Tag Archives: Toto Cutugno

Chasing the Lion by Susan De Bartoli

We received the great news on Sunday that the guys will go to Sanremo in 2024. This is what we were all hoping for, and we are all so happy that the guys will be Chasing the Lion again!
For the new fans and the fans who don’t know what the Lion is, I will give a brief description of the Sanremo Music Festival.
The Sanremo Music Festival, officially the Italian Song Festival is the most popular Italian song contest and awards ceremony held annually in the city of Sanremo. It is the longest-running annual TV music competition in the world on a national level; making it one of the world’s longest running TV programs.
The award for winning the contest is a trophy of a Lion.
The songs selected in the competition are original songs (never previously published) in Italian (or in an Italian dialect), and the three most voted songs are awarded. Other special awards are also given, including the Critics’ Award, created ad hoc by the press in 1982 to reward the quality of Mia Martini’s song, and named after the singer in 1996, after her death.
Il Volo’s “Grande Amore” won the Sanremo Music Festival 2015.
During the final night of the song contest, held on February 14, 2015, “Grande Amore” finished in first place, receiving 56.1878% of the votes and won the competition!
So that is what the award is about and now I will tell you how the guys came to the competition and how they won it!
First let me apologize to the fans for breaking the story I’ve been writing the last few weeks. I’m sure Ignazio will not mind that I am not writing his next episode this week.  

In order to understand how the guys came to do the competition, we must first go back to 2014 and understand what was going on in their lives.
Before I begin, I must tell you this is my favorite story in their book. The story as told by the guys is so interesting. They were young and they were very intelligent. They knew what they wanted and what they needed and went for it! Bravo! They stepped up to the plate and did what other groups could not achieve in their lifetime careers!

Since I am not writing Ignazio’s story this week, I will let him begin to explain what happened in 2013 that caused their decision in 2014….
Ignazio begins….
After the Latin American tour (2013) 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 completely different to 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 yourself, you have to give up many things and work hard. Stay focused on your work. It’s not easy.
Many people say: ‘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!
True, Ignazio is right. It was not easy, 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 twice in Moscow, once guests in a concert by Toto Cutugno 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 ‘normal’ life.
Even if 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.
Ignazio continues….
2014 was not our best year!
In fact, along with Eurovision, one of those things that I do not like to talk about, but we’re telling the truth, so let’s tell it all. That year the contract with Universal expired, so we started looking for a new record company.
Universal makes more pop, hip pop, rap and for us it was time to look for a label that would make a more classical and more suitable music genre for us.
It’s just that finding a new record company is not something you do in two days.
We did not sleep at night.
We talked with Michele about it until late in the evening to look for solutions.
The first thing that came to mind was to take charge of everything. Not that we could stop because we were looking for a new record company. We had earned and then we would have invested those profits on ourselves. So, we continued to work on the projects we had, new records and tours. We were planning a new tour in Canada and the United States for that summer. We could do it.
We learn that being brave has brought us luck because, after a few months, an email from Sony Latin arrived: they were interested in us.
Sony Music Latin, as you understand by the name, is a label of the record company Sony all dedicated to Latin music. And the label includes, to name a few, Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Ricky Martin and Shakira.
After a few weeks and long negotiations, we went to Miami to sign the contract.
It was unique and emotional because we were underage when we were signed by Universal, our parents signed for us. This was the first record contract signed by our fist!
It was also at this time that Italy began to recognize Il Volo!
Ignazio continues….
Italy made us close in 2014 with a flourish. What started out very badly finished very well: with the Christmas concert in the Senate.
“…the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one… singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate).” 
This is one of my favorite concerts!

We also want to talk about the thrill of singing in front of the highest offices of state! What twenty-year-old boy has something like that happen? It happened to us, and it seems to me a beautiful result, an honor.
The concert was on December 21st. You cannot imagine the emotional feeling to be called ‘guests of honor’ inside the Senate.
The fantastic Filarmonia Orchestra Veneta conducted by Diego Basso. Half the beauty of the song is in the orchestra.
We start with Christmas classics such as Adeste Fideles and White Christmas, but then there was also Caruso, Mattinata, No Puede Ser, Memory and of course our classic ‘O Sole Mio.
The most exciting moments? Everyone! But the hymn of Mameli was the heart-pounding one, the first song, singing in that place, with everyone singing along with us, including Giorgio Napolitano, (President) and Pietro Grasso (President of the Senate). It is one thing that I cannot explain.
And then, of course, the pleasure of shaking hands with the President of the Republic and of feeling that he knows Marsala, he has been there.
In short, in the end, instead of remembering it as the worst year of our lives together, 2014 brought us well: great changes and an important step towards Italy, towards home.

