An interview with Ermelinda De Bartoli by Susan De Bartoli.
A few days ago, someone shared one of my stories on Facebook and Ermelinda commented on it. She said: “Susan, Ignazio was my student until the second year of high school when after being launched with the others in the Italian broadcast they were discovered. After then he really took off … I really saw him take off.”
When I read this I said, wouldn’t it be great to have Ermelinda tell us a little bit about Ignazio as a teenager? And Ermelinda graciously accepted my invitation to be interviewed. The interview was in Italian. Below is the English translation.
Susan: How many years were you Ignazio’s teacher?
Ermelinda: I had Ignazio in class the first two years of social economic high school.
Susan: How would you describe Ignazio as a student?
Ermelinda: He was a quiet student who attended with good interest.
Susan: Ignazio’s mother said Ignazio was always very serious and responsible! How would you describe him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: I met him when he was only 14 years old. He was at the beginning of adolescence and he was always joking. He was very attached to his family. He grew up in Bologna because the family moved there for work and at the age of 10 he moved to Marsala when the family decided to return. In Marsala he attended middle school and two years of high school. At school he was playful and sociable, with a very open and modest character. He often told us about his passion for singing which he studied with a teacher. His life as a teenager was not hard, because, as soon as he started his career at the age of 15, his life changed due to the numerous commitments linked to his success and the new path taken with Il Volo.
Susan: Would you say Ignazio was shy?
Ermelinda: Ignazio has never been shy! As I said he was always joking. In class, he was a driving force in terms of sociality and aggregation.
Susan: They call Ignazio the funny one in the group. Was Ignazio funny when he was your student?
Ermelinda: In the classroom it was fun because even though sometimes he was not very prepared in some lessons he intervened trying to repeat even what he did not know but he did it with such sympathy that we smiled at each other … and he also made a lot of self-irony about his being chubby, he lived this state of awareness without any concern or sympathy. His beautiful character dominated everything.
Susan: Ignazio is very kind and compassionate. Was this something you noticed about him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: He was very generous and affable to everyone. In particular, he was very compassionate towards some pupils with disabilities, with whom he often conversed, holding them in high regard and showing empathy. I remember an episode one evening after he won Ti Lascio Una Canzone, the whole class with me and another colleague went to the pizzeria. Ignazio was just fifteen and, when it was time to pay the bill, he came to me and said: “Professor, you are my guest.” I understood that in him there was so much kindness in his manner and in his soul, in this case, a kind gesture towards a woman.
Susan: Were you amazed when you first heard Ignazio sing?
Ermelinda: During the hours of musical education, we turned on the PC monitor, we put on the Karaoke and, while not being able to hear the music due to lack of speakers, Ignazio would stand there and sing a cappella and his voice was already so powerful that it expanded to the corridors and from there a little bit in front of our door, where pupils gathered from other classes. They were ecstatic! Given the exceptional nature of the moment they had permission from their teachers to leave the classrooms to listen to him sing. The other thing is that while he sang, I felt shivers and so did many of his companions who expressed the same sensation.
Susan: When Ignazio was your student, he was already studying with Lilliana Adreanò. Ignazio said he had a great passion for soccer and, he loved to play every afternoon but, it had been less so after he started taking singing lessons. He said, “I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest.” How do you think Ignazio saw his future at that time?
Ermelinda: It is true to study singing he began to leave other hobbies. After Ti Lascio Una Canzone, despite having being praised by these great Italian singers, who sang with him, I remember that he told all this with great modesty and simplicity and despite the fact that he had won he never spoke of great expectations nor did he delude himself, at least, until the moment in which Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis hired them after a short time, to form Il Volo. I heard the comments on him by experts such as Claudio Cecchetto and Al Bano who, when he told him that he had recently taken singing lessons, was amazed.
Another detail that I noticed is that while he sang he always kept his eyes closed and he told me that he was doing it because having recently lost his grandfather, who he adored, while he sang it was he who Ignazio thought of and he sang with his heart
Susan: How did you see Ignazio’s future at that time?
