Now we have arrived at the part of the story which is the main event ~ Ti Lascio una Canzone! I’m going to say a few words about it for all the new fans out there and then I am a going to skip to The Night the Lion Roared. Why? Because everyone who knows Il Volo knows their amazing story! But I will share a few important facts and some videos of that amazing night.
Their amazing 1,2,3 win, as important as it was, was not the most important part to this story. The the biggest win of all was ~ Il Volo!
Let’s begin with Episode Four…
It is the fourth episode of Ti Lascio Una Canzone and the boys are given the music for “O Sole Mio” but in three parts. They thought it was strange because until then they were singing alone or doing duets.
They walked out on the stage, sang “O Sole Mio” and it was like they had been performing together for years. Flawless!
But before the trio came together, there were some amazing performances….
Let’s talk about some of the people they performed with on the show. Really great names in the Italian music industry. Massimo Ranieri, Fausto Leali, Al Bano, Adamo, Piero Mazzoccheti.
What I witnessed in those performances were great performers who were in awe of these three teenage boys who were singing, in some cases, their songs and they were totally amazed. It was written all over their faces. They could not believe what they were hearing.
What was going on behind the scenes? Well, we certainly know that the idea to put the three together was the genius of Roberto Cenci the artistic director and director of the program. But there was so much more happening!
We know when Michele Torpedine heard them sing for the first time, he thought the three possessed an incredible vocality for their age.
He instinctively knew signing these kids would be for him the find of a lifetime!
Michele says, “The next day I am a volcano. I want to talk to everyone: producers, managers, families.”
Michele continues, “Another great story started, a new story at a time when it seemed to me that there was no future for me, for my profession: a breath of oxygen in my environment.”
After years of disappointment, loss of trust and gratitude, missing or denied, with Ignazio, Piero and Gianluca, Michele rediscovers the values of gratitude. Michele says, “The boys allowed me to really go back to my job.”
And the results….
They were the first Italian artists in history to sign a contract with a major American music label.
Universal Music signed them immediately. Michele said, “It is important to give due recognition to the man who made all this possible, the great record manager Peter Lopez. Peter immediately sensed the enormous potential of our artistic project. To him we owe an incredible international contract signed simply trusting that the boys would have audiences all over the world.”
But what did they bring to the table to win over the kids, the parents, and the grandparents? They had an idea and it worked….
Their music was Operatic pop or Pop-Opera. What was this new movement? It’s singing Opera in a more modern style. While opera is very strict and regimented, Pop-Opera is more ethereal it has a lighter feeling, and it moves freely. It takes away the hard edges of opera and replaces it with a more ethereal feel while still presenting the drama and the high notes of the opera. This along with the classical Neapolitan songs became a big draw. Why did it work? One reason is three amazing voices! If the voice wasn’t there, the song wasn’t going to sell.
They started their career in America and immediately went around the world! There was no stopping them. Everyone everywhere loved them and their music. There are some great memories along the way but that’s a story for another day….
So now I will flash forward six years and tell you about The Night the Lion Roared….
When I read Un’avventura Straordinaria, the story that I loved the most was the story of Sanremo. The decision by the guys to take on the Sanremo Festival. This story brought out their personalities, their differences and how they are so bound to one another that they could make the decision of a lifetime together even if it meant they could lose what was so important to them, their country and their people!
We know 2014 started out as a bad year, but suddenly things were happening. They were invited to sing at the Italian Senate. This was an event of immense importance for them. It said Italy was finally noticing them so, it only made sense that it was time to take a giant step!
But this story doesn’t start with Sanremo, nor does it end there! Sanremo was the door opener!
They will tell you that the decision to go to Sanremo was a good one but, in contrast going to Eurovision may not have been their best decision. My reply, going to Eurovision was an excellent decision!
Let’s see how these decisions were made and what path they chose….
So where do you begin to make the decision. Well, you have to start with….
Who’s in and who’s out!
From day one, Gianluca wanted to go. He was so convinced that they would win that he never backed down from it. He had no doubt in his mind that they would win.
Always the pessimist, Ignazio. He said “No, we can’t win. It’s too hard.”
So that leaves Piero! Piero at first was not on board but Gianluca persuaded him. Gianluca said, “No one trusted, no one believed it. It was I who persuaded Piero to persuade Ignazio to go to Sanremo. Because I told them: ‘Guys, if we go, we’ll win it, I’m sure, I’m sure’”.
Piero said, “We said to ourselves: ‘Guys, make it or break it, in the end, we were not anyone here in Italy, at most we would not be anyone even afterwards.’”
Decision made! It’s official the guys go to Sanremo!
Then there’s the second problem, the song!
At Sanremo you must perform an unpublished song. How do you begin to find such a song?
