IL Volo Live from Pompeii

IV_DVD_FINAL84_t700IL Volo have released a new DVD: “IL Volo Live from Pompeii”. The concert was recorded for PBS television on June 10th near the Roman Amphitheater at Pompeii prior to the start of a successful 24 city Italian tour. Detroit Public Television premiered the concert July 6, with the performers in studio during the fund-raiser. PBS affiliates aired the concert during the traditional August fund drive offering concert tickets, DVD’s and CD’s to donors as thank you gifts. The DVD is now available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble to the general public. It’s live and it’s IL Volo.

The DVD play list includes a classic IL Volo repertoire with three hits from the sixties, “Delilah”, “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me” and “Unchained Melody”. Several compositions won or performed first at the prestigious Sanremo Music Festival including their signature hit from February, “Grande Amore”. There are songs from cinema “Eternally” and “Beautiful That Way”. Three songs are recorded in Spanish including “Grande Amore”, “Si Me Falta Tu Mirada” and “Recuerdame”. The aria “E lucevan le stelle”, from Tosca and a Neapolitan serenade, “Anema e Core”.  A complete list is located at the end of this article.

The CD “Grande Amore” International Version and EP “Sanremo” have a majority of these songs on their play list. Readers can find a review of both on this blog by clicking on these links.

Highlights

The DVD opens with a flyover of the great Roman amphitheater. The corona of the setting sun washes over the back wall now holding up the canopy of a starlit night. The musicians tweak their instruments into tune. The Filharmonica Veneta, led by Maestro Celso Valli, fills the night with beautiful music. The audience leans in and the show begins.

The concert rolls on for a non-stop hour and twenty minutes. IL Volo’s voices blend rich, vibrant tenors and a smooth warm baritone. Despite their young faces, these guys are pro’s at blending their strengths and bringing out the best in every song. There’s a softness in tone now. Their range has broadened to include the subtle as well as the power. Their harmonies are complex, each singer finds his key, the note ensemble, and takes the lyric to its fullest potential. The singing style is either a throwback or trend setter for bel canto, songs beautifully sung. Not many pop singers have the gravitas for a 33 piece orchestra with a rhythm section. The guys are entertaining, sophisticated and playful in their fitted Armani suits.

IL Volo are at their finest with “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla. An Italian lament to the late Enrico Caruso born in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius. A bittersweet story of love and loss. A man whose heart has given up but still he goes on living for a little longer.

mezzanine_939The ride rolls into a fabulous arrangement of the Neapolitan gem “Volare” by Domenico Modugno. Drummer Paolo Valli gives the guys a rumba beat to play with and gets the audience up dancing  too. The highest C is hit with a little extra oomph. It’s a romp, it’s a bomp, It’s fantastic!

“Si Mi Falta Tu Mirada” by Marco Marinangeli and Claudia Brant. A Spanish tale of being lost in love and a tangle of emotions. IL Volo form a sweet bound with the audience and get them up swaying in the night. It looks like diamonds flashing in the dark. The shimmering wave is from smartphones but could be specters of old awoken by the energy.

Hiccups

The concert has a misstep or two, not in musical quality but in too much editing. The show opens with a brief announcement by a voice telling us IL Volo coming to America for the first time from their Italian home. So who are these guys? Two songs in and we still don’t know. The performers pause to acknowledge the viewing audience but don’t introduce each other. They don’t even take a pause to say goodbye at the end of the show. The credits role and we still don’t know. It was quite an effort to find the names of the performers in the liner notes. They appear in small print under their solo tracks. This is the 4th collaboration with PBS TV in three years. But, could be the first for viewers. The previous specials had the singers frequently naming each other and chatting to the audience to help make that important personal connection.

If this is the first time watching, Piero Barone 22 wears the red glasses partially concealing fine dark expressive eyes. Piero speaks through his eyes and brings a more palpable quality of emotions into his repertoire. He sings a classic aria from the famous opera Tosca by Puccini. He does a terrific job extending or shortening those round Italian vowels in classic operatic technique. It’s a gutsy step forward in his career and an outstanding moment in the show.

Ignazio Boschetto 21 is the most flamboyant on stage. Although the shows are scripted, he has a spontaneous streak and often breaks into dance doing the Boschetto boogie. He is the rare tenor whose voice can soar above a full orchestra. He has perfect pitch and can ride up to a high C in his range.

