say farewell to seven ‘special’ places in Sicily: the Castle of Naro, which is windswept day and night; Caltabellotta, coiled up around the rock; Mount Erice, that looks towards Africa; Ustica, a small island in a green colored sea; Stromboli, the volcano that mingles with the waves; Ortigia, the ancient Greek island…” (I count six – I checked and couldn’t find seven). Piero, do you know what the seventh one is???
The most important event for the inhabitants of Naro is the Feast of San Calogero, the black Patron Saint, who is celebrated on 18th and 25th of June. In nearby Sciacca you can visit the Sanctuary of San Calogero.
Now to the Tomato Sauce.
I’m going to give you two recipes. One is the actual recipe with whole tomatoes. It’s wonderful if you want to do the work. The other is a simpler version which is very easy to make. The sauces in this region are very rich.

Tomato Sauce from the region of Agrigento

  • 2 1/4 lb. of ripe tomatoes (you can use vine tomatoes or plum tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • pasta of your choice
Preparation:
Wash and dry the tomatoes, cut them in half and crush them. Put the tomatoes in a saucepan together with garlic, (If you were making this for Piero, you would have to leave out the garlic because he’s allergic to it.), onion and basil. Add a small amount of water. A half cup should do. Cook for about 15 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and puree them. I’m sure you don’t have a mill to puree so, I suggest you take a colander and place it over a saucepan. Add the tomatoes to the colander and crush with your hands. Be careful it’s hot. You could use a spoon to do this.
This will allow the sauce to flow through and what will remain are the skins and seeds. Next, put the tomatoes back in the saucepan, add oil, salt and pepper and heat over a low flame to thicken the sauce. Cook for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt.
When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready.

Before I get to the simple recipe, I want to mention Strattu. Strattu is Sicilian word for tomato paste. The Sicilians jar their tomatoes in the summer for winter use. While doing this, they take some of the tomatoes and spread them out on a ceramic or wooden tray and leave it out in the sun for two – three days, constantly stirring it, to turn it into tomato paste. It takes about seven pounds of tomatoes to make one jar of strattu!
The first sauce I gave you the recipe for is a plain sauce that would be used alone or with fish. When making a pork (ex. sausage) sauce or any meat sauce (meat balls) you would add strattu (a couple of tablespoons) to it because pork will thin your sauce and, strattu gives it a thicker consistency.

Simple Tomato Sauce

In place of ripe tomatoes use one can of plum tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands.
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 onion sliced thin or diced if you prefer
  • fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • pasta of your choice
Preparation:
In a saucepan heat the olive oil, add onions, garlic (remember Piero is allergic to garlic) salt & pepper. Sauté a few minutes and then add tomatoes. Now add the basil. After the sauce bubbles, lower the flame. Let it cook for 30 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, boil the water for pasta. Add salt. When the water boils, add the pasta. Follow the cooking instructions on the box. Try to have the pasta ready when the sauce is ready. If you want to make a meat sauce add tomato paste (two or three tablespoons) as a substitute for strattu. Serve with red wine. Of course, my choice, is always Montepulcino d’Abruzzi.

Buon appetito!

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

PIERO AND JOVANOTTI by Daniela

In these days of quarantine, there are live videos, between our boys and their friends.

This is Piero with Jovanotti. I state that Jovanotti, (also called Jova, but his real name is Lorenzo Cherubini) is a famous Italian singer-songwriter, rapper and disc jockey.

The live is very interesting and therefore I translate roughly for you.

Friendly greetings between Piero and Jovanotti.

Piero says that he returned three days earlier from the US where Il Volo was on tour, but they did not realize from there what the situation was like in Italy.

He is now in Naro, and is in quarantine. He says that quarantine stimulates creativity, he must commit the days, the mind, he takes advantage of it to study, and read.

Jova asks where the other two are and Piero replies that everyone is at home, Gianluca is in Abruzzo and Ignazio in Bologna.

Jova asks if there is someone at home with him and Piero replies that he is alone, that he has not yet seen his parents and his sister. Piero says that in America they didn’t have the feeling of what was going on, that if you put on gloves and a medical mask, maybe you looked badly.

Piero Jova 01

Now also in the US the situation is different.

Now everyone looks to Italy, also as an example and then we receive many messages from all over the world of solidarity and we must be proud of this.
Jova asks if they were on tour and Piero replies that they were on tour since January and they have had to cancel the last three concerts.

Piero explains how fortunately they managed to return to Italy, because he says that after Trump’s speech where he said he would close all flights from Europe, and for Europe, Alitalia, sent a completely empty plane to the US to take the compatriots who wanted to return to Italy.