Now this is the part of the story that’s really interesting and sometimes funny! Oddly enough, the one who wanted this the most was the one who did not agree to the song. I so enjoyed listening to this dialogue between the guys. This is where we begin to hear the guys make important decisions together. They’re really good. When they begin, they’re not agreeing but as time goes by…. well, why don’t I let them tell you how they finally got to Sanremo….
Gianluca: I did not agree to go with that piece. If I think about it now, I’ll say that the next time I must reflect better before judging, try to sing a song and then judge because our voices change the songs. We arrange them by cutting them on our voice, and I did not take this fact into consideration. The song when we first listened to it was not very ugly!
Ignazio: It’s not that we’ve heard only that, no. Do you think it is easy to choose a piece for Sanremo? We started to do a search and a selection of unpublished tracks. Our policy was: either we go with something strong, or we do not go, right?
One day this song comes to us through Michele: Grande Amore by Francesco Boccia and Ciro Esposito, two Neapolitan authors. As usual, I am pessimistic. I listen to it and it does not make me crazy. Not even Gianluca was convinced. The only enthusiast was Pie …
Piero (interrupts): I loved ‘Grande Amore!’ I did not believe that we would have won, but I was the one who pushed, I and Michele pushed for ‘Grande Amore’ because the audition that we heard was not beautiful, but we imagined it if it was made by Celso Valli and, I must say that we had guessed right.
Ignazio (interrupts): And I said it too if you let me talk. I was saying, in fact, that ‘Grande Amore’ was not as we hear it today. It was always called ‘Grande Amore,’ but it was totally different. So, we start to think: who can produce the piece? And Michele calls the great Celso Valli. After several weeks of work in the studio, we manage to churn out a song that could leave its mark at the Sanremo Festival.
Gianluca (interrupts): That’s why when we left for Sanremo I was very convinced we had the piece, the right project.
Piero: He wanted to influence us, but we are superstitious ….
Gianluca: Every day at lunch and dinner with Michele and the president of Sony, I say: ‘Guys, we will win Sanremo.’
Piero (interrupts): Do you know what a week like this means?
Ignazio: Piero and I were all day touching iron and the low parts. Gianluca was convinced that the little lion (the Sanremo award is represented by a lion) would be ours? And the two of us tried to keep the situation under control.
Gianluca (interrupts): What should I tell you? I am an optimist. They took it something like ‘he makes fun of us,’ but I felt it inside. I do not know why.
So many interruptions! Ignazio, before he was interrupted, was about to tell us about the first night they sang.
Ignazio: The 65th edition of the Festival begins on Tuesday, February 10th. We sing the second night, Wednesday the 11th. The strange thing is that normally my legs tremble before the performance, but mine trembled even after the performance! Perhaps too much adrenaline, it never happened before.
Piero (interrupts): Or maybe it was because we came back to the Ariston stage after going around the world. It was like coming home, because we experienced the beginning of our career here with Ti Lascio una Canzone. One thing that cannot be described: in Sanremo, in Italy, to sing and receive the applause of the Italian public. It cannot be explained.
Gianluca: Can you imagine for me this was also my birthday? I turned twenty on the Ariston stage! Of course, I was moved in the end, and it was too much emotion to my sensibility to play bad jokes at times. And then, we felt the pressure in the air. Even though I was optimistic, the tension was there.
Although we had taken care of the smallest details of the song, we had tried and tried again, and we had taken care of even the smallest details of the clothing. First evening look more rock: total black with leather jacket. Because when we do our work the image matters, too.
I really wanted to use the video of “Ancora” at Sanremo but I couldn’t get it to work so, instead I chose the one from Verona. Amazing no matter where they sing it!
Piero (interrupts): Count, of course that counts. But do you remember how we were dressed before? I remember that time at Una Notte per Caruso, in July 2009, it was the second time we saw Torpedine. Michele arrives with another white Range Rover, not that of Jesolo, and as soon as he arrives, we do not even say hello and we go to see the car. Let’s run, let’s open the car. Ignazio immediately goes up to the car. We went crazy for cars, one like that, we did not see every day. The day after we go for a ride in downtown Sorrento, a shopping trip, and we enter Gucci’s. Michele spent almost two thousand euros and we with that written number at the counter, we exclaimed: “Mizziga! (Damn!) Two thousand euro” with wide eyes. And we still have those clothes, at least I personally still have them.
He had bought us a jacket, but above all the need for us to dress all in white and blue. I had the blue jacket and the white shirt, Gianluca had blue trousers and white shirt, Ignazio the blue shoes and everything else white, Michele the blue jacket. And we took a picture in front of the hotel.
Gianluca (interrupts): We were just dressed badly to be singers by trade, we were children, we came from families of workers. What could I buy? There was not even the need.
Piero (interrupts): And then you remember the restaurant? Afterwards we went to a restaurant near the sea. When we finished eating, the three of us took off our shoes and ran to the beach. Michele ran behind us telling us: ‘Guys, calm down. Guys, slow down.’