Gianluca Ginoble 20 has a silky light baritone that finds new depth with each song. His nickname is GG for generally gorgeous. He is the philosopher of the trio and most prolific on social media. In this stage performance, he is now going out comfortably into the crowd and greeting the audience with ease. All three have grown as performers and people, always classy with their own special pizzazz on stage.

Il Volo "Live 2015"Anfiteatro di Pompei - Ercolano
Il Volo “Live 2015″Anfiteatro di Pompei – Ercolano

The stage lighting allows for some glimpses of the ruin. Piero sings his aria up on a tiered step. The camera pans out to the audience showing the crumbling back wall but that’s it. Pompeii is one of the finest Roman ruins in Italy at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s an entire Roman city well-preserved and a must stop on the once popular Grand Tour of Europe for 200 years. It’s still a must stop when in Naples for any traveler. The previous IL Volo DVD’s made with PBS offered a documentary on the making of the program. As enjoyable as the music is, it’s the chance to see these guys off-stage that can be the most memorable moments. All at once, we see they are three young Italian guys kicking around a soccer ball, flirting with girls, or chatting up the crew. They’re a lot of fun! So puzzled by the lack of video of the site itself, I contacted Detroit PBS Business Development Officer, Jamie Westrick and asked was there a separate film of the making of the concert in the works? Ms. Westrick has been part of the executive production team for all four releases. She said, “unfortunately, I’m unable to share many details”,  but she didn’t say no.

Honestly, some of the best moments of these PBS concerts are during the pledge breaks when the guys are in studio romping around talking to donors, chatting up the hosts and commenting on their lives as performers. They are sweet, sexy and deliciously Italian. Footage of these events are priceless and part of the experience. The understanding comes that they are young men coming into the prime of their lives. Their talent is unique and they make the most of their musical gifts. These exchanges help the viewer come alive again with the joy of music as IL Volo are able to express in body and spirit. It’s contagious in the most delightful well, the chance to fall in love with music again at any age.

All three of the guys have been named Ambassadors of their respective hometowns. Never have any of them failed to express their love of family, home, and their city of birth. In fact, it was the first DVD that inspired a personal journey to Sicily this year. The curiosity to see, taste, and experience this enchanted island was fostered by Piero and his consistent views from home. He loves Naro and showed it for what it is, a gorgeous Baroque treasure of tiny squares, churches and steep narrow streets winding around up to the castle. When in Marsala, of course I stopped at the Boschetto Family pizzeria. How delightful it was to meet Ignazio’s sister Nina and realize that despite the fame of the brother, the family is well grounded and takes pride in owning their own business. Gianluca loves Montepagano and a visit to Abruzzo is high on the list of next stops in Italy. Of course I want to go.

unnamedThe first DVD, “IL Volo Takes Flight,” was a winner because of the banter and mixing it up with the audience during the program. “IL Volo Live from Pompeii” has managed to edit out all that fun. There are a few glimpses here and there of the guys cheering on and interacting with the audience. But the trim was cut too close. Detroit PBS, pick up those bits off the cutting room floor and splice them back into the video. Give us the play, and charm that make this such a great trio.

Overall, it’s a chance to see IL Volo in concert from the comfort of home. If a show is out of reach, than the DVD is an option. The charisma and fun that is IL Volo is best appreciated in person. There is an extensive concert tour in Italy, USA and Europe for 2016. Tickets are on sale now and moving fast. Check out their website, IL Volo Music,  for dates in 2016. Try and go, you’ll have the time of your life!
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Play List from the Detroit PBS DVD
1. Grande amore
2. Io Che Non Vivo (Senza Te)
3. Beautiful That Way (La Vita È Bella)
4. E Lucevan le Stelle
5. Delilah
6. Caruso
7. Quando L’Amore Diventa Poesia
8. The Best Day of My Life
9. Anema e Core
10. Nel Blu, Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)
11. L’immensità
12. Unchained Melody
13. Ricordami
14. Piove
15. Eternally
16. La Vita
17. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
18. Si Me Falta Tu Mirada
19. Recuerdame
20. Grande Amore (Spanish Version)

Photo Credits to IL Volo

@2015 Sony Music Entertainment US Latin

Written by Frances Ann Wychorski

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IL Volo Grande Amore International Version ~ Review

This oneThe newest CD from IL Volo, Grande Amore International Version is out. The Italian trio of Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble have had an ambitious 2015. A win at Sanremo Music Festival in February. A third place technical finish, but a popular vote first place at Eurovision in May. They just put a wrap on a successful Italian Summer tour beginning in Rome and ending in Verona. A PBS TV Special, “IL Volo Live at Pompeii” is being aired in American markets. A concert schedule has been announced with tickets selling well for a 2016 tour in North America. They have made numerous appearances on Italian Television, and will be on the road promoting this new CD. It’s only October! Their artistic efforts are winning new fans at home. They have paid their dues and are in demand now.

