After performing at the Senate, the guys woke up one day and decided perhaps we should go to Sanremo!
This to me is one of the most challenging decisions they had to make in their lives. We all take chances in life but, this was a little different. If you go to Sanremo and you win then it was worth it. But, if you lose, it’s not just losing the competition, it’s losing your country, your people! No recognition! This is what was at stake. How do you decide with so much at stake? It’s tough!
The one thing that was difficult for the guys from the very beginning was the fact that they were not recognized in their own country.
Ignazio would say, A “prophet is not recognized in his own land.” Perhaps, but that doesn’t change things. It doesn’t change the feeling that you get when you are asked the big question. “You are loved even in Italy, right?” and as Piero said, “You have to answer no.”
I’m going to take a moment here and vent because there is much more to that answer than “no.”
I have followed the career of these young men from day one and I am so proud of their accomplishments as I know many of you are. I see how they have grown and how much they are loved by their fans, all 5 million of them (and those are just the ones we know about).
Nothing bothers me more than how these men are treated by some of the Italian press, not just now but, from the beginning. It’s not about the Italian people. I know the Italian people love them but, many in the Italian press do everything in their power to mock them and mistreat them. It is disgraceful!
What was it that fifteen-sixteen year old boys could have done to cause the press to be so unkind, so mean and so vicious? If you don’t like a performance, you don’t have to give them a good review but, you have to respect what they do.
In March at Sanremo 2021, one reporter wrote “When they came on, I turned off my TV.” This is what I have to say to that reporter. Shame on you! These three men came to Sanremo with broken hearts, especially Ignazio and, this is how you treat them. They showed such professionalism just by being there and this is all you can say! They showed such love and respect for their country and the Italian people just by showing up. Where is your respect for your country, for your people, for your profession?
Everyone was so sad for these men and all you can think of reporting is that you “turned off your TV.” Perhaps, it’s time you turned off your career because you need to learn something about respect. The ink from your pen can tell a truth or a lie but it can’t talk about the integrity of the person who’s using the pen! But, of course, integrity is something you know nothing about!
Having said that, let me say, over the last few years, so many Italian journalists have changed their opinion of Il Volo. I think this is because they finally stopped and listened to them and they recognize the value of what they do. Not to mention all the good work the guys do in and for Italy! And we know they bring Italy around the world! They are good Ambassadors for Italy and the press is finally recognizing it! So happy you got on board!
That’s all I have to say on the matter!
Let’s move on to the great things that happened!
When I read Un’avventura Straordinaria, the story that I loved the most was the story of Sanremo. The decision by the guys to take on the Sanremo Festival. This story brought out their personalities, their differences and how they are so bound to one another that they could make the decision of a lifetime together even if it meant they could lose what was so important to them, their country and their people!
So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with the decision itself.
Who’s in and who’s out!
Who’s in? From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Who’s out? Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”
Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!
Then there’s the second problem, the song!
At Sanremo you must perform an unpublished song. How do you begin to find such a song?
Now this is the part of the story that’s really interesting and sometimes funny! Oddly enough, the one who wanted this the most was the one who did not agree to the song. I so enjoyed listening to this dialogue between the guys. This is where we begin to hear the guys make important decisions together. They’re really good. When they begin, they’re not agreeing but as time goes by…. Well, why don’t I let them tell you how they finally got to Sanremo?
Gianluca: I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say that the next time I have to reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because our voices change the songs. We arrange them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not take this fact into consideration. The song when we first listened to it was not very ugly!
Ignazio: It’s not that we’ve heard only that, no. Do you think it is easy to choose a piece for Sanremo? We started to do a search and a selection of unpublished tracks. Our policy was: either we go with something strong, or we do not go, right?
One day this song comes to us through Michele: Grande Amore by Francesco Boccia and Ciro Esposito, two Neapolitan authors. As usual, I am pessimistic. I listen to it and it does not make me crazy. Not even Gianluca was convinced. The only enthusiast was Pie …
Piero interrupts: I loved “Grande Amore”! I did not believe that we would have won, but I was the one who pushed, I and Michele pushed for “Grande Amore” because the audition that we heard was not beautiful, but we imagined it if it was made by Celso Valli and I must say that we had guessed right.
Ignazio interrupts: And I said it too if you let me talk. I was saying, in fact, that “Grande Amore” was not as we hear it today. It was always called “Grande Amore”, but it was totally different. So, we start to think: who can produce the piece? And Michele calls the great Celso Valli. After several weeks of work in the studio, we manage to churn out a song that could leave its mark at the Sanremo Festival.
Gianluca interrupts: That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced: we had the piece, the right project.
Piero: He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious ….
Gianluca: Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I said: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Piero interrupts: Do you know what a week like this means?
Ignazio: Piero and I were all day touching iron and the low parts. Gianluca was convinced that the little lion (the Sanremo award is represented by a lion) would be ours? And the two of us tried to keep the situation under control.
Gianluca interrupts: What should I tell you? I am an optimist. They took it something like ‘he makes fun of us,’ but I felt it inside. I do not know why.
So many interruptions! Ignazio, before he was interrupted, was about to tell us about the first night they sang.
Ignazio: The 65th edition of the Festival begins on Tuesday, February 10th. We sing the second night, Wednesday the 11th. The strange thing is that normally my legs tremble before the performance, but mine trembled even after the performance! Perhaps too much adrenaline, it never happened before.