At this point Ignazio loses his patience. YES, but, what does that have to do with it, Pie? We were talking about Sanremo. What has Sorrento got to do with it?
Ignazio gets the conversation back on track!
Sanremo 2015, from the 10th to 14th of February, we sang on the second evening, legs shaking, Gianluca’s birthday.
This video has English subtitles
Among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni … We had fun with the diary!
It was a sort of ‘pill.’ A very few minutes, in which we recorded from the 9th to 14th of February. We talked about some of the emotions we felt. For example, the time that Gianluca almost stumbles on stage or the happiness of seeing the audience get up and applaud the first night we sang ‘Grande Amore.’ The recording, then, went online on the site of the magazine.
What was I saying? Ah, yes, among the many interviews, the diary that we kept every day for TV Sorrisi e Canzoni, meetings and press conferences …
Piero (interrupts): And the criticisms we felt in those days? People at home voted for us, appreciated us, and journalists gave us votes that we thought were postponed until September, I also said this at the press conference after the victory. Five that flew (bad votes given by critics). But we see that the criticisms have done us good.
Ignazio: Can I do a criticism of you?
Piero: Ah, tell me…
Ignazio: You interrupted me. I was about to tell the final. I can continue?
Ignazio: In short, the final evening arrives, February 14th. I realize from my shirt that in a week we have eaten more than we sang. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I’m a boy who does not say cat if I do not have it in the bag, then until Carlo Conti said….
Piero (interrupts): And indeed, whoever wins does not know it until the end! Sorry, Igna’. Speak you!!!
Ignazio: Until Carlo Conti said: ‘The winner of the Sanremo Festival 2015 is … Il Volo!’ I said to the boys: ‘No, guys, we do not win, it’s difficult.’ And on the one hand I had Piero with shining eyes and on the other Gianluca with a smug smile as if to say: ‘Do not worry.’
Gianluca: The truth is that I was right from the beginning, and no one had ever listened to me, ever. I believed it so much that, if you notice, maybe I’m the one with the least surprised look on my face when Carlo Conti announces the winner. Then, of those moments, one remembers little, there is great confusion, emotion. It was a dream to be able to shout, ‘Thank you, Italy!’ from that stage. I look at Sanremo as a child, when there was Pippo Baudo, and I was there and have won because people were on our side and it was a dream, I repeat even if I have already said. The emotion was only when my grandfather told me almost in tears: “Who would have told me that in life I saw Modugno win at the Festival and then I saw you win?”
Taking the conversation back, I have to say, to me this was the best conversation we could listen to. They disagree, they find middle ground, and they agree but, most importantly they listen to one another and that’s what makes the bond so great!
In the end Gianluca said: In short, Sanremo was just a dream that brought us many different emotions.
You might ask why did I put these two stories together? I wanted you to see what six years in their lives did for them. They started on the Ariston stage as three teenagers, went around the world gaining success everywhere along the way, only to come back to the Ariston Theater to win not only Sanremo but the hearts of the Italian people; the one thing they wanted from the beginning!
Over those six years they sang in concerts hall around the world. Their songs went gold and platinum. They won many awards including the Latin American Music Award’s Latin Pop Albums Artist of the Year for a duo or group. They sang with people like Barbara Streisand and joined some of the best singers in the music industry for “We Are the Whole Haiti” but what they wanted more than anything was to be accepted in their own country and they did that by coming back to their beginnings! Going full circle and taking a big chance paid off on the Ariston Stage for the second time.
As the winners of Sanremo, the guys went on to Eurovision. They came in third. They saw it as a loss but, I saw it as a win because here the press came out for them awarding them the Marcel Bezencon Press Award. The press has spoken!
As Italy is a member of the Big Five, the guys went straight into the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in Vienna on May 23rd, 2015. “Grande Amore” came in 3rd with 292 points but, they won the televote with 366 points and the Marcel Bezencon Press Award, as best song according to the collective voting of the accredited press.
And, the extended play “Sanremo Grande Amore” was released in Italy on February 20th, 2015, and it was certified triple platinum by FIMI.
The Night the Lion Roared, the guys felt they had finally achieved their dream to be number one in the hearts of the Italian people!
Against all odds they pulled it off. The part of the story they missed was about the Italian people. They were always on their side. Even when they were traveling around the world and hoping to perform concerts in Italy, the Italian people were always waiting for them. The press was against them but never the people. They wanted them home as much as they wanted to go home.
How does Michele Torpedine sum up our guys….
These three guys have very clear ideas and I have never seen them impressed in front of audiences that many would shake their legs. I never heard a wrong attack, and if some inconsistency arose that made something happen professionally, they knew how to handle the problem at the origin. They are always extraordinary, their voices grow with them, they mature in body and soul. There is no other team or artistic team so complete.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!
Join me next week as I go back Through the Fields of My Mind and open the door to a new adventure!
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Credit to owners of all photos and videos.