Tag Archives: Roberto Cenci

THE NIGHT THE LION ROARED by Susan

Now we have arrived at the part of the story which is the main event ~ Ti Lascio una Canzone! I’m going to say a few words about it for all the new fans out there and then I am a going to skip to The Night the Lion Roared. Why? Because everyone who knows Il Volo knows their amazing story! But I will share a few important facts and some videos of that amazing night.

Their amazing 1,2,3 win, as important as it was, was not the most important part to this story. The the biggest win of all was ~ Il Volo!
Let’s begin with Episode Four…

It is the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys are given the music for “O Sole Mio” but in three parts. They thought it was strange because until then they were singing alone or doing duets.
They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and it was like they had been performing together for years. Flawless!
But before the trio came together, there were some amazing performances….

Let’s talk about some of the people they performed with on the show. Really great names in the Italian music industry. Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Al Bano, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti.
What I witnessed in those performances were great performers who were in awe of these three teenage boys who were singing, in some cases, their songs and they were totally amazed. It was written all over their faces. They could not believe what they were hearing.

What was going on behind the scenes? Well, we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!

 

We know when Michele Torpedine heard them sing for the first time, he thought the three possessed an incredible vocality for their age.

He instinctively knew signing these kids would be for him the find of a lifetime!
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”

Michele continues, “Another great story started, a new story at a time when it seemed to me that there was no future for me, for my profession: a breath of oxygen in my environment.”
After years of disappointment, loss of trust and gratitude, missing or denied, with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, Michele rediscovers the values of gratitude. Michele says, “The boys allowed me to really go back to my job.”

And the results….
They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label. 
Universal Music signed them immediately. Michele said, “It is important to give due recognition to the man who made all this possible, the great record manager Peter Lopez. Peter immediately sensed the enormous potential of our artistic project. To him we owe an incredible international contract signed simply trusting that the boys would have audiences all over the world.”
But what did they bring to the table to win over the kids, the parents, and the grandparents? They had an idea and it worked….
Their music was Operatic pop or Pop-Opera. What was this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern style. While opera is very strict and regimented, Pop-Opera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling, and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera. This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason is three amazing voices! If the voice wasn’t there, the song wasn’t going to sell.
They started their career in America and immediately went around the world! There was no stopping them. Everyone everywhere loved them and their music. There are some great memories along the way but that’s a story for another day….
So now I will flash forward six years and tell you about The Night the Lion Roared….
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!
We know 2014 started out as a bad year, but suddenly things were happening. They were invited to sing at the Italian Senate. This was an event of immense importance for them. It said Italy was finally noticing them so, it only made sense that it was time to take a giant step!
But this story doesn’t start with Sanremo, nor does it end there! Sanremo was the door opener!
They will tell you that the decision to go to Sanremo was a good one but, in contrast going to Eurovision may not have been their best decision. My reply, going to Eurovision was an excellent decision!
Let’s see how these decisions were made and what path they chose….

Sanremo 2015

The Decision
So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with….
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….
The Song
Gianluca: I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say that the next time I must 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 say: ‘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.
The Wardrobe
Gianluca: Can you imagine for me this was also my birthday? I turned twenty on the Ariston 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.
I really wanted to use the video of “Ancora” at Sanremo but I couldn’t get it to work so, instead I chose the one from  Verona. Amazing no matter where they sing it!

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 Gucci’s. 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?

The Performance
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.
This video has English subtitles

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?

The Win

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.
You might ask why did I put these two stories together? I wanted you to see what six years in their lives did for them. They started on the Ariston stage as three teenagers, went around the world gaining success everywhere along the way, only to come back to the Ariston Theater to win not only Sanremo but the hearts of the Italian people; the one thing they wanted from the beginning!

Over those six years they sang in concerts hall around the world. Their songs went gold and platinum. They won many awards including the Latin American Music Award’s Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year for a duo or group. They sang with people like Barbara Streisand and joined some of the best singers in the music industry for “We Are the Whole Haiti” but what they wanted more than anything was to be accepted in their own country and they did that by coming back to their beginnings! Going full circle and taking a big chance paid off on the Ariston Stage for the second time.

As the winners of Sanremo, the guys went on to Eurovision. They came in third. They saw it as a loss but, I saw it as a win because here the press came out for them awarding them the Marcel Bezencon Press Award. The press has spoken!

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. 
And, the extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore” was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015, and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. 
The Night the Lion Roared, the guys felt they had finally achieved their dream to be number one in the hearts of the Italian people!
Against all odds they pulled it off. The part of the story they missed was about the Italian people. They were always on their side. Even when they were traveling around the world and hoping to perform concerts in Italy, the Italian people were always waiting for them. The press was against them but never the people. They wanted them home as much as they wanted to go home.

How does Michele Torpedine sum up our guys….
These three guys have very clear ideas and I have never seen them impressed in front of audiences that many would shake their legs. I never heard a wrong attack, and if some inconsistency arose that made something happen professionally, they knew how to handle the problem at the origin. They are always extraordinary, their voices grow with them, they mature in body and soul. There is no other team or artistic team so complete.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

 

Only One Step from Stardom by Susan

With ‘O Sole Mio’ in hand, the boys set out for night four of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
It’s April 25th, 2009, and these three teenage boys who only met a short time before are getting ready to turn their world upside down. They are now Only One Step from Stardom!
Let’s see where do we begin? How about where they began, when they stepped on that stage, and immediately became stars?
The first time these three boys sang together everyone was amazed. Who wasn’t amazed, Roberto Cenci! He knew exactly what he was doing. He realized by putting these three voices together he would create an amazing sound! How right he was!

So, let’s turn to Piero who will tell us how the guys first sang together….
I remember Roberto Cenci calling us all three to the center of the stage during the rehearsals.
‘Piero, Gianluca and Ignazio, come here.’
They start ‘O Sole Mio’ and we sing as we had divided the parts. Gianluca begins with the first verse and then it’s my turn, I attack with ‘Ma n’ato sole,’ (but another sun). This ‘Ma n’naaaato’ with the note kept so long and vibrated, as we still sing it today, was born in that first test because I learned, ‘O Sole Mio,’ by listening to the Three Tenors, that is Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Josè Carreras. And Pavarotti made those three words of refrain with a very, fast, but difficult beat. I did not have that technique, so I did it slowly. Then I asked: ‘Roberto, sorry, can I do it my way the ‘ma n’ato sole?’ He answers ‘Yes.’  And I say, ‘Unplug the orchestra when it’s time and come behind me.’

Ignazio tells us about the reaction to their singing it on that Saturday night….
That Saturday night there was a great standing ovation for us, with ‘O Sole Mio.’ I think that that performance marked the real starting point of our career.
When I had agreed to do the auditions, I was aware that it would be a great experience and would last only two months. But I never expected that we could get all this great success.

 Gianluca puts the event in the history books…
The theater came down.
Piero on my left, me in the middle, Ignazio on my right. In the history of music no one had ever seen three children of thirteen or fourteen sing these kinds of songs. So, we must also thank Roberto Cenci because, if it wasn’t for him maybe today, we would not be here. It was nice, it was something…. How can I tell you? It was natural. I immediately enjoyed singing together, there was no problem.
But it was also all unexpected.
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.

Piero looks back over the events since that night….
But can you think about how far we’ve come? We did not even know each other and now we have been working together for six years, we toast together, we cry together.
By now Gianluca and Ignazio, but let’s not let them know, they are a part of me, I do not know how I could do without them.
I’ll make you understand one thing: when I’m on stage singing my solo, as soon as I finish, I cannot wait for the other two to come because I feel their moral, psychological and even physical support. If I feel bad, I know that there are two of them that can help me, we can help each other, and this is fundamental for me, to feel that we support each other, that we are always together.
And if I think of how far we have come from Ti Lascio una Canzone, I am reminded of Antonella Clerici.  Antonella was the one who, even after the program, has always supported our project. Every time someone spoke badly about us, she was ready to defend us, she never changed, she never, never, demanded a thank you and I must tell you that we still speak to each other every time there is something new. She’s just like you see her on TV: sincere.
So, let’s step away from the stage a moment and talk about what was going on behind the scenes. Well, we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!