Piero interrupts: Or maybe it was because we came back to the Ariston stage after going around the world. It was like coming home, because we experienced the beginning of our career here with Ti Lascio una Canzone.One thing that cannot be described: in Sanremo, in Italy, to sing and receive the applause of the Italian public. It cannot be explained.
Gianluca: Can you imagine for me this was also my birthday: I turned twenty on Ariston’s stage? Of course, I was moved in the end, and it was too much emotion to my sensibility to play bad jokes at times.
And then, we felt the pressure in the air. Even though I was optimistic, the tension was there.
Although we had taken care of the smallest details of the song, we had tried and tried again, and we had taken care of even the smallest details of the clothing. First evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket.
Because when we do our work the image matters, too.
Piero interrupts: Count, of course that counts. But do you remember how we were dressed before? I remember that time at Una Notte per Caruso, in July 2009, it was the second time we saw Torpedine. Michele arrives with another white Range Rover, not that of Jesolo, and as soon as he arrives, we do not even say hello and we go to see the car. Let’s run, let’s open the car. Ignazio immediately goes up to the car. We went crazy for cars, one like that, we did not see every day. The day after we go for a ride in downtown Sorrento, a shopping trip, and we enter into Gucci. Michele spent almost two thousand euros and we with that written number at the counter, we exclaimed: “Mizziga! (Damn!) Two thousand euro!” with wide eyes. And we still have those clothes, at least I personally still have them.
He had bought us a jacket, but above all the need for us to dress all in white and blue. I had the blue jacket and the white shirt, Gianluca had blue trousers and white shirt, Ignazio the blue shoes and everything else white, Michele the blue jacket. And we took a picture in front of the hotel.
Gianluca interrupts: We were just dressed badly to be singers by trade, we were children, we came from families of workers. What could I buy? There was not even the need.
Piero interrupts: And then you remember the restaurant? Afterwards we went to a restaurant near the sea. When we finished eating, the three of us took off our shoes and ran to the beach. Michele ran behind us telling us: ‘Guys, calm down. Guys, slow down.’
At this point Ignazio loses his patience. “YES, but, what does that have to do with it, Pie? We were talking about Sanremo. What has Sorrento got to do with it?
Ignazio gets the conversation back on track!
Sanremo 2015, from the 10th to 14th of February, we sang on the second evening, legs shaking, Gianluca’s birthday.
Among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni … We had fun with the diary!
It was a sort of ‘pill.’ A very few minutes, in which we recorded from the 9th to 14th of February. We talked about some of the emotions we felt. For example, the time that Gianluca almost stumbles on stage or the happiness of seeing the audience get up and applaud the first night we sang “Grande Amore”. The recording, then, went online on the site of the magazine.
What was I saying? Ah, yes, among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, meetings and press conferences …
Piero interrupts: And the criticisms we felt in those days? People at home voted for us, appreciated us, and journalists gave us votes that we thought were postponed until September, I also said this at the press conference after the victory. Five that flew (Bad votes given by critics). But we see that the criticisms have done us good.
Ignazio: Can I do a criticism of you?
Piero: Ah, tell me…
Ignazio: You interrupted me. I was about to tell the final. I can continue?
Ignazio: In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from my shirt that in a week we have eaten more than we sang. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m a boy who does not say cat if I do not have it in the bag, then until Carlo Conti said….
Piero interrupts: And indeed, whoever wins does not know it until the end! Sorry, Igna’. Speak you!!!
Ignazio: Until Carlo Conti said: ‘The winner of the Sanremo Festival 2015 is … Il Volo!’ I said to the boys: ‘No, guys, we do not win, it’s difficult.’ And on the one hand I had Piero with shining eyes and on the other Gianluca with a smug smile as if to say: ‘Do not worry.’
Gianluca: The truth is that I was right from the beginning and no one had ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look on my face when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, ‘Thank you, Italy!’ from that stage. I look at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said.
The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: “Who would have told me that in life I saw Modugno win at the Festival and then I saw you win?”
Taking the conversation back, I have to say, to me this was the best conversation we could listen to. They disagree, they find middle ground, and they agree but, most importantly they listen to one another and that’s what makes the bond so great!
In the end Gianluca said: “In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions. Too bad it was not repeated also in Vienna!”
Many of you know the winner of Sanremo goes toEurovisionto represent Italy. After winning Sanremo and the popularity of “Grande Amore”, the guys were pretty confident they could win Eurovision. And to some degree, Ignazio believed it too!
As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the guys went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23rd, 2015. “Grande Amore” came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press. The extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore” was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015 and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. At the Latin Billboard Awards, they dominated the social networking sites and now, they win the televote and the best song according to collective voting by the accredited press. The people have spoken!
So, they gambled and, they won. They were happy and they finally felt accepted in their own country. It seems that everything worked out well but there’s a little piece of the puzzle missing.
To really finish this story, we need to pass back Through the Fields of My Mind down the corridor that led us here and enter the day-by-day reality of Sanremo!
How do you begin to tell a story, more like a fairy tale, about three teenage boys who conquered the music industry?
They came from Italy from very different regions, very different families, very different backgrounds but, they had one thing in common, the ability to capture audiences with their amazingly, beautiful, voices.
