In a number of articles, I’ve mentioned the Amadè-Boschetto concert which was organized through the Cultural and Artistic Center “Ignazio Boschetto,” with the support of The Town Hall of Marsala.The Teatro Impero Archipelago hall has long applauded this initiative which brought together several artists from Marsala. This concert was held in February 2014.
This was a wonderful collaboration between Ignazio Boschetto and Roberto Amadè to help young people in their careers. In February 2014, Katya Pantaleo, a young singer from Marsala, won the Premio della Critica at Sanremo with the song “Come in Paradiso” music, lyrics and arrangement by Ignazio.
Many of you have asked me who Roberto Amadè is and how this collaboration came about with Ignazio?
Roberto Amadè is an Italian singer and songwriter. He was born in Vercelli, Italy on April 3, 1982. He is the son of Claudio Chapel bassist in the Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala of Milan since 1979. Like Ignazio, Roberto plays multiple instruments. He graduated from the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts of Turin. One of his works entitled “Abbado”(dedicated to the conductor Claudio Abbado) is on exhibition at the Teatro alla Scala Foundation.
Roberto was very fascinated by music for cinema and in 2008 he composed the soundtrack for the film “La terra nelanque”(The Land in the Blood).
In December 2010, Roberto was the winner of Arena Sanremo with the song “Come Poggia,”(Like Rain) and thus was admitted to the 2011 Sanremo Festival where he won third place in the “Young” category. The song “Come Poggia” is arranged by Roberto Amadè together with Celso Valli. (We know the name Celso Valli, he was also one of the producers of Il Volo.)
With his participation in 2011 Sanremo Festival, his debut album “Tutti gli incanti della vita”(All the Charms of Life) was re-released on February 16, 2011, with the new title “Come Poggia,” by Universal Music Group and Roberto, at the time, came under contract with Michele Torpedine. And so, the friendship with Ignazio begins.
Two amazing entertainers and one smart manager!
But Roberto’s talent doesn’t stop there! I would like to turn your attention to a special project that Roberto has been working on. It’s called Leri Cavour. As I mentioned, Roberto was born in Vercelli and he has been married for nine years to Marianna Fusilli, who was also born in Vercelli. They have three children, Amelie Grace, Isabel and Xavier.
This is what Roberto wrote about the founding of the Leri Cavour Foundation. “Thanks to my father, I discovered my love for Music and Art and I have always pursued both disciplines with passion and dedication.
So, after graduating in painting at the Albertina Academy of Fine Arts of Turin, I met Michele Torpedine and signed a contract with Universal Music Group.
In 2011, I participated in the 61st Sanremo Festival qualifying third in the young proposals category. In 2014, I did a live in-theater with Ignazio Boschetto of the opera trio “Il Volo” with whom a great friendship was born and is still alive today.”
The Abandoned Village of Leri Cavour
“On November 1st, 2018, during a visit to the Borgo di Leri with my wife, Marianna, our lives changed. We were enchanted by a wonder of history that was left incredibly alone like a diamond in the desert. We understand that Leri’s rebirth can be concrete and we can see for a few seconds, in front of our eyes, the project already completed. Thus, we began a journey made of research, sharing and discoveries that animate our daily life, deeply convinced that the history of all of us Italians must be preserved and not lost.”
Roberto and his wife Marianna along with Luciano Vigani took on the project of restoring Leri Cavour. The great love for the history of Leri and the deep conviction in its rebirth pushes Luciano to be strongly present in every activity of protection and recovery of the Borgo.
The area that is now known as Leri Cavour has long been an example of agricultural growth. Having been the site of a religious order as far back as the 15th century, the land was used to grow grain and other crops as the farmers’ processes evolved. The rural production thrived until the land was acquired by Napoleon who then sold it off to help pay a debt, which is how it found its way into the hands of the Marquis Michele Benso di Cavour. The property changed hands many times and by the late 1960s, Leri Cavour was abandoned.
On November 1st, 2020 Roberto said, “Today is an important day, to celebrate, despite everything and despite the serious moment we are living in the world. Today marks exactly two years…. Two years full of dreams, projects, friendships. It was November 1st, 2018 and in that very moment Marianna and I decided to dedicate our lives to Leri Cavour. For a short moment, before our eyes, everything was clear, precise; there was no hesitation about what we should have done. I remember it was windy. We looked at Cavour’s house, we looked at each other…. it was there, in that precise moment, that it all started.
