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!
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?
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: 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.
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.
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?”
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!
In the beginning the guys were called “awesome opera singers!” That’s how they described them. No, not in Italy! Here in America!
I love looking back at the beginning of their career and watching how they grew! One of the nice things about living in New York is you get all the interviews and promos firsthand!
In the late summer of 2011, the guys were getting ready for their first North American Tour. This involved a lot of preparation and a lot of appearances on TV talk shows to pave the way! I remember watching them on “Good Morning America” and thinking this is going to be an amazing journey for them. They have so much going for them but above all they had their youth which was an asset! Their voices were enticing and, they were adorable! Every teenage girl was going to fall in love with them. So would their mothers, and above all the grandmothers! It was the beginning of a journey that was going to take them to every corner of the earth. They would steal the hearts of all who came into contact with them. And, given their age, we could count on their music being around for a long time. That was the thing about their music, it came from the past and fit right into the present and would go well into the future. Everyone would come to love it! Yes, there were others who sang the same songs but, they were not Il Volo! Only Il Volo could pierce our hearts with their beautiful voices and leave us memories that would grow with age and expand with every new song!
During the last days of summer in September of 2011, the guys were taping the “Today” show. They were teenagers and they were belting out their favorite song “O Sole Mio” in front of projections of stained-glass windows. Their appearance capped a few months that brought them from “American Idol” to the morning talk shows to the final episode of “Entourage.” The idea was carefully designed to expose them to both mothers and daughters, before their first North American tour, which included theaters like the Beacon Theater in Manhattan.
In the NBC studio at Rockefeller Center, a sleepy-eyed Gianluca, 16, crooned the opening verse, and Piero, 18, and Ignazio, who was turning 17 the following Tuesday, released ringing high notes. Hoda Kotb, “Today’s” co-host, put her hand on her heart and smiled wistfully behind the cameras.
“We are Il Volo,” Ignazio said at the end with a heavy accent and a dimpled grin. “It means ‘flight.’ Thank you for flying with us!
After the taping Hoda said, “Believe me, everyone’s going to come running. They’re going to beat down the door.” How right she was!
The theory, Arias for teenagers, the crossover dream was being masterminded by some of the most savvy executives in the music business: Jimmy Iovine, who helped turn Eminem and Lady Gaga into superstars; Ron Fair, who nurtured the careers of Christina Aguilera and the Black Eyed Peas; and Steve Leber, a management legend who worked with the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and AC/DC and has come out of pop retirement to try to make Il Volo explode. And explode they did!
The group was introducing the same Italian pop standards and power ballads that performers like Bocelli used to rocket to superstardom. The difference, of course, is age: theirs, and that of their potential audience.
“In the beginning all of us thought that because of their kind of music, the audience would be from 35 and up,” said producer Tony Renis. “But now we realize that they can conquer the kids. The younger generation all over the world. The kids are used to rap but they never had the chance to listen to this kind of music. But now Il Volo is spreading a new kind of feeling. They are conquering every age.”
The group caught Mr. Renis’s eye in the spring of 2009, when the three boys were competing individually on “Ti Lascio una Canzone,” an Italian version of “American Idol.” A shrewd producer on the show, Roberto Cenci, suggested they combine forces, and their renditions of modern classics were hits.
“These kids were singing ‘O Sole Mio,’ and I heard such amazing, beautiful voices that I didn’t believe it,” Mr. Renis said. “I thought it was fake. They were singing with such mature voices, like men of 50 or 60 years.”
Mr. Iovine and Mr. Fair signed the guys to Geffen Records after hearing a clip that Mr. Renis played for them. Their debut album, “Il Volo,” a mélange of songs in Italian, English and Spanish calibrated for the widest possible appeal, was assembled over the next year and released in Italy in November 2010.
The label’s connections landed the guys a spot on “American Idol.” They also did a cameo on the final episode of “Entourage,” with their song “Un Amore Così Grande.”
Meanwhile, when Anthony Rugiero heard Il Volo sing, he was struck by the group’s similarity to both opera’s The Three Tenors and the pop music world’s Jonas Brothers.
“I was amazed,” said Rugiero. “It was, like wow! They are treating these kids like the Jonas Brothers in Italy and they’re singing opera, like The Three Tenors. You look at them and it’s like, these guys have it all. It’s too good to be true.”
Rugiero, who heard the group sing in Italy, knew Il Volo could help his charitable endeavors. He had been looking for a way to raise funds for Boys’ Town of Italy, Italian Language Inter-Cultural Alliance and the Volterra-Detroit.
“I was thinking, how can I get a group together that’s big enough that it would reach all age levels? I thought about singing groups and was trying to think of who I could get, when I see these young kids in Italy,” Rugiero recalled. “They take classical music and put a little something into it. These kids are wonderful.”
Rugiero, who also is a board member of the Detroit Opera House, was determined to bring the group to Detroit as a fundraiser for three organizations and began working on a plan to produce the concert himself. After Live Nation bought the group’s North American concert tour, Rugiero suggested a benefit dinner that would be held in conjunction with the show on Sunday, October 16. Concert promoters liked the idea.
This video is the best example of how they were able to steal the hearts of the American people. The video shows them on a simple stage with limit musicians and their voices shine!
“I purchased the first 20 rows, center section, all premium seats,” Rugiero said, describing seats at the Fox Theatre. “We hope to have a great evening.”
Fiat was the sponsor of the event, along with several Italian-American business leaders including Tom Celani and Anthony Soave.
The Volterra-Detroit Foundation supports The University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture and Comune di Volterra, which had formed a partnership to provide a new educational opportunity in the City of Volterra, Italy, for students in metro Detroit. Through the partnership, U.S. students can study in Italy for no additional fee, after paying their regular college tuition.
“I love programs that bridge the gap between Italy and the U.S.,” Rugiero said.
Rugiero didn’t get to produce the concert but he was able to use it as a fundraiser for three worthy organizations.
Back in New York, the “Today Show” was not their only talk-show appearance. They were on “The Tonight Show,” “Good Morning America,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and CBS’s “Early Show” in May, when their album was released in the United States. And they were preparing for a PBS special.
In the meantime, their album made its debut on the Billboard 100 chart at No. 10. The Italian and American management teams butted heads about where, when and how to spend the boys’ time. Should they stay in America a full year and play smallish clubs? Make one-off appearances all over the world? Play theaters seating 1,000 or 3,000?
“No one had a real game plan,” said Mr. Leber, who persuaded the families to bring him and his son, Jordan, on to help manage the group as it rolled out. “They need to tour, tour, tour, tour. The kids and the parents were nervous about going on the road. But the most important thing was to go on the road.”
So, on the road they were. Each of the boys was accompanied by one parent, a substantial sacrifice, since all three left their jobs to join their sons, and none are wealthy: Piero’s father is an auto-body mechanic, Gianluca’s a truck driver, and Ignazio’s mother owned a pizzeria that her 25-year-old daughter was running in her absence. None of the three spoke English.