Piero begins….
Meanwhile, the first thing that comes to mind, after so many years of great success abroad, the greatest successes there has been, one wakes up one morning, indeed, three wake up one morning and decide to go to the Sanremo Festival.
When one is famous all over the world, there comes a moment when he must also be able to say: ‘Wow, they love me even in Italy.’ He must be able to say: ‘They also love me in my country.’
You go abroad and, during the interviews, you hear the fateful question: ‘You are loved even in Italy, right?’ and you have to answer no.
No one can understand how much we suffered in those moments.
Also, in meetings with Universal, in the United States, we sometimes tried to say: ‘Why do we publish concerts all over the world, except in Italy?’ We wanted the record company to try to support us in this sense too.
I remember that once, during a meeting with the president, I asked him for the thousandth time. And what does he do? He had a globe on his desk, I’m not joking, he gives it to me and says: ‘Turn it around, then stop it and find Italy at the first shot.’
The problem is that you have to look for it because it is a small country, very small compared to the United States and Latin America or Australia (and we have been on both of these continents). Then I got mad: ‘Oh, no, it’s my country, and the country where I was born, and the country where we come from, you cannot say it’s not important, do not think about it.’
For us, Sanremo was a decisive opportunity to let us be known to Italians, to say to Italians ‘We exist.’ And we are proud and really happy that our music genre was appreciated.
Operatic pop, it’s called, or pop opera, that is – just to be precise – a set of pop music and elements of lyrical music. And where was the lyric born? In Italy, belcanto is Italy.
It made us suffer that abroad we were loved and in Italy snubbed for something that is ours. And a bit like if the pizza was loved only abroad but not here.

As they say, Piero? A prophet is not recognized in his own land, so we were snubbed, perhaps because they never had the opportunity to really know us and show, once and for all, who we are personally and humanly, as well as being singers.
Then, after a few months of night phone calls with Michele, towards the end of 2014, we finally decided: ‘new year, new life: we go to the Sanremo Festival.’
It must also be said that in the meantime in Italy people were starting to get to know us better as Il Volo, and no longer as the Tre tenorini, thanks to our friend Bruno Vespa who invited us to the Porta a Porta episode on November 20, 2014 on Rai One, we conquered the maximum, of the television ratings of the season.
Then, not to mention Piero, the fussy one, but we have never been three tenors, neither small nor big. Piero is the only one who is really a tenor. He has a more classic voice. Gianluca has a baritone voice, a warm tone. I am the most pop one. Let’s say that these are three different ways of expressing emotions but, we are not three tenors.
However, even if they began to appreciate us in Italy, the fear of participating in the festival was so great. Fear of giving way to people to say: ‘Here, now they want to come and do the phenomena here.’ The only way to not have to hear certain things was to win.
Personally, I did not believe it so much. I have always been a bit pessimistic; you know it by now. But who really believed we could do it, Gianluca!

Not so much, I believed it very, very much, I felt it inside that we would have won.
I am like that, I’m not immediately enthusiastic about things, or rather of us three, maybe I’m the one who wants to think about it more, but if I have positive feelings, nobody stops me. Let’s say I have a certain sensitivity.
No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because? I told him: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure.’
I do not even remember anymore how many times I heard it repeated, even from my father: ‘If than, they throw you out, you do not make long faces.’ But I if nothing, am stubborn to the end, and in the end, I convinced them.

Yes, even if we thought about the participation really until the last possible day, we were not very sure. But then 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.’
So, first problem solved: we go to Sanremo, It’s official.
But then there was the second problem: the song. True, Gian?
I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say to me that the next time I have to reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because we ‘change’ the songs, arranging them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not have this fact taken into consideration, despite the song on first listening was not very ugly.
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 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 …
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 if it was made by Celso Valli! and I must say that he had guessed right.
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 managed to churn out a song that for us could have left its mark at the Sanremo Festival.