Jovanotti says that Italians always show the best side when there are emergencies. He says it is in these cases that Italy proves to be a united country.

He says his daughter was also in the US for study and managed to catch one of the last flights.

Piero Jova 02

Then he asks Piero if he is afraid.

Piero replies no, because he is convinced that we live in the safest country in the world, even if he admits that in Sicily, the health facilities (hospitals) are not exactly vanguard, but there are many people of good will. Therefore, by contacting some friends from Agrigento, they thought that, for now there are few cases in Sicily, but if the contagion were to come as strong as in Lombardy, the health facilities would collapse immediately.

And so he and these artists from Agrigento decided to start this fundraiser to help these hospitals. They will channel the donations to this bank account, but they will not give the money, but they will ask what the hospital needs and will buy it and give it to them. All coordinated with local authorities.

Piero says that the duty of the artists is to spread this initiative and says that today there are no records sold or concerts. Today there is only one concert, that of staying united and carrying out this great battle.

Jova greatly appreciates Piero’s speech and tells him that he is “great”. He remembers that they met quickly in a waiting room of the Catania airport and exchanged their contacts.

Then Jovanotti (who has many followers) invites everyone to follow this beautiful initiative, very important.

Then he tells Piero that he wants to hear his voice, he says that he knows that Il Volo sings all over the world bringing the Italian melody, especially the songs in Italian, and says that they are a rarity.

Piero replies that it’s nice to see Americans, even the Japanese, who get excited even if they don’t understand the words.

At this point Jovanotti asks Piero to perform the NESSUN DORMA.

Piero says that his neighbors will be tired of hearing him, as long as he always sings. Jova says they told him that the summer rental agencies have requests to rent apartments near Piero’s !!

So Piero shows the view from his balcony and Jova says it is a beautiful place, a real historical center.

Piero Jova 03

Naro

 

Then he tells Piero that he appreciates Il Volo, because they also love to joke and play down their image, also lending themselves to slightly different interviews, such as the one they did with Fiorello, proposing Il Volo in a rock version.

Piero confirms that they try to bring the message of bel canto to the younger generation too.

Jova asks if they have ever sung in China and Piero confirms yes, in 2015, the year of the dog. Then they do a search and discover that when Piero was born, it was the year of the rooster, then they try, laughing, to make a symphonic version of Jova’s song.

A message from Fiorello arrives (on their video) and recalls a Sicilian song and immediately Piero sings a piece of it. Jova is not Sicilian and does not understand the meaning, so he asks Piero who tells him to ask Fiorello. (It has a mischievous meaning, that’s why Piero replies like this.)

There is also a message from Ignazio saying that they have abandoned him. Jova says no and asks where Ignazio is, Piero replies that he is in Bologna and that due to the jet lag he cannot sleep

So they talk about the importance of sleep to have a rested and fresh voice before the concerts, and Piero also recommends eating apples, and also cold water.

Jovanotti asks Piero if he ever met Pavarotti and Piero says that he missed by two years before their start as Il Volo.

(In this 2013 video there are Pavarotti and Jovanotti in a song by Jova, during “Pavarotti and friends.”)

So they talk about the performances on people’s balconies, these days, and confirm that it is the most beautiful thing, that those videos have gone around the world and that everyone imitates us for this, because it is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Piero tells Jova, that his dad, when he had the auto bodywork shop, put him on the hood of customers’ cars and had him sing UN AMORE COSÌ GRANDE and GRANADA.

Jova says that he is almost 54 years old, Piero’s dad, Gaetano, is only two years older.

Piero says that La Boheme is his favorite opera and Jova says he saw it a year ago at the Metropolitan.

Then Piero sings a piece of the Cavalleria Rusticana.

Piero confirms that he is studying to do an opera, but it takes months and months of study and tries to do lessons via skype with his teacher from Bologna.

Jovanotti tells him that when he debuts at the opera, he wants to be there, then asks if Gaetano wanted to be a singer, and Piero says no, but his grandfather was sincerely sought for singing and says that he and his grandfather have the same voice and he tells how his grandfather noticed his potential.

So Piero tells of the economic difficulties that his father has suffered, in order to take him to various competitions or singing lessons, and Jovanotti says they seem like stories from centuries ago, instead they are recent and very beautiful stories and Piero says that Ignazio and Gianluca also have similar stories.

Jovanotti concludes that now that everyone has time, they must use it to rediscover many things that are not done during busy days.

Then they say goodbye with affection.

