Tag Archives: Sanremo Festival

Gianluca Shares His Amazing Voice

Gianluca is very different from Piero and Ignazio. He had a calm and peaceful childhood. He didn’t have the challenges that Ignazio had or the intense classical education that Piero had. No, Gianluca lived a very simple life. Perhaps that explains why Gianluca is a romantic. With him, everything is about passion! Like his passion for Abruzzo which he takes around the world. On tour he always speaks about Abruzzo. He loves his country and, he wants others to love it too! I agree with Gianluca, Abruzzo is an amazing place. My maternal grandparents were from Abruzzo!

A young Gianluca eating a cookie A teenage Gianluca wearing a hat

Gianluca’s life began in the small town of Montepagano where he lived a simple life but, when he emerged, he began a journey that would take him around the world and through his amazing voice would leave his mark in every corner of that world.
Let’s listen to how Gianluca describes the town he grew up in:
To be precise, I grew up, in Montepagano, on a hill two hundred meters as the crow flies and ten minutes by road from the sea, and Roseto degli Abruzzi.
The accents are beautiful, the dialects are beautiful, but I can say that what I prefer is the Abruzzese? I am, very, proud to be from Abruzzo. I love everything about this region. And I like to bring Abruzzo around the world and keep it high.
I am right at the sea. I’m relaxing, I’m calm! There is a sea breeze and nothing else. It’s Thursday and I am practically alone on the beach. I’m fine, from God! I’m fine because I’m home.

Gianluca in sunglasses and a leather jacket

When Gianluca goes home to Abruzzo, he feels like he is on vacation. Montepagano is a very beautiful town. It sits at the top of a hill facing the Adriatic Sea. It is like a picture-perfect postcard!  It’s no wonder Gianluca is at peace here. Montepagano is Gianluca’s paradise.
If you ask Gianluca about this paradise and how he spent his childhood there he will tell you, “My life as a child seems so far away. I remember, very, little of my childhood! It’s like twenty years have passed but, only five have passed. I’m not like Ignazio I was born and raised in Montepagano. I was traveling only with dreams. What made me dream? Music naturally.”
And, so, we come to perhaps Gianluca’s greatest passion, Music! Or let’s say our greatest passion about Gianluca, his music!
As you know, Gianluca’s mother worked, so, he went to after-school session with the nuns. He had a teacher named Gabriella. One afternoon, while Gianluca was doing homework, he suddenly got up and started singing “Time to Say Goodbye.” The teacher was speechless. “What a voice you have, what a wonderful voice,” she told Gianluca. “But do you know Andrea Bocelli?” She could not believe how it was possible for such a small child to have such a voice and to know a singer of that kind. “Of course, I know him,” Gianluca said, “he’s my idol, my favorite singer,” Gianluca said this with a certain pride. “Only I do not have his CD yet.” “I’ll bring it to you tomorrow, I’ll gift it to you” was the teacher’s answer. “I was seven, maybe eight years old and thanks to Gabriella I was able to start listening to Andrea Bocelli as often as I wanted.”
Yes, this was Gianluca’s passion as a young boy to sing Bocelli songs. And he sang them all the time. But it was music itself that motived Gianluca.  In an interview with the “Rosetana Star” Gianluca said: “Music for me is the oxygen of my life.”
And it wasn’t just Bocelli as Gianluca will tell you. “As I grew older, I became more passionate about singing, including the great American classics, first of all Frank Sinatra.”

So, let’s turn to the Voice! Sinatra was known as the Voice. But I think Sinatra would be in awe of Gianluca. Love you Frank but Gianluca’s got this one!
Gianluca is known as the Velvet Voice!
I don’t who coined the phrase but, that is right on. Let’s use our senses to understand what that means. Take a piece of velvet and hold it in your hand. Now take your other hand and gently pass your hand across the velvet. What do you feel? You feel a smooth even surface that is crisp with no breaks in it. The sensation is so good that you automatically go back and do it again. And every time it’s the same. It’s pleasing!
Now take Gianluca’s voice, let the notes pass into your ears, what do you hear? A crisp, smooth, even voice with no breaks in it. The note barely passes into your ear and, you are going back for the next note. It’s always pleasing!
Gianluca is a lyrical baritone. He is exceptional because he can sing from the lowest to the highest note in the baritone range. Most baritones are limited in range. Gianluca’s voice is huge. He has a very rich chest resonance which creates a feeling of depth and drama in his voice.