That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced: we had the piece, the right project.
He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious …
Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I said: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Do you know what a week like this means?

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.
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.

The sixty-fifth edition of the Festival begins 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.
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.
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. The first evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket.
Because when we do our work, too, the image matters.
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 the 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.
We were just dressed badly to be the singers by trade, we were children, we came from families of workers. What could I buy? There was not even the need.
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.’
Yes, but what does that have to do with it, Pie? We’re talking about Sanremo. What has Sorrento got to do with it?
Sanremo 2015, from 10th to 14th of February, we sang on the second evening, legs shaking, Gianluca’s birthday.

Video with English subtitles.

Among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for ‘TV Sorrisi e Canzoni’… We had fun with the diary!
It was a sort of ‘pill,’ a very few minutes, in which we recorded from the 9th to 14th of February (the last episode after the award ceremony). We told 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 …
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.
Can I do too, a criticism of you?
Ah, tell me…
You interrupted me. I was about to tell the final. I can continue?

In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from the shirt that in a week we have eaten more than sung.
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….
And indeed, whoever wins does not know it until the end! Sorry, Igna Speak you!!!

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 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 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.’
In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions.

You have to admit that is the most incredible story! Every time I read it I find something else about it that amazes me. These three men proved you have to go after your dreams. This dream was different because it was not a dream that in the end would make them superstars; they already were superstars! Their dream was to follow their hearts and win the hearts of the people of Italy. That was the dream! It was the dream that would make absolutely no difference in their lives except for being close to the people they loved. So they ran with it and started Chasing the Lion until they caught him on February 14, 2015! That night they brought the Lion home along with the hearts of the Italian people.
The other thing that makes the story incredible is that they did it on their own without the support of the press.
Today things are really good for them in Italy. They have come into their own and much of the press is out there supporting them. As to the others, for the life of me I will never understand what they could possibly dislike about three amazing teenagers who won fame on the stage of Ti Lascio una Canzone.
They traveled around the world and won the hearts of every nation and then risking the possible of losing Italy forever, they took a big chance and finally won the hearts of the Italian people.
Welcome, guys, to Italy, your life, your home! No one is better than you guys! The Italians were always there for you; you just didn’t know it! And they will be there for you for the 74th edition of Sanremo! I can’t wait to hear the song! I have some idea about who it should come from, but I’ll keep it to myself for now!  We are all cheering for you! As for me, you already won!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
Next we week we go back to our story and pick up Ignazio’s story and follow him down the road where he meets his fate.
For your listening pleasure and staying with 2014, I give you The concert at Taormina!

*What I have written here are excerpts from the book the guys wrote about their lives. “Il Volo, Un’avventura Straordinario, La Nostra Storia.” (An Extraordinary Adventure, Our Story) This is just a small piece of each mans’ story. The book is written in Italian. If you can read Italian, I would highly recommend that you read it. It’s wonderful! If not, I can only hope that someday it will be translated into English. Or you can use Google Translate to translate it.

I also recommend you read their second book “IL Volo: Quello Che Porto Nel Cuore” (What I Carry in My Heart)

Just in time for Christmas, the guys released a new EP 4Xmas Amazing Grace, O Tannenbaum, Feliz Navidad and Happy Xmas (the War is Over) order yours now on Spotify, Amazon, etc.
If you would like to share a story with me, please email:  susan.flightcrew@yahoo.com
To read more Il Volo stories visit us at www.ilvoloflightcrw.com and don’t forget to visit the Archives.
Credit to owners of all photos and videos


Leafing through Facebook, I came across this beautiful article posted on this blog THE DIGITAL MOON.
As I read, I thought, finally, beautiful and appropriate words, exactly what all of us Il Volo fans think.
I later discovered that the article was written by the daughter of a Volo-friend, Cinzia, whom I met at an instore for the CD signing, and whom I always meet on these occasions or at concerts.
Congratulations, Laura Schena, you really did a great job (the article is signed Cinzia, because Laura used her mother’s name)
This article was then published by many Il Volo fanpages, and now I’m translating it for all of you!


