So, the first album is done, the guys have a name, and they are on their way to America! But wait a minute, we talk about Their Amazing Voices, but we haven’t said what each voice is and how they work together. So, let’s listen to how the voices work.
I could go back to 2010 when they recorded their first album but for this story, I want to go back to March 2020 when the guys cancelled their last three concerts and went home. We were all locked in our houses! One world united in lockdown!
Think about how our lives have changed over the last two years. It’s surreal! During this time, many of us found a pleasant distraction by listening to our guy’s music. And the endless videos! Many of you told me that you got to know the guys better over these last year’s especially the first months when we were all in lockdown.
Remember how the guys would come on Instagram and Facebook and would invite us to listen to their conversations with their friends. And the funny videos of Piero and Ignazio.
In this video Piero is asking Ignazio to do an interview for him and Ignazio says he should ask Gianluca because he is very busy. Piero says Gianluca is not available to do it. Ignazio is surprised because he obviously knows Gianluca is not busy. Then Ignazio notices Piero’s very sunburned face. Ignazio asks did you use cream. Piero says, “no oil.” The video is really self-explanatory, and, in the end, we realize it is all a joke. The look on Ignazio’s face when he realizes this was a joke is priceless!
Ignazio, I have one question for you….
Where’s the payback?
It’s been a long time coming! Time to get even! It’s not like you to not payback!
Let’s not forget all the beautiful songs they sang for us. Especially their songs of prayer when things were really bad. They were with us every step of the way.
Piero’s “Ave Maria”
Gianluca’s “You Raise Me Up”
During the lockdown, I spent a good part of my days listening to these three amazing young men sing and at one point I said maybe I should do a review of what’s been going on in their lives over the last 10 years. After watching all the video clips including interviews and some full concerts, I was ready to talk about our guys.
But before I begin, let me say, since we are approaching the New World Tour starting in Barcelona on May 15th, this is a good time to revisit the story I wrote on March 29, 2020. A number of the fan pages picked up on the story and some have even used it on their Facebook pages to describe the voices of the guys. One person who read the story was Daniela Perani from Il Volo Flight Crew. After reading it she contacted me and asked if they could post my story on Flight Crew. The story was so popular that Flight Crew invited me to write for them. Now, I write the column Through the Fields of My Mind (www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) which explores the lives of Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca, our guys ~ Il Volo.
So, let’s begin with the story that over two years ago started my collaboration with Flight Crew and my interpretation of the life story of our guys! An Extraordinary Adventure as seen through my eyes!
Let me start off by saying these three young men are extraordinary! They are remarkable, exceptional, men! And, they have revolutionized the music industry. Let’s take a look at each one….
Gianluca is known as the Velvet Voice! I don’t know 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 ears, 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 your being. His interpretation of “Surrender” is electrifying. And 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.
Let’s talk about Ignazio, who I call the bridge. He is a lyrical tenor. He is exceptional because he can sing from the lowest to the highest note in the tenor range. And God knows he can, easily, hit the high C. Waiting for it and knowing it’s going to happen is so exciting! He brings so much to the production, but I’ll talk more about the production later!
A lyrical tenor has a warm graceful voice which is bright and strong but not heavy and it can be heard over an orchestra. Ignazio’s voice is smooth, clean and clear, with an acute extension. His voice has the ability to increase the baritone voice of Gianluca while softening the spinto tenor voice of Piero.
Ignazio is very whimsical in songs like “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” from La Traviata. In an aria like “Una Furtiva Lagrima” from L’elisir D’amore it is necessary to have a voice that is flawless. Not only is Ignazio’s voice flawless but he has perfect intonation and diction. He can be very dynamic. He has absolute breath control, and he has elegance, agility and dramatic expression.
He’s an exceptional tenor whose voice explodes and expands in unusual ways. You glide along every note to arrive at another dimension in his voice. His articulation is exceptional! Every word is clear and crisp! Listen to the note extensions that form the complex sounds of his voice. Just beautiful!
To address only one side of Ignazio’s voice would be incomplete! In his dedication to Pino Daniele, you hear an interpretation that is emotional and a delivery that is so amazing that you get the sense that Daniele wrote his songs for Ignazio.
And finally, Piero. 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. Or singing the beautiful Spanish aria No Puede Ser from A Tabernera del Puerto. From the first note Piero pierces your soul! 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!
Now let’s put the voices together. Gianluca starts most songs because he is a baritone, and as I said, most songs are written for baritones. He draws you into the song. Gianluca will sing (in most cases) to Ignazio and Ignazio to Piero. This is how the three voices become one. Select one of their songs. Now close your eyes and listen to them sing. What can you say about this song? You can say, that is Gianluca or Ignazio or Piero singing. In the progression of the song, you hear the voices blend to form a symphony for your ears. Their voices are very distinct.
The first time Tony Renis heard the guys sing he said “I could not believe that these three young kids could sing like men of 45 years old. Their voices were huge! I realized they had great potential.” Renis called his producer friend Humberto Gatica and said “…if you are available, I would like to collaborate with you to produce these kids.” When Gatica heard them sing, he couldn’t believe their voices, he thought it was a fake, “They can’t possibly be teenagers.” Renis believed these kids would appeal to kids, mothers, fathers, everybody. He was right! They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label. Universal Music signed them immediately.
Most groups sing and you hear just a song but with Il Volo you are surrounded by voices. And the individuality of their voices entices you and it stays with you. Think of what Piero says when he introduces one of the solos, “After we were together a while, we realized we had three different voices.” He wasn’t saying that they suddenly found out they had different voices he was saying we are “three voices and one soul” and, we also need to show you those voices individually.
Let’s look at how they described one another when they first started out. I think Ignazio said Gianluca was the serious one, and Piero was the Intelligent one and Gianluca and Piero said Ignazio was the funny one. So, let’s take a look at that.
Gianluca, in most cases, seemed to be the spokesman for the group. I’m not sure if this is by chance or choice. He seems to always take the lead when they are in interviews. And he is constantly monitoring the conversation.
Piero is the intelligent one perhaps because he thinks everything through. In interviews he thinks before he speaks, and his answers are always intelligent. He’s very serious and you can tell he thought out the answer before he spoke.