The group had already been to Singapore, New Zealand, Sydney, Miami, jumping on the red carpet at the Venice Film Festival. With the upcoming North American Tour, it was necessary to get a new wardrobe. The guys were taken to Dolce & Gabbana on Madison Avenue to shop for a tour wardrobe. When they arrived at the store, Barbara Vitali told the sales associate, “We have to balance the repertory they are performing with the teenagers that they are.”
The scene in D & G was confusing! A series of slim blazers failed to fit Ignazio, who has lost more than 30 pounds but remains wide in the shoulders. Ignazio sang “All Nylon” to the tune of “All Night Long.” Gianluca emerged from the dressing room in tight black velvet pants and a shiny black blazer. Piero ended up with boots spattered Pollock style.
“They’re very, very different from one another,” Mr. Fair said. “Gianluca’s like a young Tony Curtis or a Mario Lanza, almost a Presley character, handsome and dark and Italian with fabulous hair. Ignazio is a crowd pleaser and a people person, adorable and funny. Piero is more studious, very serious.”
Three hours and well into five figures’ worth of clothing later, the group headed to theBorgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, site of the tour’s first performance of the guys first full concert ever. They allotted two days for preparation.
The following morning’s rehearsal began well. The boys sounded fresh as they warmed up; the echo of one of Ignazio’s high notes stayed in the ice-cold air of the theater for five full seconds. But Gianluca missed an entrance — he had, as usual, been on his cellphone with his girlfriend — and things quickly dissolved into backstage shouting.
The next day was the opening show, and the boys had still not run a single song all the way through. Mr. Leber arrived, doling out hugs. “This is not music,” he said. “This is a happening. This is an event.”
And it was. It got off to a rough start. The lighting careened from darkness to glare. The sound mix, including the vocal track augmenting some of the group’s harmonies, was murky; the video projections — a mixture of slow-motion Italian film clips and animations — were distracting. The boys seemed unsure of exactly where to stand and how to move.
Then they opened their mouths. The first song was “Il Mondo,” a sweeping heart tugger. Like many of the numbers in Il Volo’s playbook, it started quietly, with a verse from Gianluca. It built and built, until Ignazio, oozing delight at being onstage, let loose a startlingly full and mature high note.
A girl literally screamed with delight!
Gianluca glanced at Piero with relief in his eyes. The audience gave standing ovation after standing ovation.
Next stop, Toronto. In contrast to the Borgata show — which, like much of the tour, was organized by the American concert-promotion monolith Live Nation — the Toronto appearance was the work of a local promoter, Mimmo Pellegrino. It was at Roy Thomson Hall, where the Toronto Symphony Orchestra plays and, which is about three times the size of the Borgata theater.
The Borgata show had, as Mr. Leber had predicted, the feel of an event – sold out, electric. In Toronto about a quarter of the seats remained empty. Some odd scenic elements had been added, like three enormous white masks that were revealed at the end to be swivel chairs. The audience response was warm, but it was hard for even the loudest of the recorded string arrangements to fill the big space.
The audience at both shows was mostly older, but there were the seeds of what could become a classic boy-band phenomenon: that girl screaming in the audience at the Borgata, high-pitched shrieks of “We love you!” in Toronto, a high school senior who asked Piero to be her date for homecoming. (He said yes.) And maybe, just maybe, they will inspire young people to try “real” opera. The thought was, if Il Volo can persuade teenagers to notice and care about vocal production in a classical — or at least classic — style, who knows?
“By January they could sell 1.5 million records around the world,” predicted Mr. Fair, who arrived at the theater in Toronto just as the boys were exiting the stage. “Everyone will know who Il Volo is. It’s going to be a gigantic live act. Tickets are going to sell like crazy. And then a song will come along, like a Coldplay-type song, a pop record that’s introspective and beautiful, and everyone on the more pop end of things will know them.”
But before everyone knew them there was a degree of fame and it was pleasant and inviting. There was some discussion after the Borgata show about whether the boys should exit through a back door. They decided instead to greet the public, and as they walked into the lobby, what can only be called a polite mob ensued, just the right size and just the right amount of enthusiasm. The boys thanked everyone graciously as they signed autographs and posed for photos.
Earlier in the day Ignazio was doing a sound check onstage with the band. Steve Leber watched from the seats. As if on cue, Ignazio hit one of his shining high notes. Mr. Leber smiled. “Our game plan is working,” he said.
And it certainly worked well. The crowds grew and, the enthusiasm grew and, it has never stopped working since then. The 2011 North American Tour was just the beginning of their success in America. A success that ten years later continues not just in North American but around the world.
And over the last year the call from our guys and the world was Let the Concerts Begin.
2022 should prove to be the best year yet! Welcome Back guys! You have really given us great pleasure with your Tribute to Ennio Morricone and we look forward to its arrival in North America and around the world!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Excerpts from an article in the New York Times by Zachary Woolfe on Sept. 29, 2011
Today I would like to share a letter with you from a lady named Marilyn Andrews in Seattle.
In 2020, at the height of the covid pandemic, my husband passed away from a long illness. I had been caring for him for several years prior to his passing. I loved him so deeply, but yet, after many months, I had been unable to grieve for him. Let me describe my husband, and you may be able to make an association with someone else:
Professional singer; glorious baritone voice; a repertoire of thousands of songs; offered a chance at fame on national TV (but turned it down over concerns for impact on the family); opened a show for Tony Bennett; musically inspired by Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Mario Lanza, the Three Tenors, etc.; private in nature but a consummate perfectionist in public performance; intelligent, serious, articulate, a philosopher of the mind; handsome, part time model with a stunning smile; fit and athletic runner and weight lifter; self taught in many things, including guitar and piano; a lover of beautiful clothes (Armani in particular); a lover of all things Italian – culture, art, history, wine. Above all, lover of family. The list could go on….
In the fall of 2020, I happened to hear a televised concert of Il Volo on TV. I loved the music and began to follow the group online and joined the fan club – my first and only one ever. As I read more about Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca individually, I was startled by the many things Gianluca and, my husband had in common. “How odd”, I thought. The more I learned, the more things I found they had in common, the stranger it became, and so the more I followed.
Sometime in the winter of 2020, I viewed and heard Gianluca’s performance of “Mi Mancherai” in Rome on YouTube. At that time, I knew virtually no Italian words, and so had no idea of the song’s meaning. But upon hearing it, something inside me just broke. It was such a jolt that I actually felt it physically. The timbre of the song, the sadness and the passion with which it was delivered instantly touched my soul at such a deep level that I cannot even describe it. I wept, and wept and wept, and realized that I was finally, finally grieving for my lost husband. Two days later, I searched online for an English translation of the song. And the tears came all over again, as I learned that the song is about losing someone so very close to you that you are overwhelmed with the “missing” and the sense of loss. It was quite literally a musical expression of grief – my grief. Without realizing it, I had been led, seemingly step by step, to the music of Il Volo, then to the character of Gianluca, then to his song, then to the expression of my grief. How could this even be possible – that a complete stranger helped me begin to overcome my deepest loss? I have no idea. But I somehow need to thank Il Volo and specifically Gianluca for the gift that he gave me, even without his knowledge of it.