Ermelinda: During that winter he went to Rome every week for the broadcast, he was still attending school. The problem arose when they signed the first contract and then he could no longer attend school because the tours around the world began immediately.
Susan: Ignazio went from your classroom to Ti Lascio Una Canzone and immediately became a star. You told me after the Italian program, he just took off. You said you saw him take off! What was it like watching all of this happen before your eyes? Did it seem like it was all happening very fast?
Ermelinda: Of course having seen him “take flight” in a short time and, see him pass by the school desks, and then on a stage was for me, as for all his companions, a great emotion and a source of great pride.
Susan: Did you see a change in Ignazio during this time?
Ermelinda: Ignazio was still at school, after his first success, and with all of us, he always remained himself … with a modesty and genuineness that still distinguishes him today.
Susan: During the performances Ignazio sang with some really great singers. Massimo Ranieri, Albano, Fausto Leali to name a few. These singers were in awe of him. Do you think that Ignazio understood what was happening to him?
Ermelinda: Yes, these singers were more than in awe of what they heard, they were astonished, something that Ignazio confirmed when we asked him. And, to think that he was still a kid, and had not yet completed the development of the vocal cords.
Yes, Ignazio from the point of view of his singing ability had already understood in comparison with these famous singers that he had what it takes to become even greater.
Susan: How did your other students feel about what was going on in Ignazio’s life?
Ermelinda: His classmates were very happy and excited. Every Saturday night none of us left the house. We all waited to see Ignazio on TV … and on Monday when he returned to school, for the class, it was a riot and bursting questions, and also a source of pride to kids as they were, to have him as a companion … the little big star, their friend.
Susan: Did the other students treat him any differently when he returned to class?
Ermelinda: Pupils from other classes certainly looked at him with more interest
Susan: You had to be very proud of Ignazio. Can you tell us how this made you feel to see your student on TV and watch him take his first step towards stardom?
Ermelinda: During his performances of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, being still a kid and not going out much alone, even the people of Marsala followed him with pride. People who knew him in school as that, chubby boy, still in the grass, at that moment obviously aroused a lot of interest especially among the boys.
Susan: I would imagine there was great excitement in Marsala during Ti Lascio Una Canzone. Ignazio said people started to recognize him. What did Ignazio’s performance on Ti Lascio Una Canzone do for the people of Marsala? What did you notice was going on with the people of Marsala?
Ermelinda: Let’s say that the reaction of the people of Marsala began “as soon as he started” in Il Volo and reached its peak when they won the Sanremo festival.
Susan: Did you every stop to think about how this all happened? How did a young man from a very simple family suddenly become a superstar?
Ermelinda: It often occurred to me that what was happening to Ignazio was a fairy tale … of those things that you think can only happen in fairy tales. He is a boy with a great talent hitherto unknown, from a very modest family but very united and with healthy values, he was able to tread the scenes of half the world … from his cottage in the countryside to a duet with Barbra Streisand and much more that we know.
The way in which all this happened is told by the facts that there was a first revelation of his talent and Ti Lasco Una Canzone, as we know, could remain there as it happens to many without getting anything else; then as he also said he had the luck of an intuition of the director who suggested to the managers Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis to form the trio.
Susan: We are in a pandemic now and while the music world is trying to restart, Ignazio, at age 25 and already a superstar, has made his debut as a music producer. He has his own production company, Floki! Ignazio said, “Production has always been my dream. It started with an idea to give a chance to those who deserve a break.” I know Ignazio has helped many young aspiring artists get a start. How do you see Ignazio in his role as a producer?
Ermelinda: Yes, Ignazio at 25 is already a star, aware that he too has skipped the stages of adolescence a bit, a period in which there are more joys than duties, but he has always said that all this deprivation has always been filled with his love for music and today he also finds himself working as a producer. From what I know about him in my opinion this new path was born above all from his constant desire to want to help others.
Susan: How did you feel when Il Volo won Sanremo?