A baritone’s voice is very romantic, very pleasing to listen to and is always inviting. Most songs are written for baritones. Gianluca starts, almost, every song. Why? In order for a song to be received well you must draw your audience into it. Gianluca’s voice draws you in in a romantic way and you hang on to every note. He can mesmerize you with songs like “Mi Mancherai” where he reaches into the depth of his being and yours. His interpretation of “Surrender” is electrifying. But, when Gianluca sings, “She’s Always a Woman”, he takes your breath away. The highs, the lows, the emotion, the expression. His voice expands like nothing I ever heard before. He has total command of the song. You walk away with your senses lifted to another level.
So, let’s turn to how Gianluca got to where he is today! To do this I need to introduce you to the Zecchino d’oro .
Why the Zecchino d’oro or perhaps you’re saying what is the Zecchino d’oro?
I was first introduced to the Zecchino d’oro last November when an article came out saying the Zecchino d’oro will be postponed due to Covid 19. The presenters of the year would be Mara Venier and Carlo Conti.
When I read this article, I immediately thought of Gianluca.  So, what is the Zecchino d’oro and what does it have to do with Gianluca?
The Zecchino d’oro is an Italian tradition. It is an event for kids, and it is dedicated to them and to all the adults who still feel like kids.
This show is presented every year between late November and the beginning of December.
In Italy there are magical days, when it starts to get cold, and children stay in their warm homes. It’s not Christmas, but the period that precedes it when the famous Zecchino d’oro TV show is broadcast. It has been broadcast every year, for decades. It was established in 1959 by Cino Tortorella who was the good presenter who introduced the children on stage, disguised as Mago Zurlì. He was so loved by all children.

Black and white photo of Cino Tortorella talking to a little girl on the show Black and white photo of the Zecchino d’oro TV show

The Zecchino d’oro is the festival of the little ones. In fact, if the Sanremo Festival is aimed at adult audiences and the songs are interpreted by adults, the Zecchino d’oro is made for children, with songs tailored for children.
The songs may seem like simple songs but, they are actually much more. Special attention is given to the songs’ texts. The themes are about tolerance and peace. And this is confirmed by the expression of the event: “In this contest, the winner is not the child who sings, but the song that is sung!”
Black and white photo fo Mariele Ventre teaching children Father Berardo Rossi, one of the founders, discovered by chance, a girl who used to teach the children of his parish and organize events. Mariele Ventre, who was 22 years old, had just graduated from the Verdi Conservatory in Milan and was on her way to a promising concert career. She said yes to Fr. Rossi’s proposal and the adventure began.
Mariele liked the name Zecchino because it refers to the gold coin in the field of miracles of Collodi’s Pinocchio and thus it was called Zecchino d’oro. She founded the Piccolo Coro two years later, an institution that she would direct passionately for thirty years, until the last day before she died on December 16, 1995. Upon her death the Piccolo Coro dell’Antoniano, was renamed Piccolo Coro for Mariele.
Zecchino d’oro, however, is not only music and entertainment, but it has also been carrying out voluntary initiatives by raising funds to build schools, hospitals, orphanages, with projects all over the world, to help the less fortunate live better lives.
In 2008, the Zecchino d’oro received an amazing recognition from UNESCO, becoming a world heritage for a culture of peace: the first TV show in the world to receive such a prestigious award.
This year the images were to be reassuring to Italy. The country had the strength to bet on good feelings and a strong idea of safeguarding children.

Topo Gigio

Though you may not know this show in America, we can relate to one of the characters, Topo Gigio, the puppet created by Maria Perego. Topo Gigio landed in America many years ago on the legendary Ed Sullivan Show. For those of you who are not old enough to remember Topo Gigio, let me say we waited every week for his appearance on the show. For us kids and the adults he became a household name. Seems hard to believe that this little mouse stole the hearts of the American people.
So where does Gianluca fit into all of this? If it wasn’t for the Piccolo Choir of Roses which was inspired by the Zecchino d’oro, Gianluca may not have been discovered.

Gianluca as a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses

Gianluca was a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses which is one of the local branches of this choir. The Mago Zurlì, who was the presenter of the event when Gianluca was in the Choir, was Gianluca’s father, Ercole Ginoble.
But, let me let Gianluca tell you how this all came to be….
When I sing, I don’t forget instinct.  What does that mean? As I said, I have never studied singing. I learned to “use” my voice only thanks to my musical ear. I listened to the music and, it transmits everything I know. And I especially thank the Little Choir of Roses.
When I was about eight or nine, all those who knew my voice gave me the same advice: go sing in a choir. In Roseto there was the Piccolo Choir of Roses directed by the master Susy Paola Rizzo. They sang the songs of the “Zecchino d’oro” or other famous songs with arrangements in that style, with music for children. The Mago Zurlì, that was the presenter of the event, was my father. He had been for a couple of seasons.
This is where I started. It was nice because we studied the songs throughout the winter season, not the technique of singing, the songs. It was different, because we did not study the notes and how to do them, rather we studied instinctively, following what the teacher said and what our ear heard.
Then, in the summer, we demonstrated our work in the Municipality of Roseto. We sang in the squares during the local festivals, in the lidos, in the bathing establishments, around the whole of Abruzzo, all these tiny villages.