In his book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again from Three) Michele Torpedine, their manager tells us what happened that night.
Alone in his apartment, Michele Torpedine was sitting on his sofa with the volume off on his TV. The show he was watching was Ti Lascio Una Canzone. He keeps looking at the screen and he suddenly thinks, Ignazio reminds him of Luciano Pavaroti, Gianluca seemed similar to Jose Carreras and Piero is similar to Placido Domingo. He still had not heard them sing. Out of curiosity, he raised the volume and Michele says, “here I am aware of another element, that is even more important than the first. The three casually put together to sing a song of the program possess an incredible vocality for their age.”
At this point Michele’s head is spinning. He’s 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? A trio he tells himself. Here’s what I could do….”
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”
For Michele it was a return to the beginning. Only this time it was better.
Michele explained in his book that the day the guys came together singing, “O Sole Mio” on Ti Lascio una Canzone, he was at the end of his career. For him it was truly over. All he had done for so many now seemed in vain. But with this vision before him, three amazing teenagers, he was able to see a new light. A light that would start the wheels rolling again. A light that would reveal truth. A truth that never before was revealed to him. A truth he searched for his whole life but would only find in his relationship with Il Volo.
And so it begins…
Now the guys will tell us how it all came together….

Piero begins….
On June 9th, 2009, nine days after the end of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, my parents left for Rome. They were a bit mysterious about it. When I asked them what they were going to do in Rome they only replied that they had to meet a person and, I tell the truth, I did not even insist on knowing who.
They leave, and where am I going to sleep? At my grandparents, of course. The next day they come home and then, yes, I wanted to know something more. ‘Dad, what have you done in Rome?’
‘Nothing’ he answers, ‘we met a certain Torpedine.’
The first thing I do, is go on the Internet and look up ‘Torpedine.’ A lot of things came up, musician and record producer of people like Pino Daniele, Lucio Dalla, Fabrizio De Andre, Giorgia, Biagio Antonacci, Zucchero (and he took him to the Kremlin in 1990) and Andrea Bocelli, only to name some names. He has managed Gianna Nannini’s America tour, has edited the records and events for the thirtieth anniversary of Pino Daniele’s career, and has had the artistic management of an edition of Thirty Hours for Life. He was also the artistic director of the first two editions of Pavarotti and Friends, and he did a lot of other things that it would take a book just to tell them all.
Anyway, I read everything I found on the Internet and the same day I went back to dad: ‘But what did this Torpedine tell you?’ My father was very vague, really, very vague. ‘No, nothing, we talked like that.’
I did not know what to expect, there was a strange atmosphere since the show was over. I knew that the parents of Ignazio and Gianluca had gone to that appointment, but I did not know what to think.
After a month, my parents make another trip to Rome to meet the legendary Torpedine, while my brother, my sister and I go back to sleep at our grandparents’ house. The day after, mom and dad came back to Naro with a check. It was the advance of the contract.
‘Piero, we signed a contract with Torpedine for a record’ my father told me, immediately and without being vague this time. And do you know what I thought? ‘Wow nice.’ But so, very simply. I did not understand the importance of the thing, I swear, I did not understand it.

And what was Ignazio’s reaction….
And who understood it, Pie?
Immediately after the end of the program my parents, like those of Piero, received a call from the office of Bibi Ballandi.
Who is Bibi Ballandi? Eh, even here we should open not just a chapter, but a whole book to explain it because he is the producer with a capital P. Some examples? The shows on Rai Uno de Fiorello and Celentano, Dancing with the Stars and also Ti Lascio una Canzone.
From Ballandi’s office, they wanted the parents of the three boys – we did not have a name yet – to go to Rome to discuss their children’s future. I stayed at home, just like Piero. On their return, as usual, mom and dad sat down with me and my sister around the table to talk about what had happened in Rome. Michele Torpedine who came back after seventeen years of managing, Andrea Bocelli, and Tony Renis, Mister Quando, Quando, were interested in us. What did I think? What could I think, one who in the last five years had done nothing but sing from morning to night? After several meetings we signed our first managerial contract.

But, of course, Gianluca remembers it differently….
I do not remember all these things, Igna.
That is a period that I really cannot remember in general.
I was just a child who dreamed. While the other guys who had participated in the broadcast returned home to go to the beach and were preparing to start a new school year, the three of us walked towards a professional artistic career.
I really did not realize it. I did not even know what the contracts were like, I did not care. Once I told my father something like this: ‘But why, to be a singer, it takes a contract?’ I only remember that at a certain point we went to lunch in Rome, at Rome Cavalieri with Tony Renis to talk about music and recording songs. The contract had already been signed. I was there with my father, Piero, Ignazio and their parents.
Yes, during the period of Ti Lascio una Canzone there was a rumor about these three tenorini’s.  After the program there was much talk about the three tenors. But as a child what can you understand?
Even when we first met Michele Torpedine and Barbara Vitali, who since then became the fourth member of the group, even if you never see her on stage, I did not understand just how it was possible that Andrea Bocelli’s manager was interested in us. It was something that upset me. I went to see Bocelli my idol and to work with the manager who had made him famous. A dream, in fact!
We were three funny, awkward, children: Ignazio fat, Piero roly-poly too, I was small and plump and with pimples. So, at the first meeting, I look at Torpedine and ask him: ‘But what came into your mind?’
Sometimes even today I look at the photos, the videos of when we were little ones and I still ask myself had he really seen into the future. And he also had a lot of patience, because in addition to being funny and clumsy, we were very confused and, wherever we went, everyone looked at us in a strange way. Like that evening, in Jesolo, when we met Michele.

We finally finished Ti Lascio Una Canzone and they invited us to sing on June 27th, 2009, at the nineteenth edition of Miss Italy in the world. The evening was broadcast on Rai Uno by the Jesolo Tourist Palace, conducted by Caterina Balivo and Biagio Izzo.
When we arrived in the dressing rooms, I saw Raf. ‘Oh my God, there’s Raf!’ I said. “Let me take a picture. I run to him like crazy, ‘Can I take a picture with you?’ We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, he poured the Coca-Cola on the floor in the dressing room, and it ended up also on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says to Barbara look, I still remember it, with a face looking like ‘Oh my God.’

So, until now, I did not talk about the results of Ti Lascio Una Canzone because I was waiting to tell you all three stories. So how did everyone do in the competition?

Gianluca won the first night singing “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”

Ignazio won the second night with the song, “Quando l’amore Diventa Poesia.”
Gianluca won the third night with the song, “La Luna che non c’è.”

And, Piero won the fourth night with the song, “Un Amore Così Grande.”
Gianluca won the competition with the song “Il Mare Calmo della Sera.”
Ignazio came in second with “Quando l’amore Diventa Poseia”
Piero came in third with “Un Amore Così Grande.”

And the biggest win of the night, they walked off the stage, Only One Step from Stardom!

The source for many of my stories is the guy’s book “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia,” (An extraordinary adventure, our story). If you can read Italian, I advise that you read it. It truly is an extraordinary story! (Available on Amazon)

And while you’re at it, Michele Torpedine’s book Ricomincio Dai Tre (I Start Again From Three) is also a good read. It is in Italian and available on Amazon.