And, Ignazio, the funny one. And that he is! But is it really about the joke? Or is it more about the production. Let’s turn to the production.
The stage is simple. One sign that says it all – Il Volo. There’s the orchestra. Guitars, drum, piano, violins and whatever other instruments are needed for the performance. I want you to stop and think about the performance. We know these guys have three amazing voices but, what if they got on the stage and for two hours, they did nothing but sing. I don’t think it would work. A performance needs the ability to move on. There’s no change of scenery and no intermission so how do you move the performance along? Ignazio!!! The joking he brings into the performance provides the levity to relive the seriousness of the performance. He brings a certain ease and suspense to the performance. The audience is always wondering, what will he do next. But is it always about joking? I want you to think about what I’m saying. Ignazio is constantly moving around the stage. He’s dancing and keeping the rhythm. He’s swinging the microphone around and constantly nodding towards the orchestra, Gianluca and Piero. Is that the lead up to a joke? I don’t think so. Let me tell you what you are looking at. Ignazio is following every note that is sung or played on that stage. His mind is in motion. He is sensitive and passionate with the music. He has the ability to see the music as it is happening. He knows where every instrument should come in and out. That’s why you notice little things like him smiling, nodding, pointing towards the musicians, Gianluca or Piero. He also grabs the baton from the conductor, sometimes to joke but more often to conduct.
Think about Ignazio conducting the Asti Symphony Orchestra while Marcello Rota sang his tenor part. He wasn’t joking, he was conducting. And that’s why everyone was watching him in amazement. And when it was over, they were speechless. Look at Michele Torpedine go across the stage to embrace him. He is in awe of this young man. Ignazio is music! You call him funny I call him brilliant!
Let’s go to the beginning. When these three young men started out, they were 15 and 16 years old. Think of being 15 or 16 years old and you have a dream, and someone tells you that that dream, needs to be shared. To fulfill that dream you have to leave your family, your friends, your home, you have to go to another country, and you have to share this journey with two people who you really know nothing about except that they had the same dream you did. You have to trust that the decision that was made by you and your family, was the right decision. If not, it’s back to square one! You’re going to be lonely, and you have to learn to survive without the people you love. So, you learn to lean on one another. That dependence turns into a friendship and that friendship into a brotherhood. It enabled them to trust enough to collaborate and perfect something truly amazing. Something that revolutionized the music industry. Let me go further by showing you a collaboration by these three amazing, very, very talented, young men that is so unreal that it boggles your mind. This is a collaboration of love. Stop and listen to this performance of Por Una Cabeza
Look at how they smile at one another during the performance. A smile that says yes that’s it! Their faces are ablaze! Their expressions let one another know that it works. And, finally, when it’s over, they are so excited they can hardly contain themselves. Look at their smiles, their faces are lit up in joy and their embrace says it all! They are brothers who love one another!
So, we listened to Their Amazing Voices, and we find ourselves waiting for the next song or the next album.
We will take a look at all those albums in a future story but for now the guys have just released “You Are My Everything” the English version of Grande Amore. The guys will sing it for the first time at Eurovision on May 12th. Available on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music
This is the gift the guys gave us yesterday! It brought me to tears! They’ve done it again! Phenomenal!
Did you notice something unusual in this video? Pay close attention to the video itself. I was enjoying the song so much that I didn’t notice it at first.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
If this story sounds familiar to you it’s because I had to write a similar story last year about our, Ignazio.
When I go on Instagram or Facebook and I see stories that hurt the guys, it upsets me. These are three of the nicest guys you’re ever going to meet in your life. It’s not just a career for them, it’s their life, their whole life. It’s what they’ve dedicated themselves to since they were teenagers. Everything they do they do for us the Fans. We as you know, aren’t just fans to them, we are family. They grew up with us and they know how important we are and, they do things every day to try to please us. Sometimes it’s a picture, sometimes a song or sometimes just their joking around. Then there are days, not too often, when they are quiet, they just hide themselves in their own lives. Lives that you and, I take for granted every day, they only get to enjoy occasionally. No, they can’t be out there for us 24/7 but they try their best to make themselves visible and available.
Even though we are like family to them, they do have families of their own. Families that they have spent so little time with over the last twelve years. The pandemic has been very hard on all of us. It was also hard for the guys because they had to leave us their fan family. If anything, there was some good that came out of this, the guys got to stay at home with their families. Since they were teenagers, they never had the opportunity to stay at home with their families for a whole year. And I think Ignazio expressed it best in an interview when he said, “if it wasn’t for the pandemic, I wouldn’t have spent those last (precious months) months with my dad.”
I chose to write about Ignazio this week because of some sad things that have been said about him on Instagram. I’ve had to do this on other occasions for Piero and Gianluca. This is a very important time for Ignazio. It’s a time when he needs to be near family and, among other things, to deal with the loss of his father. The purpose of this piece is to show you, those who don’t already know it, how, really, nice Ignazio is and has always been since he was a child!
Let me start by telling you about what Ignazio does for us with his music and what he contributes to the music industry.
If Ignazio did nothing more than sing for the rest of his life, he would be remembered as a singer who captured an audience at a very young age and continues to intrigue them with every passing day.
From the first time he stepped on the stage, he was a star. I remember watching him on PBS and thinking if he’s this good now, what will he be like ten years from now. Along with Gianluca and Piero these three, amazing, men have achieved in ten years what most men could only dream of achieving in a lifetime!
He is the voice that never ends! The voice that intrigues! The voice that takes your breath away! The voice that leads you to ecstasy!
But it doesn’t end there. No, there is so much more to be said about Ignazio and the best place to start is in his performances. He is the ultimate entertainer. He is the production. His presence is there in every aspect of the production. He is a prolific entertainer! He sees music! He feels music! He breathes music! Follow him around the stage. The little gestures aren’t just for our entertainment they are real movements within each song. Let me describe it as I have described it for you in the past:
Ignazio is known as the funny one and that he is! But is it really about the joke? Or is it more about the production.
