The Italian trio, Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto, and Gianluca Ginoble -- young men barely in their early twenties -- have been singing with Placido Domingo, toured with Barbra Streisand, performed in New York City at the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony and Radio City Music Hall, and, most recently, won the 2014 Latin Billboard Award for Best Artist of the Year, Duo or Group.
Called 'Il Volo', they have worldwide tours in North America, South America, and performed throughout Europe. Their executive producer is Michele Torpedine who discovered and managed Andrea Bocelli.
In this exclusive interview with ZENIT in Rome, the members of the Italian operatic pop trio shared their interest in the World Cup Final in a “Pope vs. ex-Pope” context and their meeting with Pope Francis.
Moreover, they candidly reflect on how their families and faith are connected with their stardom.
ZENIT: Are you Catholic?
All: Of, course. Yes of course, yes
Piero: We were raised Catholic by our families. Our families and our parents always taught us and took us to the Church. So we’ve been going to Church on Sundays, but we pray every day.
ZENIT: Does your faith play a role in your work?
All: Yes … absolutely … Sure
Gianluca: There is a great quote, “Who sings... prays twice”
Ignazio [interjecting]: That’s mine
Gianluca: That’s Ignazio’s
Ignazio: I think praying can give you hope, you know… and faith. So, it’s really important to pray.
ZENIT: I noticed especially in the Christmas album there seems to be a profound reverence.
Gianluca: Yes, Ave Maria … Panis Angelicus
ZENIT: I’ve noticed every so often you, Gianluca, look up as you are singing these songs, could you explain why?
Gianluca: Yeah, because I sing for God. And in Ave Maria, I sing for Maria. I just look up in the sky and think about … Well, the lyrics are beautiful. Ave Maria is in Latin, I studied Latin for two years, and I understand every lyric, word, every single word. So, that’s why. It’s something special in my heart.
ZENIT: I am going to turn this a little bit more toward the family, as it’s a topic ZENIT’s readers are very interested in. First, many see that you three have been good role models in the midst of a society that a society where being moral may not be a way to gain popularity. Could you discuss this?
Gianluca: Responsible, yes […] We know how to handle our life in every situation because we have behind us a great team. You can see it, our managers following us every single moment, and so that’s why we can keep concentrated and focused on our job because we want to share it with the people, and we want to convey all our emotions and love for the music … For this kind of music. [ … ]
Ignazio: We need to thank our families for giving us such a good education.
ZENIT: In terms of the family sacrifices, could you speak on this, on those sacrifices they made for you to be where you are now?
Piero: There is a reason why we talk always about our families. Because if today we are here, it is just thanks to them and to God who gave us this talent. And everyone is making sacrifices for what we are doing, even our brothers and sisters because they stay home without us, so it’s different for everyone, but we love what we are doing. They are super smart. So, we love them every single day.
Ignazio: I think when we talk about sacrifice we mean not just in terms of money, but in terms of time, faith, and they wanted to help us. It wasn’t just for money.
Gianluca: I think that parents just want to see that their children—their son[s]—are happy, that’s all they want.
Ignazio [interjects]: If we are happy, they are happy
Gianluca: Yea, of course … That’s what I wanted to say [laughs]. That’s a simple way.
ZENIT: How has it been for your families with the constant travel?
Piero: We’re in 2014 and thanks to the technology now we can talk with our families through Skype. We talk with them every day, and they just tell us do what you love and keep doing what you’re doing.
Ignazio: But, of course, they are missing us a lot.
Gianluca: That’s probably the negative part of this kind of life, to be far away from the family, but … thanks to Skype we talk to them every single day.
ZENIT: Piero, some have recognized you wear a cross, and some have reported you are using what you earn from your work to help your siblings, particularly with financing their education. Could you speak on these two things?
Piero: This cross, my grandma gave me this six years ago, and I’ll never take it off, it’s blessed. As far as my education, I just want to say thanks to my mom, I’ll always be grateful to her because since I was young, she always brought me to the Church and ever since then, I’ve never stopped going to the Church when I am home.
