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Soaring Voices: Il Volo Takes Flight

Updated on February 5, 2014

O Sole Mio: Il Volo Signature Song

Is it a waste of public money to fund arts and music programs in schools? Go no farther before you listen to this version of O Sole Mio, a trio of Italian teenage tenors' first song together on TV:

Where are Il Volo now?

These three young tenors, who call themselves Il Volo, are now finishing their first World Tour. After a recording session at Detroit Opera House in October, 2011, they returned to Detroit for a fundraising concert for Detroit Public Broadcasting network PBS. They have been singing together for three years, and as their professional and musical relationships grow, their friendship deepens. In an interview on December 7 with Fox 2, they talk of their dreams to continue singing together, to win a Grammy, to learn to fly an airplane, and their love of race cars and soccer. As they wrap up their visit to North America, they head next to London and Spain to promote their album Il Volo, which has a track in Spanish. Watch for them soon in a tour of South America.

Il Volo Begins

They first hit the limelight in Europe in May 2009 on an Italian television talent show,“Ti Lascio Una Canzone,” with a powerful performance of the Neapolitan standard “O Sole Mio.” First written in 1898, this song was made famous by great opera tenors Enrico Cruso, Luciano Pavarotti, Mario Lanza and The Three Tenors, as well as rock/pop artists Elvis Presley (“It’s Now or Never”) and Bryan Adams. Here is that historic first TV performance, when they were fourteen and fifteen years old:

The boys, who more than rose to the calibre of these weighty predecessors’ standard, won the competition easily and were spotted by Tony Renis, who has been writer/ producer for Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. At first he thought the teens were faking it: how could boys 14 and 15 years old have the vocal power and control of 45-year old men with mature, trained opera voices? Amazed, Renis introduced them to Geffen chairman Ron Fair, who within minutes of hearing their video clip on YouTube committed to signing them for their debut album, which was released by Universal Music Group in November 2010 in Italy. Within months this album, Il Volo, went platinum in Italy without airplay or promotion, boosted solely by the overwhelming popular response to the trio’s appearance on three Italian television specials. In addition, in the United States Geffen Records signed the Italian trio onto Lady Gaga’s label Interscope and has just released their album in May 2011, where it almost immediately became a best seller on Amazon.

With mature voices, boyish good looks, and an obvious passion for music, they are hugely talented. Compared to Elvis, and Rolling Stones in charisma and stage presence, they sing a crossover repertoire that includes operatic, traditional and contemporary pop songs aimed to appeal not only to doting grandmothers but also to teens. With a solid audience in Europe, they crossed to North America in the spring of 2011, appearing on American Idol in May 2011. Already the experience of performing for a live audience who love them is seasoning and grounding their performance presence and their rapport with the audience. It is such a joy to see how much fun they have singing, filling huge outdoor amphitheatres with their voices, or dropping to a pianissimo phrase and holding the audience in the palm of their hands. On American idol, they just walked away from the judges and advanced grinning into the audience, singing for the crowd rather than the judges’ score.

Il Volo Biography

I love Ignazio’s dimples, the way he boogies with his whole body, and his chuffy charm as he finishes the closing notes and knows he’s done an amazing job!!

After American Idol, they made a guest appearance on the Ellen deGeneres Show, on May 26, 2011.

The boys have been singing since they were three, encouraged by musical families. They listen to all kinds of music and are especially affected by the pop lyric artists like Andrea Bocelli, Michael Buble, and Frank Sinatra whose music suits their voices. “We cannot sing Hip-Hop or Rap; our kind of voice complements this type of music,” Gianluca said in an interview with entertainment columnist Kaye Cloutman on April 11, 2011. Gianluca Ginoble is 16 years old and has been singing since he was a child, when he would perform in the square of his village. He is inspired by the great crooners like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Andrea Bocelli. He would like to sing with Michael Buble, Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.

Piero Barone,17 years old, also began singing as a child, playing with his grandfather by singing songs together sitting on his grandpa’s lap. He would love to sing in the future with Celine Dion, Lara Fabian and all the great artists of world music.

Ignazio Boschetto, born October 4, 1994, is currently 16 years old. He started singing at age three, and began studying with a teacher when his family moved to Sicily. He sang with school choirs and was encouraged by his father to listen to jazz, blues, pop, and opera. He listens to all kinds of music, except heavy metal. From the time he was a young boy his favourite artists included Luciano Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli and he aspires to sing with Celine Dion some day.

They met at music school and were grouped together to perform on a television special three years ago, at ages 14 and 15.

O Sole Mio with Translation

They have been flying higher and higher since then, soaring toward international careers and having the time of their life doing it. They love to sing!!! They have been singing since they were young children, encouraged by the support of their parents and grandparents, who sang with them, took them to hear great musicians perform, and found them teachers. All three families actively supported their sons’ passion for music, and strong family ties and tranquil support from parents and relatives continue to help the lads fledge international singing careers as they take to the stars.

Their breakthough song, which has become their signature song, is O Sole Mio. Here are the words, with an English translation:

O Sole Mio

O sole Mio

O sole mio

Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole
n'aria serena doppo na tempesta
pe ll'aria fresca pare già na festa
che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole.
Ma n'atu sole cchiu' bello, oi ne'
'o sole mio sta nfronte a the
'o sole, o sole mio

sta nfronte a the
sta nfronte a the.