The first flame was born that day two years ago, it’s true, but that same fire today is inside many people, men and women who became friends, who became a big family for us. It’s an incredible emotion to see them every day in the village so full of passion. I still cannot express how proud I am of them. Do you know what drives us apart from the initial flame? PERSEVERANCE! The only attitude so strong that we can always carry on, even when at first, we were crazy, even when we found the abusive campers who started the fire or the French who wanted to run us off the road or when we found the Gypsies in the church or the nutrient hunter…. perseverance leads us to keep taking care of Leri every day, find a broken window and fix it…. find it broken and keep fixing it because if it’s true that Leri is an ambitious and immense project, so should our vision and our feelings. Because in the end Perseverance is an act of love, a love the World will always need!”
We thank Ignazio for introducing us to this amazing man.
We wish Roberto, Marianna and Luciano much success in this wonderful project.
This is one of many projects that are going on in Italy today. Many feel as Roberto does that Italy’s history must be preserved!
To learn more about the Leri Cavour project visit their website:
Ignazio’s Chicken Marsala and Tortellini with Pesto Sauce
When I read Daniela’s article on The Support of Il Volo about the porticoes of Bologna being nominated for recognition by UNESCO, I remembered that I did series on Cooking Il Volo Style and with Ignazio’s recipe I spoke about the Portico of San Luca. So, I decided to share this series with you again.
Today we will make Ignazio’s own recipe for Chicken Marsala. We actually have a video of him making it. But let’s start in Bologna where Ignazio was born. I decided to include a recipe from the Emilia-Romagna region.
Originally I made Gnocchi but in Daniela’s article Ignazio said on Sunday morning walks, with the family, in the center, under the portico there was lady who made fresh pasta and he said they would buy Tortellini from her. So, Tortellini it is!
Let’s begin with some history of Bologna where Ignazio was born and some history from Marsala where Ignazio moved to at the age of 10. Let’s start with Bologna.
Bologna is a city in northern Italy that is about a one hour drive north from Florence. Over the centuries, Bologna has acquired many nicknames: “La Grassa” (the fat) refers to its cuisine, in which the most famous specialties are prepared using rich meats (especially pork), egg pasta and dairy products, such as butter and Parmesan cheese.
To discover Bologna, we need to step back in time to the 6th century BC when it was known by the Etruscans as Felsina. It was one of the most important settlements in the Po Valley. Bologna has numerous archaeological remnants of an early civilization.
Eventually, Bologna fell to the Romans, a colony was set up and it was renamed Bononia. Its strategic position on the ancient Via Emilia road gave it a certain prestige in the area. During the Roman occupation of Bononia it is believed that as many as 20,000 people lived there.
When the Roman Empire declined in the 5th century AD, so too did the city. The city was sacked and variously groups such as the Goths, the Huns, the Lombards and the Visigoths occupied it. Bologna’s fortunes declined but, it managed to slowly regain its former political and economic stability.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city expanded and extended beyond the confines of its defensive wall. It was in the mid-18th century that the Portico of San Luca was built. The Emilia-Romagna region of Italy is known for its porticos. In all the cities the shops are covered by porticos so you can shop in any weather. Entire blocks are covered by porticos. The most famous being the Portico of San Luca. The history is quite long but briefly, the portico was built to protect the painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus (which is believed to have been painted by St. Luke) as it is processed from the Basilica of San Luca on the top of the mountain to the Basilica of St. Peters in the city center. The Portico was built to protect the painting from the rain. This procession happens every May. The San Luca portico is the longest covered walkway in the world.
Let’s turn to Marsala where Ignazio moved to when he was 10 years old.
Marsala is a town located in the Province of Trapani in the westernmost part of Sicily. It is built on the ruins of the ancient Carthaginian city of Lilybaeum, and within its territory is the archaeological site of the island of Mozia, an ancient Phoenician town. (Mozia is a small island, formerly known as Motia and San Pantaleo in the Trapani province, in Sicily. It lies in the Stagnone Lagoon and is generally included as a part of the commune of Marsala.)
The Carthaginian army set out to conquer Selinunte in 409 BC and landed and camped near the site of the later Lilybaeum. In 397 BC when the Phoenician colony of Mozia on the southwestern coast of Sicily was invaded and destroyed by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysius I, the survivors founded a town on the mainland nearby, the site of modern-day Marsala, which they called by a Punic name meaning “Town that Looks on Libya.”