I want you to think about the performance. We know these guys have amazing voices but, what if they got on the stage and for two hours, they did nothing but sing. I don’t think it would work. A performance needs the ability to move on. There’s no change of scenery and no intermission so how do you move the performance along? Ignazio! The joking he brings into the performance provides the levity to relive the seriousness of the performance. He brings a certain ease and suspense to the performance. The audience is always wondering, what will he do next.
But is it always about joking? I want you to think about what I’m saying. Ignazio is constantly moving around the stage. He’s dancing and keeping the rhythm. He’s swinging the microphone around and constantly nodding towards the orchestra, Gianluca and Piero. Is that the lead up to a joke? I don’t think so. Let me tell you what you are looking at. Ignazio is following every note that is sung or played on that stage. His mind is in motion. He is sensitive and passionate with music. He has the ability to see the music as it is happening. He knows where every instrument should come in and out. That’s why you notice little things like him smiling, nodding, pointing towards the musicians, Gianluca or Piero. He also grabs the baton from the conductor, sometimes to joke but more often to conduct. Think about him conducting the Asti Symphony Orchestra while Marcello Rota sang his tenor part. He wasn’t joking, he was conducting. And that’s why everyone was watching in amazement. And when it was over, they were speechless. Look at Michele Torpedine go across the stage to embrace him. He is in awe of this young man. You call him funny I call him brilliant! I am going to make a prediction here! Remember you heard it here first. Ignazio will compose a great operatic pop opera one day.
In an article by Ilvolovers Romania they commented: “Ignazio, for what he looks like and also for everything he sometimes hides, is an imposing, brave and authentic young man. Sensitive and passionate, his performance creates a hurricane of feelings for anyone who looks at him and listens to him. For him, the phrase “singing with the heart” is not a metaphor, it is a reality expressed in every gesture and makes us wonder what his eyes see when he sings.”
Let’s look at how Ignazio has helped aspiring young artist.
On February 2, 2014, Ignazio collaborated with singer Roberto Amadè in a project that resulted in a wonderful concert, the Amadè-Boschetto concert which was organized through the Cultural and Artistic Center “Ignazio Boschetto,” with the support of The Town Hall of Marsala. The Teatro Impero archipelago hall has long applauded this initiative which brought together several artists from Marsala.
Ignazio has helped many young people in their careers. In February 2014, Katya Pantaleo, a young singer from Marsala, won the Premio della Critica at Sanremo with the song “Come in paradiso” music, lyrics and arrangement by Ignazio.
On August 30, 2014, Chiara Cusumano and Giorgia Vassalo, The Duo Sisters, reached the finals of the Festival di Castrocaro, performing a song composed by Ignazio: “Paura d’Amare”.
And let’s not forget the beautiful song he wrote “Hablando de ti” that he has performed in concert.
And what about the theme song for the Rai Series Makari.
Let me add to this by recognizing Ignazio’s production company, Floki Productions. At 25 he started his own production company. Does this surprise you? It doesn’t surprise me. It makes a lot of sense to me.
Floki Productions I’m sure is Ignazio’s dream. So, where does the dream begin. Nico Arezzo!
In many ways Nico reminds me of Ignazio. He knows what he wants and, he goes after it. Nico was the first artist to sign a contract with Ignazio under Floki Productions.
You will remember that Ignazio released Nico’s song Gorilla on June 30, 2020 (in the middle of the pandemic) in a “Live on Instagram.” Let’s listen to what Ignazio had to say about that:
“On Thursday night we were the first to do a high-quality sound live on Instagram.”
People wouldn’t dream of doing what Ignazio did. What a spectacular show!
While the music world was trying to restart, Ignazio, at age 25, made his debut as a producer. And what a phenomenal production it was!
Ignazio said, “Production has always been my dream. It started with an idea to give a chance to those who deserve a break,” Ignazio reminds us “as it happened 11 years ago to myself, Gianluca and Piero.”
Some of you may remember the interview I did last October with Ignazio’s teacher Ermelinda De Bartoli. (you can read the full interview “Watching Ignazio Take Flight” on www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) Now I want to go back to that interview and pull out some of the questions and answers which will give you some insight as to who Ignazio really is:
Excerpts from the Interview of October 2020….
Susan: Ignazio’s mother said Ignazio was always very serious and responsible! How would you describe him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: I met him when he was only 14 years old. He was at the beginning of adolescence and, he was always joking. He was very attached to his family. He grew up in Bologna because the family moved there for work and, at the age of ten he moved to Marsala when the family decided to return. In Marsala he attended middle school and two years of high school. At school he was playful and sociable, with a very open and modest character. He often told us about his passion for singing which he studied with a teacher. His life as a teenager was not hard, because, as soon as he started his career at the age of 15, his life changed due to the numerous commitments linked to his success and the new path taken with Il Volo.
Susan: Ignazio is very kind and compassionate. Was this something you noticed about him as a teenager?
Ermelinda: He was very generous and affable to everyone. In particular, he was very compassionate towards some pupils with disabilities, with whom he often conversed, holding them in high regard and showing empathy.
I remember an episode one evening after he won Ti Lascio Una Canzone, the whole class with me and another colleague went to the pizzeria. Ignazio was just fifteen and, when it was time to pay the bill, he came to me and said: “Professor, you are my guest.” I understood that in him there was so much kindness in his manner and in his soul, in this case, a kind gesture towards a woman.
Susan: When Ignazio was your student, he was already studying with Lilliana Adreanò. Ignazio said he had a great passion for soccer and, he loved to play every afternoon but, it had been less so after he started taking singing lessons. He said, “I had less free time and then no free time and I realized that singing was more important than all the rest.” How do you think Ignazio saw his future at that time?
Ermelinda: It is true to study singing he began to leave other hobbies. After Ti Lascio Una Canzone despite having been praised by these great Italian singers, who sang with him, I remember that he told all this with great modesty and simplicity and despite the fact that he had won he never spoke of great expectations nor did he delude himself, at least, until the moment in which Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis hired them after a short time, to form Il Volo. I heard the comments on him by experts such as Claudio Cecchetto and Al Bano who, when he told him that he had recently taken singing lessons, were amazed.
Another detail that I noticed is that while he sang, he always kept his eyes closed and he told me that he was doing it because having recently lost his grandfather, who he adored and, it was he who Ignazio thought of while he sang and, he sang with his heart.