Quanno fa notte e'sole se ne scenne
me vene quase 'na malincunia
sotto a fenesta toia restarria
quanno fa notte e 'o sole se ne scenne.
Ma n'atu sole cchiu' bello, oi ne'
'o sole mio sta nfronte a the
'o sole, o sole mio
sta nfronte a the
sta nfronte a the.

English Translation

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day,

The air is serene after a storm

The air's so fresh that it already feels like a celebration

What a beautiful thing is a sunny day

But another sun,

that's brighter still

It's my own sun

that's upon your face!

The sun, my own sun

It's upon your face!

It's upon your face!

When night comes and the sun has gone down,

I almost start feeling melancholy;

I'd stay below your window

When night comes and the sun has gone down.

But another sun,

that's brighter still

It's my own sun

that's upon your face!

The sun, my own sun

It's upon your face!

It's upon your face!

Lest you think O Sole Mio is the only song they know, hear “E Piu Ti Penso,” the song Gianluca would dedicate to the girl he loved:

Il Volo CD

You can hear these and other songs, including three written for them and one in Spanish, on their new album, Il Volo.

They are still in high school. They are still studying for exams at the Classical High School they attend, even as they fly to gigs in Paris, Liege, New York and LA, and perform with symphony orchestras and before royalty like Queen Rania of Jordan.

In June they sang "Il Mundo" in the Netherlands for a Unicef fundraiser. You can hear the distinct character of the three voices:

Il Volo in Netherlands for UNICEF, June 15, 2011

Together they can belt it out and fill stadia, like the Coliseo Balear, which is also known as Plaza de Toros, in Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands. With all their success in America, their roots are European, and in this late June 2011 outdoor concert lit with torches flickering in the sea breeze, the multilingual hosts banter in German and Italian while elegantly clothed and coiffed audience clap raucously to "Viva l'Espana!" and then listen raptly to "O Sole Mio."

Il Volo tour Asia 2011

In July and August, the trio of young tenors travelled through Asia, singing in Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Malaysia. The international experience is grooming them, they are getting more comfortable conducting interviews in English, and their humble enjoyment of the power their music has to ignite young fans around the world is transforming the genre of operatic pop. They patiently answer this young Malaysian interviewer's questions, questions they have answered before a hundred times. They are having fun travelling the world, learning "Thank you" and "I love you" in all the local languages, tasting sushi, satay and spices of the Orient, but they still love best the cooking from home.

Interview in Malaysia

As the star-making machinery kicks into overdrive and their huge international careers take flight with their dreams, let us remember the debt of gratitude the world owes to the parents and grandparents of these young men, for allocating family resources to fostering their musical education and nurturing their passion. Thanks also to their early music teachers, choirmasters, and vocal coaches, for recognizing rare talent when it appeared before them in the body of a child and disciplining them in technique, developing repertoire and providing encouraging performance experiences. And as much as any, thanks to the administrators and public officials who voted not to rescind public funding to music programs in the schools they attended.

Arts education in public schools nurtures the next generation of talent, and also yields an educated audience who can appreciate gift, verve and soaring voices lofting flights of spirit. Il Volo...the flight of eagles heading to the sun.

Sources and links of interest:

See photos from NYC performance party for US Promo Tour in May 2011.

Watch Il Volo in 25 for Haiti in 2010. They were already well-known in Europe by then, but new to North America when they sang with Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban and other stars, who were blown away by the big sound coming from the unknowns in the back left corner.


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    • profile image

      Marie Sunseri 

      5 years ago

      I have been a fan of Il Volo since July 2012 when I hosted an informal Il Volo party and played the PBS DVD. I search for articles and reviews of their concerts. "Opening Act" for the Audrey Hepburn Society Ball (UNICEF) Houston. I found two photos.

    • jellygator profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Wonderful! Voted up and shared.

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 

      6 years ago from NJ, USA

      Wow amazing talent - it's amazing what you can find on youtube these days! So much talent in this world!

    • Just Ask Susan profile image

      Susan Zutautas 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you so much for turning me on to these three young talented men. I enjoyed every video so much.

    • Judi Bee profile image

      Judi Brown 

      6 years ago from UK

      I've not heard of these boys, but I am sure I will in the future. Great introduction to these guys.

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      Alice, thank you for your comment and for sharing the link. I too am astounded at their talent and groundedness. In spite of their international acclaim and all the distractions that go with fame at a young age, they remain committed to developing their music with hard work. They take time to have fun and enjoy each other, and strong connections with their home and family help them.

    • profile image

      Alice Maung 

      6 years ago

      Janis, Thanks for this article - I have bookmarked it & will give the link to people when I'm trying to explain why I continue to be astounded by these young talents!

    • Janis Goad profile imageAUTHOR

      Janis Goad 

      6 years ago

      thanks for taking the trouble to comment, malombo. Yes, these three are working hard at their music, having fun travelling together and seeing the world, and still keeping their family values and closeness with their families.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      These youngsters are the NEW "3 Tenors". May they enjoy a long and prosperous career while maintaining stability and closeness with their families.


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