Thinking back over the years, I realize they have put so much energy into such a short period of time. Twelve years of a lifetime but, in reality, they did it in five years! How is it possible that these three men could do, in such a short period of time, what most men cannot do in a lifetime? The secret is in the voices!
Going back to the beginning, I remember what Gianluca said, “I thought there were three hundred thousand boys singing like me, and instead that night I discovered that there are only two: Ignazio and Piero.” Of course, Gianluca was referring to the night they sang together for the first time onTi Lascio Una Canzone. So, let’s begin there!
When they came together as contestants on Ti Lasacio una Canzone, they never dreamt that they would walk off the stage as stars! Individually, they sang with some very famous Italian singers, Al Bano, Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti and, they were singing their songs and these men were in absolute awe of these teenagers.
From the first note that came out of their mouths, everyone recognized how unique their voices were. Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of Ti Lascio una Canzone recognized the importance of these three voices. He recognized that the voices were different but alike in their uniqueness. Cenci understood if you put the voices together, they will blend beautifully and, they will be very appealing. How right he was! An experiment that turned into stardom.
And how did Michele Torpedine put it?“The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.” Watching them on TV Michele is thinking these guys are good and again repeats it to himself, they’re good! He thinks, “What if I try to put them together seriously?” Michele and everyone else felt they were incredible!
But it needed much more than just a feeling and it went beyond incredible. It needed something to come to life. It needed a new idea. It needed to be different because they were different. So how do you make it different? Bel Canto!
Bel canto is Italian for “beautiful singing.” From the mid-18th century through the early 19th century, Italian opera developed what is now known as a bel canto style. Composers began to write long, sustained vocal lines intended to show off the beauty of the voice.
Well, that works! They certainly have beautiful voices!
If you start with the premise that bel canto can make the difference, then you need to find the best way to present it! First, have them sing all the Italian classics. If you look at the music industry at the time you have to say “it won’t work” but, it did. Why? It worked because their voices were unique, the presenters were teenagers, and the world was waiting for something different. The difference was they needed to go back to what was and present in a different light. A unique idea. A little risky for sure but, a lot of very talented people in the industry felt it could work. And it did!
Bel canto for sure! But those voices that embody bel canto needed to go beyond and so where do you go? In their concerts they sing beautiful arias because they have beautiful operatic voices but, they will tell you, they do not sing opera. So, they reinvented the idea of opera. Just as bel canto reinvented opera, so did they reinvent it with their Operatic Pop. Always light, free flowing, ethereal! They took away the rigidness and left the beauty of the words which they present in their special ways with their special voices!
A few days after I finished this article, Michele Torpedine appeared on the Marzia Roncacci show. During the interview Marzia surprised everyone with an appearance by Piero. She asked one very important question, that is the question I just presented. So, I would like you to hear it in Piero’s own words.
Marzia: Listen, Piero, and also Michele, how do you explain this great success of yours, of three young people, because you are now very well established, even abroad, it is not so easy, there are only a few who are known and, they can be counted on your fingertips.
Piero: Our success is the echo! It is the resonance of the music we sing. As Pavarotti did in the past, bel canto is the winning weapon. Bel canto is the most popular Italian music in the world, and it is nice to hear in any theater or arena in the world, even in Japan, when the public hear these melodies, written right here in Italy, they go into ecstasy. Our voices also contribute, it is clear, and to hear young people with these voices …. but it is clear that if we didn’t sing this kind of music, it would be much more difficult.
Piero is very modest! Their voices are very important. They brought bel canto back to life in a unique way! Bravo!
So, let’s move on! Where do you begin?
Their first stop was Miami. It was like stepping into a dream for them. Everything in America was different from Italy. The streets, the houses, the cars, everything was different. But above all, they really could not comprehend all that was happening to them. After Miami they went to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, they were invited to participant in the charity event “We Are the World 25 for Haiti”.
They took Los Angeles by storm. This is truly the beginning of IL VOLO!
By now, they were in a whirlwind!
Piero recalls, “We were fifteen and sixteen when we found ourselves in this American dream. We had signed a contract with a record company that includes famous artists like Beyonce and many others. We were invited by the record company to a party. We turned and saw, Quincy Jones; we turn around and we saw Rihanna; we turned and shook hands with Lady Gaga. We talked with them, some singers who were idols for us and for our peers.”
In fact, the guys only began to understand that something was changing when their first record came out. The boys had met all the big names and performed with them in We Are the World, but reality had not yet set in. Let’s hear what Ignazio had to say about this….
“It was already in May 2010 and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive, but I did not feel the anxiety of the job like today. The first major television show we appeared in, in America, was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show.”
And what a performance that was. They sang “ ‘O Sole Mio” and in that moment, they captured the hearts of thirty million people. Not to mention Ignazio giving five to Steven Tyler. But that’s another story!
During the last three episodes of American Idol’s tenth season, they performed and promoted their first album, Il Volo.The international edition of the album was released on April 12, 2011.
In its first week, the album reached the tenth spot of Billboard 200 and topped the Classical Albums chart. The album also entered the top ten in other countries, including Belgium, France, Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands, and it peaked at number one on the Austria Albums Chart. It would later be certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry.
Back in Italy, in their hometowns, the people were ecstatic. These three teenagers had achieved what only a few Italian artists had achieved, success in America!