Piero has also made specific messages to persuade people to collaborate to raise funds for hospitals in Sicily in the Agrigento area.

Also together with other Sicilian artists.

This is the link to support hospitals.

Go Fund Me Link – Click Here

Congratulations Piero, your commitment in this case is honorable.

We are confident that you will succeed in your fundraising goal and your healthcare equipment will be donated to hospitals.

Thanks for your effort, you are my sweetheart. ❤️

Daniela 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

 

GIRO D’ITALIA by Daniela

On May 9th Piero was very busy. The GIRO D’ITALIA, stopped in Agrigento, and who lives near Agrigento? PIERO.

For those who do not know what GIRO D’ITALIA is, it is a cycling race in stages, very renowned internationally. This year the race started on May 4 from Jerusalem.

On Wednesday there was the fifth stage, starting from Agrigento.

And here’s who was at the start, who congratulated the cyclists.

Giro 01

Giro 02Giro 03

 

 

 

 

 

 

Piero says that the Sicilians have a unique way of welcoming people and cyclists will not forget this stage.

Giro 10

And here is Piero in the company of our esteemed Marino Bartoletti, who is an excellent sports journalist.

Here’s what Bartoletti wrote on his Facebook page:

“Even the champions of music, accustomed to the audiences of the world, when they live close to a beautiful reality involving the Giro d’Italia become almost children with wide eyes. It happened to Piero Barone of IL VOLO in his Agrigento. He wanted to photograph himself with the pink jersey, shaking hands with dozens of runners, admiring their availability and humility, which are also its characteristics. It was missing only, that Piero asked the autograph of Aru. I think I gave him a little gift that he will not forget.”

And here is the video of Bartoletti’s interview with our Piero.

Translation:

B=Dear Piero, great member of IL VOLO, do you know what this is? It is the “WITHOUT END” trophy, welcome to GIRO D’ITALIA.

P = Thank you, thank you, it’s an honor for me and a truly, a living experience.

B = I see you almost excited, you who live the great theaters, the great masses, the great moments.

P = To know new things is always a pleasure, it is good for everyone. When you phoned me to invite me, I had to free myself from some commitments, but it was really worth it.

B = Do we want to say that we are in Agrigento, and therefore at your house?

P = Yes, I’m from Naro, a village near here, but Agrigento is my land, I was born and raised here, and I keep coming often.

B = Do you love your land a lot?

P = I am in love with my land.

B = Then Piero, an unpublished day for you, what impression did you have of this GIRO D’ITALIA, now that the cyclists are aligning at the start?

P = Definitely I will bring it in my baggage of experiences, I am excited because the GIRO D’ITALIA belongs to everyone, all the riders will not forget this stage and we Sicilians, Agrigentini above all, we will not forget this great experience.

Very good Piero, with your presence you have done a great job!

Daniela

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

Italians in America ~ Ann Scavo (Anncruise)

ital-amer-1

‘Amore’: Italian-American Singers In The 20th Century

American singer and actor Frank Sinatra sits at the piano. Getty Images
American singer and actor Frank Sinatra sits at the piano.
Getty Images

Apparently, Dean Martin didn’t much like the song “That’s Amore,” but in 1953 it became one of his biggest hits. It’s a song that seems to capture a moment in pop history when nearly every hit was performed by an Italian-American singer. The story of “That’s Amore” and the songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Perry Como and others is told in a new book called Amore. Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz recently spoke with the author, Mark Rotella, about Italian singers in 20th-century America.

“That’s Amore” came from a movie called The Caddy, starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; it’s about an Italian man who plays a golf pro and is followed by a faithful caddy. In the movie, when the two return to Italy and are greeted by their Italian family, they break into this song. When we hear it today, it sounds like a caricature of Italian culture. But, Rotella says, it served as an introduction to Italian culture for many Americans.

“It was one of the more obvious ones,” he says. “There were Italian singers before, but this led to other kitschy songs, like Rosemary Clooney’s ‘Mambo Italiano,’ and so many other songs that came after that were kind of kitschy but were also really pop and kind of fun.”

Rotella’s book isn’t just about Italian-American singers. It’s also about a turning point in 20th-century America when Italian entertainers started to be seen as American entertainers. Rotella says that there was a Golden Age of entertainment that started around 1947.

“This is when second- and third-generation Americans of Italian decent were coming of age,” he says. “This is post-war; it was a time of optimism. This era was basically the end of the big band and the beginning of the solo voice, and this lasted through the ’50s, up until I’d say 1964, with The Beatles.”