During the performances with the choir, besides the repertoire of the Zecchino d’oro, we sang the songs of Bocelli: Misere, Il Mare Calmo Della Sera, La Voce Del SilenzIo.

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero in front of a Sanremo 2015 sign Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero

Of course, the greatest achievement for Gianluca and the guys was winning Sanremo! We know that it was Gianluca who convinced the guys to go to Sanremo! Or rather Gianluca convinced Piero who convinced Ignazio. And, in the end, Gianluca sums up Sanremo and the events that follow in this way!
The truth is that I was right from the beginning and, no one has ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look 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 looked 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 my life I would see Modugno win at the Festival and then I see you win.’
On Sunday evening, when I returned to Montepagano, I found th whole village in a party, not just my grandfather: my countrymen were waiting for me from the morning to celebrate. There really was everyone, including the mayor. And then, the journalists, the local TV and a crowd of people who we could not count.
Another of the beautiful things that came after San Remo was the chance to meet the children of the Agbe, the Association of Parents of the Emopatic Children, of Pescara.
It is a reality born in 2000 from the idea of a group of parents, in fact, with children from the hemopaths treated at the Santo Spirito hospital in the city. The purpose of the association is to give support in every way to the children and families during and after the period of treatment. An initiative that, for those like me and very sensitive to the problems of health of children, and really beautiful.
The thing that honors me a lot and that, inspired by my story with Ti Lascio Una Canzone, they thought to have the children dedicate to singing, so they organize a Christmas show every year that keeps them very busy and also a lot of fun. But at Agbe they would never have thought we would meet.
Instead, after the Festival I went to see them, all young patients from 4 to 15 years, and I invited them to our concert of Il Volo Live 2015 in Chieti because I knew that Piero and Ignazio would have been happy to meet them. And, so, it was: they came, they had fun and we spent time together taking pictures and signing autographs.

Gianluca in a brown jacket looking over his shoulder Gianluca in a white long sleeve dress shirt taking a selfie photo

But Gianluca is about emotions too! And many things that happened after Sanremo were emotional for Gianluca! Like Gianluca receiving a prize for bringing Abruzzo around the world. Let’s listen to Gianluca talk about the emotion of winning this prize.
When I talk about emotions that arrived after Sanremo, I cannot forget what it meant to receive a prize like Abruzzese that gives prestige to its region in the world.
Every year on August 5th is celebrated the Day of Abruzzesi in the world, a day set up with a regional law to remember all the emigrants. On that day five ambassadors of Abruzzo are appointed in the world, that is, Abruzzesi who have come out of the regional boundaries for different reasons and give prestige to their region.
For example, they awarded a university lecturer, a cardiologist, the founder of a cultural association, an entrepreneur and a successful executive. The ceremony, which has a different location every year, was held in the Fortress of Civitalla del Tronto, a village that is a jewel of the province of Teramo, right on the border with the Marches.
I, however, am still in Abruzzo and therefore I cannot be appointed ambassador according to regional regulations, I was awarded with a beautiful statuette that replicates the warrior Capestrano, for having brought the name of my land around the world.
I cannot tell you what a feeling it is to receive from the regional Presidency the cultural symbol of my region. The original of the warrior stands in the National Archaeological Museum, more than two meters tall, of limestone, with a large disk helmet that looks like a hat. You see it for sure. And it is one of the things I’m most proud of.
In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions.
Gianluca has a heart of gold! It’s always about helping others whether through his generosity or his love of his country! That’s just how Gianluca is. He has his hand in everything and reaches it out to those who need it!
But it seems I digressed!

Gianluca holding a microphone singing

So now, let me go back and sum up Gianluca’s musical career! Although Gianluca never studied music he did develop a musical ear and instinct and as a member of the Piccolo Choir of Roses and his performances around Abruzzo, he was discovered by Licia Giunco who brought Gianluca to Rome to audition for Ti Lascio Una Canzone. The rest of the story is history!
And as a result of this, Gianluca Shares His Amazing Voice with people all over the world!
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
*Excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia.

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.

Soccer-2 Piero-0

Today we will take a look at the guys around the ages of ten and eleven. Yes, the music was always there but, there were other things in their lives that had great meaning. You might call them passions! Gianluca and Ignazio had a passion for soccer. But Piero had no passions! None that I ever heard of. For Piero it was always about studying, not school studies, but classical music studies. Perhaps because he had asthma, he never took an interest in sports. The closest he comes to passion is his love for Chemistry and Math. And if a friend could be a passion, then he certainly had a friend who fit the bill!
So, let’s follow the guys on their afternoon adventures.
A Family Passion for Soccer!
Between the age of eleven and thirteen, Gianluca enjoyed playing soccer! What was it Gianluca loved about soccer? You might say for Gianluca the passion was inherited! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his passion for Soccer….
Football has always been a great passion of mine. This too, like music, is a family passion.