Many armies invaded but, with the arrival of Arabic Berbers at the nearby Granitola mount the rebirth of the town started. The town was renamed Marsala. The modern name, Marsala, likely derived from the Arabic (marsā llāh)“God’s Harbor.”
Since the end of the 11th century, the area has been conquered by Norman, Angevin and Aragonese troops. During this time, Marsala became wealthy, primarily through trade. However the blocking up of the harbor of Punta Alga, decreed by Emperor Charles V to stop Saracen forays, brought an end to this period of prosperity.
The development of Marsala wine at the end of the 18th century, headed by English merchant John Woodhouse, from Liverpool, who exported the fortified wine, triggered an economic expansion in Marsala. Other English and Sicilian businessmen followed his example, and it was in fact one of these men, Joseph Whitaker, who began excavating and piecing together the history of Marsala.
The history of Bologna and Marsala are long and rich and, it would take too long to talk about here. Take the time to look it up. It’s interesting!
Now to the recipe. The first recipe today is Tortellini with Pesto Sauce and I’m going to make this very easy for you.
Tortellini is a ring-shaped Italian pasta stuffed with cheese or meat that is most traditionally served in broth. For our recipe we are using Pesto Sauce but, many people make it with tomato sauce. It can also be made with a tomato sauce with mushrooms or meat. Tortellini originates from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and it is particularly associated with Bologna. (Just a note Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)
Tortellini with Pesto Sauce
Tortellini – there are different kinds of Tortellini. The most common is stuffed with cheese
Pesto Sauce in a Jar (Pesto Sauce has pine nuts in it so, if you are allergic to nuts or tree nuts perhaps you shouldn’t eat this.)
Boil the water for the pasta. Add a handful of salt to the water. This will prevent the Tortellini from sticking together. When the water boils, throw in the Tortellini and follow the cooking instruction on the package.
For Pesto Sauce just open the jar and add it to the pasta. It is not necessary to heat. The hot pasta will heat it.
Now to Ignazio’s Chicken Marsala!
It’s easy to make Ignazio’s chicken.
The ingredients are:
Chicken Cutlets (not too thinly sliced)
Just a pinch of Cinnamon
In a frying pan add olive oil, salt, Marsala Wine (be careful when you add the wine because it is alcohol and it could flare up) and a pinch of cinnamon. Keep the flame low until the Marsala is in the pan. Then slowly raise the flame but not too high. Dredge the cutlets in the flour and shake them off so you don’t have an excess of flour. When the liquid in the pan starts to bubble carefully, add the cutlets to the pan (you’ll see in the video when Ignazio added the cutlets, the liquid splashed back). Judge for yourself when it is done. Chicken cooks quickly.
Quick, easy, wonderful dinner! Don’t forget the wine. You can drink red or white wine with Tortellini and Chicken Marsala. In Sicily they drink De Bartoli wine from the De Bartoli Winery in Marsala.(I don’t know if we are related even though I know some members of my family went to Marsala in 1800 – 1850). For me it’s always Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine. What can I say? My mother’s family is from Abruzzo!
By the way, I know Ignazio is Vegan but, I think he would be happy if we tried his recipe which he made for the guys when they lived in LA.
Nine years ago, PBS introduced America to three teenage Italian boys, Il Volo.
Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca grew up on PBS. From their first concert on October 27, 2011 at the Detroit Opera House, they won the admiration of the American people. These three teenagers stole the hearts of the American people and they continue to do so today. They have done 6 concerts with PBS over the past 10 years. Their last concert in 2019 in Matera, Italy was to celebrate their ten years together as Il Volo.
They introduced America to a new style of music. Operatic pop and classical music! A very different kind of music for teenagers. Il Volo’s aim was to show young people how good this music is. They won over the children, parents and grandparents. They were an immediate sensation. America fell in love with them.
On the Ninth Anniversary of Il Volo’s concerts on PBS, let’s look back at how they started on this road.
Over the last year I have shared Il Volo’s life story with you, their fans. Now it’s time to go back and see how they landed on this road. Let’s travel back in time to where it all began in Naro, Bologna and Montepagano!