This was happening during a period when there was a great deal of discrimination against Italians in America. For example, this excerpt was taken from a profile on Joe DiMaggio from Life Magazine in 1939.

“Although he learned Italian first, Joe now speaks English without an accent. … Instead of olive oil or smelly bear grease, he keeps his hair slicked with water. He never reeks of garlic and prefers chicken chow mein to spaghetti.”

These kinds of comments were acceptable in mainstream dialogue, and yet a few years later, Italian singers would dominate the pop charts.

“This is the time when so many singers were now seen on TV,” Rotella says. “They were good-looking. They had a certain sensibility, a certain attitude that was open and charming.”

Rotella says that nearly every singer he interviewed named Enrico Caruso as an influence. Caruso was the first pop artist to sell a million copies of his music, offering his recordings on flat discs for the RCA Victor Vitrolas of the time. Rotella says that this shaped the way music was sold for years to come.

“They sold so much, this really defined how music was recorded and on what medium,” Rotella says. “It was going to be Victor on the flat plastic records.”

One of the singers Rotella includes in his book is none other than the king of the golden age of Italian-American music, Frank Sinatra. Rotella calls Sinatra’s song “Fly Me to the Moon” a metaphor for all of the breakthroughs that Italian singers achieved.

“When you hear the song, it’s optimistic,” he says. “It’s kind of dreamy, forward-thinking, but it’s tough. He says, ‘fly me to the moon,’ but it’s almost as if he’s there already. This is coming at a time when music was going to change. It’s the tail-end of the success of the Rat Pack. It was at this time that almost total assimilation of Italians had happened. In ways, I feel like after this [song], there were so many Italians that followed him. Not necessarily performing Italian music; we wouldn’t necessarily know them as Italians today. This song of reaching the moon seemed to me to be every immigrant’s dream of assimilating.

(Note:  videos were added to this article ~Marie)

ital-amer-3

ital-amer-4

Descendants from Sicilian village keep their heritage alive in America

People from Sciacca, Agrigento congregating outside the local church before leaving for America.
People from Sciacca, Agrigento congregating outside the local church before leaving for America.

Between 1880 and 1920 over four million Italians were recorded as entering the United States.  About three-fourths of these immigrants went through the Ellis Island immigration station with the majority being males between the ages of 24 and 45.

The island of Sicily and the region around Naples, both in the south, accounted for over half the Italians who moved to the U.S. looking for a better life.

According to manifest documents from the ships, so many Sicilians reported ‘Sciacca in Agrigento’ as their home village that immigration inspectors used “ditto” marks to record this information.

Many of these Italians settled in Little Italy neighborhoods all over the country, the most famous being in New York.

Discrimination between Italians in Little Italy was rampant.

Being fiercely provincial and proud of their own regions, the Italians from Naples, Calabria and Bari looked down on Sicilians, particularly those from Sciacca.

Given their humble beginnings, their descendants were taught to be proud of their Sicilian heritage.

Baseball legend Mike Piazza’s father’s family comes from Sciacca, and though he doesn’t speak Italian, the former Mets catcher is fiercely proud of his roots.

“I feel a strong tie to Sicily, since my heritage is there. My grandfather Rosario came from Sciacca, to the United States and my father grew me up following the Italian tradition. I think it’s in our DNA to strive to work hard and persevere,” Piazza said.

“One thing that was present in me was my father’s distinct love of his Italian heritage and Sicilian ancestry.

I can’t tell you how many times my father would say “Amuni a monjare, beddu”, and “mezza mortu”.

He would also take a strong stand against negative Italian American stereotypes saying that they “don’t represent the real Italians”.

Piazza also said he travels to Sciacca regularly. “It’s something I have great pride in knowing how proud my father and grandfather would be if they could see me here.”

Mike Piazza: A proud descendent of Sciacca.
Mike Piazza: A proud descendent of Sciacca.

Musician Jon Bon Jovi is another who is descended from emigrants from Siacca. In 2013, Bongiovi Sr. gladly shared his family’s pasta sauces – the recipes for which originated in Sciacca and were passed down through three generations.

Cartoon artist, director and producer Joseph Barbera, who formed Hanna-Barbera with William Hanna, is another who is descended from emigrants from Sciacca. Both his parents were born in Sciacca and he grew up speaking Italian.

Alicia Keys is another who has found out about her large extended Italian family. Her great-grandfather Michiele was from Sciacca.

Mike Marino, most famous for his hilarious segment about an Italian president from New Jersey, is another who is descended from emigrants from Sciacca.