Ermelinda: When Il Volo won in Sanremo, that evening, in addition to the great emotion, I retraced the periods of when Ignazio was still young, always talking with humility about his first successes and I also thought that from the beginning I told myself that he was a phenomenon, so seeing him on that stage, the most important in Italy, was for me just as it was for all Marsala people.
Susan: When Ignazio returned to Marsala after winning Sanremo, the whole city came out to greet him. Can you tell us about that?
Ermelinda: When he returned to Marsala after Sanremo, the Municipality organized a ceremony in his honor to award him the title of “Ambassador of Marsala in the World,” which took place first in the hall of the city council whose images were projected simultaneously on a large screen on the square where we were thousands of people. I remember that his speech was directed to all those talented guys who deserve to be helped to be able to take off and that he with some of them was trying to do it. Afterwards he took to the square and I tell you what everyone did with warmth and recognition emanated from that square: I sang “Grande Amore” with everyone in the square … a unique emotion.
Susan: Finally, what would you like to add about Ignazio that we haven’t already covered?
Ermelinda: I think I have said everything about him of what I know and what I have had the opportunity to perceive. When I talk about Ignazio, with others, I always say that he is very humble, modest and always very affectionate with the people who meet him. I still say: “Ignazio, is a beautiful soul.”
Ermelinda I want to thank you on behalf of all the fans for sharing your great memories of Ignazio and I would like to invite you to come back with anything that tells us more about your experiences with our beloved Ignazio!
One final note, you may have noticed that Ermelinda and I have the same last name. Ermelinda lives in Marsala and I live in New York. About a month ago I got a message from Ermelinda asking me about my roots because she and I have the same last name. I told her my grandfather was from Calabria but, I recently got an update on my DNA and found out I have roots in Marsala. Ermelinda wrote back and said we must be related because we are the only de Bartoli’s in Marsala. This is something I plan to investigate more. I would be very happy if this lovely lady and I are related. Who knows, Il Volo may have helped me find some long, lost, relatives. Thank you, guys!
And finally, after four months the moment has arrived. The occasion was the Dolce & Gabbana fashion show in Milan.
IL VOLO, as guests, sang together again. Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca sang the beautiful, sweet Italian songs.
In times of pandemic, the parade was held outdoors, on the “university campus” in Milan. Few people admitted, unfortunately.
A men’s fashion show, many models ……….. but how beautiful our boys were, elegant, in blue suits, but with a touch of sportiness in the white sneakers.
They are in excellent shape, beautiful and with perfect voices and finally together again.
They started by singing “Torna a Sorrento”.
I want to remind you, that the D&G fashion show is inspired by the colors and geometries of the Amalfi coast, which find their uniqueness also in the architecture of the beautiful Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento.
The parade has started and while the models paraded with the D&G creations, Il Volo accompanied with:
O Sole Mio
Un Amore così Grande
‘O surdato ‘nnammurato
Nel blu dipinto di blu – Volare
Here is the video of the parade. 😁😁😁
Really a mini concert.
As good as ever and perhaps even more, because the voices, rested from the long run, were magnificent and Ignazio performed all the high notes at the end! ️🎶
Congratulations guys, it is a great pleasure to see you again and hear your voices together!
While Il Volo sang Volare, Dolce & Gabbana entered, wearing masks, they went on stage where the boys were singing.
There was a short speech from Alberto Mantovani,head of immunology at Humanitas University.
In the end Dolce and Gabbana thanked Il Volo and everyone present.
The event was also published in newspapers, including the New York Times.
A very nice article of the show was published online by The Impression.
The Italian RAI 2 news broadcast a short video of the show parade. and in the comments they said that all the participants, including the guys from Il Volo, gave up their fees by evolving them for research.
And here are the guys in the backstage of the parade, together with the people who work so that everything goes well !!
But that’s not all, there is other good news!
Yesterday it was announced that Saturday 18 July, at the Ancient Theater of Taormina, Dolce & Gabbana will present the film by Giuseppe Tornatore: DEVOTION, with Monica Bellucci and with music by Ennio Morricone.