If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at http://www.ilvolo flightcrw.com.
Credit to the owners of all photos and videos

The Audition and Beyond by Susan

Over the last four weeks we’ve followed the path that each guy took on the road to success! We learned it wasn’t always an easy road. Many curves and disappointments but finally we have all three guys in the same place at the same time. So now they meet! Not exactly! They still have to do what they were put on earth to do! Introduce the world to their magnificent voices.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. They still haven’t met.
The Il Volo family is large and just about everyone is in Rome for the audition but let’s let Gianluca tell you about his first meeting with a member of the family on the day of the audition….
From that day in Rome, I remember very well Ignazio’s mother. I do not remember seeing either Piero or Ignazio, but Caterina yes. During the audition they made us sing in a recording room, outside in the queue was Ignazio’s mother…. Caterina heard the voice of someone singing, and she had listened to me. When I came out, she looked at me and said: ‘Congratulations! Bravo, very good!’ She heard me sing and she thought Andrea Bocelli was in the recording room.
So, it seems Caterina Boschetto was the first to make contact, but little did she know what that meeting would lead to!
For me, I see this as the day their destiny is fulfilled. Call it La Forza del destino (the force of destiny)! I’ll call it as I see it! This was God’s plan! His hand was always guiding each of these young men. How else would you explain how they happened to be in the same place at the same time? We’re not just talking about three teenage boys with nice voices, we are talking about three teenage boys with phenomenal voices. Very unique voices! Truly one-of-a-kind voices! Touched by the hand of God! Let me call Gianluca back to explain what he thought about their voices….
 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 on Ti Lascio una Canzone.
It wasn’t just that the voices were extraordinary, no, it was that they complemented one another. It was natural and it was apparent from the very first note that these voices worked well together! That their voices are in tune with one another. The first time they walked out on the stage, it worked!
So how is this possible? For me there is only one way to explain it!  Before the Lord sent these three amazing young men to earth, he said what this world needs are voices that can bring joy to my people and so he chose three loving couples and sent each one a son who would bring joy to the world through his voice!
Alone each voice is phenomenal. Together they are a symphony! Listen to their voices when they sing. Their voices are coming from every direction like a symphony orchestra that is forming the music around you!
I always say I can tell you who’s singing at any given time. I can even hear their voices one over another and draw them out. That’s the other thing that makes them unique! Each voice is distinct even when they are singing together!
So, without further ado, let’s find out what each guy had to say about his experience at the audition at Via dei Gracchi! We start as we always do with Piero. Let’s see what he remembers are about the audition…
What do I remember from the audition?
I remember that it was in Via dei Gracchi in Rome and that I arrived there with ‘La Voce Del Silenzo’ and the unfailing ‘Un Amore Così Grande’ and the suits that my father bought me, I felt like a king.

‘Mr. Barone, we’ll let you know’ they told Dad when I finished singing. After five days, the longest of my life, they call and say: ‘Prepare these five pieces for the next audition.’ Those five tracks were: Sei Nell’Anima of Gianna Nannini, La Voce Del Silenzo, Un Amore Così Grande, Voglio Vivere Così, Domenica È Sempre Domenica
The aim was to test me on different genres, of course, to understand which one was the most suitable for me. So, I get to the recording studio in Rome and start singing. Only shortly thereafter, they stop the music. The first so, the second and I was already demoralized, if a test does not make it even to the refrain, it’s not a good sign. The first thing I thought was that it did not go well. At the third track I attack the refrain, ‘Un Amore Così…….and they stop the musical base. When I left the recording room and arrived in the mixer room, I found dad with my brother and a friend who had come to Cosenza with us at the Tour Music Fest, all three beautiful smiling, quiet. I died and they are happy. There is something wrong. Roberto Cenci looks at me and tells me: ‘Bravo, Piero, you are inside the program.’ But I really believed it only when they brought me to the seamstress.
If you ask my father, what he remembers about that audition …. the first answer will be a number: 1280. Those are the euros that he spent to buy two or three complete outfits in a very nice Naro store, because as a good Sicilian he said, ‘How? I bring my son to an audition at RAI, I have to make a good impression, no?’ I felt like a king with those clothes.
What about Ignazio? What does he remember?
I did not really believe it. I remained as usual with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I must admit, at first, I was a bit perplexed at the idea of going to audition because, I have always been a pessimist, but then, we talked about it in the family, as we have always been used to doing, we said to ourselves: ‘Why not?’ So, in the end I went to do the auditions in Rome, funded by mom and dad who, in the meantime, were continuing to make great sacrifices for me.
I arrived with mom and dad at Via dei Gracchi, where the auditions were held. There were many guys like me who were hoping for something positive without expecting anything, trying not to have too many illusions.
At the beginning I was also quite calm, it could not be much different from singing on stage. Anxiety began to rise as my turn approached. And here they call my name: ‘Boschetto?’
I got up and went into the studio where the boys were singing. There was, Roberto Cenci, waiting for me. He looked at me and asked, ‘Dear Boschetto, what are you letting us hear today?’ I had chosen Ti Cerchero by Gigi Finizio and Melodramma by Andrea Bocelli.
‘Thank you very much’ was the only thing Roberto Cenci told me when I finished singing. All there? But how was I doing? Was I okay? I had no idea but, climbing the stairs, Pannocchia, who was the manager who accompanied us, tells me that I have to study a song within thirty minutes. What song? The Winner Takes It All by ABBA. To help me there was Luca Pitteri, a vocal coach who collaborated with AMICI and who at that time worked for Ti Lascio una Canzone.

They gave me a CD player and I started to listen and study the song, and after exactly thirty minutes they called me back, we went into the studio where Roberto Cenci was waiting for me. ‘Please, start,’ he said, and the base started. I cannot say if I sang well, I do not remember anything other than the fact that somehow, they let me guess that I was inside the program, I had succeeded, but I tried not to build too many castles in the air as we returned home. What I did not know was that while I was inside singing The Winner Takes It All, outside my mother and Pannocchia spoke and he said: ‘Ignazio is in the program, madam!’ But they did not even tell me. Of course, I had a positive feeling, but how positive is the presentiment of one who is pessimistic. After a few days they called me back telling me that I had to go back to Rome. I did not know why but already the phone call filled me with joy. Maybe I had to take another test? I know it may sound strange, but I really did not know what to expect. Then in reality the reason for the summons to Rome was to tell me that I had been taken, I was in the cast of Ti Lascio Una Canzone.

Okay, Gianluca, we know your experience was different but how was it different? What happened at Via dei Gracchi?
I’m sorry for Piero and Ignazio, but I did not have to wait for a phone call to know the result of the audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. Via dei Gracchi in Rome, I remember very well. It is in a fairly central area, in the Prati district and not far from the Vatican, a very long street full of very beautiful buildings. From Montepagano to Rome, the distance is not much, just over an hour. We got in the car in the afternoon, calmly. There was the complete family: dad at the wheel, mom sitting next to him, I in the back seat with the two Ernesto of the house, my grandfather, who was proud and satisfied with that trip even if we did not know yet how it would end, and my brother, who at the time was only seven years old.
‘How much is missing (When do we arrive)?’ I asked my dad. And after five minutes: ‘And now how much is missing?’. And after another five minutes: ‘And now how much is missing?’ Fortunately, the road was short, or I would have made him mad. I was very anxious I had never done anything so important. Already for me to go to RAI, in short, it is not something that I can explain in words.

When we entered, I realized that I would not be alone to support that audition. There were many other guys, all with their parents, a long line of people, but I was not worried because I was there just for fun, it was already an adventure.
When they called my name, I entered the registration room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was a bit ‘so, because he has a very tough character, does not convey much sympathy at the first meeting. But the essential thing is that I start to sing: ‘I wanted to be a little alone to think, you know ….’ I had chosen The Voice of Silence. I remember it perfectly. I was thirteen – the first audition was in November 2008 – and I already had this deep, baritone voice.
I sang in the recording room and saw the others on the other side of the glass. There was Roberto Cenci, my grandfather was there with my mother, my brother, and my father, all in the other room. So, I sing and at one point, Roberto stops the music and says: ‘Stop all.’ ‘What happens?’ I thought. From where I was, I did not understand anything, I saw only the faces.
‘This boy,’ continues Roberto, addressing my family, ‘he was kissed by the Lord.’ All I could see were only the faces of my parents and in my head, I kept asking ‘What’s up?’ And at a certain point I did not make it anymore and I opened the door, I went to Roberto and in the meantime, I repeated: ‘What’s going on?’  I was small, I could not realize. My father, made a face, I do not forget, he looks at me and says: ‘Nothing, good!’
‘Congratulations’ Roberto tells me, hugs me, makes me sing another song, calls all the others on the staff. ‘Feel this baby, you feel like singing.’ I remember these scenes very well; I see it again. And I was very excited, I was very happy, I could not even sing, at one point I even stuck. Because I did not expect such a positive reaction from Roberto Cenci and all the others, producers, technicians and I do not know who else there was, that day, because Roberto had called everyone.
My mother and father never stopped smiling. My grandfather was very happy, if possible, more than when we left. My brother was small, but it was clear to him that it was a party. In the end, do you know until how late we stayed in that hall? Until nine in the evening, because Roberto Cenci called me back even after the audition to make me sing some more songs, to start making me try some duet. In short, when we said goodbye, I was exhausted, but I was bursting with joy.
Okay so they all made it. They were all accepted! But of course, you already knew that. So, let’s see what happened next.