As his grandfather once said: “YOU MAY LEAVE SICILY – BUT SICILY NEVER LEAVES YOU.”

 

How Sciacca looks today
How Sciacca looks today

ital-amer-3

 

ital-amer-8

 

Four Presidents, a Mountain and an Italian Chief Carver: the Long Forgotten History of Luigi del Bianco

by FRANCESCA BEZZONE

Luigi del Bianco working at Mount Rushmore
Luigi del Bianco working at Mount Rushmore
Everyone knows Mount Rushmore, with its iconic representations of four of the most important presidents of US history: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, F.D. Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. As a child, I remember being fascinated by their stoney, gigantic faces and I often wondered how someone could have made them look so perfect and lifelike; as you would expect from a  5 year old, I thought a single sculptor spent his entire life carving the mountain on his own,  with his scalpel in one hand and a hammer in the other, failing to understand that a project of such  a magnitude had very likely involved hundreds of people through a number of years.
Even if I had known that then, I certainly would not have been aware of the essential role of Italy in the creation of the Mount Rushmore Memorial, because its recognition came only in very recent times, when a previously unknown Friuli Venezia-Giulia migrant, Luigi del Bianco, was recognised as chief carver of the monument.
Bringing justice to Luigi
History tells us that, between the 4th of October 1927 and the 31st of October 1941, 400 people worked on the sculpting and carving of Mount Rushmore. They were led by Gutzon Borglum and his son, sculptors and artists of Danish descent.
Among those 400 workers, in 1935 made his appearance Luigi del Bianco, from Meduno, in the north eastern region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, who had studied carving in Venice and Vienna before trying his luck on the other side of the ocean and emigrating to the United States.  Del Bianco’s name became known among historians and specialists of Mount Rushmore when his own grandson, Lou del Bianco, and his late uncle Caesar, began a strenuous campaign to have the role of their own ancestor in the making of the Mount Rushmore Memorial recognised.
It was the Italian Luigi del Bianco the artist who gave to America's timeless stone presidents their life-like features and immortal gaze.
It was the Italian Luigi del Bianco the artist who gave to America’s timeless stone presidents their life-like features and immortal gaze.
Because Caesar and Lou both believed Luigi had been more than a simple worker at the site, they set on a quest: demonstrating it to the world. It was Caesar, son of Luigi, who started the amazing adventure in the late 1980s, when Rex Allen Smith published “The Carving of Mount Rushmore:” here, the name of his father never appeared. Caesar was gutted.
More than 20 years later D.J. Gladstone, the author of the ultimate work on del Bianco, “Carving a Niche for Himself” (2014), would say that talking about Mount Rushmore without mentioning Luigi del Bianco was the equivalent of talking about the Yankees without mentioning Joe DiMaggio: but how much research, work and perseverance was behind such a statement. The research, work  and perseverance of Caesar and his nephew  Lou, who explored libraries, unearthed documents and campaigned for recognition, refusing to let their relative fall into oblivion.
After Caesar’s death in 2009, Lou took up his mission in full and it’s also thanks to his relentless  efforts that Cameron Sholly, current director of the Midwest region for the National Park Services, accepted to reassess Luigi del Bianco’s role in the inception and creation of Mount Rushmore. Shelley came to the conclusion that  del Bianco’s grandson was right: Luigi had been, indeed, the main carver at the site, the artist who gave to America’s timeless stone presidents their life-like features and immortal gaze.
Who was Luigi del Bianco?
Chief carver at Mount Rushmore, of course, but his life held much more than that. He was born in 1892 aboard a ship near Le Havre, in France, while his parents had been returning to Italy from the United States. The family, as said, settled in the North East of Italy and it’s there that 11 year old Luigi started studying carving and understood how talented he was. Still an adolescent, he had travelled to the US for the first time and settled with relatives in Vermont: there, he became known as a skilful carver. After returning to Italy to serve his country during the First World War, he was in Vermont once more and then settled in Port Chester, where his family still resides today.
While in Port Chester, del Bianco met Borglum, with whom he began to work: it was the beginning of the collaboration who was to bring him to South Dakota and to Mount Rushmore where, as chief carver, he became responsible of refining the presidents’ facial expressions. According to The Times, he spent a particularly long time sculpting Lincoln’s face and his eyes, whose pupils were made more vibrant by inserting wedges of granite in them. He worked at Mount Rushmore from 1935 to 1941, when he returned to Port Chester. Here he died in 1969, at the age of 78, because of silicosis, a disease caused, tragically, by the same thing that gave him so much joy in life: stone.
 ital-amer-3