On Saturday, June 14, 2014, under a bright Strawberry full moon, the Italian trio of IL Volo, performed before a sold out audience at the Palace Theater, Stamford Center for the Arts in Stamford CT. This is the fourth summer concert tour in the USA and Canada by IL Volo since 2011 and one of only fifteen stops on a brisk summer schedule. IL Volo, fresh from winning the Latin Billboard Award for Latin Pop Artist of the Year 2014, are enjoying popularity in the USA creating an exceptional style of lyrical pop with a stage show of new songs, Broadway favorites, operatic arias, and traditional Italian music. Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble entertain the audience with a blend of sensual charismatic energy and a bit of comedy stirred in. IL Volo dazzled the crowd raising a spell of magic in the moonlight.
What makes IL Volo stand out in the competitive world of pop music is the strength of their individual vocal skills woven in song. Each artist will have the spotlight for a solo or two, however, the magic of IL Volo can be found in the harmonic blend within the structure of a single composition. Each artist will perform a refrain within the song as well as the choral. There is no leader within the group but three distinct voices with the vocal range of a spinto and lyric tenor as well as a romantic baritone. Two of the performers demonstrate the rare quality of perfect pitch. The oldest performer, Piero, will celebrate his 21st birthday on June 24. Ignazio is 20 and Gianluca is 19. While they may be young in years they are veteran performers on stage. With each year, the gain in physical maturity, exposure to different musical influences and experience of the road raises the quality of performance just a bit more.
This style of three voices weaving into one has been skillfully produced by Humberto Gatica and Tony Renis. In a competitive market of jarring, over-exposed cranky pop stars, IL Volo stand out due to the able management of Michele Torpedine of MT-Opera & Blues. Mr. Torpedine is an excellent manager having nurtured the careers of Italian artists Pino Daniele, Gianna Nannini, Tony Esposito, Loredana Bertè, Zucchero Formaciari, Andrea Bocelli, and Eros Ramazzotti. Barbara Vitali is the road manager and personal assistant to IL Volo. Most of the PR is managed by the performers through individual Twitter and Facebook social media. Once a tweet or posting is released, the fan networks pick up the information, check for accuracy and share the news. Routinely, the artists give a look forward and a brief look back to stay in touch during the progression of the tour.
The band members traveling with IL Volo are: Guitar, Giovanni Di Caprio, Bass, Patrizio Sacco, Piano Giampiero Grani and Drums Salvatore Corazza. Pre-recorded music supplied the more complex orchestration for pieces such as Granada, Mattinata and Beautiful Day.
Stamford Center for the Arts
The theater is situated in downtown Stamford. This is a bustling, vibrant walking town similar to New Hope, PA or Salem, MA. This is a tourist friendly place with shopping, dining and theater all a few steps away. The theater is home to the Ballet School of Stamford, Connecticut Ballet, Stamford Symphony and Stamford Young Artists Philharmonic. The show was well staged in a small theater seating 1,500. The performance hall has two tiers and makes for an intimate atmosphere. The stage is an oval shape with the seats fanning outward in an arc.
Review of Performance
The artist’s work well together on stage and model the Italian custom of Bella Figura in dress, grooming and movement. Piero Barone has the posture of a classical dancer and a distinct appearance with his trademark red glasses. He is a piquant Sicilian brew of passion and joie de vivre. He has an astonishing tenor able to sway from the Broadway favorite, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”, to the aria “No Puede Ser”, (It Cannot Be) from the Spanish opera “La tabernera del Puerto”. His presentation of the Italian favorite, “Non Ti Scordar Di Me”, was with a solo piano accompaniment from Giampiero Grani. This acoustic presentation showcased the quality of talent for both performers. A simple Italian folk song became a work of art with Piero reaching high into his vocal range. Piero enjoys opera and if the fates are kind, he will find his way on to that stage. This is the voice that needs to be heard by the hungry ear dormant from the lack of nourishment of the finer power of a beautiful song. Piero is able to fill the being, the soul and the heart with his presence. And, he does it all with a clever twinkle in the eye, he knows some of what he is capable of artistically, the audience agrees and notable gasps could be heard in appreciation of his gift.
Ignazio Boschetto is all charm and grace bringing his special gift of fun to the program. He has the natural ability on stage to make people laugh along with him. He has a handsome smile and lively expression in the body. During the presentation of “Surrender”, he performed a tours en l’air landing in an arabesque pose. The movement was fluid and graceful. Often he enjoys a little salsa dance and sway with Piero, cracking funny jokes about his on-going refinement of English and certain silly secrets. This was my third year in attendance at a concert and from the start, I noticed Piero and Ignazio like to entertain the audience with little comical skits. It appears they have worked very hard to take a natural talent and develop it into a breezy episode of jest with better timing and delivery of punch lines. I found it outright funny Ignazio’s description of Piero’s ears. “They stand out like elephants. Big, BIG elephant ears.” He gave a dramatic charade of an elephant in full trumpet while Piero quipped that the ears flattened out after he discovered the joys of a motorbike and sped off Italian style. Vvvvvvvvvvrrrrrrrrrrooooooooooooooommmmmm! Ears flat!