By now, every program in America wanted them. The phone was ringing off the hook! They appeared on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Early Show. There was no stopping them. The people of America had spoken and what they were calling for was, Il Volo. And slowly, the rest of the world also recognized their achievements.
The chatter began about these three teenagers with voices like “angels!” But what’s most important is what happened to the boys! These boys who came to America thinking, “who will know us there,” were now becoming a household name. And how did that happen, a little thing called PBS…
Next week we follow the guys to Detroit where they stepped on the stage at the Detroit Opera House and sealed their fate!
We continue to follow their footsteps Through the Fields of My Mind….
Sometimes whole days go by without anything new happening in our “Il Volo universe”, then suddenly in three days three news and videos that I cannot leave out.
I have already given you the news of the opening at the Arena on June 5th, now there are two beautiful new videos that I intend to translate for you, here is the first.
Michele Torpedine was interviewed this morning April 09, by Marzia Roncacci from TG 2 ITALIA. The title of the special program is “How the Good Singers are Born”.
MR = Here we are ready, good morning welcome back to TG2 Italia.
Today is Friday, we are closing the week, so we are all a little happier. We will keep you company until 11:00 am, today we have a really rich episode “piatto ricco, mi ci ficco”. (Italian way of saying that means: rich dish, I take it).
We want to talk about these characters, who may not often appear, who are behind the scenes, who are however discoverers of great talent, talented people, such as, if I tell you Bocelli, Giorgia, Zucchero, but also the guys from Il Volo: “The talent of Il Volo,” behind all these great characters, who make the history of Italian music, who is there?
There is Michele Torpedine, good morning.
MT = Good morning, Marzia.
MR = So: musician, Michele, right?
MT = Yes, it’s a big word, but it’s okay.
MR = How is a big word? You are very modest, come on.
MT = I’ve been playing for many years, but by musician, I mean something else, but it’s okay.
MR = Do you like it then: talent scout?
MT = Yes, very lucky, but I like it.
MR = I said these names of singers, which would seem almost impossible, instead you are the one who discovered them ….
MT = Because to see me, it doesn’t seem, in fact.
MR = It wouldn’t seem (they both laugh)
MT = Thank you, many are amazed when they see me and think “that’s all?”
MR = They say “Is that all here, Michele Torpedine?”
MT = One imagines that who knows what comes in, a huge, tall, double-breasted man …. and then in the end, I’m all here!
MR = Dear Michele, obviously we are joking, playing, because what we want to do and say today is also with a little irony. But Michele Torpedine really also has a great and beautiful story. In short, you come a little out of nowhere, Michele, you are born in Puglia and when very young you go to Bologna. A modest family and then you at some point you put the gear.
MT = You are very kind and modest …… you exaggerated! But we did it anyway. It is clear that it was hard at the beginning, like all families who come from the south and need to work immediately, maybe you miss school, study, you miss many things, and me and my brothers at 8/10 years we were already at work.
MR = The famous workforce, Michele, especially in the south.
MT = Workforce made up of children and families, however….
MR = But then we will see some photos of you that make us understand that when a person gives his all, and with your determination Michele ….
MT = The important thing is that they are not photos in a bathing suit, then everything is fine.
MR = But no, we don’t show the photos in a bathing suit, but we put the photos next to the President of the United States.
Listen Michele, great surprise for our audience, we talked about the three wonderful guys from Il Volo, here you are we see you embraced with them (in the photo) and we have one of the three with us, here he is ready . . . Piero Barone!
MT= Good Morning Piero
Piero = Good morning, hello Marzia, hello Michele.
MR = Piero, I was now telling Michele that you are the man of surprises, did you give us this nice surprise this morning, did we get you out of bed?
MT = No, he is an early riser.
Piero = No, absolutely. Today you describe me as the man of surprises, but it is a program dedicated to Michele and it is right to make dedications to Michele. It is he who has been the biggest surprise of our life.
MR = Really, how nice! Listen Piero, one thing about dedications, if you wanted to make a quick dedication to our great Michele Torpedine, what would you say, in a nutshell?
MT = And here I want you, Piero!
Piero = Michele, to friends and people who do not know him personally, I always describe him as a skilled chess player, he knows how to wait and make the right move at the right time.
His greatest virtue is that of knowing how to teach his trade. But what many don’t know is that Michele is actually the real artist. He in us, makes his dreams come true.
MR = Mamma mia, how beautiful, what Piero says makes us reflect a lot.
MT = Piero is actually right, in fact, maybe I am a failed artist.
MR = But Piero said something wonderful, it is a little like a transposition, from Michele, everything he feels, that he dreams, his state of mind, he transmits, in this case to Il Volo, these three guys wonderful that on this, on their dreams, we go to see Il Volo in Sanremo, with GRANDE AMORE, how beautiful !! Let’s watch. (start of a short video of the first evening of Sanremo 2015).
MR = Piero Barone, what a thrill, this is a great victory you had on the stage of Sanremo, you, so international, what effect does it make you see yourself again?
Piero = I always have the chills to see that performance again and I remember those moments, as if it happened last night, because we had been traveling since 2009, we had concerts everywhere, except in Italy and this thing made us suffer a lot.
Now, thanks to Sanremo in 2015, we did the concerts here in Italy and this was a great victory.