Over time, I am healing. And I have begun the process of reinventing myself. Hesse says that “the true profession of man is finding his way to himself.” That is what I am doing. With my previous background in international business, I am learning Italian, working remotely here in Seattle for an Italian company in Vicenza, and planning a different life for myself. I may not stay in the U.S.; it is possible I may choose – Italy? Spain? Portugal? All of these changes involve a great deal of new thinking, new learning, and a lot of courage, but as I heal, I am becoming a true lioness!
Today the music of Il Volo brings me no tears, only incomparable joy. I have never had the opportunity or pleasure of seeing and hearing Il Volo in concert, but I hope to do so in the future, in Italy or somewhere in the world. It is highly unlikely that I will ever meet Gianluca in person. But if I did, I would shake his hand, thank him, and let him know that he has helped me more than he will ever know. “All things are possible.”
Since you liked the first part of the interview Felicità a lot, here is the second part, starting at minute 27:04.
Happy reading everyone.🤗
(A Chi Mi Dice video begins.)
PV = (voice) The dreams of glory of three boys from the provinces, who have already become, by Divine will, icons of global music. Three young people with their heads on their shoulders, who despite their success, continue to speak with the humility that befits adults.
It is precisely from their last words, which underline the awareness of the privilege of sharing strong emotions, and the indissoluble union on stage, despite three different characters, that the values with which they were educated are understood: Ignazio, Gianluca and Piero.
Humility, work and growing interest in culture, values that all young people, whatever their interests, must treasure.
(The video of Il Volo begins with Laura Pausini in NYC 2014.)
The contagious enthusiasm of the new lady Golden Globe, and Oscar nominated artist, to put it in the American way: Miss Laura Pausini, in introducing Il Volo on the New York stage a few years ago (2014), relaunches the discussion on the growing global appreciation of the three young artists, loved everywhere, for the ease with which they propose themselves on every occasion, be it classic or pop.
An equally engaging state of mind that of Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, like that of the “ex Pausella da Solarolo”, (Pausella is a nickname to say Laura Pausini, she grew up in a town called Solarolo) which allowed her to become, in effect, the new young lady of Italian song in the world.
For the pupils of Michele Torpedine (Il Volo), discovered by Antonella Clerici and Roberto Cenci, and launched for the first time in the world by Tony Renis, the path is still long and full of expectations, but with youngsters like that, we must not ask ourselves about limits.
PIERO = I read a review on Beniamino Gigli’s book, made by a friend of his who went to visit him, before a concert and Gigli had just finished vocalizing.
His friend asks him if he still continues to study, and when was the last time he studied and Gigli replies: “Five minutes ago!”
Beniamino Gigli was already at the peak of success.
Talent is a gift that God gives you, but maturity allows you to cultivate it and study every day, there will be a reason why all the great ones continue to study.
Clearly we are now mature, we know how to study and what to study.
Our strength is our team.
A few days ago we received the news of the success of the Verona Arena, we hugged, we with our team, because it is not just the three of us, the three of us go on stage, but behind us there is the management and I have to tell you that the mentor of IL Volo is Michele Torpedine, because it is he who stimulates us to create new ideas.
PV = Sure!!
PIERO = We are too young to have so much creativity.
PV = Clear.
PIERO = He is far-sighted, he sees beyond.
When we go on stage and we get a great success, I was telling you about the success of a few days ago, we hugged each other and we said: “Never change a winning team”.
It is also confronting every day, even with points of view …..
PV = With different points of view, of course.
PIERO = …. different points of view, because now we are mature, but there are no more teasing, no more spites.
PV = Why were there?
IGNAZIO = When we were little it was normal, then we also have three different characters, we also have three very strong personalities the three of us, so it’s normal that we went against our ideas.
(beautiful video of Il Tuo Sguardo Manca, made at the Verona Arena)
PV = (to Torpedine) How difficult was it to keep three young men with strong personalities together, who evidently manage to find a common agreement on stage?
TORPEDINE= It was much more difficult at first, because they were children, they even fought over the place in the car. 😁
Today they are three adult and intelligent people, but the nice thing about Il Volo, unlike other artists, is that although today they cover most of the world (they are famous in most of the world), they are very simple people.
PV = Where will Il Volo arrive? (where their success will come? how far will they go?)
TORPEDINE= I have been telling them for some time that the best is yet to come. When they will have the credibility of mature people, and prove that their voices are crazy, I always tell them that big success is yet to come.
But it will come, because there is no such thing in the world. (Meaning the guys of IL VOLO are the only ones who present such a repertoire and with these qualities in the world.)
(The song of UN AMORE COSÌ GRANDE starts, which links to images of Ischia – Italian island near Capri)
PV = (voice) In the journey of these three guys, there was also a very nice parenthesis that I want to remember, because the first international audience they had was in Ischia, in 2010 during the Ischia Global Film Music Festival. The three came, very young, I must say very jaunty, with their families, very carefree, but they were already concentrated there, in the recording room, they were making the album, with great commitment and they did a concert in Sant Angelo Ischia, in front of a Hollywood audience, Jeremy Renner, Channing Tatum, Rosario Dawson, Ethel Graham and many other international actors.
The video of the evening in Sant Angelo Ischia begins, there is Tony Renis on the catwalk, these are his words:
TONY RENIS = It was Pascal who urged me, he told me: “Tony, this wonderful evening in this wonderful setting of Sant Angelo, you have to bring these three extraordinary kids. They are three fifteen-year-old boys, they are here and I introduce them to you: Gianluca, Gianluca Ginoble, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto.”
PIERO = We want to dedicate this song to all mothers.
IGNAZIO = To all mothers, especially ours, but ….
PIERO = ….. but in particular to a great mother, Pascal’s mother.
GIANLUCA = Pascal’s mother.
TONY RENIS = (voice) As they say in Los Angeles, ladies and gentlemen: Il Volo.
(The song MAMMA begins.)
PV = (to Gian) But how much have you changed since Ischia, where you already had the fans outside the Regina Isabella (Hotel) who were besieging you?
GIAN = However, these are things that are not forgotten, because those who support you from the beginning ….. it is easy to support when there is success, so we thank you also for this, for this support that you have given us since the beginning.
In reality, we are not so different, we never lose that desire to do, to be a bit like those children who chase those dreams, to set goals and always improve.
So let’s say we still maintain that simplicity ……..
IGNAZIO = Now we are waiting for the renewal of the invitation (to the Ischia Global Film Festival).
PV = Of course, guys, this summer.
GIAN = HAWK’S EYE (Jeremy Renner), I also want TONY STARK (they are actors who play Avengers in the movies), you have to invite Robert Downey, Jr. too, he’s my favorite actor, you have to bring him.
ROBERT DOWNEY JR. I LOVE YOU.
IGNAZIO = If you want to invite Anne Hathaway too, I’m not sorry, I say. (humorous) 😁
PV = I see that Anne Hathaway is very strong, she has a strong passion for Italians …..
IGNAZIO = We too for her …
GIAN = If you bring me Robert Downey Jr., I’ll make you a statue. 😁
PV= But guys, I have to make the statue to you, to great young music legends.