Susan: Ignazio went from your classroom to Ti Lascio Una Canzone and immediately became a star. You told me after the Italian program, he just took off. You said you saw him take off! What was it like watching all of this happen before your eyes? Did it seem like it was all happening very fast?
Ermelinda: Of course, having seen him “take flight” in a short time and, see him pass by the school desks, and then on a stage was for me, as for all his companions, a great emotion and a source of great pride.
Susan: Did you see a change in Ignazio during this time?
Ermelinda: Ignazio was still at school, after his first success, and with all of us, he always remained himself … with a modesty and genuineness that still distinguishes him today.
Susan: During the performances Ignazio sang with some really great singers. Massimo Ranieri, Albano, Fausto Leali to name a few. These singers were in awe of him. Do you think that Ignazio understood what was happening to him?
Ermelinda: Yes, these singers were more than in awe of what they heard, they were astonished, something that Ignazio confirmed when we asked him. And, to think that he was still a kid, and had not yet completed the development of the vocal cords.
Yes, Ignazio from the point of view of his singing ability had already understood in comparison with these famous singers that he had what it takes to become even greater.
Susan: How did your other students feel about what was going on in Ignazio’s life?
Ermelinda: His classmates were very happy and excited. Every Saturday night none of us left the house. We all waited to see Ignazio on TV … and on Monday when he returned to school, for the class, it was a riot and bursting questions, and also a source of pride to kids as they were, to have him as a companion … the little big star, their friend.
Susan: Did you every stop to think about how this all happened? How did a young man from a very simple family suddenly become a superstar?
Ermelinda: It often occurred to me that what was happening to Ignazio was a fairy tale … of those things that you think can only happen in fairy tales. He is a boy with a great talent hitherto unknown, from a very modest family but very united and with healthy values, he was able to tread the scenes of half the world … from his cottage in the countryside to a duet with Barbra Streisand and much more that we know.
The way in which all this happened is told by the facts that there was a first revelation of his talent and Ti Lasco Una Canzone, as we know, could remain there as it happens to many without getting anything else; then as he also said he had the luck of an intuition of the director who suggested to the managers Michele Torpedine and Tony Renis to form the trio.
Susan: How did you feel when Il Volo won Sanremo?
Ermelinda: When Il Volo won in Sanremo, that evening, in addition to the great emotion, I retraced the periods of when Ignazio was still young, always talking with humility about his first successes and I also thought that from the beginning I told myself that he was a phenomenon, so seeing him on that stage, the most important in Italy, was for me just as it was for all Marsala people.
Susan: Finally, what would you like to add about Ignazio that we haven’t already covered?
Ermelinda: I think I have said everything about him of what I know and what I have had the opportunity to perceive. When I talk about Ignazio, with others, I always say that he is very humble, modest and always very affectionate with the people who meet him. I still say:Ignazio, is a beautiful soul.
For Ignazio family is important. They are everything to him. So, please understand that he needs to be with his family right now. You like being with your family. How about posting some nice pictures of the Ignazio we love? Soon he will be in the limelight again. Until then, let’s remember, Ignazio is a Beautiful Soul!Respect that soul!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Today, we need to understand what it was like for the guys to come together, become Il Volo and start to understand the reality of stardom! But before we begin, let’s take a look at how the guys came to be called Il Volo.
In the beginning the idea of being one in three was something that the guys needed to learn about. They had to learn how to sing together. It was no longer this is your song, learn it and sing it. No, now it was, this is your part, your take, your phrase, learn it and sing it. They began to understand how music and recording actually worked. They were starting to learn about being three in the form of one. Sharing! And, if that wasn’t enough, they had to learn something even harder, how to get along with one another.
I’ve told you, in some of my stories, about the problems, the disagreements. These may seem unusual but in reality, they were not. You show me three teenage boys who can be thrown together and just immediately like one another and totally agree with one another. No, that won’t happen.
Ignazio said: “We were only three kids accompanied by our parents. We still did not know each other well. At the beginning I immediately started to connect with Piero. Perhaps because he is Sicilian like me and maybe because we always found the opportunity to make jokes and have fun.”
Gianluca said; “I was very shy and a little insecure but also a little immature and too instinctive
In quarrels, for example, maybe it happened that I also answered in an annoying way because I was the one, I felt at that time, and I could not wait until then. Piero, for example, took some good kicks from me. I threw a pizza, at Ignazio, in front of the Universal Canadian official in a restaurant in Montreal. The shrimp flew off the pizza and hit the official of Universal, I mean really.”
These were some of the obstacles. Some would easily be resolved and, some would take a long time and a lot of trust to overcome.
In 2009 – 2010 during the recording of their first album, the guys still did not have a “real” name. After Ti Lascio una Canzone, they were given the name Tre Tenorini, because they resembled Luciano Pavarotti (Ignazio, for the waistline). Jose Carreras (Gianluca, for the elegance, says Torpedine) and Plácido Domingo (Piero, for the tenor voice).
Tre Tenorini, no, that was never going to work. First off, they aren’t three tenors. As you know they are a baritone, a lyrical tenor and a spinto tenor. So, a new name would have to be found. Easy, no not at all. Let’s listen to what guys had to say about choosing a name.
Piero begins: “Sometimes finding a name is much more complicated than it may seem. We did not even believe that we would continue to sing, imagine if we thought we needed a name. Do you know that at one point they wanted to call us La Scala?”
Ignazio continues: “At that time when we were looking for a name and we couldn’t find one, we were recording We Are the World 25 for Haiti. It was the beginning of February 2010, and we called ourselves The Tryo, which we then used as guests at the second evening of the Sanremo Festival. A week later, we sang in front of Queen Rania of Jordan, and that is when we translated it to, Il Trio.
Gianluca said: “The problem of the name? It was one of those impossible marketing missions: it had to be short and easy to pronounce in practically all the world. For example, there is a group called Il Divo, and they also sing a genre similar to ours, and Il Divo was just the kind of name we wanted: short, easy to pronounce and also very international, because it has a clear meaning to everyone.
