Fr Michael Collins
Last week, I was delighted to meet the three Italian teenagers who are the musical sensation, Il Volo. They were in Dublin to appear on the Late Late Show and promote their new album, Il Volo.
The three singers were in Dublin for just two and a half days, staying in the Herbert Park Hotel. It is the last building within the boundaries of St Mary’s Parish, Haddington Road, Dublin 4.
Fans of Il Divo now have their own junior version of the cross-over from classical music to pop.
When I met the boys at the hotel, they were brimming with the excitement of yet another appearance on TV. The three singers met while participating in the Italian RAI TV music competition Ti Lascio una canzone.
The show was filmed at the Ariston Theatre in San Remo, site of the famous annual music festival. The three were Gianluca Ginoble, aged 16 from Roseto degli Abruzzi in central Italy, Piero Barone (17) from Agrigento in Sicily and fellow Sicilian Ignazio Bochetto (16).
Gianluca won the competition but the three joined forces with other artists to record We are the World 25 for Haiti, a fundraising disc to help the Haitians in the aftermath of the horrific earthquake which hit the Caribbean island in 2010. They then went on to record their own album later that year in 2010.
The trio was an immediate success. I asked the boys where the voices came from. ”My grandfather is blind,” Piero explained, ”so since I was really small, I sang to him to pass the time. He always encouraged me and he taught me lots of songs.”
Ignazio says music surrounded him from early on in life. ”There was always music at home and I was always singing. I sing more than I talk.”
Gianluca is the most serious of the three. I asked how did he develop his extraordinary voice. He sounds like a young Andrea Bocelli.
”Well, first I have to say the voice comes from God.” He concedes that Bocelli has had a great influence on him.
”I listened to him a lot when I was growing up but I don’t try to imitate him.” He does not need to. When he opens his mouth, an extraordinarily mature sound emerges.
The three boys do not have any airs or graces about them.
”Its strange,” says Piero, ”everywhere we go, 80 per cent of the audience is made up of girls.”
Ignazio laughs. ”Don’t complain about that!” he says. Piero adds that the key to their success is their manager Michele Torpedine, who helped Bocelli and Zuccero launch their careers. Gianluca and Ignazio agree. ”Yes, without him none of this could have happened.”
Do the boys travel a lot? ”We seem to live in hotel rooms,” says Piero. ”We have been nearly everywhere except Africa. We are also trying to keep up with important things like learning our music even better, and in February we started having English coaching.”
With five million hits on YouTube just for their rendition of O Sole Mio, they boys are on their way to the stars.
The release of Il Volo on the Universal label, the group’s debut album featuring 12 tracks, will bring their music to the whole world.