It’s not easy to get young people to listen to and like opera music, for sure, but an Italian trio of young men, Il Volo (means “The Flight”), is taking the world by storm with their unique pop-era– pop music meets opera. In the 1990s, The Three Tenors (which included Luciano Pavarotti), were “it,” and in the first decade of the 2000s, Andrea Bocelli was “it.” Now, for the 2010s, Il Volo is “it” — it being the biggest selling, most popular “classical” recording act in the USA.
The Il Volo trio is made up of three young guys in their late teens. You’ve got Piero Barone, the nerdy one with the spiky helmet hair and old-fashioned, usually red-rimmed glasses. He kind of looks like an odd-shaped chicken. Then there’s the chubby one– Ignacio Boschetto– who reminds me of Carnie Wilson, the chubby one from Wilson Phillips. Finally, there’s the heart-throb of the group, Gianluca Ginoble, whose eyes always look sleepy, as if they’re just half open. He looks like–no lie–Joey Lawrence (of “Blossom” fame: ‘Whoa!”), Joe Jonas, or John Stamos. He’s also been compared to Elvis Presley, and, long story short, he’s the member that teenage girls go absolutely nuts over. Interestingly, I read online that the group has also been compared to Alvin & The Chipmunks, whereas nerdy Piero is Simon, chubby Ignacio is Theodore, and cool Gianluca is Alvin.
Il Volo’s members hail from small towns in Italy.
They competed against each other in an Italian TV music competition that’s like “American Idol,” with Gianluca ultimately winning the show. However, during the show, the three guys sang the classic song “O Sole Mio” together, and discovered that they liked singing with each other, so Il Volo was formed and their first album, “Il Volo,” was released in 2010, doing well on the Italian music charts. Then, in 2011, that album was released in the USA, and sold a boatload of copies aided by the group’s appearance on American Idol.
I saw them on American Idol, and this week I’m watching them on PBS, which often airs their first taped concert special titled “Il Volo – Takes Flight – Live from the Detroit Opera House.” On this show, they sing, mostly in English, doing heartfelt ballads, and classics like “Smile.” And they kid around with each other and the audience with their limited English-speaking skills, endearing themselves to the audience.
It seems like these are “nice boys,” the kind girls would want to bring home to mama. Some have speculated that the group will break up, with each singer trying for solo success, which could happen, but my hope is they stay together as long as possible, because they’ve found a formula that works, and works well.