And that’s why the name La Scala came out. Elettra Morini, the wife of Tony Renis, had proposed it. Elettra, who was a dancer there, told her husband: ‘Why do you not call them La Scala? Surely everyone in the world knows La Scala.’
Ignazio interrupts: “And then, there was the question that they called us the Lyric, La Scala, La Scala. We chewed on it a little but, it did not convince us.”
Piero tells us that everyone was involved in this project….
“But who was looking for the name? All of us: the three of us, Michele, our parents, whoever belonged to our family or, our working group said a name, two or three, and it was written on a list. That list had become worse than a telephone list: we got to more than five hundred proposals.
This thing of the name was becoming a joke. We were going to record the album, make a meeting, or engage in anything else and, we ended up talking about this name, but we never got the right idea. In the end, one day out of the blue, a gentleman working from Michele, Stefano, says: ‘Il Volo.’”
Ignazio says, “IL VOLO? What about IL VOLO? IL VOLO? It began to turn in the air (ha ha) and so the birth of Il Volo.”
And just when it seemed the decision was made to choose Il Volo, another problem arose.
“But then we discovered that there had already been a group by this name in 1974, composed of Mario Lavezzi, Vince Tempera, Alberto Radius, Bob Callero, Gabriele Lorenzi and Gianni Dall’Aglio. It was a collaboration that lasted a year and a half and had gathered all of the best musicians. But now we liked the name, so we decided to keep it. Also, because it immediately seemed to us a good omen to fly, to take flight, get up in the air.
But we risked a little.
Think if this project did not start, if we were not really able to ‘take off,’ do you imagine how they would have made fun of us? ‘The Flight takes off? No, Il Volo has crashed!’ At that point, we had the CD, the name also and we left for the States.”
After a week in the States visiting Miami and Los Angeles, they returned to Italy. By May 2010, things began to change.
Piero recalls: “We too began to understand that something was only changing when our first record came out.”
Ignazio remembers: “It was already in May 2010 and the Il Volo album was about to come out all over the world. Maybe I was too small and naive, but I did not feel the anxiety of the job, like today.”
The first major television show in which the guys appeared in America was American Idol, the world’s most famous music talent show.
The guys certainly took America by storm and slowly also many other countries in the world.
Ignazio begins to explain the reality of it…
“In a few months I found myself having traveled the world, from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to Oceania. From 2010 to 2013 we traveled like crazy, without ever stopping. In three years, I have not been home for five months.
In 2013 at the end of the American tour the guys found themselves at the door of Latin America and their South American Tour.
First stop Guadalajara, Mexico. And what better way to begin than on October 4, 2013, Ignazio’s 19th birthday!
Here Come the Fans
Gianluca recalls how the South American Tour began…
“In five years, we have done a lot of concerts, we have been in a lot of places and, I absolutely agree with Piero when he says that it is difficult to remember everything, that things have followed so quickly that they seem confused, sometimes I almost forget. However, if I stop and think about it there are flashes that come to mind, for example the 2013 tour in South America.
One of the first things I remember is Ignazio’s birthday in Messio, on the evening of the first concert of the tour.
We arrived at the hotel that was a bit in the middle of nowhere, in Guadalajara. Here we met for the first time our drummer, Salvatore Corazza. There was a huge garden and we started playing soccer.
The most special thing about Ignazio’s birthday was that we celebrated with fans. And speaking of fans, there I lost my password for Instagram and, I started to go crazy because it is very important to keep in touch with the Volovers.
“At the beginning, in South America, we realized we were really famous only when we arrived and, the fans were in front of the hotel waiting for us. But it happened slowly, slowly. Slowly, relatively slowly, month after month. Because two months before we were in Argentina and there were twenty fans, the next one there were a hundred, the one after there were three hundred, and then a thousand, two thousand. Now the situation is unbelievable if you have not experienced it, you will not believe it because we are with bodyguards twenty-four hours a day. It’s another world.
I remember in Peru, in Lima, we land, we get off the plane and there were already bodyguards at the baggage claim. Usually, they are waiting for us after the baggage claim, two of them come to the entrance and two of them come to the exit to escort us.
Here seven, eight bodyguards arrive directly at the baggage claim. I did not understand. Why, for us? I thought of the fans, but it was the first time we went to Peru, it was really impossible that it was. Now imagine a glazed sliding door, at the airport and you cannot see the other side. Imagine that you have just picked up your baggage, you approach the door, the bodyguard puts you next to the door and the door opens and … you find yourself in front of a wall, a wall of girls, all one above the other screaming, a single scream, something that stuns.
We were in our cars and, they followed us with taxis. The taxi drivers overcame us like crazy, with the girls hanging out of the windows that sounded trumpets, waving flags. We spent three months of our year this way.”
“And, instead, do you remember Cuernavaca? It was 2013, I remember that we went in the room of Jerry di Pirro, who was our tour manager, to listen to Sade’s music. I remember the white curtains and a terrible heat, in the evening, the pool …”
“… the insects! In that hotel I remember that I entered the room, we were in the middle of the forest and the white ceiling was completely covered with insects. My father and I spent half the evening crushing mosquitoes and other little animals with slippers.
Then I remember my father talking to the Mexicans while he cooked me pasta. Because before singing, three hours before, I always eat a hundred grams of tomato and basil spaghetti. I love that moment.
He comes in the dressing room, brings me the spaghetti made by him (we bring the packages from home). And that year he started explaining to the Mexicans how spaghetti tomato and basil was cooked.
It was a tour de force, from one day to the other air travel throughout South America, but dad was always with me. One morning I woke up in Guatemala, I look at my dad and say: ‘Dad, what should we do today?’
‘We have to leave for another city.’
‘When is the concert? Tomorrow?’
‘No, tonight! And go! Let’s start.’
That is the real passion: come without force but go forward. Only passion kept me standing.”
“Now I do not know, maybe we would not do it this way anymore.”
“However, Gianlu’ this year in July we have gone thirty hours on flights for appearances on TV in the United States. I went back to Detroit with that heat and the album to finish and the tour to do.”
Ignazio recalls opening his mouth and, nothing comes out…
“I tried to sing and, my voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out.