At the end of the film, there will be a Il Volo performance to close the evening.
Of course in pandemic times, very few places are available due to the distance, but all this means that we are starting again, that things are improving.
Here is the announcement of the event.
How much good news, finally a wave of positivity!
These are small steps towards the recovery of normalcy. Here everything has started and now everything is normalizing, this time will come to you too, you have to wait and not be in a hurry.
But what about our beloved Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero ?? What a thrill to see them again and hear their splendid voices.
Thanks guys, indirectly you have donated a mini-concert to us too. Thanks also to D&G who allowed all this.
See you on Saturday…….
Taormina, a dream, how many of you would like to be there?? 😊😍
Hello folks! I hope everyone is having a great 4th of July in the USA! We are having quite the hot summer here in Michigan, with these past few weeks in the low 90s and this week, all 90s! Thought I would repost our little adventure from July 4, 2016, for all to enjoy again! 🙂 It was certainly the best 4th of July I will ever remember!! 🙂
Everyone please stay safe and wear a mask, the virus seems to be coming back with a vengeance again in the US! 🙁
Ciao! Yes, it’s been a little while since my last story of adventure…but I continue!
Ah, Venice Mestre train station. This was our shortest train ride, only about an hour or so to Verona from Venice. We got to the train station very early, since we were only about 10 minutes away. We got there in plenty of time before our departure of 8:32am. We were able to have a leisurely breakfast and scout out our train track. The Venice train station was not quite as sophisticated as Florence, so we knew we had to go down and up again to find our train. We looked on the schedule, but could not see our train. There were three trains to Verona,but none that left at our exact time. That seemed strange. So, we made our best guestimate and chose the one track. I was still a bit skeptical, but the time was the closest. I was able to ask a lady, in Italian, and she seemed to think we were on the wrong one, we needed to be a few tracks over and the schedule was on the posted sign. I think it was like a regular commuter train, so it didn’t have a special departure scheduled, which is why it wasn’t posted. I went back to Lorna and we discussed it. It kind of made sense, but we stayed where we were anyway. Ok, here comes our train. We get on where we think our car is, but when we boarded, there were no seat numbers on the seats. We had first class tickets with assigned seating! I said aloud, in English, “But there are no numbers on the seats?”A nice, young lady heard me speaking in English and said, “You are on the wrong train!”“What? Dove?,” I said, and showed her our tickets. She pointed to the other track, same track the other lady told us. I looked at my phone – it was 8:27a!We literally had 5 minutes to get down and back up again, and make it to the other train. We literally FLEWoff that train and a nice Italian gentleman hefted our suitcases up the long flight of stairs to the other side. We were literally walking/running as fast as we could toward our train. The conductor saw us and asked if we were on this train, we said yes. We started to get on and he said, no, other car. Then he changed his mind and said to go ahead, and we could walk from there. We literally no sooner got on the train and it took off! It was the last train to Verona for that day!Yes, we almost missed the Verona concert! Ok, “dove” the prosecco that morning!
We made it to the Verona train station – again, similar to Venice, we had to once again go down the closet-sized elevator and up the other side. Another long wait for the taxi, but we made it. When we got there, it was still quite early and check-in wasn’t until much later in the afternoon. So, we were able to stow our bags in the reception area. The concierge gave us a map of the city and we took off, map and Google Maps in hand on our way to find out where the Arena di Verona was. Looked like it was in walking distance from the hotel, so we set off. It reminded me of “following the yellow brick road” except it was a wide asphalt running/walking path to the main part of the city. We quickly got off the map we were sort of following and I gave up and got out Google again. We got turned around a few times, but I figured it out. On the way to the Arena, Lorna stopped in a shoe shop and bought these really cool flowered tennis shoes. The sun was playing peek-a-boo with the clouds and it looked like it might rain. When we neared the Arena, the sun finally decided it was going to stick around. I took a few pictures as we were in the surroundings of the arena with a plethora of outdoor restaurants/cafes to choose from for lunch. We had worked up quite the appetite by then.