Piero’s best memories as a child were his Sunday dinners with his family which included every family member from his great grandmother, Lina, all the way down to his cousins who were more like brothers and sisters. And he recalls summers in the countryside with his entire family. Piero says, “I swear they were perhaps the most beautiful days of my life, and I will never forget them.”
Let’s take a closer look at one of these stories.
Piero’s discovery starts in the Garden of Pietro Ognibene’s (Piero’s Grandfather) house.
As was his custom, Piero’s grandfather Pietro, would come out on the terrace every morning and find a cool place to sit. Pietro always had a recorder with him. He has been blind for many years and he uses the recorder to record music, recite poetry and compose songs. Piero says, “When I think back to the first images I have of him, he is sitting on the terrace in the country with a stereo in his hands.”
On this morning Piero is the garden on the Altalena, an old fashioned swing that is hanging from a mulberry tree, and on the terrace, Pietro is preparing to record a song. It’s just a little song. The song is only two lines and it is pure Sicilian. Pietro begins to sing. E lu suli talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta petra luci ci duna, that is and, the sun, look, look, look, to this stone gives the light.
Piero recalls, “I was swinging on the swing, I was about four or five years old, I was really, very small. I listened to him a little and at a certain point, when he stopped singing, I started: E lu suli, talia, talia, talia. Sopra ‘sta pedra luci ci duna. What can I tell you? It just came out like that.”
His grandfather turned off the recorder and called his wife. Rina came out on the terrace and he asked her, “Unni è Piero?” (Where is Piero?)
She replied, “In Altalena” (He is on the swing)
Pietro asked, “Ma cu cantava? Iddru?” (But who was singing? He?)
She replied, “Eh, si.” (yes)
He told Rina to call him.
So, Piero got up and went to his grandfather. Pietro lifted him up and put him on the table next to the recorder and told him to “sing the song again.” Piero sang the song exactly as his grandfather sang it. He listened to Piero sing the song and then he made the decision to go to his friend Antonio’s house to record it.
Antonio a friend of Pietro had in his home what was called at that time a “recording studio”. It was not very big but, it did have a bigger stereo and a microphone. So, that afternoon they recorded Piero singing his grandfather’s song in Sicilian. But it didn’t stop there!
The meeting with Mimmo Riolo, in the Garden of the Riolo House.
The next day Pietro and Piero went to the countryside to the Riolo’s house. Piero’s grandparents had a country house and the Riolos were their neighbors. Pietro had a good relationship with Mr. Riolo, they were family friends. At the Riolo house, they all sat together under a carob tree because the air was always fresh under that tree. While the men talked, Piero ate prickly pears.
Pietro said to his old friend, “You know, Mimmo, yesterday I discovered that my grandson has a nice voice.”
Mimmo thought about it for a moment and came up with an idea. “I want Piero to listen to one of my favorite singers.”
Piero recalls, “And this is how I listened for the first time to Un Amore Così Grande by Mario del Monaco. And I learned it right away, but right away. My grandfather was very proud. And something told me the next day we would go to record Un Amore Così Grande at Antonio’s house.”
The day after they visited Mr. Riolo, they went to Anotonio’s house to record Un Amore Così Grande.
That evening the family met for dinner in the countryside, as was their custom, in the summertime.
In the Garden of Piero’s Grandparents House
This evening would be the beginning of Piero’s journey to stardom. 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.
On the Terrace of Piero’s Grandparents House
When they finished dinner, 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. 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.”
Gaetano has a questioning looking on his face “How did Piero?”
Pietro says, “So”.
On that night Piero’s life changed!
In Ignazio’s story, I found out that he is an excellent writer. He is the only one who wrote his story. Ignazio is very articulate. His words just fly off the page. Ignazio’s mother says and I agree, “Ignazio is very serious and responsible.”
Let’s see how Ignazio views this time in his life.
Ignazio says, “My story is not a fictional story even if it seems to be one of those dreams that you never want to wake up from.”
Ignazio learns to play Nina’s piano
Ignazio remembers, “When I was three or four years old – I played with the piano my parents had given my sister, Nina. My mother says I was one years old when I played. Nina taught me to play Happy Birthday with one finger.”
Ignazio’s School in Bologna
Ignazio says, “I do not remember the first day of school, but I certainly did not take long to get noticed. If you’re thinking of scenes of me being put in the middle of the class to sing, forget it. I had a passion for music but, I had an even greater passion for pranks. I tell you, since I started talking and walking, mine was an escalation of agitation.”