I only know that when I finished that tour in South America I was nicknamed ‘Ignazio the tank’ by myself: I had done twenty concerts with bronchitis.
The worst was in Caracas, Venezuela, six thousand five hundred people, at seven in the evening: soundcheck.
Let’s start with the first song. I try to sing and, my voice does not come out, there is nothing to do, it does not come out. And here comes the most total panic, we stopped the soundcheck, the production calls a doctor and, I was punctured with Bentelan.
In short, for a month and half I sang only thanks to the cortisone and breathing technique that our teacher Sergio Bertocchi taught us.”
“Our because he is also my teacher.
But maybe only say master. Sergio Bertocchi is the person who helped me most in singing, the one that solves my doubts and my problems. If I enter a lesson with a doubt, I go out and I am another Piero, happy and relaxed.
And he never leaves me alone: even outside of Italy, we do lessons on Skype, we solve doubts and problems on the phone.
When I thought that in the Grande Amore tour, I would have liked to sing an air of an opera, Bertocchi told me: ‘You can do it very well, but you have to study a lot.’ And so, I did. For me, the study is fundamental, commitment and study.
Between May and June 2015, every time we were in Bologna to record ‘L’amore Si Mouve,’ I went to my teacher from 8 to 10 am (then at 10:30 am I went into the recording studio) and studied with him ‘E Lucevan le Stelle,’ the aria of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca that I sang during the tour.
It was tiring, but there’s nothing like seriously engaging in something to feel at peace with oneself. Or at least for me.
And you do not know how important it is to have an experienced a person like Sergio Bertocchi to guide you.”
“I know for sure, that without his breathing exercises I do not know how I would have sung. Without a voice I was completely out of it.”
Piero jokes with Ignazio….
“Eh, Igna’, but the voice, you had in that interview!
It was March 2013 we were in Argentina at the famous Los 5 edicion broadcast of QMusica TV. In practice the program works like this. The guest says something about himself and, between a piece and the other part of his story, presents a video of a song he likes, for a total of five videos.
What was the problem? In the meantime, we spoke Spanish and sometimes we were wrong, so we stopped the recording and got it back. So, Ignazio was already a bit tired out, let’s say.
But the worst thing is that in Argentina they do not have the Volo V, they have the B, they say ‘Il Bolo.’
And one, and two, and three, always ‘Il Bolo.’ At that point, Ignazio begins to correct the guy who was in the studio and repeating to us the things to say, and once, and twice, and three: ‘Il Volo, it is said Il Volo, V!’
Until the guy in the studio runs off of new ‘Il Bolo’ and Ignazio starts with a string of bad words in precise Sicilian that are still today immortalized in the off-wave.”
“Eh, however, guys, we are serious people, now. And, I have made a commitment to write.
Where were we? Oh yes. The end of the Latin American tour.
Christmas 2013 was approaching and, the record company wanted to come out with a record of Christmas songs. So Universal decided to complete the EP that came out two years ago with just five Christmas songs.
So, after the Latin American tour we started promoting the Christmas album.
My house began to fail me. Being four months away, changing cities, hotels and planes almost every day is not easy. From the age of sixteen, finding yourself catapulted into a world that was completely different from the one I was used to, was not a simple thing to manage. At first no, actually the first two years I thought ‘What a beautiful life!’ Then I realized that all that glitters is not gold.
To get satisfaction and achieve the goals you have set for yourself, you have to give up many things and, work hard. Stay focused on your work. It’s not easy.
Many people ask: ‘But these guys never get tired?’ Well, yes, we get tired too, sometimes. Personally, there was a time when I thought only of friends. I wanted to go out, I never answered the phone, the emails, the messages, I was out of this world.
It was thanks to my family, to the boys and to Michele that I realized that I was neglecting what was always important for me: the music.”
Gianluca agreeing with Ignazio continues….
“True, Ignazio is right. It was not easy then and, neither is it now.
In those years, in 2012 and 2013, no one knew us in Italy, we were just the three children who had come from Ti Lascio Una Canzone.
But in America, in South America, in Europe we were very well known. And not only there! After the release of our first CD, we went on tour even in places that none of us could have imagined we would go to: Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and New Zealand. In Singapore we also had a gold record with that first CD.
In 2012 we arrived in Norway, one of the few European countries that we had not yet touched. We participated in the concert dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize – that year went to the European Union – in Oslo. A fantastic evening that allowed us to meet Gerard Butler and Sarah Jessica Parker, who were the presenters, and an artist like Kylie Minogue.
And then, in 2014 we were in Moscow twice, once guests in a concert by Toto Cugno and once with a concert of our own, and at the beginning of 2015 we were in Beijing, guests of a TV program for the Chinese New Year.
So, before Sanremo, we lived two lives, two completely different lives. Abroad we were stars and, we came to Italy to rest. I took refuge in Montepagano, Piero in Naro, Ignazio in Marsala. It was nice to come back to a ‘normal’ life.
We felt that something was missing, that it was bad to be so successful outside of our country and not be able to have it in Italy.”
So, they learned very early on to understand what it meant to live two lives. And to experience The Reality of Stardom.
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
I was torn between calling this story “The Man in the Shadows” or “Ricomincio Dai Tre” (I Start Again from Three) because both titles would be so appropriate here. If you follow Il Volo, you certainly know who I am talking about in this story, their manager, Michele Torpedine. At concerts we see a patch of grey hair and we all say, “There’s Michele.”
But who is this man? And where did it all begin for him?
“Ricomincio Dai Tre” is Michele Torpedine’s autobiography. I said this about the guys’ book and, I will say it about Michele’s book, “If you can read Italian, you need to read this book.” It was so good, I read it in one weekend. I will say a lot of the people he talks about, you probably will not know, unless you’re Italian. Having said this, it is a very good read!
Let’s start by first looking at how the guys came to know Michele.
The day the guys came together singing, “O Sole Mio” on Ti Lascio una Canzone, Michele was at the end of his career. For him it was truly over. All he had done for so many now seemed in vain. But with this vision before him, three amazing teenagers, he was able to see a new light. A light that would start the wheels rolling again. A light that would reveal truth. A truth that never before was revealed to him. A truth he searched for his whole life but would only find in his relationship with Il Volo.