MR = Listen, Piero, I remember a wonderful concert, where I had the opportunity to be the only journalist, the one in Florence. Michele Torpedine, you were there. You invited me, and I had the opportunity to get to know all three guys from Il Volo very well and they are very funny, needless to tell you what we have been able to do!
Having said that, in Florence, I remember, people in tears. Piero, how is it possible that you make people cry when you sing? However, yours is also a particular music, isn’t it Michele?
MT = Bel canto and opera win over everything else, always. You also win with whoever is doing piano bar at that moment there. The opera has its own charm, not surprisingly it has lasted for 300/400 years.
MR = You are right. Piero, what are your memories of Florence? I remember the stage was set up like an opera house, with large red curtains, even though it was outdoors. Stupendous.
Piero = Firenze was a tribute to the three tenors, with the participation of Maestro Placido Domingo, on stage to direct the orchestra and then to sing with us, and also the support of the Pavarotti foundation.
I want to say, but many know it, that the tribute to the three tenors, this event dedicated to the three tenors, is an idea born from Michele Torpedine.
We were in Taormina at the pool in 2015, actually a year earlier, and he came at 8:00 am, for breakfast, to tell us this idea.
MR = Exactly, at breakfast Michele you presented yourself with your idea that was born in the night, I imagine.
MT = I don’t remember the time, but I had prepared myself first because I didn’t want to make a bad impression, and then I didn’t know their reaction, I couldn’t imagine. To do such a repertoire, you have to be up to it, at least to be credible, and they did it in a month.
MR = Incredible, how nice that concert was.
Listen, Michele, what anecdotes you have linked to Piero, to the boys of Il Volo, I imagine so many, in so many years that you collaborate together.
MT = Remember … after almost 12 years, Piero help me, we could tell many things.
Piero = Michele, the first meeting.
MR = The first meeting, come on what happened?
MT = We can’t tell you some things, but the first meeting was wonderful, because we were in the RAI dressing rooms, during the Miss Italy in the world program, it seems to me, in Iesolo (beautiful seaside town).
I arrived there in this place, they were 13/14 years old, almost children, they destroyed a dressing room for the joy of meeting us, they were crazy, you don’t know how they left their RAI studios. A disaster, but it was a wonderful emotion to meet them.
MR = Piero, have you destroyed a dressing room? What behavior is this !!
Piero = We were very happy, the first experiences Michele was there, we saw him as a person on the covers of magazines and in the dedications of many singers.
MT = The great thing was seeing them after years, on stage with the myth of music that is Barbra Streisand. Seeing them with her, doing a 12 concert tour with her, was one thing …..
MR = Of course, I can say Michele that you, these guys, and other names that we will then obviously also talk about them, are truly a source of pride for our Italy all over the world.
Now you said …. seeing them very young, beautiful, good, even this very clean image of guys who have achieved this with commitment, is important. Seeing them with Barbra Streisand singing together doesn’t just happen every day.
MT = But then a duet with her, because it’s a different thing than opening concerts. They were guests on the show and she introduced them, which is wonderful.
MR = Beautiful, here they are. Piero, speaking of international experiences, Michele now remembered you with Barbra Streisand, who have duet with her, which is different than opening a concert, they are always emotions that make you fly, indeed, that make us fly, just like your name says, no?
Piero = These are relationships that are born and built along the way. Clearly if you show yourself what you really are, these characters, these legends, then they appreciate you. The tours are beautiful, even the performances made together, but the relationship that remains even afterwards with these artists is beautiful.
MR = Listen, Piero, and also Michele, how do you explain this great success of yours, of three young people, because you are now very well established, even abroad, it is not so easy, there are few known ones and they can be counted on tips of the fingers.
Piero = Our success is the echo, it is the resonance of the music we sing. As Pavarotti did in the past, bel canto is the winning weapon. Bel canto is the most popular Italian music in the world, and it is nice to see in any theater or arena in the world, even in Japan, when the public hears these melodies, written right here in Italy, they go into ecstasy. Our voices also contribute, it is clear, and to hear young people with these voices …. but it is clear that if we didn’t sing this kind of music, it would be much more difficult.
MR = How nice, Piero, I want to thank you very much for being with us at TG2 Italia, I hope to have you here soon, also with the other two colleagues of course maybe also with Michele.
MT = I think Piero should tell you what will happen in June.
MR = Piero, what will happen in June? Verona? I will be there, I will have a double mask, Piero what will happen in June?
MT = Let’s have Piero say it.
Piero = This lockdown helped us to reflect and work on the next project. We are recording and finalizing the voices of the new album that we will present on June 5th at the Verona Arena. It will be a tribute to the Oscar-winning master Ennio Morricone. We will sing the repertoire of master Morricone, with all the written melodies, among other things of songs that we did not know had already been written by the master. We are very excited about this project that fills us with so much responsibility, but responsibility is perfectly associated with adrenaline and we can’t wait to get on that stage.
MR = How beautiful, how beautiful, we can’t wait. Piero Barone, thank you! June 5th we said Verona!
MT = It will be live on RAI 1.
MR = Live on Rai 1 with the music of Morricone and with these wonderful singers, the three from Il Volo, who are truly a preciousness for the world and for our Italy. Thanks Piero, good job, really thanks.