Piero begins by telling us about the rehearsals in Rome in early March 2009….
Ti Lascio una Canzone was aired at the Ariston Theater in Sanremo but, the first of the rehearsals were in Rome starting in March. Upon landing at Fiumicino, there was a coach from the editorial staff waiting for us. We were still just a group of kids who did not know each other, we came from different parts of Italy, and we were all different ages. I did not know what to expect.

I get on the bus and the first person I immediately notice is a nuisance who sang (sang from morning to night, in continuation), who screamed, screamed, was never silent, never stopped. It went on all the way to Rome. I cannot forget it, especially because from Fiumicino to Rome center it is about an hour’s drive. All that time talking, screaming, and singing, damn him!
Anyone want to guess who it was?
We arrive at the hotel, and it was not difficult to start meeting other guys. But you know how certain things go! It was easy for people in the same room to communicate with each other. But I wanted to get to know the others, so alone, I went down in the hall, and I found Luigi Fronte, who was younger than me. I was fifteen. Then I met Micaela Foti and the guy who was singing on the bus.
“Hi, pleasure, I’m Piero.” I introduce myself.
“Hi, I’m Manuela.”
And this other one? “I am Ignazio.” Present here!
From the first moment, Ignazio and I established a strong relationship. What do I mean? We were looking for each other. We were always together. I, him, and Luigi. Luigi was the mascot, the little one who was with us. We rehearsed with Ignazio, we talked, we joked. Maybe because he was Sicilian like me. I did not know Gianluca right away and, in the beginning, there was not a great bond but, in time we built one.
From that very first Wednesday of trials, I remember perfectly, that I thought this seems to me the same image of the choir. I and Ignazio sitting on the left and around a lot of females. I sang, Non Ti Scordar Di Me, at the first episode and Mamma at the second, Granada at the third.
We sang on Saturday night, and, on Sunday, I flew back to Sicily. Monday, Denise was preparing all the things to learn, she told me the pages to study, ‘Of history, do this.’ ‘I have stressed the words to remember.’ I arrived at school on Tuesday morning, I did all the interrogations and left the following day.
When I got to the rehearsals, I had I to have prepared the pieces that had been assigned to me, by the editorial staff and sent to me on Monday. We had to study the pieces at home for the next installment.
On Monday, between the end of the third episode and the beginning of the fourth, I get the text of Un Un Amore Così Grande to sing alone. So far, all normal! And ‘O Sole Mio divided into three parts. What will this thing be?

Ignazio remembers every detail from the beginning and Piero is racing off to episode four! Let’s listen to Ignazio….
How much do you run Piero!
He is already on the fourth installment and, I’m still here thinking about how nervous I was that night. It was April 4th, 2009, the evening of the start of the program. I had never faced a television experience! It is also true that this agitation of television I only heard it, only at the beginning. Yes, we were all aware that this was television, but for the ingenuity we had at that age, for us it was like singing in the home theater. And then, I had already seen theaters and stages. The thing that made me understand that there was something different was to see all the famous guests. But for the rest, we did not realize the difference.

Even stranger was when I arrived, I was unusually quiet. Perhaps, because in the previous week I had the opportunity to meet my fellow adventurers, and I had immediately linked with Veronica Liberati, Sonia Mosca and Piero Barone, a Sicilian boy like me who was a little like me. I had also met Gianluca Ginoble, but I spent less time with him because he was part of the group of “jocks” (even today we take it around because some remained so!)
La Nostra Favola was my debut song on the first episode, I even got the words wrong, but it went very well. On returning to Marsala, I clearly felt that things were changing, people recognized me, but I tried to take everything with great humility. The first rule for me has always been to keep my feet on the ground. The more weeks passed, the more people recognized me, but I tried to remain the same as always.
To get ready for rehearsals, the week before the episode, they gave us the songs to study for the evening. And on the third night I get the songs that I would have to sing the following Saturday, at the fourth episode. There was something strange. There were songs that I would have done alone, but also ‘O Sole Mio, that I would have to sing with two other guys.  What news was that?

Let’s turn to Gianluca to get his take on how the rehearsals went….  
Ignazio, I do not believe you were amazed by that news! In my opinion, the earthquake-Ignazio was not astonished, but he surprised others. At the audition, I told you, I have no memory of seeing either Ignazio or Piero.  But once the selections were over, we were all put together in Rome, I do not remember in which hotel, from where we started by coach to go to rehearsals with the RAI orchestra.
From there it was impossible not to notice Ignazio. We were about thirty kids with their parents, and he was screaming, singing, making a mess, he alone seemed to be the choir of the southern corner of Rome (football team) all together. Ignazio has always been like that, even today he is, he will never lose this way even at the age of fifty, and that’s what makes him special.
And Piero? Of him, I’m sorry to admit it, I have no particular memories of that period. We were all in the same hotel, but we were many and I tied up with other guys first. But there was a nice climate, we all had a lot of fun together.

From March to the end of May, it was impossible to study on the days dedicated to rehearsals. I did homework and school questions on Monday and Tuesday… I told you, at school I had always been a lazy man, but despite all that year I managed to keep my average, in some matters I had the capacity six and some other seven. At the school interviews with the parents before the exams, my father heard the same thing from all the teachers: ‘All right, he kept the average.’ They were not telling me that I was a genius, I never was, but I managed to do well despite my commitments. So, my dad was satisfied. What matter was missing? Music. Could I go wrong with music? Yes. To the point of risking the insufficiency. In my opinion, the teacher was joking. Real teacher? The truth is that in addition to the commitment that I put myself in, I had to thank the principal and my teachers at the school ‘Gabriele d’Annunzio’ of Roseto who had always understood that my life was changing.
Gianluca tells us that suddenly things changed….
It started on Monday before the episode of April 25th, 2009, when I got the songs that I had to prepare and I saw that there was one, ‘O Sole Mio, divided into three parts. Of course, a little strange it seemed to me. Almost all of us had made duets in the show, but no trio had been composed until that moment.
I had no idea what to expect. Maybe I did not even ask. The important thing, I told you, was to sing and have fun.

All three have succeeded at The Audition and Beyond! The Ariston Theater awaits them. They are ready to step on the stage at Sanremo!

Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Next stop the Ti Lascio una Canzone!

The source for many of my stories is the guy’s book “Un’avventure straordinaria, la nostra storia,” (An extraordinary adventure, our story). If you can read Italian, I advise that you read it. It truly is an extraordinary story! (Available on Amazon)
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at http://www.ilvoloflightcrw.com
Credit to the owners of all photos and videos

Via dei Gracchi

As we get closer to the guy’s arrival in the United States I want to go back and revisit some of what they did in the beginning that got them to America!