What was this truth? For the answer, let’s go back to the beginning that is the beginning for Michele. Let’s listen to what Michele has to say about his humble beginnings….
In my story, you will find pieces of true stories of artists, such as Andrea Bocelli, Il Volo, or rather, among their stories, you will find mine, that of an Apulian child emigrated to Bologna, the boy who from a studio apartment in a small white house (the Apulian houses are often white), went to the oval room of the White House.
I loved the music, I still love it, the world of music, less.
I was born on 12th May 1952 in a small town in northern Puglia. I don’t remember anything about this place, because I moved to Bologna when I was 5 months old.
My father was called Salvatore, he was a tailor, he was severe, hard.
My mother’s name was Titina, I lost her when I was 27 years old. I carried her down in my arms, wrapped in a sheet, to the mortuary chamber. She was 51 years old. Hunger, misery and cancer, this was her life, she struggled like a beast, then from one day to the other she fell ill and flew away in less than a year, I still haven’t managed to forgive her for leaving me so early.
In Bologna, we come in search of work and survival, we are poor, but really poor. We lived five people in one room.
At the age of 8, I started to work, with a shoemaker, straightening the nails that were extracted from the soles. At 12 I started working as a bartender, then as a waiter and bellhop.
My brother Nino, at the age of 17, assembled his first battery of drums (drum set), I, who was five years younger than him, began to follow him and learn. I began to work in the evening. I would go to the places where you can play. At the age of 14, I became part of a local orchestra.
At 16, my first dream comes true, a friend of mine called me on a Sunday afternoon and tells me that he was given the task of hiring six bands to open the Jimi Hendrix concert and asked me if I wanted to take part. I accept immediately, I was excited.
Our band is the last one to play before Hendrix enters. Bad fate because people couldn’t wait any longer so they threw booze and popcorn at us.
Things began to improve they call me more and more often.
One evening, all together, we go to see a concert of musicians playing with Ray Charles, the place is packed, that evening he is there too, Ray Charles, at a certain point they tell me they don’t have a drummer and they asked me to play. My legs were shaking, I was paralyzed with fear, but then I calmed down and played.
Michele says that the battery (the drums) is his life, not women, nothing for him is as reliable as a drum set. Michele continues…
Everything goes well, time passes, I was good, but not a genius, I understood that it is better to change.
One day someone proposed that I be a road manager, that is the one who contacts the local promoters, pays the musicians, takes the money, checks that everything goes well.
I plan a series of concerts for artists like Paoli-Vanoni, a great success, things are getting better and better, from one day to the next I became a millionaire, and people began to ask for me.
I started a partnership with Zucchero Fornaciari. He is good soul singer, nobody in Italy sings like that. Time passed and Zucchero became very successful, one day he came to me with a beautiful and sad song: “Miserere”, and he says, “this song should be sung with a tenor … let’s try to ask Pavarotti?”
Pavarotti was in America. I have to bring him a demo of the song so he can listen to it. I contact all the tenors I know but nobody wants to do a demo with Zucchero, join the lyric, with them pop was not contemplated by the classical tenors.
By pure chance, a friend tells me that in Tuscany, in a club, in the evening, there is a blind boy who plays the piano and is very good, he also sings tenor songs, his name is Andrea Bocelli.
It was the first time I met Bocelli. No one believed in him, not even himself.
Bocelli agreed to do the demo but, he was fearful because Pavarotti would hear it. He is very good and likeable. He sings the demo in a special way. I tell him to persist with music and he replies that he has won a receptionist competition and that the music will remain his passion.
I fly to Philadelphia to give Pavarotti the demo and, he immediately tells me that he will never sing a song of light music. I asked him to at least listen to the demo and he agreed. I explained to him that the boy who sings is not a tenor but a simple boy who plays for passion and Pavarotti asks me if I’m kidding him, because for years he hasn’t heard such a beautiful voice.
I go home and call Bocelli and I incredulously propose a contract to him. Bocelli doesn’t believe it’s all true.
At first it was difficult, nobody wanted Andrea. Too risky! There were always so many bad reviews in American newspapers, but people loved him, that’s the only thing he has always counted on.
The live reaction of the people was a show in the show. Andrea was a great interpreter of emotions he knew how to take on the feelings of ordinary people. This was its added value: to be a common mortal with a divine voice.
As to women, Michele says…
Women, I love them, but I’m afraid of them. I can’t trust the exclusive relationship with a woman. I am not so naive as not to understand that beautiful women are with me even for what I do, I am wealthy, I ride in beautiful cars and, I have some power. I never married, but I was almost married. How it ended makes me feel bad today. I was 30, she was from Bologna, beautiful and intelligent. We decided to get married.
I will only say, he cheated and, it was over! Too bad!
As with everything, Michele goes back to his mother….
My mother who I loved very much, left me early, too early, without giving me a way to show all my love for her. My mother could not share with me that little bit of success, of well-being, that I wanted to give her after so many hardships. I had everything from her, and she, she had no way to say with pride “That is my son”. I feel guilty about this.
But there is another woman who has always been important in my life, and it is my sister Liliana, a little friend, a little mother, and always with me even at work, especially in the most important moments.
I must admit that other female figures have been very important in my career. At the beginning, Cristina Gelsi, who followed me in the 16 years with Bocelli. And, now Barbara Vitali, omnipresent in all my activities, almost my alter ego, she lives traveling the world to assist Il Volo.
So, let’s talk about the guys and their relationship with Michele.
In an interview with La Vita in Diretta, Michele was asked, “What has changed, Torpedine?”
I have many enemies, which will increase after this book but, I met the right people: Gianluca Ginoble, Ignazio Boschetto and Piero Barone.
Yes, as you can tell from the title of the book, when I met them and put them together as a trio, they were so young… to think that ten years have already passed! With them and with their families, good people, a relationship was born that goes far beyond the professional one.
Together we joke and laugh, then we get serious, enjoying worldwide successes: but the human side, their being real and clean, for me is an added value, which is priceless. And, especially in this environment, is a rare commodity.
So true! This is something we always say about the guys. Something we admire! Their integrity and values are priceless! We admire that they are able to remain grounded being in this environment.