MT = Bye Piero
MR = Bye Piero
Piero = Bye everyone, bye Michele, bye Marzia.
It was a good interview.
Piero said very nice things about Torpedine and full of gratitude.
Then confirmed by the words of Piero and Torpedine that on June 5 at the Arena, the tribute to Morricone.
Soon we will know something about the admitted audience.
There is a little agitation, but a lot of emotion, in just under two months we start “singing” again !!!
It’s always difficult to decide where to start with Nico. Yes, he’s complicated but, always delightful! Perhaps looking at where Nico came from can give us a better idea of who he is.
Nico (Domenico) Arezzo was born in Ragusa, Sicily on October 2, 1998. You might say he was born and raised on a stage, initially “with drumsticks in his hands” … but soon the need to put one note after another brought him to the guitar. Both of his parents are entertainers. His mother Emanuela Curcio is dancer and a dance teacher, and his father Peppe Arezzo is a pianist and an Orchestra Conductor. Nico also has a younger sister Emma. Once I commented to Peppe, she’s a little Nico! Like Nico, she’s into everything!
But what is it I see in this family that gives me a good feeling? Values, good values! I talk a lot about values because I think it molds beautiful people. When I write about Il Volo or when I write my BOIN stories what do I always go back to, good values. To understand where I’m coming from, let’s take a closer look at the Arezzo family.
When you’re a family of entertainers, it seems someone is always traveling so, whenever everyone has the opportunity to be together, it’s a festival. And what do they celebrate? Everything! Nico explains it in this way.
I’m down, (in Ragusa, his home). It’s Christmas time. We celebrate birthdays when it’s not the right day. We celebrate birthdays when we are together. Tomorrow or maybe the day after tomorrow it’s my turn!
And during his time at home for Christmas 2020, Nico experienced his first earthquake. He said, “Yesterday I felt my first earthquake in history. It was weird, powerful! I’m down! It’s Christmas time and everything is shaking! Happy birthday to everyone.”
“Merry Christmas to everyone. Happy birthday today or yesterday? If it was yesterday sorry for the delay. Happy birthday to you.”
How did Nico get to where he is? Certainly, he got his talent from his mom and dad but how did he get to where he is today?
Nico first came to my attention in 2017 when he won the Festival Show in Verona with the song “Se Vuoi” (If You Want). I happened to be in Italy at the time and I was very taken by his performance at the Festival. Nico can be very engaging and, you can get lost in Nico’s words and actions. Nico said “Se Vuoi” made him move! I say Nico made “Se Vuoi” move! Nico said he was drawn to this song because, “It’s a song that forces the body to move even without wanting. It’s a fresh song that turns on everything that can be turned on … the same freshness that I want to convey now that the music has taken my whole life.” The song is exciting and lively, like Nico! I remember that his voice captured me. He has lots of rhythm and expression. He immediately captured the audience. And I’m sure he captured the attention of at least one of the judges there that night, Michele Torpedine.
And what did Michele have to say about this event, “This is the first moment where we understood.” He certainly did! After the Festival Michele signed Nico and so did Ignazio! Great idea! Great choice!
What makes Nico so good? He’s very talented and the team is amazing! Nico Arezzo, Ignazio Boschetto and Michele Torpedine! Collaboration complete!
Nico is versatile! How about Nico and Ignazio singing a Pino Daniele medley? Anyone who sings a Pino Daniele song, gets a seat in my corner!
Nico along with Ignazio, Davide Marchi and Francesco Landi, wrote and set to music the song “Volo” which Nico sang at the Sanremo Festival Giovani in 2019. In the song there is the desire of the singer to live 360 degrees, with joys, pains, emotions and also a lot of love. But that’s not all, what struck everyone about his performance was his ability to play the guitar, an element that has conquered the public, the judges and the critics. He can make that guitar Scream!
In January 2020, Ignazio started Floki Productions. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki. This made lots of sense to me. In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and he goes after it.
And, in the mist of the pandemic, Ignazio did a LIVE on Instagram to present the first release by Floki. Gorilla!
In “Gorilla”, Nico comes alive! He is the Gorilla in the jungle! He has the feeling and the expression for this song. He’s bouncing all over the stage. He’s definitely got the moves! It’s so catchy! And people love it!
Following the release of Gorilla, Nico did an interview with Nico Donvito, an Italian Music Blogger. In this interview, I saw another side of Nico. We hear this young man talk about his music. His place in the music industry. How he got there and all the people who are responsible for his journey.
I heard a, very, intelligent and, responsible young man who has worked hard to get to where he is. He talks about, who he is, where he came from and how he sees his future.
Right out the gate, Nico impressed me with his insight. Nico saw “Gorilla” as a means of escape from where we are in our world today and an expression of where he finds himself in the world. Nico said, “ ‘Gorilla’ has a fresh taste, because in the last few months we have been a bit obliged to heavy thoughts, to stop and reflect on important things, to close ourselves in ourselves. At a certain point the moment comes when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, ‘Gorilla’ is just that, something not at all thick which and, in certain situations, can be essential.”