Ignazio Joins the School Choir
“With the passage of time, I found something good to do at school, that is, an activity that was able to hold my interest enough to prevent me from slipping into some disaster. I joined the school choir. I always liked to sing, to be ‘in the middle’ of the music. And more and more passionately I began to understand how to make better use of Nina’s famous pianola. I learned how to start the musical bases and flip through them. And that’s when I discovered La Donna È Mobile. I liked it so much that I sang with the base and invented words. I don’t remember the words but, it certainly was a song about Pavarotti. Having seen Pavarotti on TV, I knew he always had a big handkerchief so I would invent text and sing on the air La Donna È Mobile.”
In 2004 at the age of 10, Ignazio’s family moved back to Marsala and opened a Pizzeria.
While the pizzeria grew, a passion grew within Ignazio. It was a passion for electronics and music.
Ignazio’s mother opens Pizzeria dei Desideri in front of their house.
In 2005 Pizzeria dei Desideri was completed and, within a few months Caterina already had regular customers and since the pizzeria was right in front of the house, when Ignazio sang, 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’s Meeting with Lilliana Andreanò in Marsala
Ignazio recalls, “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.
Ignazio says: “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 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 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), Ignazio 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. I thought a little bit and then I said to her: sometimes I even sing Con Te Partirò by Andrea Bocelli. I started singing and, when I finished Liliana told me: ‘Ignazio, this is your musical direction’.”
Ignazio continues: “From that first lesson I began to study songs like Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, Un Amore Così Grande and all those that came to mind, and I liked it. It approached that genre that was not lyrical, it was modern music but with something classic. With Liliana I found myself, very comfortable. We understood each other immediately because she is a sociable person, simple, as are all of us in my family.”
After several lessons, Lilliana proposed that Ignazio take part in a bullfight (competition) organized in Paolini.
Ignazio says: “I wasn’t completely convinced that I wanted to get on a stage. Until that moment I had only thought about singing, but I had never seriously thought that all that singing one day could bring me into the spotlight.”
Ignazio performs in his first Competition in Paolini
Ignazio says, “I was about to get on the bullfight stage. My legs were trembling, the butterflies in my stomach were no longer butterflies but crazy swallows.
I decided to participate with the song by Bocelli 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.
As to Gianluca I was surprised to find out he was such a romantic. Everything that is important to him is a passion. He invests himself in what he loves and believes in: Family, Music, Country and Soccer! Above all, Gianluca loved to sing. Music was his whole life! Gianluca said, “Singing makes me feel good.”
Garden of Gianluca’s house facing the beach of Roseto degli Abruzzo.
Gianluca says, “I am from the town of Montepagano, Abruzzo. To be precise, I grew up, in Montepagano, on a hill two hundred meters as the crow flies and ten minutes by road from the sea, and Roseto degli Abruzzi.”
Gianluca continues, “My life as a child seems so far away. I remember very little of my childhood! I’m not like Ignazio I was born and raised in Montepagano. I was traveling only with dreams. What made me dream? Music naturally. Dad and mom realized that I had something special in my voice when I started to sing at the age of three or four years.
Town Square of Montepagano
My parents tell me when I was three years old I sang O Sole Mioin the town square in front of all the elderly gentlemen friends of my grandfather who, sitting around the bar table, were listening to this little boy with such a particular voice.”
Gianluca continues, “This was my first audience but, of course, I don’t remember it. My grandfather wanted me to study music, he always told me: ‘Gianluca, study the piano, study an instrument.’ I’ve never done it. It would be a dream to sit down on the piano and start playing and singing.” (Since this statement, Gianluca has studied piano and now he plays quite well.)
While his grandfather made him listen to classical music, Pavarotti and music from the Fifties-Sixties, his father made him feel Fabrizio De Andrè, Francesco De Gregori, Giorgio Gaber, Antonello Venditti and, as he grew older, he became more passionate about singing, including the great American classics, first of all, Frank Sinatra.
Gianluca says, “I never, never would have thought that…. I could make music my life. I only sang because it made me feel good. Then what happened? I do not know exactly, because everything happened very quickly.”
The phone call that changed it all!
“It was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.”
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.”
Each boy has now been set on the road to PBS so where did they go from here?
Over the years, each boy approached his musical education in a different way.