You will recall how Piero and Ignazio were taking voice lessons and piano lessons and, Gianluca just sang for his own pleasure. Each one was approached in a different way to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. What we will look at today is how each one was approached to audition and what that experience was like!
Let’s begin with where they were in their lives when they were called to audition…
Piero, when not in school, was busy with his voice lessons and his festivals. In November 2008 a phone call changed Piero’s life forever.
Piero’s singing lessons were not in Naro. He had a long drive to his teacher’s studio. It became increasing difficult for his father to drive him to these lessons so, Piero made arrangements with his cousin Giuseppe, to drive him and he made arrangements with the student who had lessons after him to drive back home. At the end of Piero’s singing lesson, he would wait for the student to finish his lesson so they could travel home together. This student lived near his paternal grandmother’s house.
Let’s let Piero explain what happened one day…
Usually, as the boy who gave me passage lived near my paternal grandmother, he always left me at her house where my father came to pick me up when he finished work. Only that evening my father was already at my grandmother’s and was talking on the phone.
‘Who was that dad?’ Was the first thing I asked him when he finished speaking.
‘Wait, let’s go home and I’ll tell you.’
It was strange that he was mysterious with me, but I always trusted him blindly and if he said ‘after’ he meant that it was okay. I was curious, for sure, but I waited calmly. We finish dinner, and daddy keeps his promise and tells me: ‘On the phone was a lady, a certain Isabella Abiuso. She is part of the casting of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, and she was given your name by the Tour Music Fest.’
Stop all and take a step back: what is the Tour Music Fest? It’s a festival that I did not want to do. It’s not that I was undecided, I wanted to think about it. No, I did not want to do it just because I won all these festivals, and I was a little tired. Yet it is a great European festival dedicated to emerging music born in 2003. It has several stages, runs throughout Italy and not just singers, but also bands and musicians participated. The stage closest to us was that of Cosenza. ‘I have to drive,’ Dad had told me. ‘We have a comfortable car, you sleep, and we go, you do not even notice.’ Twenty-four hours to do Naro-Cosenza, Cosenza-Naro. We arrive there, I sing, and they do not give me more news. But they gave to someone else.
Isabella Abiuso, one of the talent scouts who selected children for the broadcast, called the editors of the festival and asked for a name to try, someone interesting for that kind of television program. The organizers of the Tour Music Fest told her, ‘Mrs. Abiuso, here there is nothing that we can give, apart from a certain Piero Barone, which for us has not gone well because it is not the kind of music that we deal with, but he certainly has an innate talent.’ I was not sixteen yet, it was November 2008. ‘Dad’ I immediately said, ‘this Ti Lascio Una Canzone, I’d like to do it. Let’s try, why not?’

Let’s see what Piero had to say about the experience of the audition…
What do I remember from the audition? I remember that it was in Via dei Gracchi in Rome, that I arrived there with La Voce Del Silenzo and the unfailing Un Amore Così Grande and the suits that my father bought me, I felt like a king.
“Mr. Barone, we’ll let you know” they told Dad when I finished singing. After five days, the longest of my life, they call and say: “Prepare these five pieces for the next audition”. Those five tracks were:  
Sei Nell’Anima of Gianna Nannini
La Voce Del Silenzo
Un Amore Così Grande
Voglio Vivere Così 
Domenica è Sempre Domenica
The aim was to test me on different genres, of course, to understand which one was the most suitable for me. So, I get to the recording studio in Rome and start singing. Only shortly thereafter, they stop the music. The first so, the second and I was already demoralized, if a test does not make it even to the refrain, it’s not a good sign. The first thing I thought was that it did not go well. At the third track I attack the refrain, “Un Amore Cosi” …….and they stop the musical base. When I left the recording room and arrived in the mixer room, I found dad with my brother and a friend who had come to Cosenza with us at the Tour Music Fest, all three beautiful smiling, quiet. I died and they are happy. There is something wrong. Roberto Cenci looks at me and tells me: “Bravo, Piero, you are inside the program”. But I really believed it only when they brought me to the seamstress.
And how about Ignazio?
Ignazio was busy with his voice lessons and festivals but his experience with the festivals was very different from Piero’s. Ignazio has always been a person who believed in fair competition. It certainly is nice to win but he always felt that a person should win because they deserve to win. There was too much cheating and payoff going on. Young people were not winning because of their talent. It was very unfair for the other competitors who worked so hard to get to that competition.

Let me let Ignazio tell you the situation when Franco Fasano proposed that he audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone….
I felt like a crap. No, not when they called me to audition, before I felt like a crap, so much so that I almost lost it that night when they talked to me for the first time about Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The fact is that competition after competition, year after year, perhaps because I grew up and became less naive – now I was fourteen – at a certain point in 2008 I realized that, as wonderful as it was, the music world was starting to give me the first disappointments: people who paid to see their child win, recommendations and various scams.
My problem is that I have always been for healthy competition, getting to the first place because really a person deserves to be rewarded as such. But it was not like that anymore. I did not want to participate anymore in any competition. I began to give up many proposals. I was in this terrible mood when, in September of that year, I was offered a competition in Caltanissetta, which was presented by the great Nico dei Gabbiani and had as president of the jury Franco Fasano, author and composer of songs like Ti Lascerò who won the Sanremo Festival, and also singer songwriter as E Quel Giorno Non Mi Perderai Più.
Instinctively I said no. I did not want to take part in any competition that could turn out to be made up. But after so many evenings talking to my family and Liliana, who was always present and always ready to give me some advice, I convinced myself. I am happy to say that there are no recommendations in that competition: I reached third place. But the greatest satisfaction was not the result. At the end of the final evening Franco Fasano took the stage, proposing to do a test in Rome – he did not promise me anything for sure – for a television program that, having seen the great success of the first, had reached its second edition. That program was Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
So, Ignazio went off to Rome for his audition. Let’s continue with Ignazio’s experience….
But I did not really believe it. I remained as usual with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I must admit, at first, I was a bit perplexed at the idea of going to the audition because, I have always been a pessimist, but then, we talked about it in the family, as we have always been used to doing, we said to ourselves: “Why not?” So, in the end I went to do the auditions in Rome, funded by mom and dad who, in the meantime, were continuing to make great sacrifices for me.
I arrived with mom and dad at via dei Gracchi, where the auditions were held. There were many guys like me who were hoping for something positive without expecting anything, trying not to have too many illusions.
At the beginning, I was also quite calm, it could not be much different from singing on stage. Anxiety began to rise as my turn approached. And here they call my name: ‘Boschetto?’ I got up and went into the studio where the boys were singing. There was, Roberto Cenci, waiting for me. He looked at me and asked, ‘Dear Boschetto, what are you letting us hear today?’ I had chosen Ti Cerchero by Gigi Finizio and Melodramma by Andrea Bocelli.
‘Thank you very much’ was the only thing Roberto Cenci told me when I finished singing. All there? But how was I doing? Was I okay? I had no idea but, climbing the stairs, Pannocchia, who was the manager who  accompanied us, tells me that I have to study a song within thirty minutes. What song? The Winner Takes It All by ABBA. To help me there was Luca Pitteri, a vocal coach who collaborated with AMICI and who at that time worked for Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
They gave me a CD player and I started to listen and study the song, and after exactly thirty minutes they called me back, we went into the studio where Roberto Cenci was waiting for me. ‘Please, start’ he said, and the base started. I cannot say if I sang well, I do not remember anything other than the fact that somehow, they let me guess that I was inside the program, I had succeeded, but I tried not to build too many castles in the air as we returned home. What I did not know was that while I was inside singing The Winner Takes It All, outside my mother and Pannocchia spoke and he said: ‘Ignazio is in the program, madam!’ But they did not even tell me. Of course, I had a positive feeling, but how positive is the presentiment of one who is pessimistic.
Afterwards, like Piero, Ignazio wasn’t told anything. After a few days he was called back to Rome….
 After a few days they called me back telling me that I had to go back to Rome. I did not know why but already the phone call filled me with joy. Maybe I had to take another test? I know it may sound strange, but I really did not know what to expect. Then in reality the reason for the summons to Rome was to tell me that I had been taken, I was in the cast of Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
And then there was Gianluca. Gianluca’s story is very different. You could say, unlike Piero and Ignazio who studied music in every spare moment of their day, Gianluca had a life. He enjoyed spending his days playing soccer and listening to Andrea Bocelli on his portable radio. He enjoyed being outdoors. Going to the forest with his brother and his friends and just singing for his own enjoyment. Gianluca never participated in the festivals. If it wasn’t for the Piccolo Choir of Roses, Gianluca may not have been discovered.
Let’s listen to Gianluca’s tell us how the Piccolo Choir of Roses got him the audition of Ti Lascio Una Canzone….
Do you see destiny? The story of Ignazio shows that things come and, you do not have to force them to arrive.
I only sang because it made me feel good, when I was singing, I was happy. Then what happened? I don’t really know. To tell you the truth, seven years passed from the casting sessions because it was 2008 when my father received a call from Licia Giunco.
It is difficult to explain who this lady is, an incredible woman, known throughout Italy for being the creator of an annual event called Sport for life, a great international ice-skating gala.
The reason for Mrs. Giunco’s phone call was my performances with the choir. “We have a great talent here in Roseto” she told my father. “Let’s bring him to RAI.” My father had never thought about it. My parents had never even imagined I would participate in competitions, let alone send me for an audition for television.
“Let’s try,” he replied to her. “It would be a great opportunity.” What dad thought was just a different experience, something that could make me have fun. Mrs. Giunco had made available to us her contacts: we talked to Franco Fasano, whom Licia knew, and he took us to the audition with Roberto Cenci for a broadcast of RAI. Maybe the idea that it was only a life experience to do, an experience that would allow me to sing for a while. My parents, as they had always been until then, did not force me in the least and, as enthusiastic as they were of the idea of what I could do, they completely left the decision to me. I had not the slightest idea of what awaited me, but I decided instinctively, with my belly, that yes, that audition I really wanted to do it.
I’m sorry for Piero and Ignazio, but I did not have to wait for a phone call to know the result of the audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
Via dei Gracchi in Rome, I remember very well. It is in a fairly central area, in the Prati district and not far from the Vatican, a very long street full of very beautiful buildings….
When we entered, I realized that I would not be alone to support that audition. There were many other guys, all with their parents, a long line of people, but I was not worried because I was there just for fun, it was already an adventure.
When they called my name, I entered the registration room. Roberto Cenci was there. It was the first time I saw him. The impact was a bit so,  because he has a very tough character, does not convey much sympathy at the first meeting. But the essential thing is that I start to sing I wanted to be a little alone to think, you know …. I had chosen The Voice of Silence. I remember it perfectly. I was thirteen – the first audition was in November 2008 – and I already had this deep, baritone voice.