Gianluca celebrating on the soccer field

My father is a big fan of Pescara, as is my grandfather. They were also big fans of Gianluca Vialli, no matter which team he played on because he was a myth for my father. And because Vialli also had a name that appealed to both my father and mother, when I was born, they named me Gianluca. Let’s say that name aside, my father gave me a piece of football culture.
I am a big fan of Roma football, before Il Volo, more so. I watched all the games, I did not miss one, and every time Totti beat a penalty, I covered my head with my arms and, if I heard the scream from the television, I screamed from home. But now there are work commitments and that prevents me from following my favorite team. Even now, despite the commitments, I continue to play football as soon as I can.

Gianluca with Francesco Totti, captain of the Roma football team

When I go back to Montepagano I always try to organize a game with old friends with whom I trained in the youth teams of Roseto.
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. Let’s say that I was a bit ‘instinctive’ even on the football field.
Once when I was playing in Pescara there was a score of 4 to 4. I had already scored two goals, but the draw was not enough for me, I wanted the win. Only the field was difficult, it had rained, so there was a lot of mud. What happened? I pull, huge slide and I fill myself with mud, from head to toe. What do I do? I start shouting, ‘I got dirty!’ In all this, it must be said that the game was true, even if we were very young. There was the championship, with the ranking and everything else, it’s not that you could take and do what was going on in your head. The referee shouts, ‘Get up, what are you playing ball.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘I’m leaving, I’m all dirty!’ He shouts, ‘get up and go to the locker room.’ Not for nothing, they don’t call me the ‘little Cassano’ (famous Italian soccer player) for nothing. Cassano was so good and, he was so restless!

Gianluca playing soccer in a tournament

Another time we were at the Borghesiana in Rome, at a national tournament. The Roseto was also in series C2 and even in the very young there were good coaches, competent, good, that when they told you one thing, that was that, because they knew what they were talking about. In that game at the Borghesiana, I do not even remember, against who we were, I did not score goals, the coach takes me away from the game. At the beginning I came back on the bench nice quiet, but after a moment they did everything to restrain me. ‘I want to go in! I want to score!’ I was shouting. I kicked the coach. Now obviously, I would not do it again, even if football is still my passion.
This is one of many stories Gianluca told about playing soccer when he was a child. Let’s think about this for a moment. If Gianluca didn’t become a singer, would he have become a soccer player? He was, real, good!
A Passion that gets you in Trouble!
On July 24, 2004, at the age of ten, Ignazio moved to Marsala. Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about life in Sicily….
In the beginning I did not accept Sicilian life. It was difficult for me to set myself up at school because the programs were, very, different from the school where I had trained. The consequence? I was seen by everyone as  ‘the polentone’ of the situation, it was the Bolognese accent….
(A “polentone” is a somewhat derogatory term that is given to the citizens of northern Italy.)
I did not take it (the move) very well. At a lunch at my paternal grandmother’s house, my mother was so hurt by my words that she started to cry: ‘I recommend you, if I die you must take me to Bologna.
Fortunately, Ignazio met new friends close to his home and this changed his mind.
Let’s start from the assumption, if there is still any need for it, that being lively every now and then can cause some damage. What damage is that? To answer this question, let’s go back to Bologna with Ignazio.….
My main project when I went to school was to get home and spend the afternoon playing football. It had been less so after I started taking singing lessons. I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest. But in general, soccer was really a big passion for me. From an early age I had a passion for football, also because my sister played football when we lived in Bologna and then she continued, even in Marsala. She played volleyball first, and I also inherited that passion, then she moved her passion to soccer.

Collage of Ignazio with the soccer team

At school I was bored, I was learning but I was bored. But I always enjoyed playing soccer. I came home, had my lunch and did my homework faster than light, because even homework bored me. As fast as I could, I went down to the playground to play football with my friends. It happened in Bologna and, it happened in Marsala, ‘nu puzzu’ (the saying refers to the well which smells) it was there that I went after school, in time to eat something, and then everyone ran behind the house to the well.
Let’s say that there were some basic rules to be followed in order to stay away from home all afternoon. One of these was that I always had to tell mom where I was, if I walked away, I called her with the intercom and warned her that I was going away, and if I did not go away, I would call her with the intercom and warn her, ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
After five minutes: ‘Mom, I’m down here!’
Another five minutes: ‘Mom I’m down here!’
Because I worried that she was worried, and I wanted to let her know that I was ……. down there.