We walked to the arena to see exactly where it was and where the entrances were. After that, we perused the various restaurants and picked out a table. It ended up being a beautiful afternoon and we splurged on our lunch that day. Lorna had some kind of pasta with seafood. I had a Caprese salad and a pizza and we even had a bottle of Moscato. It was a very leisurely lunch and we just chatted and relaxed and wondered where the guys might be?We finally decided it was time to go. On our way, we passed by this one hotel and there were a herd of girls standing outside. Ok, this must be the place! Lol! Yes, apparently the guys were staying at the hotel aptly called “The Gentleman of Verona.” No, we never saw them, although we strolled by and asked the girls if this was where Il Volo was. Of course they said yes. We kept walking and continued our tour of the city, with the sun playing more peek-a-boo with the clouds. With my faithful companion of Google Maps, we took the long way around, but thankfully made it back to the hotel. It was late enough by then, so we could check in. Another small elevator, but at least we both fit. We got to our room and it was very nice. The sun decided it was going to stay out at last. We had a tiny, enclosed, little balcony with a window you could open. The view from our room was gorgeous and amazing. You could see over the entire city. Took some more pictures and then we decided to relax a little. We took a nap and decided we’d get ready and take a cab to the Arena. I was still trying to hook up with Betty, but we kept missing each other! When we got downstairs we asked the concierge to call us a cab again, to the Arena. She said had just called one for 2 other ladies and maybe we could share it? We thought that would be nice, so we went outside and communicated roughly in Italian, and asked if they were going to Il Volo also and could we share the cab. They said yes. We got in and was happily expecting to share the cab fare and they paid the whole thing! Such nice Italian hospitality! We were still a bit full from lunch, but decided we should eat something. So, we went back to the same restaurant where we had lunch. However, we just ordered dessert. Lorna had Tiramisu and espresso, and I had chocolate torte cake. We also ordered another bottle of Moscato. The cake was good, although a bit on the dry side. As previously mentioned, Lorna graciously let me have the 2nd row seat…but as we were sitting at our table, we were watching the crowd get in line – it was over an hour before the concert started. People were everywhere! It was kind of crazy. We knew we had assigned seats, so we thought we’d just sit and watch everyone instead. We finally gave up and decided to fight our way through the crowds. Lorna went first, as she went through a different entrance. I paid the bill and ventured on to the other side of the Arena. I showed my ticket and they let me in. I bought a few souvenir t-shirts and scarves and found my way to the 2nd row seat. My new friends Veronica, Laura, and Daniela, arrived about 15 minutes later. This was exciting. Before the concert began, we heard the orchestra warming up “Per Te Ci Saro” was playing! Oh, yes, I was finally going to hear them sing it live! Since I reviewed the concert already, a few days after it happened, I won’t go into detail again. Yes, you are welcome. Lol! But a quick recap of starting with “Per Te Ci Saro” and ending with their usual 2 of “Surrender” and “Grande Amore” it was pretty awesome. And I swear it happened just that quickly. Again, I was quite surprised they did the Godfather routine…
Insert actual concert review….
For me, this was the most magical and perfect concert ever. Not only was it a perfectly beautiful evening weather-wise, I FINALLY got to hear all my favorite songs. They really picked the best of the best for this finale concert. The stage and the lighting were magnificent. They had the monitors and also the videos going for many of the songs. I thought for sure we were going to be blinded by the lights again, but it was only once or twice.
I finally got my dream come true and into my Il Volo trance I went. They started with Per te ci saro!! OMG, I sang the whole thing! I wanted to stand after every song, but the Italians don’t do that. They did stand after the solos and duets. There were few empty seats…Lorna was so awesome, she let me have the 2nd row seat for the entire concert. I will remember it forever.
Even thought it was second row, we were still quite far from the stage. Like the orchestra pit area was empty of chairs and unlike the first Verona concert in September last year, the stage did not come out in the middle.