IGNAZIO = He makes the statue for you and I place it next to that of Pino Daniele in Naples.
PV = Let’s not exaggerate guys.
Instead, how much have you personally changed, compared to when you were kids, you talked about magical moments in Rome, Los Angeles, Ischia.
I see you (to Ignazio), you are a young gentleman now.
IGNAZIO = No, we change, but it is normal that we change, it goes without saying.
PV = Sure
IGNAZIO = But not because we become more important, but because it is the age that dictates it, for nothing else. We are very proud of what we are doing, because it is all that the sacrifices are repaying us, the satisfactions. We are working hard, nothing ever falls from the tree, you have to go there, you have to climb and collect what you want to have.
We are really satisfied, change is normal, but we try to keep our origins, our traditions, our values, which are the most important thing, things that we have always tried not to lose along the way.
(The video MUSICA CHE RESTA starts.)
PV = Piero you are three very young exes (former children), who have made it, and you are still there, determined to grow more and more.
Instead, let’s talk to many young Italians, who are still there fighting for the first satisfaction of their life, what do we say to them?
PIERO = Our work is a dreamy job, we always think big, sometimes we succeed, sometimes we fail and that fear is the stimulus that makes you grow, it always keeps you going.
As for our peers, I do not feel able to give advice, but the only suggestion I could give is to believe in your talent, but above all in your passion, which sooner or later, life will give you that satisfaction.
(The video of Canzone Per Te begins.)
PV = Gianluca, when you go back to Abruzzo, and go around the streets where you took your first steps, not only artistic, but also in school, what is your feeling today?
GIAN = We were just talking about it the other day. Each of us lives it differently, but there is a strong gap between living the life of the country, because in any case I have not moved from Abruzzo, I live by the sea, and then, go around the world.
It is as if we lived two lives side by side, as if every now and then, we jump from one train to another, as if they were two tracks, right?
But we must try to maintain that normality that allows you not to lose the detachment with reality, because in any case, even if this is our life, we have adapted to change. It is a great privilege, somehow, to be able to live a life as a simple, normal boy, and then you have this privilege of living a life of a star, let’s say.
GIAN= We must know how to cultivate both things, know how to manage them, and never lose that humility, that simplicity.
PV= Ignazio, being Italian is a great privilege, let’s face it.
Let’s tell a little to the many young people who do not have the awareness of the world, that Italianness is a very important value.
IGNAZIO = Being Italian is a great honor for us because, only by hearing about it from various nationalities, you realize how our country is loved, respected, envied. Because we, in the end, have fantastic places, among the most beautiful in the world, people … that are the most beautiful in the world, because here you can find your dimension, with more reserved people (north) or with more people lively, like in the south, right?
So we live in a fantastic country and we just have to be proud of our flag. 😘
(The video for Per Te Ci Sarò begins.)
PV = (to Gian) But when you are on stage in Los Angeles, rather than South America, or China, or Russia and you start to see the Italian flags that come out, what’s the feeling, I get the chills just thinking such a thing.
GIAN= It is our culture, above all musical, that allows us to travel the world, you know it better than us, in short. It is the strength of this music, which allows us to conquer not only Italians abroad, but also audiences from all nations, and this is a great thing.
See the Italians who follow us, who by the way we greet, who are watching us in many …..
PV = Also through RAI ITALIA …
GIAN = Yes, exactly … who live our concerts with that nostalgia, with that tear that is the memory of a past life, and for us it is exciting to try to convey emotions to these people too, and we will return to tour very soon, we are preparing many beautiful things for you.
IGNAZIO = The beautiful thing, do you know what it is? It is not the fact of seeing an Italian with the Italian flag, which fits!
But it is seeing a Russian girl, with the Italian flag in her hand, a Japanese or Chinese girl with an Italian flag in her hand, a German boy, with the Italian flag in his hand, and there you realize that music does not place barriers to nationality to culture.
Music unites us!
PV = (to Piero) What do you dream of for your future?
PIERO = I dream of living music all my life.
PV = Enough for you?
PIERO = Music is everything to me.
PV = Yes?
PIERO = It’s my life.
PV = It is your life. (then, to Gian) And the family? Start a family?
GIAN = Eh ???? What does it mean???? ……
IGNAZIO = You asked the wrong person the question !!!
GIAN = (continuing to pretend not to understand) …… what does that mean ????
PV = (replies to Ignazio) Why what do you mean?
PIERO = Because he (Ignazio) is the romantic of the group.
IGNAZIO = It’s not that I’m romantic, it’s me who dreams of a family, he (Gianluca) maybe not ….. but it’s normal, we have different interests.
PV = He (Gianluca) is the playboy of the situation?
IGNAZIO = No, but you know, family is not always everyone’s goal, the goal is to feel good, feel good about yourself, feel good with another person, for some to have children, for some not, so it is very subjective.
I dream of having a family.
PV = How many children ??
IGNAZIO = At least three, at least.
PV = You already have the lady with whom …..
IGNAZIO = I have to hurry …..
GIAN = Hurry, no!! When you feel ready!
IGNAZIO = But I feel ready.
Did you understand? (he says to Pascal, as if to underline that he and Gian have different goals for the moment)
PV = (addressed to Piero) You instead?
PIERO = I am a person who comes from a family rich in values, clear, when love arrives, when the time is right, it is not prescribed.
PV = No, no, of course not.
Let’s close guys, the microphone and the camera to you, to look the fans in the eyes to tell them what?
GIAN = Thank you, we are coming back, get ready, because we are preparing something great for all of you.
PIERO = Thanks for your support, trust and love.
IGNAZIO = It was a difficult year, full of shortcomings, but also a lot of work.
See you soon 2022, many concerts.
PV = yes, definitely.
This is Il Volo, three ex (former) children that I met at the beginning and who today are three very successful men and therefore I am really happy today to have them with us.
HAPPINESS to all.
G + P + I = Thank you
I would say it was a long, but really good interview.
Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero showed, with their words, a great maturity, and Pascal asked them very relevant questions and recalled the salient moments of our boys’ careers, with great affection.
It is a pity that this beautiful interview had little relevance here in Italy, because it was announced at the last moment and broadcast at a rather strange time.
But we fans, we know how to give due credit to things of value.
I also included the video of IN ASSENZA DI TE with Laura Pausini in New York, because I thought that maybe many of you have never seen it.
I also thank all of you, for the wonderful comments for the translation of the first part of the interview, I hope you like the second as well.
Saturday 19 June, on RAI 2, a beautiful interview made with Il Volo, in the FELICITÀ (Happiness) program conducted by Pascal Vicedomini, was broadcast.
The RAI press office only notified us the day before this interview, so few knew, but surely the videos have already been published on all Facebook pages (what we fans can do) and therefore, I bet you’re wondering what our guys said, so here’s the video and the translation.🤗
I warn you that it is a very long interview, but very interesting, and therefore I will proceed by dividing it into two parts.
So here’s the first part, up to 27:03.
PIERO = Happiness for me is every day. Because I found that inner balance. In the particular year we lived, I took advantage of it, thanks to the people who support me, like my family and friends, and I found that inner balance that makes me enjoy life. I enjoy life every day.