Even in song, Ignazio finds a moment to lark with band members. He also enjoys the crowd often by serenading fans at their seats. Here I sense the young Italian man that he is, he cannot resist the women and takes it right to the source. He is always in motion. Nimble as an otter, he rolls from one song to the next with his warm, lyric tenor. My nickname for him is Boogie Boschetto. Ignazio’s solo performance of “Memory”, from the Broadway show Cats, is a show stopper. This year’s version showed his passionate gritty emotions of loves lost and how the shadows find us at the break of day.
Gianluca Ginoble enjoys singing the American favorites of a generation just passed. The general audience age range was closer to 50. Most may have clear memories of Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra in their prime. Or, they may recall their parents dancing and playing the popular songs in their day. The younger crowd might deem them oldsters and not bother to listen. Gianluca presents their more popular works in his own smooth baritone. His rendition of the Sinatra classic Night and Day was superb. He got the mood of the piece perfectly this night being all at once sultry and suave. His rendition of the Elvis classic, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” was the only song new in the repertoire.
A Moment of Joy
IL Volo as performers are remarkable. Many fans comment on a revival and love of music because of their gift of song. Being acquainted with some of the fan networks, I’ve enjoyed a virtual friendship on-line and had the pleasure to meet a few at the Palace Theater. Jo Longstreth, of All Things IL Volo, organized an on-line group to coordinate travel and lodging at the Stamford show. The fans often post to this FB page and routinely comment on a sudden moment of discovery of their talent, how the magic expands inside and a way is found to lift off the tiredness that life can bring. There are a stream of stories from fans of a release and renewal of spirit. I enjoyed hearing their stories and several shared personal scrapbooks, photos, memories and more from previous shows.
Moments of joy need a little help to happen. The night’s program was released to the fan network a few days before this show. Aware of the sequence of songs, I found that moment toward the end of the show to weave up to the stage. I had a personal goal to shake the hand of Ignazio. At the Boston concert in 2013, I did this approach to the stage as well and enjoyed shaking hands with Piero at the end of that show. There was a short flight of stairs up to the stage at the Palace, I approached and was not stopped by security. The guys were at a pause in the program and without hesitation, I sat on the wooden staircase. This was a risky move but I did not block or go further to the stage.
The lights dimmed and IL Volo sang the encore, one of their finest recordings, “El Triste”. There is a legend in music history, of George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin) routinely laying under the piano when Frederic Chopin was playing and composing. She understood the need to feel the music in her body. In her own words, she helps me understand the complex connection to IL Volo and their musical arts.
“Once my heart was captured, reason was shown the door, deliberately and with a sort of frantic joy. I accepted everything, I believed everything, without struggle, without suffering, without regret, without false shame. How can one blush for what one adores?”- George Sand
Here it was, my golden moment to sink into the spell of song that is IL Volo. I was as close to being on stage as a fan could imagine. The beauty of the artists combined with the moonlight, music and song took me out of myself for a few minutes. I was not properly in my body. Every sense was alive and in a special paradise. In the words of Chopin, “I haven’t heard anything so great for a long time”. The setup of the stage was such that at one point, Piero was in front of me and I could glimpse the performance from his perspective. Another fan took the bold move of moving up to my position camera in hand recording as they rolled into “O Sole Mio”. Piero took a good look at both of us to see what we were doing. I caught his eye and was surprised how much there was to read in his expression. He had been in an unusually festive mood all night partially due as he mentioned to Italy advancing on in the World Cup by winning against their opponent a few minutes before show time. Midway through “O Sole Mio”, I was fortunate to shake his hand again but this occasion, I attempted to start a conversation by not letting go of the hand and giving him a squeeze and tug toward me. He tried, but the musical cue took him away. I was struck again by the flash and brightness of his expression.
A few seconds later, Ignazio came sweeping down the edge of the stage. I had to rely on instincts and when that hand came in front of me, I pulled it toward me and planted a little kiss. Gianluca also came forward to this side of the stage and I had the opportunity to shake his hand as well. There were others fans clustered around the stage and one them was holding a large photograph from a previous meet and greet. Gianluca stopped, looked closely at the picture, said to her, “this is you?” she said yes, he took her in his arms and her Dad snapped a photo. The reaction of the young lady was priceless. She was shaking and blushing all at once. This was her dream come true. A few fans who saw me kiss Ignazio’s hand said that was well done.
How gracious Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca can be! The fans all want, need, hope and desire to make a connection to each of them. The gifts, cards, tweets, messages and prayers are a flood of love and joy coming at them daily. After five years and thousands of travel miles, hundreds of radio and television interviews, tours, recordings and more, it must be all too much some days. They sincerely do the best they can to honor the fans and most of all the love we all share of music. There is talk of a new CD being produced. There are many places yet to go this year for IL Volo. Piero, Ignazio and Gianluca are gifted musical artists. Attendance at a live performance is a celebration of life, love and art.
All photos are from the Concert at Stamford CT. I am grateful to Deborah Georgini Beaupre, Katherine Rowe, Barbara Ferraro and Piero Barone for sharing pictures for publication.