That’s pretty deep and right on. It was almost as if Nico was saying I wrote this song two years ago, but this was its moment. It’s when it was needed. To say that the ‘Gorilla’ is that moment in time when you need to kick back or as Nico put it when you need a beer on the beach with your friends, yes, that’s exactly what “Gorilla” is. Its’ light and intriguing and it brought us away from all the madness that preceded it. Perhaps, the sign that Ignazio made the day that “Gorilla” was released, that seemed to upset so many people, was nothing more that Ignazio saying: Let’s take the weight of the world and toss it aside. You had your way and now, we’re going to have ours!
One of the things I love about Nico is he is always looking for ways to entertain us! In February, he decided to travel around Bologna with some friends and a mattress. They sat around on the mattress and greeted people as they went by! Nico said, “I don’t wanna be romantic but every now and then there are certain tangles you hardly imagined. You know those blurry photos that are beautiful just because they’re blurry! Those people you don’t know but who greet you, and you greet them, and then you talk to them! Today I text a friend of mine, Do you have a rope? I need it to tie a mattress to the top of my car.’ He reminded me that I don’t have a car. True, I don’t have a car, so I don’t have a roof!” And that’s Nico’s humor which grabs us and keeps us laughing!
And where is Nico now? In his words, “There are days that if I focus, Traffic Lights go green when I want.”
Nico’s new song, “Polline (pollen)” has been released. Nico says, ‘I wrote almost all of my song in this notebook. ‘Polline’ was born a year ago. This summer this notebook fell into the sea, dried in the sun and ‘Polline’ remains legible.”
In a review a writer said: This is a “new piece in the path of the artist produced by Ignazio Boschetto. Nico Arezzo’s ‘Polline’ is the single that marks the return of one of the most talented songwriters of the new generation already the winner of the Festival Show a few years ago.” I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Nico tell us, “This song has been ready for at least a year, in the meantime I have written many other things, I have explored a new musical genre that you will listen to soon and I am evolving but, this piece, I absolutely did not want to abandon it because I am very attached to it.
‘Polline’ is a song to which I am very attached, especially, literally. It’s a piece that comes almost as a challenge. They said to me, ‘Can you talk about a relationship that’s over but, looking back, you can say ‘but it was beautiful’? And so, even though there may be a small void hidden between the lines of the song, thinking that I haven’t lived through that story would make me sadder.”
And how did Nico preview this new song on Instagram? Honey jars! Nico said, “I’m releasing a new track this month. Every day I will add a jar of honey in my fridge with a letter on it, not in order. I start today! Go into my stories, write in the comments the first word you think of. Try not to guess right away or you will ruin everything for me! Every day a jar a letter! Oddly, though my Italian is very limited, I guessed what it was!
What is the song about? The answer is in one line of the song! “They say you can understand a person from what you find in his fridge.” Let’s go to Nico’s fridge and see what he’s really all about!
(Floki Productionby Ignazio BoschettoandMichele Torpedine.Pollinewas produced atTake Away Studios in Modena.)
Another amazing video! It makes me smile! It makes me laugh! It makes me happy! Nico, everything you do excites me! From day one I knew you would bring a fresh approach to the music industry and I was right. You have such energy and, all your projects are ambitious like you. Your videos present the real you!
Yes, you’re Complicated but, your delivery is always Delightful!
Yes, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca are our family! Why do I call them family? We’re their fans, yes, but, we are more than fans. We certainly do all the things that fans do but it goes deeper than that because our guys are different than other entertainers. The difference is the guys think of us as their extended family. Why? Very simply because they grew up with us. They spend more time with us than they do with their families. And they show us their love in everything they do. Think of how they treat us! When you meet them they embrace you. Most entertainers just want your praise and accolades. Not our guys! They want to know about us! They ask about our lives and our families. They listen to us and do things to please us. And think about how you spent your last nine months listening to their music and feeling secure with every song! So what is family? Family are the people who are there when you need them. When you’re sad you can always feel their love and their encouragement! Family is not just blood it’s the people who are there for us!
So let’s take a look at how our Italian family spends their Christmas.
The Christmas season starts in Italy on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary which is also a holiday in Italy. This is the day that many Italians put up their Christmas trees and the cities light up their streets with colored lights. Why? Because Mary is the mother of the Light, Jesus! But there are other traditions that are celebrated on this day!
Let’s go to Naro, Piero’s city, to see how they celebrate the Christmas season.
Every year, on the 7th, 8th and 9th of December, every inhabitant in Naro stocks up on muffuletti. Muffuletti is a bread which is stuffed with meat and vegetables. Some people go to their local baker to buy them and some people prepare them at home. The tradition is linked to religion. Naro’s sandwiches are blessed and distributed in Churches at the end of the Mass on the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The bakers donate the muffuletti to the Churches as a gesture of generosity towards their fellow countrymen but, above all, of love towards “a bedda matri ‘Mmaculata”, the Most Holy Immaculate.
During the month of December, the Christmas markets are held in Naro. The Fair is set up inside the cloister of the Town Hall. Many people go to the Franciscan cloister where, every evening, to the delight of the children, there is a special snowfall that whitens the baroque courtyard. On the final evening there is a concert of Sicilian folk music and an award is given for the best photo taken at the large Christmas tree in Piazza Garibaldi.
During this magical period the streets are colored by many Christmas lights and everyone visits the living nativity scene of Borgo Castello. There is Mass on Christmas Eve and between hugs, kisses and best wishes there are a thousand good intentions. And then, on Christmas day, the family gathers together for a dinner laden with many local delicacies.