Left to right: Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca in uniform with the soccer team

Near the end of July 2004, we had already packed everything and, we were ready for the move to Marsala. I went to get an ice cream with some friends, near home, really, just a few steps away. Upon returning, I saw some guys in the building next to ours playing football. I could go home and do nothing but, it was the last days I was in town? And the game was in the courtyard next to mine, it was practically like it was mine. So, I stop. I did not think to call mom with the intercom, and I played soccer, all afternoon, without even a ‘Mom, I’m down here!’ And mom started looking for me, all over Molinella. She rode around the city and did not find me. Then she called my father, who was at the supermarket shopping: ‘Come I cannot find Ignazio.’ My father arrives, my mom throws the bike in a corner, runs in the car, then, out of the corner of her eye she sees my shorts.
‘Ignaziooooo !!!!’
‘Hey, mom ….’
‘Woeful!!!!’
At one point, my mother from anger also spoke Chinese. If it had not been that we had already packed everything for the move, I certainly would have to iron two beautiful chairs full of clothes for punishment. Instead, as a punishment, no more backyard and no pizza for a month. What then, being without pizza for a month, was worse than two chairs of clothes to iron, because I always ate pizza. And pasta, too. Two other passions of mine, together with soccer and music. I know, I know, you could see from my form. In the canteen, at school, I liked to eat toasted bread! And I always asked for an ‘encore of pasta.’ Mamma told the ladies who worked in the canteen: ‘Do not give him too much soup as he is chubby, just a little bit of pasta and if you do not give it to him, even better.’ One day, one of them replied: ‘But when he comes with that little face and tells me, please another little …. here, lady, how can I say no’ I was a born actor. But in all, the one that gave me the most satisfaction with pasta was Nina. I ate some huge dishes. Because mom and dad had to work at night, I ate with Nina and, she cooked pasta. ‘Nun è che ci ni calava settanta grammi!’ (It was not that she cooked two and a half ounces!) She cooked almost 9 ounces for two people. We ate, really, full dishes. And then, Nina would call mom at work and ask her for recipes: ‘How do you make ragout like grandmother does? How do you make crepes?’ And she started cooking for the whole family.
The moral of the story, in addition to my passion for soccer and volleyball, Nina gave me a passion for cooking.
Meanwhile….
In Marsala, Ignazio, Vito and Vincenzo, and sometimes Ivan, would meet every day at the well and decide what to do. They would build huts, play the game of the week, go for a bike ride, in short, everything and more, and this is also where they met to go to school football that was just two kilometers from their homes. And sometimes, in the middle of a challenge or under a hut, under construction, you could hear shouting “Ignazio!” and everything stopped….
We stopped breathing a second and descended silent. Mom wanted me to go home and do my homework. She wanted, but I did not always agree.

Ignazio on the soccer field

A Passion for Chemistry and Math? And, my personal favorite, the Story of Denise!
We know if Piero had a passion, it would be for music but, in this story, we find out he had no great passion for school but, he did have a passion, so to speak, for chemistry and math!
Piero tells us that he had good grades in school because of his secret weapon Denise….
For Denise I should make a monument.

Piero with his classmate, Denise, dressed in formal attire

Denise was Piero’s classmate for twelve years. The good grades were thanks to her. In the afternoon Piero would pick her up in his electric car, an E50, and they would study together. She repeated the lesson and he learned by what she was saying….
I did not like reading books, what could I do? The songs have always remained in my head right away, I listen to a song and after two, three times at most, I know all the words, but the lessons no, these do not come into my head even with the hammering. You imagine that once, out of despair, to memorize a history lesson, I gave it a reason, that is, I put it to music. But when I could not do this – that is, most of the time – I sat next to Denise and I listened to her repeat the lesson. Or, in classwork, she wrote and did it, zac! She put the paper in the middle of the desk and, I copied. The professors probably knew but they never caught me and so they always gave me that half vote less than she, even if the tasks were the same. But, who cared, I was very happy.
I only liked two school subjects. All of you are thinking physical education. No. Physical education I did not like, I did not want to put on the tracksuit because I was fat and, I felt clumsy with the tracksuit. Today everything is different.
Piero lost fifty-three pounds and he likes to go to the gym. He also helped Ignazio to get involved with exercising when he was on his diet….