PV = What is happiness for you? (to Gianluca)
GIANLUCA = I believe this certainly – the support of the family, do what you love, live from your passion, make it a job, and be serene, feel good about yourself.
Happiness is a moment. The moments of pain help you to face life, to form that armor that allows you to face life in the best way. That inner serenity is surrounding yourself with people that allow you to be a better person.
PV = For you, Ignazio?
IGNAZIO = Happiness, in the end, is just a word.
Surely as they say, feeling good about yourself can be a cause for happiness, but the most important thing is to create it, and it’s very subjective, I think.
(start the theme song of the program)
PV = Happiness. But who is happier than me today, who are together with three ex-kids, whom I met who were really at the beginning and have become international stars: Ignazio, Pietro and Gianluca.
PIERO = Piero, Piero (Pascal said Pietro).
PV = Piero, sorry, sometimes I make a mistake.
PIERO = Pascal, we are very happy anyway.
GIAN= But the grandfather’s name is Pietro, so you paid him a compliment anyway.
PV = (to Piero) But do you celebrate St. Peter and Paul? (the name day).
PIERO = Yes, of course.
PV = So, it was a little mistake.
GIAN = You knew us as children, now we are almost men … almost men.
PV = And what guys, three young music legends, three seducers …
GIAN = Indeed ….. but all these compliments ….
PV = I almost feel like an intruder in your world
IGNAZIO = We met, really at the beginning of our journey. (career)
In Los Angeles, right?
PV = How not !!
IGNAZIO = We shared those moments, even a little strange for fourteen-fifteen-year-olds, being in parties with the biggest stars in the world.
PV = I remember, guys, they arrived in Los Angeles and were immediately catapulted into a mega galactic party, greeted by: Schwarzenegger, Sean Penn, Puff Daddy, Quincy Jones, Beyoncé, Cindy Crawford …
IGNAZIO = Cindy Crawford I remember her well!
GIAN = I remember her too ….
PIERO = The particular thing, do you know what Pascal was? To go home and tell our friends what we had experienced, and it was impossible (because they would not believe).
PV = Those are the first moments when you begin to understand that something is changing.
(the video of the Sanremo victory starts)
PV = (voice) Gianluca Ginoble, Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, aka IL VOLO, three young excellences of contemporary bel canto in the world, three constantly evolving talents, who have already seduced the audiences of many countries far and wide for the planet.
Three guys put together to break through the myth of the three tenors par excellence: Pavarotti, Carreras and Domingo and who in some way are keeping up with the expectations of the many people who believed in them, from the very beginning.
Three brilliant witnesses of pure Italianness that strikes, fascinates and seduces, so much so that it gradually becomes a global phenomenon.
Three witnesses of the restart of the music industry and of the Italian live entertainment, and who recently seduced the national television audience with the record concert at the Verona Arena, in homage to maestro Ennio Morricone. Event that arranged them in a good mood, on the occasion of our “reunion” between friends.
PV = Ignazio, when did you realize that your life was changing?
IGNAZIO = But maybe we haven’t noticed today yet, because fortunately, and I say fortunately, we live things with simplicity, always trying to put music, our passion, in the foreground.
Then, it is normal, there are many responsibilities, we are no longer kids, where there is the novelty of three kids who have an important voice, an adult voice, so now is the time to work, to develop new ideas. With our manager Michele Torpedine, we always try to renew ourselves, we lock ourselves in a room for days to understand what is the best thing, the next step to take.
There was the Arena di Verona, and we are already thinking about another project, so we must never stop.
PV = About the Arena, a great recent triumph, we will talk very soon, but let’s go back a little to the beginning.
(the video of O Sole Mio, starts)
PV = (voice) It was 2009 when three provincial kids, with an extraordinary voice, two Sicilians, Piero and Ignazio and one from Abruzzo, Gianluca, made their debut on the RAI stage in “TI LASCIO UNA CANZONE,” a program by Antonella Clerici, directed by Roberto Cenci, who, in meeting the three “child prodigies”, immediately came up with the brilliant idea of putting them together.
R. CENCI = I followed the casting directly and in this second edition, I found these three guys and took them individually, because I got Ginoble because he had a voice very similar to Bocelli, not as a tenor, but when he sang normally. Ignazio had what I called “canna” (high tones) and Piero was the only one I had doubts about, whether to take it or not, because he was really a “tenorino” (small tenor) and the year before I had already had a boy with the tenor voice.
In the end, after two or three episodes, I spoke with Bibi (Bibi Ballandi, Italian TV producer) and I said: “Look, I have an idea, I want to bring them together and call them – Tenorini – to make the beautiful songs, the Italian bel canto.”
It was an immediate, incredible success.
He called Tony Renis and said, “Guys, but these three are very strong, in my opinion in America, they could win,” and I said, “In my opinion, the only one who can help them in this sense is you, if you want I can put you in contact with the families,” and in short, from there, let’s say that he accompanied them in what is their journey under full sail.
(the video of THE WORLD begins)
PV = (voice) Launching three very young Italian tenors into the world seemed an impossible mission, but considering the previous successes of producer Tony Renis, who for the occasion wanted, at all costs, at his side, the former manager of Bocelli, Michele Torpedine, the operation was a challenge to attempt.
Especially since together with the lawyer Peter Lopez, mister “Quando Quando” (Tony Renis) , he convinced the legendary Italian-American colleague Jimmy Lovine, to make an album with the Italian “tenorini”, very different from the rappers he launched, as a tribute to its Ischian origins.
And so it was that the three boys found themselves in Hollywood, among the elite of showbiz.
It was February 2010, on the eve of the Grammy Awards, or the Oscars of music.
PV = Gianluca: this first experience in America.
GIAN = It is a great emotion, we hope it is a starting point, because it is an incredible thing to be in America.
PV = Ignazio: in the footsteps of the great masters who made the history of world music, here in Los Angeles.
IGNAZIO = Being with Tony is beautiful, we have fun, we spend beautiful days together.
PV = (to Piero) You are already preparing an album, which will soon be released, also made with Umberto Gatica, therefore: Tony Renis, Umberto Gatica, Torpedine, one team …..
PIERO = Really strong, we get along very well with them, we communicate with them and we express ourselves well with them.
(start the video of UN AMORE COSÌ GRANDE – Live The Americana)
T. RENIS = Very strong, they are conquering the United States. The Americans are going crazy for these three kids, who are phenomena. They sing, they sing, really, they know how to sing.
(start the video WE ARE THE WORLD 25 FOR HAITI)
PV = (voice) That trip to Los Angeles, with their uncle Tony Renis in 2010, marked the turning point for Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero, in fact, the famous producer, also managed to convince his old friend-colleague Quincy Jones to let his three new ones enter as pupils, in the video in favor of Haiti, which re-proposed WE ARE THE WORLD by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie.
TORPEDINE = It was a great dream, also because I came from a long experience of Andrea Bocelli, after 16 years, let’s say it was easier for me to continue this discussion.
PV = What place do Il Volo occupy in international music today?