Where there is gratitude, there is Il Volo! Michele continues…
It’s so hard to be told ‘thank you.’ For this reason, the boys, Gianluca, Piero and Ignazio are different: grateful, so much so that I had to tell them to stop making my name and thanking me during interviews or at the end of the concerts, everything seems prepared.
But, of course, we know it’s from the heart! That’s who Il Volo is!
Asked about whether or not Michele would “Fancy a family.” He replied….
I have no children or wife, I married music. Perhaps the ugly will come later when I turn around and find no one. But at the moment I’m fine with that!
We wonder what did Michele expect when he signed Il Volo?
Another great story started, a new story at a time when it seemed to me that there was no future for me, for my profession: a breath of oxygen in my environment.
After years of disappointment, loss of trust and gratitude, missing or denied, with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, Michele rediscovers the values of gratitude. Michele says….
The boys allowed me to really go back to my job.
So where did Michele begin with the boys? He started in a place where he always wanted to be.
Let’s start with trust because they trust me first of all; the administration of an entire world tour, with important figures to move on which I could take what I want if I were dishonest. But they trusted me and so did their parents, to whom, moreover, I have committed myself to teaching everything, the mechanisms, the things that move, the figures, the relationships. All.
So how does Michele describe this trust?
If I had to define the story of Il Volo with a dominant feeling, I would call it, Un Grande Amore – A Great Love!
Many have arrogated the merit of the success of the three boys, which is certainly the result of great teamwork, but it is above all the result of intelligence, humility and generosity of the three families who have not only never hindered my work as manager, but were supportive in the best way: Ercole and Lenora Ginoble parents of Gianluca, Vito and Caterina Boschetto father and mother of Ignazio, and Gaetano and Eleonora Barone who gave life to Piero.
To sum up his life, Michele says,
Many disappointments, mainly human and partly, even professional.
At some point, I found myself feeling more disappointed than ever with music, with the environment I mean. There was never gratitude around me. I found myself tired, eager for simplicity, for pure things. The horizon seems closed to me. One night I was at home, sitting on the couch, three boys, fourteen, fifteen, appear on TV. Of course, they are good, and if I tried to really put them together? A trio, here’s what I could do: Il Volo.
I think those three determined boys saved me from depression and from the desire to leave everything. Three teenagers, yes, but already great, in all respects. Already great since I first saw them: Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.
How do the guys feel about Michele?
Let me answer that by going back to last October when Michele was involved in a lawsuit with Tony Renis. Renis accused Michele of violating their contract with the boys. The boys answered with this message about Michele.
We know you well. You have been by our side for more than 10 years. You have defended us from everyone, you have fought for us, you have taught us so much and above all you love us. You always made us understand who we should trust and who preferred to use us for their own interests and for their own personal glory. We are proud to have chosen you and to have renewed our trust, for 10 years, day after day. This is truth that no sentence can hinder. For the rest, just have patience: in the end the truth always comes. In life and in courts.
In concluding Michele says…
I started from a studio apartment in a small white house and passed to the Oval Room of the White House, received by Clinton and Bush. Who knows Ricomincio Dai Tre – I Start Again from Threemay become a film!
Maybe it’s time for me to go back to my old career and write the screenplay!
What did we learn from this story? We learned Michele is a very sensitive man.
Before I conclude for today, I would like to talk to you about three friends of Il Volo ~ Fabio Ingrassia, Roberto Amade and Mariano Di Vaio. One of them had some great news for us this week.
Many of you know these men. I’m sure all of you know Fabio Ingrassia. Fabio has performed with the guys in, among other places, Verona. We have all seen him paint to music. It was so exciting to watch Fabio paint Charlie Chaplin while the guys sang, “Smile.” I wrote an article about Fabio, “Fabio Ingrassia…In Black and White Between Colors” (to read this story go to www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) Fabio graces us with his presence every day. We have the pleasure of watching Fabio and Maria raise Noah.
I’ve spoken about Roberto Amade in some of my stories. In 2014 Ignazio and Roberto collaborated on a project in support of young aspiring artists in Marsala. This past year, I did an article about Roberto called, “Leri Cavour.” (www.ilvoloflightcrw.com) This is a restoration project that Roberto and his wife Isabel are working on. Roberto loves spending time with his family. Just this past week we saw Roberto and Isabel with their youngest daughter vacationing in Venice.
And finally, entrepreneur Mariano Da Vaio. Mariano is on social media every day with his three sons. I sometimes wonder, who is the child and, who is the adult. I’m very impressed by how he communicates with his children. It is done in a very playful but intelligent way. And he is teaching his children to speak English. This week Mariano gave us the great news that he and Eleanora are having a baby. Baby number four! Congratulations! We await the arrival!
So, why do I mention these guys? There are other friends of the guys, we know Guiseppe and Eraldo Di Stefano friends of Gianluca and Dario Mirabile friend of Piero. The reason I chose to talk about Fabio, Roberto and Mariano is they are the three who are married.
I look at these three guys and I see where in the future our guys will be! These three men are married to amazing women and, they have wonderful families.
This week Fabio said something that I think was beautiful. “Hold your babies until you can’t feel your arms anymore. Let them sleep in the bed until they’re no longer afraid of the dark. Kiss them to a ton of kisses. Tell them how beautiful and good they are with every little challenge won. They will grow strong and full of love. So, you don’t need to beg him for anything since he never missed it. These are not vices. They will know their worth because the tireless hug of your arms taught them love.”
This not only sums up Fabio’s family it also sums up Roberto and Mariano’s families. I say to all of you out there, especially all you, young fans, who are ready to move on in your lives and, consider marrying, follow these guys (on Facebook and Instagram) to see how great marriages work. They are all so hands-on in their families. There is so much love between them.
In an interview the guys were asked, “How is it to come home after traveling around the world. You come home and you are famous.” One of them answered something to the effect of, “You need to leave the fame at the door.”
This is the secret to why these three marriages are successful. They truly leave the fame at the door. They always put their families first. I see them interact with their wives and children and I say they are truly great examples for young people!
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.”
Credit to owners of all photos and videos.
Come in and share the love of life, friends and Il Volo!