Left to right: Gianluca, PIero and Ignazio dressed in blue soccer uniforms

At school, I did not like gymnastics instead I loved chemistry. I had good marks which I earned by myself. No Denise. 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.
As for the other school subjects, I was always ordered, I was studying only the necessary, I did what I could. It is not that I did not study because of bad will, it was that I had other projects and the professors knew and understood it. I was not a tramp that ran from morning to night with the motorbike, I was one who was at home studying piano, solfeggio, I had many commitments, I always had something to do.
I was known in the country, I never smoked a cigarette, never used drugs of any kind, never went to the disco, I never did stupid. In short, never.
If you ask Piero’s father, he will surely tell you about the wheelies with the motorbike. It was the only thing that he did not do right. His friends told Mr. Barone that Piero did wheelies and he got angry….
When I arrived at the roundabout in the center of the city, voom, I did a wheelie with the motorbike. Just that. But even in those cases I was very responsible. Do you know what I was doing when I was driving the motorbike? My father gave me sheets of newspaper, I put them on my chest, under my shirt and I went around so the wind did not enter my chest, understood? Full helmet, strictly integral.
If you’re wondering, yes, I was a little weighed in those years but, I was so controlled because, I had a thousand allergies that put my respiratory tract “in danger.” I never went to school trips, I could not go to the disco, I could not do certain things that all my peers did. But now, when I return home I go to the disco, we are never less than twenty, twenty-five people, and Dad is calm because I’m even more responsible than before and because in the group there are also people older than me, even forty years and married.
I like being with people much older than me because, even if I’m only twenty years old, I have to manage my life in a very serious way and at a certain point I had to ‘grow by force.’ It’s strange if I think about it, because that little boy Piero, who was attentive to everything he did, so as not to ruin his voice, and not to get some asthma attack, would never have imagined becoming a singer. He had other plans.
Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca on the soccer field being interviewed. Piero is blowing a kiss.
So, I started this story with Gianluca’s passion for Soccer. Let’s end with the soccer game that the guys played in for charity. The one time when the guys shared a Passion,
The Passion for Helping Others.
I will let Gianluca tell us about this event in his own words….

You cannot imagine the happiness of playing in the Partita del Cuore,(Match of the Heart) a Telethon for Charity on June 2, 2015 at Juventus Stadium. The stadium, in fact, made Ignazio happy more than anyone, because he is a huge Juventino (a big fan of Juventus). I was more excited about having been called up for the first time in the National singers and even more for being able to score. The match was against the team of Champions for research, all great sports champions and big names in the show, from Alex Del Piero to Pavel Nedved, from Jorge Lorenzo to Liam Gallagher of Oasis. What a dream it was! The stadium was full of people cheering crazy. My team was losing, when I came in, we were 3 to 4 and not being able to do anything, apart from shouting directions to my team-mates on the pitch, it made me feel even more strained. It’s like, I know how to play football, you see the others, think about what you would do for them and tell them. No, you scream it, otherwise they will not hear you. Ignazio and I shrieked like crazy to Piero, and then Piero and I shrieked like crazy to Ignazio, but ‘my legs are trembling’, I had to run, enter the pitch, I wanted to score. The coach made me enter in the 83rd minute. We were, as I said, under a goal, but I do not like losing football. So, I took the ball and I scored. What magic! The stadium was screaming, the guys ran to hug me, it was almost like winning the Sanremo Festival again.”
Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca hug on the soccer field after a goal was made.
Now I will give you my take on the game! Certainly, we have to be proud of Gianluca for scoring a goal but, did you expect that he wouldn’t? And Ignazio made the sportscasters work for their money. They never expected him to be so good. This goes back to what I’ve said many times, Italy you should pay more attention to these guys! Now, before I go on about Piero, who I think was the hero of the game, I would like to tell you something about the man Piero went up against Alessandro Del Piero.

Piero playing against Alessandro Del Piero on the soccer field

Alex Del Piero is widely regarded as one of the greatest soccer players of his generation, and as one of the best Italian players of all times.  In 1993 he joined Juventus, where he played for 19 seasons (11 as captain), and holds the club records for most goals (290) and appearances (705).
It’s been said that “Alessandro Del Piero was the symbol of the club for many years.” “He always comes to the training field with a smile for everyone, a comforting word for everyone. This is his greatness: humbleness… he’s a golden person.” A lot like our guys!
Upon retirement, Del Piero refused the board’s offer to retire the No. 10 shirt in his honor, saying: “I’ve really had so much that I would never want it to be retired, this way, every child can dream one day of wearing it.”
Earlier this year, Del Piero joined ESPN. Del Piero commented, “I am super excited about joining the ESPN FC roster. I’ve watched how fast the USA fan base for soccer has grown over the past five years, the emergence of terrific young American players and the ever-growing popularity of the game among fans.”
In addition to his role with ESPN, Del Piero will continue as a pundit with Sky Sports Italia. Del Piero is also a highly successful entrepreneur. He currently resides in Los Angeles where he opened a world class Italian restaurant named No. 10, representing his jersey number as well as owning a professional development soccer team, named LA10 FC and is a co-founder of EDGE Americas Sports.
So back to Piero! So here our Piero decides he is going to take on Del Piero. He played so well that when he went up against Del Piero he surprised everyone with his moves.  Especially the guys! You could tell Del Piero was enjoying the game as much as the guys! He was hysterical laughing when Piero took him on! I don’t think he expected it!  You need to know that Del Piero has a wonderful sense of humor. He can be very funny.
Piero and teammate against Alessandro Del Piero on the soccer field
End result….by his actions in the game, Piero became, in my opinion, the hero of the game, and so the final score is ….
Soccer – 3
Piero you made us and the guys very proud by your performance!
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
*Quotes are excerpts from Il Volo, Un’avventura straordinaria, La nostra storia, various TV interviews and news media