TORPEDINE = I believe that after Andrea Bocelli, who clearly today we are talking about a monument, we are no longer talking only about an artist, immediately afterwards, they are there, because they are present in all countries of the world, as a publication, as a live, as a performance . Today Il Volo, together with Andrea, clearly Andrea becomes almost unattainable, because the recording market today is almost infinite, in general, but on the live part, they have the same capacities, in some countries, in others they don’t, but let’s say they occupy a huge space.
GIAN = Let’s say that, certainly the novelty was that, as Ignazio said, of three children singing pop-lyric, because it was the first time, so let’s say that from this point of view, we have always tried to be unique, and to propose to the public, to the people who follow us, something different.
Then, it is clear that over time, it is necessary to demonstrate and consolidate success, because being the novelty, it is also easy to be a meteor, therefore, as Ignazio said, sorry if I repeat myself, we must renew ourselves, with hard work, with constancy, with sacrifices and always staying on track, this is important. I must say that there is not only a working relationship, but also our friendship has been consolidated over time, and this helps us to be cohesive, strong and to develop ideas that allow us to renew ourselves.
RED RONNIE = I want for them, a good of the soul, because even if they joined almost by chance, Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca, they have three totally different personalities, who together have a crazy cohesion, so much so that they have invaded the world.
I hope they enjoy the happiness they deserve and are experiencing, because …… because they are still spontaneous, they still have the desire to see with their eyes what happens and, this is important, also with the heart. They are perfect when they are elegant, at the Verona Arena or on an important stage, or when they are like this, a little “discarded” when they come into my programs and let themselves go. Because they are three guys, very lucky, and very alive.
PV = (voice) Red Ronnie says well, three very different guys, who complement each other on stage, three particular characters, united by their common talent and love for music: Piero the professor, Ignazio the philosopher and Gianluca the seducer, two Sicilians and an Abruzzese.
After all, they are three young people of today with the ancient passion for opera, to be merged with pop, a characteristic that makes them fascinating in a transversal way to the different civilizations crossed in their first twelve years of common career in the world.
The result of the intelligence of the Italian province, which over the years has established itself, not only in music, but in every sector of society, as the journalist and writer points out: Pierangelo Buttafuoco.
P. BUTTAFUOCO = It is up to the village boy to “take flight”. If that of IL Volo is the story, or rather the novel, or better still the epic, of those who, like the guys, know how to go away.
Because the commandment given to the country guys is always the same, and it is this: “Who goes out, succeeds” (pun to say that whoever leaves the country, succeeds, that is, is successful, in life), and said in Sicilian it becomes: “cu nesci, arriesci”.
ANTONELLA BORALEVI(writer-journalist) = What is special about Il Volo?
Meanwhile, this name, because already hearing it, this name, takes you somewhere else, and then the fact that, we never say Il Volo, but we say “the boys of Il Volo”. I think that the three members of Il Volo group will have to get used to being called “boys” even when they are 70 years old.
But above all I would like to thank them, the guys from Il Volo, because they have the characteristic of giving joy. The guys from Il Volo put you in a good mood. The guys from Il Volo, you look at them and you feel better, you listen to them and you hum them and you feel better. So, as they say: go go go, guys from Il Volo and thank you for the joy you give us.
PV = (voice) All mad per Il Volo, it could be the title of a docu-film about the life of the three boys who continue to reap successes and attract fans of all ages, especially women, in the many countries already visited by three young people, they enchant the spectators and seduce, in particular, the fair sex, with their typical Italian charm. That’s right, it was for Pavarotti, it is for Andrea Bocelli, it is for Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero, of whom also three collaborators of Milly Carlucci have an excellent opinion and who had the pleasure of training Il Volo, for a special episode of Dancing with the stars.
OB = (dance teacher). Piero dancer mmmmhhh. Piero dancer, determined, very stubborn, I remember that he always wanted to try the steps, always perfect the rhythm. Obviously: he Sicilian and I Sicilian, we had a great time, I have wonderful memories, both of Piero and of the whole group. We had a lot of fun in our beautiful tango.
LL = (dance teacher) Gianluca dancer was a real discovery. But I think that in the tango, it was really exceptional, because in reality it represents it a little. Tango is very technical, and in my opinion Gianluca is precise, like tango, like all professionals, on the other hand. He is sensual, mysterious, captivating and intriguing, but above all, tango is elegance, and he is a very, very elegant person, and this is a gift that few people have, and that distinguishes him above all.
MG = (dance teacher). Ignazio was a great revelation and certainly as a dancer he was exceptional that evening at Dancing under the stars, when we did the tango together and I must say that it was really nice to see how, in a short time, this guy really learned the main things, of this dance, which was the tango. He tried to really express himself 100% and I was really very proud and proud and happy to have danced this dance with him.
R. RONNIE = Happiness could be …. such a wonderful place, surrounded by nature, relaxation. But you are missing something, you miss sharing it with the person you love, and then happiness is not living a beautiful thing, but sharing it.
Happiness is giving to others, it is giving, making people feel good. For me, happiness is giving space to artists, emerging groups, giving a voice to those who don’t have it.
In the end, we remain, for what we have given, not for what we have had, so happiness is giving.
(There are some scenes with Pavarotti)
PV = (voice) The myth of Luciano Pavarotti, after the docu-masterpiece of the Oscar winner Ron Howard, hovers in the dreams of all of us and above all in those of Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble, alias Il Volo, who during the years they also managed to make friends with the friends and colleagues of a thousand adventures of Big Luciano (Pavarotti), the Spanish tenors Josè Carreras and Plácido Domingo. Especially with the latter who, as an indomitable lion, has also granted his three grandchildren (Il Volo) the honor of stepping on the same stage.
But what does it feel like to follow in the footsteps of three legends, who started the history of opera-pop? Feel the thought of Il Volo about it.
PIERO = The three tenors, Pavarotti, Domingo and Carreras, were the three who cleared opera, classical music, outside the theater and brought it to the general public.
Let’s say that we are trying to follow, humbly, without emulating the three tenors, we are trying not to let this music die, which will never end, because classical music, the classical term, is synonymous with eternal. We were in Florence, in Piazza Santa Croce, it was not a normal evening, it was a Magic Night, in fact it was the title of that project that we have taken on tour everywhere.
Clearly when we conceive a project, if there is no trust on the part of someone, there is no encouragement. When the idea of doing the Tribute to the Three Tenors was born, there was the foundation of Pavarotti who supported this idea, many messages with Josè Carreras, but the maestro Plácido Domingo did us the honor …..
IGNAZIO = Besides, he is a great friend of ours!
PIERO = ……he did us the honor of accepting our invitation, coming to Florence, conducting and singing that repertoire with us, so having his support gave us so much strength.
GIAN = I would also like to add that we have just done the concert at the Arena di Verona, the Tribute to Morricone, and there too, as Piero said, there was support, and of course it continues to be there for this recording project that will be released soon, by maestro Andrea Morricone and the whole Morricone family.
So this gives us that encouragement Piero was talking about.