 THE DIGITAL MOON blog article – Click Here
The world of international music has always offered a variety of unique talents and exceptional bands, but only a few of them manage to capture the attention and hearts of the public like the Italian trio “Il Volo”.
Composed by the two Sicilians Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto and the Abruzzese Gianluca Ginoble, Il Volo has earned a special place in the music industry thanks to their powerful voices, emotional performances and incredible artistic talent.
Il Volo was formed in 2009 during the participation of the three members in the Italian talent show “Ti lascio una canzone”. Their amazing onstage chemistry and impressive vocals captured the attention of the audience and the judges. This led to the creation of a group that would soon conquer the whole world.
From the earliest days, Il Volo has stood out for its ability to interpret musical pieces of various genres with a mastery that goes beyond the age of its members. Their lyrical voice and pop influences come together in a unique mix, bringing new life to Italian and international music classics. Songs such as “O Sole Mio”, “Granada” and “Nessun Dorma” have found a new generation of admirers through their touching and passionate interpretations.
One of the distinctive elements of the group is the exceptional combination of their voices. Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca each bring their own unique style, but when they come together in harmony, the result is a powerful and enveloping sound that manages to move the soul of the listeners. Their live performances are often characterized by pure and passionate emotions, creating an immediate bond with the audience.
Thanks to their monstrous talent, the guys from Il Volo have managed to extend far beyond the Italian borders. They represented Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015 with the song “Grande Amore”, taking third place and gaining a large international following. Their world tours have taken them to many parts of the globe, allowing them to touch the hearts of fans from different cultures. I had the opportunity to attend several of their concerts throughout Europe such as Warsaw, Kiev and Budapest.
Despite the extraordinary success, Il Volo remained anchored in their humility and passion for music. They continue to work hard to perfect their vocal skills and hone their repertoire. Their dedication to the musical craft is reflected in their flawless performances and continued artistic growth.
In conclusion, Il Volo is much more than just a musical group; they are ambassadors of Italian music in the world. They bring with them the essence of the Italian musical tradition combined with a fresh reinterpretation.
Their unique vocal harmony and passionate performances make them a remarkable group. They are able to connect emotionally with listeners. Il Volo remains a shining example of talent, passion and dedication to the musical craft, and their impact on music history will continue to be felt for a long time to come.
Really beautiful words, Laura / Cinzia, you have expressed in an excellent way, what each of us thinks, congratulations.
And now let’s take stock of the boys’ holidays, with some photos.
I start from Gianluca, still in Abruzzo:

Piero in excellent and festive company.

IGNAZIO while test driving a Ferrari in a simulator in Marsala.

Ignazio on his motorcycle with a friend of his.

In recent days, a great singer, Toto Cutugno, has passed away here in Italy.
He was a well-known songwriter and his beautiful songs were also very successful in Eastern Europe and Russia.
In 2014 during one of his concerts in Russia, he wanted Il Volo as guests, together they sang his beautiful song LOVE IS TO LOVE THE LOVE. (AMORE E’ AMARE L’AMORE).
Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca held Toto in high esteem and he had a lot of affection for them! 

TOTO= Gianluca, Piero …
IGNAZIO= ….and Ignazio.
TOTO= So, (he points to Gianluca) 19 years old, (he points to Ignazio) 19 years old, (he points to Piero), he’s the oldest in the group, 20 years old.
They gave me this satisfaction of singing this song of mine, and then, after this song I leave them alone, because they will let you listen to their successes in America, South America, Italy, France and Germany.
This song I wrote is called: Love is to love the love (he turns to the Russian translator) translate it well, LOVE IS TO  LOVE THE LOVE.
Toto and Il Volo!!

….. and this is the image posted in the Instagram stories by Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca.
Really sad news about the passing of Toto Cutugno.
I really hope that his beautiful song will be performed during the Milan concerts as a tribute to a great singer!
And what about Laura/Cinzia’s article, really wonderful words, isn’t it?
The holidays for our favorites are coming to an end, soon, very soon we will see them again in concert.
Daniela 🤗


Credit to owners of all photos and videos.