 

Credit to owners of all photos and video.

To Go or Not to Go ~ That is the Question!

After performing at the Senate, the guys woke up one day and decided perhaps we should go to Sanremo!

Il Volo performing for the Italian senate

This to me is one of the most challenging decisions they had to make in their lives. We all take chances in life but, this was a little different. If you go to Sanremo and you win then it was worth it. But, if you lose, it’s not just losing the competition, it’s losing your country, your people! No recognition! This is what was at stake. How do you decide with so much at stake? It’s tough!
The one thing that was difficult for the guys from the very beginning was the fact that they were not recognized in their own country.
Ignazio would say, A “prophet is not recognized in his own land.” Perhaps, but that doesn’t change things. It doesn’t change the feeling that you get when you are asked the big question. “You are loved even in Italy, right?” and as Piero said, “You have to answer no.”
6 pixel maroon line
I’m going to take a moment here and vent because there is much more to that answer than “no.”
I have followed the career of these young men from day one and I am so proud of their accomplishments as I know many of you are. I see how they have grown and how much they are loved by their fans, all 5 million of them (and those are just the ones we know about).
Nothing bothers me more than how these men are treated by some of the Italian press, not just now but, from the beginning. It’s not about the Italian people. I know the Italian people love them but, many in the Italian press do everything in their power to mock them and mistreat them. It is disgraceful!
What was it that fifteen-sixteen year old boys could have done to cause the press to be so unkind, so mean and so vicious? If you don’t like a performance, you don’t have to give them a good review but, you have to respect what they do.
In March at Sanremo 2021, one reporter wrote “When they came on, I turned off my TV.” This is what I have to say to that reporter. Shame on you! These three men came to Sanremo with broken hearts, especially Ignazio and, this is how you treat them. They showed such professionalism just by being there and this is all you can say! They showed such love and respect for their country and the Italian people just by showing up. Where is your respect for your country, for your people, for your profession?
Everyone was so sad for these men and all you can think of reporting is that you “turned off your TV.” Perhaps, it’s time you turned off your career because you need to learn something about respect. The ink from your pen can tell a truth or a lie but it can’t talk about the integrity of the person who’s using the pen!  But, of course, integrity is something you know nothing about!
Having said that, let me say, over the last few years, so many Italian journalists have changed their opinion of Il Volo. I think this is because they finally stopped and listened to them and they recognize the value of what they do.  Not to mention all the good work the guys do in and for Italy! And we know they bring Italy around the world! They are good Ambassadors for Italy and the press is finally recognizing it! So happy you got on board!
That’s all I have to say on the matter!

6 pixel maroon line

Let’s move on to the great things that happened!
When I read Un’avventura Straordinaria, the story that I loved the most was the story of Sanremo. The decision by the guys to take on the Sanremo Festival. This story brought out their personalities, their differences and how they are so bound to one another that they could make the decision of a lifetime together even if it meant they could lose what was so important to them, their country and their people!

Left to rightLeft to right: Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca in front of the Ariston doors

The Decision

So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with the decision itself.

Who’s in and who’s out!

Who’s in? From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Who’s out? Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”

Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!

Then there’s the second problem, the song!
At Sanremo you must perform an unpublished song. How do you begin to find such a song?
Now this is the part of the story that’s really interesting and sometimes funny! Oddly enough, the one who wanted this the most was the one who did not agree to the song. I so enjoyed listening to this dialogue between the guys. This is where we begin to hear the guys make important decisions together. They’re really good. When they begin, they’re not agreeing but as time goes by…. Well, why don’t I let them tell you how they finally got to Sanremo?
IL VOLO outside the Ariston Theater with confetti flying

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 have to reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because our voices change the songs. We arrange them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not take this fact into consideration. The song when we first listened to it was not very ugly!
Ignazio: It’s not that we’ve heard only that, no. Do you think it is easy to choose a piece for Sanremo? We started to do a search and a selection of unpublished tracks. Our policy was: either we go with something strong, or we do not go, right?
One day this song comes to us through Michele: Grande Amore by Francesco Boccia and Ciro Esposito, two Neapolitan authors. As usual, I am pessimistic. I listen to it and it does not make me crazy. Not even Gianluca was convinced. The only enthusiast was Pie …