After his discovery in the garden, Piero embarked on a classical music education. He began piano lessons at the age of 8. At 10 years old he joined the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento. And then he began the competitions around Sicily.
Ignazio continued his singing lessons moving on to other teachers as he progressed. He took three years of piano lessons. His relationship with Lilliana Andreanò continued. She advised him every step of the way right up to his audition at Ti Lascio Una Canzone which she convinced him to do. But I’m getting ahead of myself!
Gianluca, unlike Piero and Ignazio, never had a singing lesson or piano lesson. Gianluca joined the Piccolo Choir of Roses. At one of their events, he was discovered.
As you know, the three teenage boys came together on the Ariston Stage in Ti Lascio Una Canzone for the performance of O Sole Mioand stepped off the stage and embarked on the road to stardom.
They came in first, second and third. Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero. But the biggest prize was becoming Il Volo.
They signed a contract with Universal and recorded their first album.
In 2010 when they arrived in America, they took it by storm. After their performance on American Idol, they sky rocketed to the top of the Billboard charts.
What happened next? And, so, we arrive at PBS. But let me turn the story over to the guys. They will tell you about what happened after Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
“Spotlight” Producer Paul Larson just minutes before going on stage at Place des Arts in Montreal, Quebec spoke with the guys about their career after their performance on PBS. So, I invite you to watch this amazing video and listen to what the guys have to say about their beginnings and their future!
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!
But Fabio Ingrassia, one of the dear friends of Il Volo.
Fabio was born and lives in Marsala and became a friend of Ignazio, but soon he also knows Piero and Gianluca and becomes their friend. Many of you know who I’m talking about, but maybe not everyone knows about him.
Fabio is also an artist, but another genre of art, Fabio is a contemporary artist, always looking for new artistic expressions. Fabio and Il Volo’s road intertwines several times, not only from the point of view of friendship, but also from the artistic point of view.
On March 5, 2016, in Miami, there was a concert by Il Volo and Fabio Ingrassia, during the song “SMILE”, makes a beautiful performance, painting, on the stage, a picture which appears as a subject of modern art, but at the end materializes as a beautiful portrait executed upside down, of the faces of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.
Too bad that the video of the evening does not do justice to the event.
Here’s what the finished picture looks like.
(Please click on each image below for a larger version.)
Of course Fabio has made many beautiful portraits of our boys over time !!
Fabio, aka FaoDesign, completed his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Palermo.
(Please click on each image below for a larger version.)
Our friends Deborah, Jeannette and Judy(pictured with Maria, Fabio’s partner) have also been at Fabio’s house and have appreciated his works.
Here is Judy, with a copy of Fabio’s painting.
And this is the beautiful picture of Deborah.
And this is the original painting purchased by RoseMarie Paliobeis.
She also purchased this robin print which Fabio later posted on Instagram.
How wonderful these paintings !!
In September 2019, there was the Il Volo concert, at the Arena di Verona, I was present, a magnificent concert.
During the evening Fabio also showed his art, while Il Volo performed “SMILE”, but this time, the portrait performed by Fabio was a splendid tribute to Chaplin.
The soft voices of the boys filled the air and delighted our hearing, but our gaze was captivated by what was taking shape on the canvas, a fantastic atmosphere, beautifully managed by four great artists.
This time the video perfectly captures every moment. I assure you that it was a very exciting moment and until the end you did not have the perception of the finished picture. Very beautiful!!
One of the latest works done by Fabio for our boys, concerns a single portrait, made for Piero’s birthday.
In private life, Fabio lives happily with Maria, and this year they were planning their wedding.
Unfortunately Covid19 has blown the plans of many couples, and so it was also for Fabio and Maria, who have postponed their event to next year.
But there is a beautiful event, which will not be postponed, Fabio himself made the announcement a few days ago, a nice baby is coming.
What wonderful news! Best Wishes, to the whole family!!
Fabio, I loved your works from the first moment I saw them.
You know how to bring your portraits to life, and this is not possible for everyone.
You can also be a very good friend, because I remember that, at the moment of Ignazio’s fall in Tampa, you were close to him, as only a true friend can be.
The news of the baby arriving only adds positivity to your life.
All the Flight Crew, wishes you, Maria and the baby every positive thing, a lot of success in your life as an artist, and that your friendship with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca will always last over time.
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.
Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!