PV = I must tell you that at this moment I am having a bit of the chills, because the first part of my artistic career began in the myth of Luciano Pavarotti, Josè Carreras, and Placido Domingo, I have followed them, ever since in 1990, together with maestro Zubin Mehta, they trod the Caracalla stage for a concert on the occasion of the Italia 90 World Cup, and from that moment, I understood the power of Luciano Pavarotti, and his two Spanish friends, to go and communicate the great international music, but above all Italian.
Finding myself today, with three very young friends, Italians, who are on that road, frankly, gives me, on the one hand, the feeling that I am getting a little old, on the other hand the joy of seeing that Maestro Pavarotti has drawn a really important road that you guys are following very well, isn’t it Ignazio?
IGNAZIO = Look, I tell you the truth, even with this Morricone project, we never wanted to be a copy of something, we want to try to be the means, to ensure that this music is never forgotten.
We are moving towards an era where the music changes every year, the charts change.
GIAN = (says in English) This legacy will never die, you know?
PV = You understand, the boy from Abruzzo who now speaks with an English slang!
PV = Piero, at this moment I have a flash, I remember a magnificent summer evening, in Piazza del Popolo (Rome) with the master Ennio Morricone who directed you in that wonderful song E PIÙ TI PENSO . In those days we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, it was your first great performance, face to face with the legend of legends, the master Morricone.
PIERO = The first meeting with master Morricone, took place in the FORUM studios in Rome, in 2010 during the recording of our first album.
We were just recording E PIÙ TI PENSO and the master was passing through the studios and came in to listen, so he was the first to listen to our work.
We, fourteen, fifteen, still did not realize the importance, the greatness of the master. When he listened to E PIÙ TI PENSO, he decided to conduct this song live, on the occasion of a concert in Piazza del Popolo …
IGNAZIO = 150 years of the Unification of Italy.
PIERO = ….. 150 years of the Unification of Italy.
Today, we are not ashamed to say it, we have realized the importance and prestige of that event.
PV= In fact, Ignazio, having reached personal success, having arrived at a personal encounter with the legends, you so young, did not immediately make you understand what magnificent world you had entered.
How do you relive the memory of these events today? We talked about We Are The World and then 150 years, and in any case you are still at the beginning of a prestigious career.
How do you relive those passages that have taken place in the international arena and that seemed so unimaginable?
IGNAZIO = Look, I try to be brief. I think they will be indelible memories, which we will never forget, perhaps in those times, thanks to naivety, we lived everything more serenely. But they will be memories that we cannot help but take with us, tell them to our children, our grandchildren. Surely a very important thing is that we have learned a lot from them, the experience with Barbra Streisand has taught us a lot. In the end, when you relate to artists and people, because they are mainly people, you learn humanity, you learn humility, you learn how much dedication they put into their work, how much effort, how many sacrifices, and therefore we only learned from them.
GIAN = And then, these experiences that we have lived, we feel three privileged, those experiences that, like pieces, form the personality and that give sensitivity, empathy. These strong emotions that we have lived together have been a continuous personal growth, which has allowed us, really, to experience these things at a young age, with a naivety and a beauty, with a purity and we are truly proud to have lived them together.
Being on stage together, knowing that there are companions … I look at them (Piero and Ignazio) and they have experienced things that not even our brothers or our parents can understand, because there is this union between us, which makes these things truly special.
I wanted to translate this long interview, because it seemed interesting to me.
I’m halfway through the work, there are still many interesting things.
Tell me if you want to find out what will be said in the second part and, with a little patience, that too will come.
Some stories just write themselves and the author stands by with pen in hand, looks down at the paper and says yes, yes that’s exactly what I wanted to say! And you can’t even remember writing it but it’s there and it’s so spot on! Life writes its own stories! Certainly, life wrote this one about three teenage boys. Teenagers! Think of your kid outside playing basketball or soccer. Could you imagine that he would walk off the court and into the limelight? I’m thinking your fondest hope would be that he would clean up his room.
How do you explain three amazing voices coming together on the same stage, at the same time? I have only one explanation. La Forza del Destino! It was fate! It was a plan! It was God’s plan!
Watching the guys recording these last few weeks brought back fond memories of the beginning. Before Sanremo, before Barbara Streisand, before Notte Magica! In the real beginning….
In the beginning there were three guys named Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca. They were ordinary guys!
Piero loved his motorbike! “When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike.”
Ignazio loved to play soccer. “My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football.”
Gianluca, also, loved to play soccer! “How did I play soccer? I was good, come on, I did not like losing, I wanted to score goals by force, I never passed the ball, and when I had the ball, I scored.”
So, yes, they were ordinary kids but, they all had something special. They had a special gift from God. Their voice!
What was it that made them different? What was it about this baritone and two tenors that was different from other tenors or baritones? First and foremost, the delivery of these three voices was equal. The crispness and clarity in each voice was defined. They were alike but they were different. They were balanced! Roberto Cenci recognized these exceptional qualities and understood that they could blend into one beautiful voice so, he decided to put the three voices together. The result was they were an immediate sensation and they caused important people in the industry to stop and listen!
Each one separately was captivating, together, they were a gift that God gave to humanity!
The first meeting!
We have to keep in mind that in the beginning the guys were underage so any negotiations and plans for their future was handled by their parents. It was only after the parents first meeting with among others, Michele Torpedine, that the guys were informed that plans were being made for them. After this meeting the parents met again a month later and signed a contract for the guys to record with Universal.
I think Piero put it best when he said, “The day before, I went to my uncle’s workshop and the next day I signed a millionaire contract with an American label.”
The behind-the-scenes video of the guys recording “Tous les visages de l’amour” and, the recent recording of the Ennio Morricone album inspired me to write this article.
Let’s start by listening to Piero talk about their first meeting with Michele Torpedine.
“The day began well, calm, and quiet. I was having lunch at the hotel restaurant and a gentleman with a sand-colored raincoat and graying hair arrived. I heard footsteps behind me and a ‘Hello, Piero’ with this deep voice. You recognize Michele’s voice anywhere. You know, when I speak of that meeting, it reminds me of things I’ve seen in an American movie. It was from this that we started, three fifteen-sixteen-year-old idiots, and Torpedine, who had already become an icon for me. So, he sits with us and we start talking. After lunch, we got ready for rehearsal.
And, so, it begins!
Being teenagers there was always going to be some antics going on.
Gianluca recalls, “We were three children at the park playing. Ignazio, to name one, poured Coca-Cola on the floor in the dressing room and it ended up on Michele’s jacket. Michele turns and says, “Barbara look,” I still remember it, with a face looking like “Oh my God!”
Piero recalls, “And after the Coca-Cola there were plums. Our first meeting with Michele ends with plums flying from one dressing room to the other and Michele comes out with white hair, indeed no, because he already had white hair. No, he comes out with straight hair saying, ‘Are you three, crazy?’
In practice we threw plums from the door of our dressing room, to the one next to us. We had a mess that night.
What has changed from that day to today? Nothing. On tour, in the television broadcast rooms and sometimes even in the recording room, one of our favorite activities is the fruit launch. The best are the grapes (but we also use cherries). Ignazio throws them from a distance and, I have to take it on the fly and catch it in my mouth. It doesn’t matter if the Pope or Bono is in the dressing room next to us, it doesn’t impress us.”
