In 2015 I attended my first National Italian American Foundation Gala in Washington, DC. Somewhat intimidated by the size of the venue, the 2,000 hosts in tuxedos or evening gowns, and the importance of those in attendance, I discovered that at my table were CEOs and managers of the highest caliber, with their respective spouses.
My surprise was great, when the time came for the musical performance, I saw them snapping to their feet and dancing enthusiastically. Driving them crazy with joy and Italian pride were three young very talented Italian boys, Gianluca, Ignazio and Piero: Il Volo. I will never forget it, which is also why I am happy and proud to welcome them on We the Italians, on the eve of their new prestigious fall tour in the United States.
Ciao ragazzi! Thanks for being on We the Italians. How did you meet and how did you start singing together?
We met in 2009 on a RAI television show called “Ti Lascio Una Canzone” (I Leave You a Song). The producer of this television show heard these three boys with adult voices and decided to put our three voices together and remember the three tenors in a nice way, asking us to sing “O Sole Mio”. That was the first song that we sang together, and from that Italian program that had great success with the audience and online shares, we were catapulted into the American market, signing a contract with a major American label, Iterscope, part of Universal Music. Ours was 100% the famous American dream. We signed the American contract and recorded our first album, Il Volo. And from there our artistic journey began.
Were you in love with America since you were children?
For sure the greatest curiosity, as children, was to see the cars and the streets, and the yellow taxis, because we had always seen them in films and and television: the first that comes to mind is “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” So the yellow taxis, the immense six-lane roads, and the huge cars are the first memories as children that we have of the curiosity to one day see America: we are from three different parts of Italy, none of which had these things.
We were very small. It was difficult to dream of anything else at that age. Obviously even as a child thinking of going to America was difficult, we wondered how many hours the trip lasted ... but when we were children we also listened to Elvis Presley and of course Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, because our parents also passed on to us the passion for American music. Some of us also have some relatives in America, like a large part of the Italians living in Italy. It all seemed so far away then, but instead then in the end we lived it and we continue to live it every day and it's fantastic.
What names do you give me, if I ask you your favorite Italian American singer or group?
The greatest Italian American singers that we admire are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Perry Como, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and also Michael Bublé, who even though is Canadian sings in English and it’s the same continent. Moreover two of us, Ignazio and Piero, are Sicilian like Frank Sinatra and Lady Gaga, while Gianluca has Abruzzese origins like Perry Como, Dean Martin and Michael Bublé. Instead Tony Bennett is of Calabrese descent.
How many concerts have you put on in the United States up to now? What memory do you have or your past US tours?
We think we have put on about 350/400 concerts in America, in our 13-year career, considering that our first tour had 55/60 dates, and then we did tours of about 20/30 concerts every year. The nicest thing is that obviously the descendants of the Italians who emigrated are, everywhere, our first fans, and they always show us a lot of affection.
The tradition of Italians abroad is exceptional, even subsequent generations retain the Italian blood, the attachment to our country. But it is also true that our type of music, as Pavarotti and Bocelli teach us, manages to conquer not only the Italian abroad but also the real American or the Japanese or Brazilian who have no Italian origins. This is sometimes striking. When we travel the world, of course we find many people who have Italian origins, however most of our audience is not Italian and it is amazing how the strength of this type of music - like when you sing “Nessun Dorma” - is that it completely breaks through any cultural and linguistic barrier. This is the strength of Italian music, of our vocalism, of the Italian musical genre.
Is there an anecdote, a curiosity, something nice that you want to tell about your musical adventures in America among Italian Americans?
Well, it was exciting to meet Dean Martin's daughter in New York. Perhaps the best anecdote happened in Los Angeles. We were there on our tour with Barbra Streisand, and we were in this barbershop for men but also hairdresser for women to get our hair cut. Next to us a lady was looking at us from the mirror and at one point she told us: “ah, tomorrow night you will be performing here in L.A.”. We say yes, not knowing who she is. And the hairdresser, who was cutting our hair, trying to signal us without being seen by the lady, wanted me to understand that this lady was a famous person. We ask the lady if she will come to see us, but she does not answer us. In short, in the end the hairdresser reveals that that was Priscilla Presley, Elvis's wife. In the end we invited her to the concert and a great friendship was born from there.
Let’s talk about the 2022 tour. Let’s remind our readers the dates and cities of your concerts and how they can purchase tickets if they haven’t already done so.
They can find all the details and can purchase thickets for all the dates on our website. The tour was originally planned for the spring of this year but was postponed to September and October because of Covid.
The tour starts in Canada and arrives in Detroit, MI September 10; Cleveland, OH September 12; Chicago, IL September 13; Indianapolis, IN September 15; Uncasville, CT September 17; Boston, MA September 20; Atlantic City, NJ September 23; Oxon Hill, MD September 25; New York, NY September 27; Bethlehem, PA September 29; Atlanta, GA October 2; Fort Myers, FL October 4; Clearwater, FL October 7; Sunrise, FL October 9; Phoenix, AZ October 13; and finally Los Angeles, CA October 15.
What is your favorite song to sing in your American concerts? Is there one that you do as a tribute to an Italian-American artist?
Perhaps one of the most beautiful moments is when we sing “Smile“ by Charlie Chaplin or “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla, and of course also “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. Perhaps the most exciting moment is “Nessun Dorma”. Because now, we are sorry for those who perhaps think differently but we believe we must be realistic, “Nessun Dorma” is now considered a song. When our fans hear “Nessun Dorma” they have been waiting for it from the beginning of the concert, and they know that this is the ending. When we finish singing it there is a great standing ovation. For us it is really a great joy to sing it, always, but we understand that it is the same also for those who came to hear us.
Il Volo sings Morricone: a great success dedicated to an extraordinary and unforgettable Italian master. Can you tell me the emotions you felt in paying homage to such a gigantic Italian?
It is authoritative, elite music, which gives great prestige to our repertoire, brings us a musical level up that expands our repertoire, which is already an elegant and varied repertoire. This further upgrade for us also means a new and greater responsibility and musical maturity, progress. In our repertoire we try to represent Italian music but not only that, we also sing “My Way” by Frank Sinatra and “Smile “by Charlie Chaplin, in addition to“Nessun Dorma” and “O Sole Mio”. So in addition to representing Italy, we try to represent what it is the bel canto from all points of view. Now let's add these incredible soundtracks that have been a fundamental and beloved part of the most important films in the history of cinema. For us it is a matter of pride to give a further touch of prestige and elegance to each project.
Would you like to send a greeting to the many Italian-American readers of We the Italians?
Of course. Obviously we are very young to know directly the stories of these people, who are sons and daughters and grandchildren of courageous people who emigrated from Italy to America with a lot of courage, trying to find luck and their way. We have enormous respect for these Italians and their ancestors, and it will certainly be nice to be able to meet them around America at our concerts. We will see them in September or October, depending on which city they live in. We want to thank them for the great support they have always shown us in our 13-year career.
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