I sang in the recording room and saw the others on the other side of the glass. There was Roberto Cenci, my grandfather was there with my mother, my brother, and my father, all in the other room. So, I sing and at one point, Roberto stops the music and says: ‘Stop all.’ ‘What happens?’ I thought. From where I was, I did not understand anything, I saw only the faces.
‘This boy’ continues Roberto, addressing my family, ‘he was kissed by the Lord.’ All I could see were only the faces of my parents and in my head, I kept asking ‘What’s up?’ And at a certain point I did not make it anymore and I opened the door, I went to Roberto, and I repeated: ‘What’s going on?’  I was small, I could not realize. My father, made a face, I do not forget, he looks at me and says: ‘Nothing, good!’
‘Congratulations’ Roberto tells me, hugs me, makes me sing another song, calls all the others on the staff. ‘Feel this baby, you feel like singing.’  I remember these scenes very well; I see it again. And I was very excited, I was very happy, I could not even sing, at one point I even stuck. Because I did not expect such a positive reaction from Roberto Cenci and all the others, producers, technicians and I do not know who else there was, that day, because Roberto had called everyone.
My mother and father never stopped smiling. My grandfather was very happy, if possible, more than when we left. My brother was small, but it was clear to him that it was a party. In the end, do you know until how late we stayed in that hall? Until nine in the evening, because Roberto Cenci called me back even after the audition to make me sing some more songs, to start making me try some duet. In short, when we said goodbye, I was exhausted, but I was bursting with joy.
From that day in Rome, I remember very well Ignazio’s mother. I do not remember seeing either Piero or Ignazio, but Caterina yes. During the audition they made us sing in a recording room, outside in the queue was Ignazio’s mother. Caterina heard the voice of someone singing, and she had listened to me. When I came out, she looked at me and said: “Congratulations! Bravo, very good!”.  She heard me sing and she thought Andrea Bocelli was in the recording room.
So now we have all the guys accepted in the program but, we still need to get them together on stage.
From Via dei Gracchi the guys went on to Ti Lascio Una Canzone and we all know how that turned out! They won first, second and third place but the biggest win was Il Volo.
This was just the beginning of the journey that would lead them to the United States and around the world. Their name is known worldwide. They have become superstars! They have 4,500 fan clubs worldwide with over five million fans. Not bad for three Italian teenagers who came from families like yours and mine.

We await your arrival at Radio City Music Hall! And we will never forget your last performances there!
Radio City February 6, 2020 I Mondo ~ Un Amore Così Grande

Radio City March 4, 2017 ~ Caruso

Radio City September 27, 2013 ~ Granada

Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com

Piero’s Dream!

Of the three, Piero is the only one who said, “…. if there is one thing I want to do in life, it is singing, living for and with music.” That pretty much sums up Piero. He sings with such feeling and devotion. He studies endlessly! Opera is his dream! He’s studied among other opera’s Cavalieria Rusticana. I await the day when he will sing in his first opera. No matter where it is in the world, I will be there to see him fulfill his dream!
It might seem strange to you that he dreams of being an opera singer. He is a superstar. He has achieved in 12 years what most men can only, hope, to achieve in a lifetime. But, when you have dream, you have a dream!
Let’s go back and see what I’ve said, in the past, about Piero’s Golden Voice!

