Review of IL Volo Sanremo Exclusive Edition
Release date: September 2015
IL Volo reissued their “Sanremo Grande Amore” EP originally released, February 12, 2015, adding three new songs to the play list. The EP is certified double platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry. The EP is now titled, “Sanremo Exclusive Edition” part of a Deluxe Donor Package available on PBS Television. The package also includes a DVD of “IL Volo Live at Pompeii” and the new album, “Grande Amore International Version” released September 25, 2015. This unique EP is a thank you from IL Volo to fans for supporting public television. The Italian trio of Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble won the prestigious Sanremo Music Festival 2015 with their presentation of “Grande Amore” (Great Love). The new songs are live solo performances. This EP now becomes the first unofficial autobiography in song of IL Volo as a bel canto trio and individual artists.
A review of the original EP is available on this blog: Romance Is Back! ~ Sanremo Grande Amore ~ IL Volo March 27, 2015
Italian Classical Song – Genre Bel Canto
The three new songs break away from the format of performed first at Sanremo Music Festivals and might seem to be randomly tacked on. IL Volo have had difficulty in fitting into a musical genre and mislabeled as pop, opera singers. In their first Detroit PBS TV special “IL Volo Takes Flight” recorded in February 2012, the singers called their genre classical pop primarily because they sing with a classical voice. The confusion begins in translation of the term, sing in classical style.
Perhaps it is more correctly termed bell’arte del canto or bel canto, an Italian singing style focused on beautiful song presentation which is their forte. The contemporary pop scene has many a talented singer, performer and song writer. But, the quality of sound, instrumentation and presentation are decidedly not classical. IL Volo may sing pop songs, but in a bel canto style.
The Italian press has criticized IL Volo for reinforcing a stereotypical norm of Italian music abroad. Their program is almost identical to that of the Three Tenors but IL Volo lack the gravitas. IL Volo cover established hits in English, Spanish and Italian, but include a new song or two with each CD. IL Volo found an audience first in North, South and Central America touring extensively from 2011 – 2014. It was the win at Sanremo with “Grande Amore” when success finally came on their home soil of Italy.
The confusion in what genre they belong to begins from the start of their public careers. They were three teenagers appearing as a solo performer on Ti Lascio Una Canzone with voices out of the normal range for their age. They formed the trio and their sound caught the attention of Tony Renis. Once under management with Michele Torpedine of MT Opera & Blues, their careers have been guided by the fact they sang with voices of men twice their age.
Now, at the tender ages of Piero 22, Ignazio 21 and Gianluca 20, they are veterans of the stage. They made a leap from talented young singers needing stage direction to polished pros in five quick years. They were the Three Tenors in reverse, touring and performing Neapolitan favorites of old, contemporary and Broadway songs, and the occasional operatic piece without the classical training. Perhaps they sang like men, but in every other way, they have behaved like young adults from Italy.
This updated EP struck me as a reflection of their career to date. “Grande Amore” is a new song. The next five are covers of popular Italian songs but perhaps new to the American audience. The three solo pieces best present them as individual artists and may foreshadow what may be.
Piero Barone ~ “E lucevan le stelle”
Piero’s voice is a dramatic rich tenor. He has mentioned he likes opera more than once. On a recent trip to New York City, he is filmed walking down the aisle of the Metropolitan Opera House. He speaks quietly but gazes about intently.
Piero sings Giacomo Puccini’s well-known aria for tenor, “E lucevan le stelle” from Tosca. What a challenging aria to take on! This opera has been successful since the debut in Rome January 1900 and loved by many an opera fan. Piero is performing in the role of Mario Cavaradrossi. It’s a challenge because this is Act III. The momentum of the story would help the aria come out naturally full of loss and love. Piero doesn’t have that advantage and must find the passion within.
Mario was a happy itinerant painter when we first meet him. His nights are filed with the tempestuous Floria Tosca. But, he lives in troubled times. The Wheel of Fortune spins and he finds his life in ruins swiftly, his comrade is on the run, he is being tortured for information, and his beloved Tosca may have betrayed him. He is taken away to die and writes one last letter. He pauses in his grief and sings a most perfect aria.
“The stars were shimmering
The stars seemed to shimmer
The sweet scents of the garden,
The creaking gate seemed to whisper,
And a footstep skimmed over the sand.
Then she came in, so fragrant,
And fell into my arms!
Oh! sweet kisses, oh, languorous caresses,
While I, trembling, was searching
For her features, concealed by her mantle.
My dream of love faded away, for good!
Everything’s gone now.
I’m dying hopeless, desperate!
And never before have I loved life like this!
And never before have I loved life like this!
E lucevan le stelle
E lucevan le stelle
ed olezzava la terra
stridea l’uscio dell’orto
e un passo sfiorava la rena.
Entrava ella, fragrante,
mi cadea fra le braccia.
Oh! dolce baci, o languide carezze,
le belle forme disciogliea dai veli!