ZENIT: With your siblings, are you helping your siblings with their education?
Piero: Yes, of course, I am helping them.
ZENIT: Do all of you have siblings?
Piero: Yes, I have one brother and sister. Ignazio has a sister, and Gianluca has a brother.
Gianluca: For example, I have a brother he’s almost 14, Ernesto. Maybe you know of him from social networks.
ZENIT: Speaking of Social Networks ...
Gianluca [interjects]: Yes, the Pope has tweeted and it’s great.
Ignazio: the Pope
ZENIT: Il Volo has retweeted the Pope. Could you explain?
Gianluca: Yes… me, I did it.
ZENIT: Why have you done it?
Gianluca: Because it makes me strong. I don’t know. The Pope is from Argentina. I love Argentina. It’s a beautiful country. I love the people from Argentina. I don’t know. How can I say? It’s simple. Just like the old man that you see walking on the street, but it’s the Pope. […]
Piero: He’s the coolest Pope we’ve ever had. And I’m so curious what he and the ex-pope did for the final world cup.
ZENIT: Well, around Italy and the Vatican it’s been a hot topic lately.
Gianluca: Yes, from Ratzinger [condolences sent by Pope emeritus’s secretary] …. Yes, they [the cartoons of the Popes tied to the final] were very funny … Oh, that’s another thing, Messi retweeted my tweet I will say that because I love Messi… he’s my idol. That’s why I am so sad, talking about the World Cup. But anyway […] I wanted to say that.
MEETING WITH POPE FRANCIS:
ZENIT: Turning to Pope Francis, you all had the pleasure to meet with him recently, right?
Piero: We met him about three months ago. And we had the chance to talk with him. We liked him before having the chance to meet with him, but now we love him. Because in those few seconds we met with him, he gave us like more spirit, and more joy … to enjoy the life.
Ignazio: He’s giving a new message of the Church, and all the people inside. He’s giving this fresh message, a love for religion.
Gianluca: We’d love to sing for the Pope one day. In front of the Pope. Of course … That’s one of our dreams.
ZENIT: You showed him your albums?
Piero: Yes we gave him our two albums Il Volo and Il Volo: We Are Love. We told him that we performed at the Gran Rex in Argentina, in Buenos Aires, three times. He told us, “Of course I know, I know.” Because we’ve performed there, at that theatre, three times. He’s super, he’s super cool. … I love him.
ZENIT: Another thing, Pope Francis often brings attention to the elderly (gli anziani)…
Gianluca: [interject/jokes]: Come lui [“Like Him”]….I’m kidding (pointing to their manager walking by) …
But I know that your grandparents have had a big role in your lives. Could you speak a little about this?
Gianluca: My grandfather was very Catholic. He goes to the Church, every single Sunday, to pray, to pray for me […] It’s our inspiration, my grandpa, his grandpa, Ignazio’s grandpa …
Ignazio: It’s just my grandma now.
Piero [interjecting]: And she’s Catholic?
Ignazio: So Catholic. She’s so Catholic.
Gianluca: We started listening to this sort of music thanks to our grandparents.
Piero: For the older generation, everyone was very Catholic. I think now though the young generation, I think, is losing their Catholic part. But, thanks to Pope Francis, I think he’s bringing back Catholics and the Church.
Gianluca: Yes, the young generation is getting closer again […]
ZENIT: There have been several good gestures you have done in your roles. I noticed there is one girl who was sick who you had reached out to, could you speak on some of these acts, these good works?
Piero: Yes, We had some experience with our fans. And we were so glad and proud when they love our music, so we are so glad if we can give them a smile, if their lives are sometimes super hard.
Gianluca: Sometimes at the meet and greet, our fans say you have saved my life. “You saved my life, your music saved my life.” [ … ] It makes me feel better … a better person.
On the NET:
Official Il Volo Site: www.ilvolomusic.com