Piero is a spinto (meaning pushed) tenor. A spinto tenor has the brightness and height of a lyric tenor, but with a heavier vocal weight enabling the voice to be “pushed” to dramatic climaxes with less strain than his lighter-voice counterparts. His voice is warm, graceful, bright, and can be heard over an orchestra. Piero has a powerful voice that easily reaches the higher notes. Every note that comes out of his mouth reaches us with such intensity and remains with us for a long time. It’s the voice that reaches out to you and demands your attention. Think of him singing “E Lucevan le Stele” from Tosca (his favorite opera). Or singing the beautiful Spanish aria “No Puede Ser”  from A Tabernera del Puerto. From the first note Piero pierces our souls! His passion comes through in his music. Arias are very dramatic and, Piero brings all the drama of the aria into his performance. Always a showstopper!
So let’s move on to Piero’s classical education!
A young Piero
We know that Piero was discovered by his grandfather when he was about 4 years old. You will recall he was swinging on a swing that hung from a mulberry tree in his grandfather’s garden. And as a result, he began his classical education by taking piano lessons.
But how do you get from that swing to stardom. You do what all three guys did! You start by joining a choir. Let’s listen to what Piero had to say about this first meeting with the choir…
The first thing I find myself in front of these guys who are in a semicircle. I enter, I hear them singing and immediately I see in the center of this semicircle a lady and a gentleman sitting at the piano.  I had just made the acquaintance of the Little Singers of the Philharmonic Association – Santa Cecilia of Agrigento. The association was founded in 1983 and has two choirs, one for white voices and one for adults. Until 2008 they also collaborated with the “Sistina” Music Chapel of Rome, which led the choir to perform before the Pope during the Jubilee and which was opened to the best singers with the possibility of doing an internship in Rome.
The master accompanist was Alfonso Lo Presti and the director of the chorus of white voices was the maestro, Marisa Bonfiglio.
I will owe everything in my life to this lady.
Marisa was right in the middle and waiting for me. My father had warned Marisa that we would go to see the evidence to understand how it worked and if she could like me. I arrive, I was ten years old and, I was pretty chubby and, I find myself in the midst of all females and just two boys, Davide and Arturo.
After the greetings, Marisa asks Piero to introduce himself.
Hi, guys, I’m Piero, Piero Barone, I was born in 1993 and I like to sing. In a chorus what else should I say? If I was there, I had to like music, right? I thought it was the first thing to clarify. At that point the master Bonfiglio made me sit on the left, next to Davide and Arturo, while all the rest of the chorus – all females – were on the right.  Three males in a world of females:
The number three would be my destiny, right?
We begin to sing, Easter songs, Christmas carols, church choir songs.  With Davide and Arturo, I established a very strong relationship, which continues today: we are still friends. We phone each other when I am far from Naro and, when I come back, we go out together as often as we can.
At the time of the choir, we were always attached to each other, we looked at the girls but, we were three losers of nine to ten years, losers!  Marisa never scolded anyone, but if we were disruptive, she looked a little like that and said “Guys,” and we were immediately serious again.
This is the point where Piero’s voice is beginning to change and so adjustments have to be made to accommodate this change. Let’s hear what Piero had to say about that….
Even my passion for red is in some way linked to the chorus of the little singers. I dressed in red, all red from head to toe. They make my presentation I start to sing. I could still sing but I was at the limit and I start the Ave Maria.  Until then other tenors have arrived at the end of the piece all red in the face for the effort. Because singing, in reality, requires a much greater physical effort than one imagines. In short, I finish the song, the teacher looks at me, looks at Marisa Bonfiglio, looks at my father, looks at all the others:  “Do you see this guy? He has everything red, except his face: he sang with incredible ease”. And to my father’s question, ‘What could I do with my son?’ The master replied: ‘Mr. Barone, now your son is having a change of voice, your son in his throat has a diamond. What would I do in his place? I would take this diamond, put it in a safe and hide the keys. Between two years we reopen this safe.’ And, so, we did!
What about those red glasses?
Piero in red glasses
But it must be said, my ‘fixation’ for red glasses was not born here but was born in 2010 in Los Angeles. I was at my first photo shoot and I went to the studio, it was the first real photo shoot. In short, I had glasses, as always, but one of the photographers who follows us looks at me a little and tells me: ‘You have to keep your glasses, but they must be red.’ And how could I do a pair of red eyeglasses in Los Angeles in one day? I think and think again, in the end the idea came: I called my optician of confidence in Naro, Giuseppe Minio, and I asked him to do it for me. Would you ever believe it? In twenty-four hours, I received the envelope in Los Angeles with my red glasses, and inside I also found rose petals and little hearts, pure affection directly from Naro, which is always good.
But I’m getting ahead of myself I still had to face the change of voice. That moment of change is something excruciating because you cannot sing, so no longer being a white voice, I had to leave the chorus. But Marisa Bonfiglio did not let me go like this, ‘Piero, see you soon,’ she cared about me and then helped me again: she took me to Palermo to a conservatory professor, a tenor. That master’s verdict was again: ‘Let’s wait.’ But in the wait, I could not remain completely silent. In reality, the wait for the change of voice lasted less than I thought, because towards the fourteen and a half years my voice had already matured.
So the change happened and Piero moved on in his life. He did participate in many singing competitions and won most.
But there was also his school work to consider. Piero said, “Had it been for me I would have studied only singing and music.” But in fact, Piero studied accounting. Piero tells us “And I excelled in Math, in fact, I am so good, that I am the one of the three that runs with a bag full of all of our accounts.”
Let me pause a moment to tell you about the archives at Il Volo Flight Crew. Everyone should take the time to visit them. They are the history of Il Volo from 2009 to the present. Anything you want to know, any past event and any future event can be found in the archives.
When I write these stories I like to go into the archives and see if there is something that would work with my story. I remembered an interview that Piero did when he was 19 years old. The interviewer was Marcella Lattuca who was a friend who Piero knew from the chorus. I think this interview gives us some great insight into who Piero was at the beginning of his career and his hopes and aspirations for his future and the future of Il Volo.
So let’s go right to the interview with Marcella Lattuca from Agrigentini Bella Gente.
Marcella: This episode is very special because I have the privilege to talk with a real star of international music, he is only 19 years. Piero Barone, whom I thank for the interview, has reached goals that perhaps, artists cannot reach, over a whole career. Thanks Piero, for being our guest.
Piero:  It’s a pleasure. We did the chorus together and today we are here to do this fantastic interview.
Marcella: It’s true, you and I started in parallel, with a fairly considerable age gap, alas.
You start from Naro, you were born in Naro, you have a family from Agrigento, and you start with the Little Cantori di Santa Cecilia. Tell us how you approached music.
Piero: I have always pursued this dream of music, I grew up in the middle of music with my grandfather, Pietro and thanks also to my father, because you know, sometimes there are moments, when you’re little, you play piano and you want to give up everything, but thanks to the constancy of my father, I always pursued this dream, first with the chorus of Santa Cecilia, studying with private teachers, and now fortunately, I’m here.

Marcella: Your career was born a few years ago, when you were really a child. What was actually the turning point, which made you feel you wanted to do something more?
Piero: In fact there was not, because I always wanted to sing, but there was luck, thanks to my father, always, thanks to my father, to do a summer festival in Cosenza.
My father called me and told me “Do you want to do this festival? Let’s go and come back in 24 hours (by car), let’s go and come back”.
I replied, “Dad, are you crazy?” and he “Come on, let’s try, I drive and you sleep in the car.”
For that selection they did not take me, but they gave my name to the editorial office of Ti Lascio Una Canzone, Antonella Clerici’s program.
One day I was returning from piano school and I found my father on the phone with a lady Isabella Abiuso, and from there it all started, in fact my father asked me if I wanted to do that program and I replied “Why not, let’s try.”
Marcella: You started as a soloist at Ti Lascio Una Canzone, and then maybe fate played a special role.
Piero: Oh yes, we started this program as three singers, and now I, Ignazio and Gianluca are the group Il Volo, on the fourth episode, the producer Roberto Cenci, had the idea to join our voices, and from there started … the three tenors …. the Tryo, we changed name, but in the end we decided to call ourselves Il Volo. They wanted a short Italian name. Il Volo was a metaphorical name, Il Volo, to fly. Immediately after the program, we signed a program with Universal Music in Los Angeles.
Marcella: What I understood from you is, the one that followed you the most, was your dad, also because, being a minor, you could not go around alone.
Piero: My father and my grandfather – my grandfather discovered my voice, my father helped me. He is great and he has been a great support.
Marcella: So immediately after Ti Lascio Una Canzone, you signed this contract with Universal, and you started your flight.
Piero: Yes, we signed a contract with Universal, with our producer Tony Renis and Umberto Gattica and our manager Michele Torpedine, and from there, the first TV, the first album, with the first album we sold 1 million copies. And now the new album We Are Love has been released, where there is also a duet with Eros Ramazzotti and with Placido Domingo.
Marcella: But when you say these things, do you realize where you’ve come from and all the way you’ve come in such a short time?
Piero: This is nothing, we made this new album, but behind this album we have done lots of experiences, like, a tour with Barbra Streisand, 12 dates with her. She was a great teacher for us and we learned so many things from her, like from many other great artists.
Marcella: I can mention some reviews I read on the internet.
El Paso Times: Electrifying: the name of the group means the flight in Italian, perfect name for a trio of young tenors who conquers ever higher peaks”, just to name one, another: “Beautiful and intense voices accompanied by beautiful harmonies that enchant the public by giving strong emotions “, this is the enthusiastic comment of the “New York Journal. You are a trio, so you are dealing with two other guys who are the same age.
Piero: Ignazio and Gianluca
Marcella:  Perfect. What is the relationship between you three? Is it really difficult to keep united, even if you go in one direction only?
Piero: This project was born as three friends, you know, living every day together, we have established a great relationship, we are like three brothers, because we share everything ….. not everything. There is a great relationship, a great agreement.
Marcella: But you also perform individually?
Piero: No, no, our concert is the concert of Il Volo. We have just finished a tour of 48 dates in America, this is the fourth tour. We have done an American tour, a South American, a European and another American just finished and now in 2013 we will do another South American, American and European.
Marcella: But for a boy of your age, you have spent most of your adolescence ….