Their voices were of course perfection and Igna added his own to the end of My Piove – a little jazzier riffs and Gian joined him for a few…
Yes, they sang my favorites – Per te, l’more si muove, torne l’amore, canzone per te. They even did a slight sketch of the Godfather routine. Igna even sang Allegria and didn’t cry. No Ancora though….
Gian sang Bridge…and it was incredible. I remember telling Donna it would get better after we heard it in LA and she said “how could it get better?” It did!!
I think someone mentioned that they were filming part of that movie where the guys are going to be part of it about opera. Apparently, the guy who is the star actor was in the front row a few seats down from us. And?! The guys were cuter!! Lol! They did this filming during the concert, but it was no big deal.
The one big shocker was that they did not sing O Sole Mio! Not disappointed as they left in Surrender!! Igna and Piero did their thing.
Since I was in the 2nd row, I imagine I’ll be somewhere in the DVD and group shot in the end. My split second of fame. Lol! I was in a pink dress to the right of the stage.
I did not see any of the immediate family except for Mary Grace, Piero’s sister and I think Alessio? Gianluca’s friend. At the end, Igna went over and gave this older guy a bear hug and picked him up, but no clue who he was. He looked a little like one of his uncles.
If people want to know what to give Igna at the next m/g I would suggest a belt. He was pulling up his pants the entire night!
I took some pictures and taped a few songs, but my phone camera and the lights were not friends.
By the time you read this, pictures will be all over everywhere, as well as videos.
Did I say how incredibly awesome it was???? Igna was also playing the piano and a few other instruments. Gian was wearing tennis shoes and racing across the stage every so often.
Don’t get me wrong, the tenor concert was awesome also, but this was more special and magical for me, as I have been waiting to hear these songs live for as long as most of you!
It was all in Italian except Igna said Thank You. I did not quite catch what was going on, but something about studying their speech for the next song, etc. I also had my friend Veronica to translate a few things for me!
I’m still trying to realize I’m in Italy! I’ve seen the guys 5 times now this year. You just keep thinking when is the next time? They are planning another tenor tribute concert in the arena next May 17, but you know, nothing is ever as special as the first time! My guess is that they might incorporate a few of those songs into their regular concerts next tour.
Ok, it is now a little after 2am! I really need some sleep if I can, that is.
They really outdid themselves with this one!!
Part of my mission to the Verona concert was to take a few little presents to 2 friends of Sharon’s. They were sitting in the front row, but on the other side. Unfortunately, security would not let me leave my seat, even though it was just a row up. Fortunately, I was able to text her and Veronica communicated in Italian of my plight. Luckily, we were able to connect after the concert. Lorna and I also quickly met up afterward and Veronica took our pictures. We then made our way to the taxi line and got back to our hotel. I was determined I did not want to forget a thing, so I stayed up til about 2am finishing my post! Was the shortest night on record. We had to be at the train station very early, as we had a 7a train to Rome and it was a 3-hour trip. After what I believe was about a 3-4 hour “nap” I dragged myself out of bed about 5:30a to take a shower and we were out of there. Again, missing breakfast at the hotel! Next stop – Roma and the Adriatic Sea!
In these days, many fan pages have published a video with the reactions of those who listen to the songs of Il Volo.
I have already made a post with this type of video, but I have done a search and I have seen that many other videos have been made and they are really very instructive, yes, because it is nice to see the reactions, in particular of the faces, of those who listen to the voices of our boys the first time. 😊
Let’s start with the reaction to listening to GRANDE AMORE (Eurovision).
Let’s continue with MUSICA CHE RESTA.
And finally, this nice video.
It is truly surprising to see the enthusiasm of those who listen to the beautiful voices of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.
Everyone particularly appreciates collective harmonies, because when their voices come together, they take us to fantastic places of ideal beauty.
In a world where, unfortunately, there are also many bad things, fly with your imagination where only Il Volo can take you. ✈ 🌟 ❤️
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.
Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!