This CD was purchased as part of a donation made to Detroit Public Television. The DVD of “IL Volo Live from Pompeii”, and bonus EP, “Sanremo Exclusive Edition” were included. The pledge of support was made in July during the airing of the concert on PBS. However, the gifts in kind did not arrive until September 15, 2015. Member Services sent out routine messages that the products would be shipped when available. The delay may have been caused by the release date of this CD as September 25. This little jewel was still in production when the order was placed. All items shipped at once.

The cover art features Gianluca loosening up his tie while Piero and Ignazio tussle on the sofa. A playful, provocative portrait with the trio decked out in Armani. IL Volo keep to their traditional format of presenting new songs, traditional Italian favorites, a show stopper or two, music for cinema, songs in English and a Spanish ballad. All the songs are presented ensemble in the genre, popular, Latin, and classical music, sung bel canto.

The English songs include two hits from the sixties. “You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me”, originally an Italian composition by Pino Donnaggio and Vito Pallavicini. Dusty Springfield had a big hit with it in 1966. The Rolling Stone Magazine listed this as 49 on The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. “Delilah” by Barry Mason and Les Reed was a hit for Tom Jones in 1968. It reached 15 on the Billboard Top 100. IL Volo give terrific high energy performances, rocking them right off the CD.

The show stopper may be the cover of the well-known Neapolitan song “Volare” or “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu” by Domenico Modugno. This was performed at Sanremo in 1958. It was Song of the Year and won Modugno a Grammy for Record of the Year. The musical arrangement is dazzling with skillfully played percussion and strings. It’s hard not to want to move to the energetic rhythms. What a wow! What fun!

A shout out to Paolo Valli, Ceseare Chiodo and Mattia Tedesco. They appear on 11 songs bringing an outstanding musical arrangement to each. The percussion and strings are the backbone of this CD. The meter shifts, movements, and bridges are smooth. The singers are well supported. A key strength on this CD is the harmonious blend of timing between singer and instruments. Nothing is rushed. The singers match emotion with emotion.

Grande AmoreoooOf all the compositions presented, three stood out as exceptional: “Per Te Ci Saro”, “Caruso”, “Beautiful That Way”. The songs are fun, passionate, and sweet. The weave of the voices with the music are IL Volo at their best here. Per Te Ci Saro(I’ll Be There for You) is an adaptation of the song “Heroes” by Sommerdahl, Fitzgerald and Horn originally sung by Japanese singer Ayaka Hirahara. IL Volo have a knack for finding popular songs and changing the arrangement to their forte. It’s smoothly done and stands out for complete musicality. Bravi a tutti.

IL Volo are dedicated to winning new fans with their sound. They have a habit for finding life in dusty old tunes. A song is never old, it just needs a little love to bring out the best in it. Piero, Ignazio, and Gianluca bring texture, feeling and energy to all their songs. They sing from the heart and are dedicated to bringing what they have to the world. Now they have a signature song in “Grande Amore”. The theme of this CD is we are here, we are now and we are on the way up.

Look for the new CD on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Check out IL Volo Music for concert dates in 2016.

As written by Frances Ann Wychorski

Play List
1. Grande Amore
2. La Vita
3. Nel Blu, Dipinto Di Blu (Volare)
4. Quando L’Amore Diventa Poesia
5. Per Te Ci Saro
6. Aspettero
7. L’Amore Si Muove
8. You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me
9. Eternally
10. Si Me Falta Tu Mirada
11. Delilah
12. L’immensità (2015 Version)
13. Caruso
14. The Best Day of My Life
15. Beautiful That Way (La Vita È Bella)
16. Piove (2015 Version)

IL Volo Grande Amore International Version
Sony Music Latin
@2015 Sony Music Entertainment Italy
Release date September 25, 2015

IL Volo Sanremo Exclusive Edition, an Unofficial Autobiography in Song

Review of IL Volo Sanremo Exclusive Edition
Release date: September 2015

SRIL 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.

IV with MTThe 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”

PBPiero’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,
mentr’io fremente
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”

IgnazioIgnazio’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”

GGThe 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

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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