Listen to what the guys had to say about the beginning of their career.
Piero: “At the beginning it was really a dream, even if I do not like repeating it, because you find yourself traveling the world and doing it, from one day to the next. However, I repeat, always without realizing the importance of the thing, without fully understanding what was happening.”
Ignazio: “So, a dream that Piero, in the clouds, has forgotten to say is the most important thing: it was the first time that Italian singers signed a contract directly with an American record company. But it was not that we signed the contract, the big thing was done, but it had yet to start!”
Gianluca: “Piero forgot to mention that ours was the first contract signed directly by Italian singers with an American label, but Ignazio forgot to mention that the first recording studio in which we entered all three together for our great adventure was called the Forum and it was in Rome.”
The first time in the studio!
Ignazio continues: “For us today there are seven takes to sing. At that time there were thirty or forty. You will say, what language does he speak? English, Spanish and, also a little Italian. So, a take is the recording of the single phrase that each of us sings when we record a song. We continue to redo it until we get the best version. In 2009, our first recording, took almost two days to record a song, until it was good. I remember that I made the absolute record of takes in “Smile,” I repeated my part for fifty-seven times.”
Piero: “…It was nice because it was the first experience. We did not sing well because we had no technique, so it was as Ignazio said. We did a take sixty or seventy times.
At that time, we arrived in the studio and we found everything ready. The songs to sing, the subdivisions, the arrangement, this and the other things. After the third album, we did everything together, we created everything with Celso Valli, our producer.
Those first times we did not have this freedom, everything was prepared for us because we did not have the skills to do it.
Now we have them (the skills) and we share the parts, we know each other better and, in the studio, we help each other. It is also nice to see that each of us now has his way to enter the recording room. Gianluca and I sing with the light on in the recording room. Ignazio, on the other hand, enters and the first thing he does is turn off the light. They are small details, but they mean that we have grown and, we have our own way of working.
Between the three of us, we have split up the roles. If there is a problem with the mixer, Ignazio works on it with the producer to fix it. Gianluca is the one who listens to the songs from morning to night and offers: ‘Guys, I discovered this songwriter,’ ‘Guys, I discovered this artist, what do you think?’ I like the managerial part. I like managing, I like to contact people, I like to propose new things to Michele, ‘Why do we not do that?’ ‘Why do we not try to do that?’ ‘How can we get to this person?’ I like us to put our heads together and think of how we can improve. We have a complete professional balance. We have grown physically, but also professionally. Even if we have a new producer, we do not know, we do not have any problems. We know how to talk to him and tell him what we want. This is the most important aspect: being at the same level.”
After this it was off to America for the guys.
Speaking of America! One year ago, we were enjoying the concerts in America! I saw the guys at Radio City Music Hall! Then the world turned upside down!
What in the world was going on?Literally in the World!
We started hearing about a pandemic. And it seemed the worst of it was in Italy. The guys began to worry. And then, no it was time to leave. Leave now or get stuck in America! It was time! They turned off the lights and went home!
(First message from Il Volo on the Covid situation, sent when they were still on tour in America)
They canceled their last three performances and the next thing we knew they were on their way home. But being true to form, like good children, they checked in with us as soon as they got home and told us they were safe and, they needed to be with their families now.
As you know the guys went into quarantine and stayed there for three and a half months.
Then the quarantine was over and, they left their houses. And something amazing started to happen!
The one thing they wanted more than anything was to get back to work. Well, they did have the commitment with Dolce & Gabbana which gave us a spectacular Sunday event. And there was the concert in Monte Carlo but, something was missing.
At Verona, they showed us what was missing!
But let’s step back a minute!
On the Friday afternoon before the performance, we watched the guys at sound check give a performance to the people who were scattered around the Verona Arena that would rival most concerts. And then later in the evening they returned to the Arena for light check.
Ignazio and Gianluca were making videos with their phones, while Piero was wandering around.
Ignazio get’s Piero’s attention.
Ignazio: “What are you doing?”
Piero shakes his head and asks. “What are you looking at?”
Ignazio (points): “The light that is there.”
Gianluca: “It’s Beautiful.”
Ignazio: “The gorgeous light. Gorgeous! Gorgeous!”
Of course, Piero pulled out his phone and started to video.
But what was it about the lights that got Ignazio’s attention? Well, they were as Ignazio said, “La Luce Stupenda!” “The lights were gorgeous,” but I think he was thinking about the last lights that he saw on stage.
That Saturday night when the guys were entering the Arena before the show they were stopped and asked this question by a woman reporter:
Reporter: “You are International entertainers therefore you know how much the live dimension is missing. But above all you have defined the stage as your natural element. So, how is it for you to return to a live performance tonight?”
Ignazio: “It’s like giving candy to a baby. We are happy because we missed it. We missed it to die for but not only for our personal thing but because this is to me the music slowly restarting with safety measures. But we are restarting it all with Italian music. It’s like I am starting again to grow up on stage and hope that it can be a message of hope for the groups, in the cities, in the emerging local areas who want to start making music. We have to continue making music and we hope for full concerts and full live by 2021.”
It was an absolutely beautiful statement that said it all! What I liked best about this statement was Ignazio saying “It’s like I am restarting it all with Italian music. I’m starting again to grow up on stage…” What did he mean? This time he is starting in Italy not America. He finally feels like he is at home! Bravo Ignazio! You are home.
When the guys arrived on stage, they had a message for the world and all the people in the industry:
Ignazio: “2020 will be remembered as the year where the world would be constrained to be turned off.”
Gianluca: “For the music employees the verb “turn off” means the end of the show, when the curtains close and it is the waiting moment for the next show, but this time the waiting lasted more than expected, the silence was unavoidable.”
Piero: “Now, the world is getting ready to start again! Now the moment has arrived to raise the curtain! Now, we will turn on the music!”
This beautiful statement was followed by the performance of the evening. Their choice of “Nessun Dorma” sent an even stronger message. It’s says we may have to perform under these new world conditions, but we don’t have to change who we are or why we’re here. In this ancient Arena we look to the past while following the path to the future.
Click on the photo below to view IL VOLO’s performance of “Nessun Dorma”.
From their first note the whole arena lit up. Their voices were clean and crisp. Their presence was illuminating. Their notes rose above the Arena into the night sky to let the world know music is back! The final note of their song sent the final message. All three voices rose in unison and their voices sent forth a note that took our breaths away! It said We Have Returned! “Turn on the Lights!”
What is so amazing about this is, over the months since they had left quarantine, they had almost single handedly brought back the music industry in Italy. All the work they’ve done since they left quarantine has been to move things forward in Italy. This includes their most important project the concert in Tribute to Ennio Morricone and the recording of their new album by the same name.
Seeing them back in the recording studio, these last few weeks, has been a joy. Listening to them sing “Your Love,” at Sanremo, even under trying circumstances, gave us hope for the future. This preview gave us a look into the new album which we are all anxiously awaiting. But above all, the guys have Hit the Restart Button! They have played a major part in the restart of the music industry In Italy!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!