Kind of an Il Divo for the younger set, Il Volo features three Italian teens who capably work their way through a repertoire heavy on operatic pieces and standards. The trio met on an Italian reality show, then continued to perform together. The group's self-titled debut has been an international hit, reaching the U.S. top 10 after its release late last year.
Members Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble are currently on the road for a U.S. tour. Barone, at 18 the oldest member, called from Chicago to discuss the shows and the sudden fame. His English is a bit shaky, but his enthusiasm transcends any language barriers.
Question: The group's big song is "O Sole Mio." Is it a stereotype to think that every Italian knows this song?
Answer: Growing up, this song is a traditional Italian song. Everybody knows this song. My grandpa made me listen to this kind of music. Then the first time the TV producers had us sing together, they had us sing this song. Then when we made a record, they put it on the album. It's special for us.
Q: Did you listen to pop music growing up?
A: Of course. We sing pop music and classic music. But if you looked at my iPod, you'd see all kinds of music, from Andrea Bocelli to Elvis Presley and Lady Gaga.
Q: Was your goal to wind up in a group?
A: No, never. My goal was just to be a singer. I never thought that this would happen at this age. I never planned on finding two different guys to start this career. Now we are three friends.
Q: What's it like having your music do well in the United States?
A: For all Italian singers, I think it is like a dream. Italian artists come here and bring the music, and we have arrived here, and we're bringing the music to the people of the United States.
Q: The group is also successful in Spanish. Do you speak the language?
A: Yes, we understand and speak Spanish. Our producer (Humberto Gatica) speaks Spanish, and it was very important to us to do it right.
Q: What are your audiences like?
A: We love our audience. They may be from Mexico or Latin America or North America or everywhere. We have people from 13 years old to people over 40. The nice thing is we can say the younger generation now gets to love this music.
Q: Have you gotten starstruck meeting any celebrities yet?
A: Oh my God! We really meet everybody because we're contracted with Interscope and Geffen and Universal Music. At the parties after the Oscars and after the Grammys, we've met Lady Gaga, Eminem and the Black Eyed Peas. They are like big stars and we are like normal fans.
Q: Is your schedule exhausting?
A: We are never tired. We are ready to do everything. Now we are on an American tour, and we'll be in Chicago. We are ready to see America and taste the American food.
Q: Do you miss Italian food?
A: Yes, of course. You can find Italian food in America, but it's not like in Italy. In Italy, it's the best in the world. If you eat in Italy, you eat like you are eating in paradise!