Piero sitting on the wing of a plane

Piero: On the plane
Marcella: In fact, and what effect does it make, having left your friends, your country, was it tough? Then you had to approach even with a language that was not yours, you had to learn English.
Piero: English is fundamental and we also had to learn Spanish.
Marcella: You have learned Spanish because now, however, you will start a tour, if I’m not mistaken in South America.
Piero: The second tour, and now there are great future projects, but I’ll tell you what we did in the last two months. We started at Rockefeller Center in New York, with the lighting of the Christmas tree, the Christmas season opens all over the world. We were there with Michael Bublé, Mariah Carey, Tony Bennett, everyone was there.
Immediately after we sang for the Nobel Prize presentation in Oslo. We represented Italy, because the Nobel Prize was given to the European Union. There were Jennifer Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gerald Butler, Sial, it was a great experience.
Marcella: I see on the internet, I read that you have also become a style icon, because your fans have adopted this red eyewear look, is your brand?
Piero: If you come to our concerts, you will see all the girls with red glasses, it’s really nice!
Marcella: And then you also have some very important fans, like for example …. say you …
Piero: We were in Panama and a friend called us and told us “Guys, read the interview about “La Repubblica” we go on the internet and we read that they asked Placido Domingo what music he is listening at the moment, and he replied: “I listen to Il Volo they are three jewels that the whole world should know.” And the nephew of Pacido Domingo, is a wild fan, crazy about us, he wears red glasses, the vest, the tie ……. and from there was born the duet with Palcido Domingo.
Marcella: In fact, because in the last album, in addition to the duet with Ramazzotti, you also have one with Placido Domingo, which is one of the three historical tenors.
Piero: Domingo, Carreras and Pavarotti. We dedicated the song we sang together with Placido Domingo, Il Canto, to Pavarotti.
Marcella: It’s an extraordinary thing, you said that you met so many famous people and I would like to know if any of these gave you advice, if they made you a “mentor” in addition to your grandfather and your dad.
Piero: The advice, be yourself, because the key to success is only one, talent and humility, because all the great artists are great people.
Marcella: The real ones.
Piero: Real ones, like Barbra Streisand, 70, and every night she entertains 25,000 people in America’s biggest arenas.
Piero: American Idol, as jurors were: Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson. Steven Tyler is the singer of Aerosmith and in our new album we sang “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing”, but we did it in a classic Italian “Questo Amore Splendido.” (Piero sings a few words)
Marcella: Nice to even hear it live.
Piero: We did Jay Leno, three times. Jay Leno is America’s most watched Tonight Show, Jay Leno and Larry King are the most famous, we sang “Beautiful Day” two weeks ago, which is the cover of U2.
People ask us, but your kind of music, what is it? We did two duets, one with Ramazzotti which is the top of pop and Placido Domingo, which is the top of classical music.
Marcella: So you are versatile, you have shown your versatility and even those who gave you a kind of emulation of the Trio of Tenors, like a bad copy of the trio, in the end it was denied.
Piero: This problem is only in Italy, but you know, Italy is a very, very difficult country, but …. let’s do everything in the time. The thing that makes us angry, and I have to say this, we participated in the Nobel Prize, we have represented Italy, the whole world talks about it, who does not talk about us: Italy.
Marcella: It seems we are a little xenophilous.
Piero: But we love our country, so we love it as it is.
Marcella: You said you spent most of your teenage years on a plane, but how did you stay in touch with your friends and study?
Piero: I always say that what we do is what we like to do, so if you love what you do, everything becomes easy.
Marcella: But how did you study?
Piero: I study again, because I lost a year with my work. But this year I graduate, study in hotels, on airplanes.  I took the license. I did the theory in August and the guide in November.

Piero in a white robe eating green grapes Piero with thumb up

Marcella: Even if in America? It’s not like you travel by car there.
Piero: Yes, I do. I drive my producer’s car. Sometimes I hire a Ferrari, or a Porsche, I like driving.
Marcella: And can you orient yourself? You are now a citizen of the world.
Piero: But the beautiful thing … “beautiful”, so to speak, because sometimes you lack freedom, especially in South America we have five bodyguards at the baggage claim because at the exit of the airport there are a thousand girls.
Marcella: They recognize you on the street, it is shocking!
Piero: We travel with cars darkened and armored because unfortunately South America is a dangerous country but we love it and they love us, the girls chase us with taxis…. and shout, it’s nice!
Marcella: Are you afraid of this thing?
Piero: No, no fear, it fills you with pride and satisfaction because you understand that what you are transmitting reaches people.
Marcella: But this life is so stressful, how do you recharge? What is your secret to recharging?
Piero: It’s my family. Many people tell me “you have traveled the world.” Everyone asks me “What is your favorite city? ? Los Angeles, New York, Miami, London, Paris” my favorite city is Naro, Naro is my world.
Marcella: What’s your relationship with Naro?? After singing in faraway places, with immense crowds, when you arrive at Naro, do you have to re-program again?
Piero: No, Naro is my homeland, so every time it’s always a party.
Marcella: What is your relationship with Naro’s inhabitants?
Piero: Fantastic, I love them!
Marcella: Welcome you?
Piero: Yes, I go to buy fruit, I go to the hairdresser … it’s very nice!
Marcella: Perhaps paradoxically your country is the only place where you can roam freely.
Piero: With my little car, now I go around with my friends, I greet everyone, I am a very open type.

Piero sitting on a wall overlooking Naro

View of the buildings of Naro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marcella: It is a practice of our program, to ask what advice would you give to a person who has become a public figure, like you, to the Agrigentini boys who want to approach the art of singing.
Piero: My advice is always to follow your dream, never give up, there will be people who will say, “But come on, change jobs, change profession.” Never believe in them, believe in yourself, but when you arrive, stay where you are. Returning to the previous speech, I learned this from Barbra Streisand, and from all the great artists.
For example, we were on tour with Barbra Streisand, we were in the dressing room and we hear a knock, I go to open and there is Sting, or Michael Buble, David Beckham, Tom Hanks, all these great artists who knock on our dressing room, to have a photo, to greet us.
Marcella: This proves the fact that these great artists that have such long careers, it means that they remained what they were, it means that goodness of mind pays, beyond talent.
Piero: And then the humility even if it is really difficult to stay what you are, if you do not have great people behind, like a big family, I am doubly lucky because I am a person that could follow his dream and get there. Yet we have not arrived, but we are working, we study a lot, and my second fortune is my family – a moral support, a daily support, my father travels with me only when there are concerts, because the tour is very stressful. But for promotions, I travel alone, and you know, in the morning, when I call home, they give me the charge to start the day.
Marcella: As a good Sicilian you have left the roots here, however you continually feed from your family.
Piero: When someone tell me “You know, when you speak, we hear the Sicilian accent, the Italian accent”….. let it be heard!
Marcella: On the other hand your pride, it is this and, I can say, you are also our pride and I believe I also interpret the thought of all the inhabitants of Agrigento who followed you.
Last question, what do you dream of doing “when you grow up?”

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero sitting on the stage IL VOLO in a group hug

Piero: I’m studying lyric now, because that’s my dream, that world, it’s my dream, the lyric is another dimension, but you have to study … too much … and now I’m studying, thanks to my possibilities, I am studying in Bologna, with my teacher Sergio Bertocchi, a great teacher, and he is a great person. I’m studying an opera setting, however, always with Il Volo. Il Volo is always …. the group Il Volo…. IS IL VOLO. And so my dream is that one day maybe, to do the Premiere to La Scala or in some theater.

And so we come back to the Dream…Piero’s Dream!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com and don’t forget to visit the Archives.
Thanks to Daniela Perani for the original translation of the interview.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.