Il Volo with Francesco Boccia and Grande Amore song writersCiro Esposito

Piero interrupts: I loved “Grande Amore”! I did not believe that we would have won, but I was the one who pushed, I and Michele pushed for “Grande Amore” because the audition that we heard was not beautiful, but we imagined it if it was made by Celso Valli and I must say that we had guessed right.
Ignazio interrupts: And I said it too if you let me talk.  I was saying, in fact, that “Grande Amore” was not as we hear it today. It was always called “Grande Amore”, but it was totally different. So, we start to think: who can produce the piece? And Michele calls the great Celso Valli. After several weeks of work in the studio, we manage to churn out a song that could leave its mark at the Sanremo Festival.
Gianluca interrupts: That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced: we had the piece, the right project.
Piero: He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious ….
Gianluca: Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I said: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Piero interrupts: Do you know what a week like this means?
Ignazio: Piero and I were all day touching iron and the low parts. Gianluca was convinced that the little lion (the Sanremo award is represented by a lion) would be ours? And the two of us tried to keep the situation under control.
Gianluca interrupts: What should I tell you? I am an optimist. They took it something like ‘he makes fun of us,’ but I felt it inside. I do not know why.
So many interruptions! Ignazio, before he was interrupted, was about to tell us about the first night they sang.
Ignazio: The 65th edition of the Festival begins on Tuesday, February 10th. We sing the second night, Wednesday the 11th. The strange thing is that normally my legs tremble before the performance, but mine trembled even after the performance! Perhaps too much adrenaline, it never happened before.

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero singing on stage

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 Ariston’s stage? Of course, I was moved in the end, and it was too much emotion to my sensibility to play bad jokes at times.
And then, we felt the pressure in the air. Even though I was optimistic, the tension was there.
Although we had taken care of the smallest details of the song, we had tried and tried again, and we had taken care of even the smallest details of the clothing. First evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket.
Because when we do our work the image matters, too.
Piero interrupts: Count, of course that counts. But do you remember how we were dressed before? I remember that time at Una Notte per Caruso, in July 2009, it was the second time we saw Torpedine. Michele arrives with another white Range Rover, not that of Jesolo, and as soon as he arrives, we do not even say hello and we go to see the car. Let’s run, let’s open the car. Ignazio immediately goes up to the car. We went crazy for cars, one like that, we did not see every day. The day after we go for a ride in downtown Sorrento, a shopping trip, and we enter into Gucci. Michele spent almost two thousand euros and we with that written number at the counter, we exclaimed: “Mizziga! (Damn!) Two thousand euro!” with wide eyes. And we still have those clothes, at least I personally still have them.
He had bought us a jacket, but above all the need for us to dress all in white and blue. I had the blue jacket and the white shirt, Gianluca had blue trousers and white shirt, Ignazio the blue shoes and everything else white, Michele the blue jacket. And we took a picture in front of the hotel.

Left to right: Ignazio, Gianluca, Michele Torpedine and Piero dressed in blue and white

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.
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.’

The guys of IL VOLO holding up the Sanremo trophy

Gianluca: The truth is that I was right from the beginning and no one had ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look on my face when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, ‘Thank you, Italy!’ from that stage. I look at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said.
The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: “Who would have told me that in life I saw Modugno win at the Festival and then I saw you win?”
Taking the conversation back, I have to say, to me this was the best conversation we could listen to. They disagree, they find middle ground, and they agree but, most importantly they listen to one another and that’s what makes the bond so great!
In the end Gianluca said: “In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions. Too bad it was not repeated also in Vienna!”

Many of you know the winner of Sanremo goes to Eurovision to represent Italy. After winning Sanremo and the popularity of “Grande Amore”, the guys were pretty confident they could win Eurovision. And to some degree, Ignazio believed it too!

Left to right: Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero on the stage singing at Eurovision

As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the guys went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23rd, 2015. “Grande Amore” came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press. The extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore”  was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015 and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI. At the Latin Billboard Awards, they dominated the social networking sites and now, they win the televote and the best song according to collective voting by the accredited press. The people have spoken!

So, they gambled and, they won. They were happy and they finally felt accepted in their own country. It seems that everything worked out well but there’s a little piece of the puzzle missing.
To really finish this story, we need to pass back Through the Fields of My Mind down the corridor that led us here and enter the day-by-day reality of Sanremo!
If you would like to share a story with me, please email susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com

 

Credit to owners of all photos and videos.