Svani per sempre il sogno mio d’amore
L’ora e fuggita
e muoio disperato!
E non ho amato mai tanto la vita!
tanto la vita!
This is great poetry as many libretto are. Piero wants to capture the tremble of defeat, the remembrance of her sweet embrace and the despair of knowing it is over, his life is over. He has everything to live for and nothing can save him.
The aria is well performed technically. He has to tap into deep, complex emotions and bring them to life in song. If he wants to become an opera singer, he knows the task before him. The best are excellent actors, singers, and ensemble players. He needs endurance, wit and intelligence. Opera is live and does not have a microphone to project out to the last row. He would not be the first opera singer from his native Naro, Sicily. The last singer of note was Gero Rindone (1897-1952). And, like his town, he is perhaps a hidden pearl just waiting for his worth to be fully realized. Piero sings from the solar plexus. His power is being confident, self-disciplined, as well as a warmth of personality.
Too bad the critics don’t take into consideration that he is bringing one aria to an audience that might never otherwise hear it. He may open up an entire range of music to fans. By his presentation alone, they can name one of the best and start to appreciate all that makes Italy so unique in its celebration of art.
Ignazio ~ “Unchained Melody”
Ignazio’s voice is a lyric tenor. He has perfect pitch. Physically, he is the tallest and most nimble on stage. He sings “Unchained Melody” by Alex North and Hy Zaret for the solo performance. The song was been recorded by several artists including The Righteous Brothers in 1965 reaching No 4 on the Billboard Top 100 chart. Ignazio tends to select dramatic popular songs that start soft, rise to a crescendo and cascade back to earth. He is finding his sound and stirring profound emotions in the listener. Of the three, he is the only one that was able to move me to tears during a Boston performance in September 2013. He is able to get subtle emotions into his vibrato and interpret the spirit of the song writer.
He is highly entertaining in song and in dance moving to his own inner rhythm. The solo recording almost captures his indescribable quality of charisma on stage. He plays and is in constant motion. His rendition of “Unchained Melody” gives him a vocal challenge, but he reaches the high C with ease.
His energy is in his spine. It is not stationery but moves up and down taking his sense of self with it. He and Piero often display a love you, whack you brotherly affection on and off stage. At times, the larking reflects back to their recent shift into a more sophisticated presentation. It is in those moments of bopping each other around, that the “kid” in them still comes through.
Gianluca Ginoble ~ “Anema e Core”
The first time I heard this song was during broadcast on PBS of “IL Volo Live from Pompeii’ in August. GG’s voice is a lyric baritone. He has a natural purring vibrato with an ascending vocal that reaches the tenor range. Every year on the calendar gives his voice more nuance when he sings those sentimental songs in a soft voice. There’s always an audience for a crooner. “Anema e Core” or “With All My Heart and Soul” is a Neapolitan song written in 1950 by Salvatore d’ Esposito and Tito Manilo and covered by Dinah Shore, Dean Martin, and Perry Como. On this recording, GG sings some of the lyrics in Italian and some in English. This was a new song for me. He found this gem and polished it to near perfection for this EP. GG’s energy is in the throat. The voice of the body. His voice is his truth.
GG has been criticized for his quiet appearance on stage often without much facial expression. I have attended five concerts in three years, I can agree that he tended to fall back and stand alone. The last show I saw in Stamford CT, June 2014, he did better at standing and simply gazing out at the crowd. IL Volo have learned to look at us, try and catch our eye while on stage. This is a technique in showmanship that is endearing to fans. Given his young age, he may be focusing his energy on the song and its delivery. Modern pop singers tend to be loud, glitzy, and with a lot of movement around on stage. That’s not IL Volo’s style. They enjoy that disappearing leap into the dark at the end of each show, but that’s about it for flash.
GG engages how he can. He is the most prolific of the three with posting selfies on social media. He enjoys posing and finding the best angle for the photo. He enjoys shopping and being well-dressed. The guy is young but becoming sophisticated before our eyes. In many ways, he is a throwback to a more suave type of performer, the like not seen today. Besides, the crooning music isn’t meant for listeners to watch him, it’s made for couples to watch each other. This is music for lovers. GG’s smooth as silk voice in the background can get that champagne cork popped in no time.
IL Volo “Sanremo Exclusive Edition”, new fans of the trio might want to add this to their collection. It’s gorgeous, fresh, and very Italian. As with most musical artists, to know who they are, simply listen. IL Volo are new, traditional and classical all at once. They are Italian artists singing in the bel canto style.
As written by Frances Ann Wychorski
Fans can find “Sanremo Exclusive Edition” from their PBS TV Station. I’ve included a link to the WGBH Boston webpage. I have not found it for sale separately but would advise fans be on the lookout through sources such as Amazon or Ebay.
For more information about IL Volo and their music, click on the link to their updated webpage. IL Volo Music
Photo Credits to IL Volo, Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble Instagram Accounts
IL Volo “Sanremo Exclusive Edition” @2015 Sony Music Entertainment USA Latin LLC