September 23, 2011

Speaking With: Piero Barone of Il Volo

Somewhere between Andrea Bocelli and Justin Bieber lies Il Volo, a trio of baby-faced Italian tenors who are embarking on their first U.S. tour in the wake of powerhouse performances on “American Idol,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Good Morning America” and, most recently, “Entourage.”

Listening to their self-titled debut album, it’s easy to imagine three fortysomething, portly and quite seasoned tenors. Take in their gorgeous three-part harmonies on the classic “Il Solo Mio” or their beautiful and emotional journey through “Smile,” for example, and you wonder where have these guys been hiding all these years?

Turns out, it hasn’t been all that many years, and the trio — Piero Barone, 18, Ignazio Boschetto, 17, and Gianluca Ginoble, 16, are nowhere near 40, or even 30. “Discovered” just three years ago when they were appearing as solo artists on the popular Italian television show “Ti Lascio Una Canzone” (“I Leave You a Song”), the singers’ youth belies the impossibly powerful voices they command.

Barone, with a lovely Italian accent peppering his remarks, spoke to the Sun-Times recently from a tour stop in Rome.

Question: How did Il Volo come to be?

Piero Barone: We met on the Italian TV show and the producer of the program decided to put our voices together. And we sang “Il Solo Mio” and the people loved what we did.

Q: When did all of you start singing?

PB: I started to sing when I was 3 years old with my grandpa. Later, I really started to study and to train with a music teacher in Bologna. Gianluca would sing with his father in the town square where he was growing up. Ignazio started to sing when he was just a young boy in Sicily.

Q: You sing classical/pop, mostly. Do you want to sing opera, as well?

PB: We can’t sing opera right now because we are too young. We have to study a lot of years to do that. So we love to sing classical songs and traditional Italian songs and pop music. We sing in five languages: Italian, Spanish, English, French when we are in concert. And we have just finished recording our Christmas album where we sing in German, too.

Q: What was it like to sing on “American Idol”?

PB: [The show] changed our lives. After that, everything was different for us. Before, I was home all the time; now, every day we are somewhere all over the world, traveling every day. [Laughs] This is not a normal life anymore. But it is something so wonderful.

Q: Everyone talks about the cool glasses you always wear. Do you need to wear them or are they a fashion statement?

PB: [Laughs] I can see without glasses, but they are the most beautiful things that I wear. I have 25 or 30 pairs. I think I’m crazy sometimes for wearing them, but I need to do it.

Q: What music do you guys listen to?

PB: Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, opera, jazz, blues. My favorite singer is Luciano Pavarotti. If you are making music, then you should like all kinds of music.

† Il Volo, 8 p.m. Sept. 28, Chicago Theatre, 175. N. State. Tickets, $29.50-$69.50. Call (800) 745-3000;

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

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