And what would Piero do on Christmas day? Most likely, he will walk around Naro and visit some older people and his friends. He certainly would have decorated his home so I’m sure he will make a video for all of us to see. He will most likely sing at the Christmas Eve or Christmas Day Mass. And I’m sure he will spend time singing with his grandfather, Pietro. Most importantly, he will spend the day with his family!
Christmas in Bologna! How does Ignazio celebrate Christmas?
Unlike Piero and Gianluca, Ignazio and his family live in a big city and like cities in America there are many events.
The Christmas tradition in Bologna has deep roots. The Bolognese Nativity Scene (Presepe) goes back to the middle ages. The tradition of the Presepe dates back to the 13th century and one of the oldest Presepe in the world is preserved in Bologna. What makes the Bolognese Nativity different? It is life size and includes clothes that are different from the traditional Neapolitan style. They are dressed in a medieval style. In Porretta Terme in the Emilian Apennines another Presepe which is one of the oldest Presepe in the world is kept in the church of Capugnano.
I’m sure Ignazio will visit the Christmas Tree in Piazza Nettuno. It is a Bolognese tradition. The beautiful tree is a welcoming and bright place to meet friends and feel the warmth of Christmas.
So, what will Ignazio’s family eat on Christmas? I’m sure on Christmas Eve there will be fish on the table. This is the tradition in every Italian house on “La Vigilia,” Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, there is another tradition. Lunch is the main meal and Pasta in brodo (pasta in broth) will certainly be served. In Bologna, it’s all about meat-filled tortellini in capon broth. These, small, ravioli, are filled with a mixture of meat, mortadella and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese but you will find in Bologna every family has its secret ingredient for them. You’ll recall in a recent interview, Ignazio mentioned his family buying Tortellini every Sunday.
The soup will most likely be followed by a roast and the meal will end with a traditional dessert like Certosino (or Pan speziale) which is made with almonds, pine nuts, dark chocolate and candied fruits. The recipe has its origin in the Middle Ages where Certosino was produced by pharmacists and later by Certosini Friars. Certosino is very popular in Bologna.
Having said this, I will say, since Ignazio is vegan, there are certain parts of this meal he won’t eat. He will certainly eat the dessert! What I do know is by tradition, Ignazio will join his family to celebrate Christmas Day!
So what will Gianluca do on Christmas?
A Montepagano tradition is the Nativity scene. At the end of the last century a famous living Nativity play was started in Montepagano which is a real theatrical performance, with a director and a narrator.
In the Abruzzi region, there is a tradition that bagpipers, so called zampognari come into the towns and play their flutes and bagpipes for the people. They symbolize the shepherds who come in search of the new born baby, Jesus. The bagpipers were once shepherds, today they are musicians who walk the streets of the cities, playing Christmas music. Often they are in pairs and one plays the zampognari (bagpipe) and the other the ciaramella (which is similar to a small piccolo).
For certain Gianluca will celebrate December 24th, Christmas Eve with a meal of fish including shellfish because he lives by the sea. As far as food traditions are concerned, on Christmas Day, the typical dish of the whole region of Abruzzo is spaghetti alla chitarra (which is prepared on a particular instrument called a guitar, because it is made of wood with metal strings) but most likely Gianluca will eat Lasagna. The second course will be arrosticini, which are pieces of meat, traditionally lamb, strung on long sticks, similar to a kebab. And for dessert, they will most likely have the traditional Christmas cake, Panettone.
Gianluca will surely spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with his family including his Grandpa Ernesto!
If you’re wondering where Santa Claus is, in Italy he is known as “Babbo Natale,” Father Christmas,who brings presents to children on Christmas Eve but, in true Italian style, gifts are exchanged on January 6th the day of Epiphany when La Befana comes to Italian homes in search of the Christ Child and leaves gifts for the children. This is a tradition that is celebrated in the central regions of Italy. La Befana is an old woman, with a hooked nose, badly dressed, with a handkerchief on her head, grumpy but good, she is not a witch. On January 6th, riding through the sky, flying on a broom, La Befana lands on the roofs, enters the houses from the chimneys and descends from the fireplace, leaving gifts and sweets in the big socks that the children place in front of the fireplace. If they were good, they get sweets. If they were bad, she leaves coal in the form of a sweet black candy. I’m sure there will be many sweets for Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca!
I would like to mention an important member of Il Volo’s family. Michele Torpedine! His family is originally from the region of Puglia. He moved to Bologna when he was twelve years old. So he will celebrate Christmas with his family and the celebration would be similar to Ignazio’s!
I would like to thank two people who contributed to this Christmas story. Maura PucciandGiovanni Granaro. Their knowledge of the regions of Montepagano and Naro and the different Christmas traditions made this story come to life!
In closing, I would like to thank two ladies who make all my stories come to life! Daniela Perani(a/k/a Sherlock Holmes) who is my second pair of eyes and provides all the photos and videos for my stories and Patricia Ward who does the layouts and final uploads for the stories.
I want to wish all of my Christian friends a Merry Christmas and all my Jewish friends a Happy Chanukah! And all my other friends, All the Happiness and Joy of the Season!
And finally I’m sure you will join me in wishing Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca and their families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year with many Concerts!
Credit to owners of all photos.
Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!