Il Volo singer charms in talk about Fresno concert

The Fresno BeeAugust 24, 2013 

Il Volo is made up of tenor Ignazio Boschetto, baritone Gianluca Ginoble and tenor Piero Barone.

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Can you blame a guy for wanting to kick back a little? Some downtime with his beloved grandfather, hanging out with his 13-year-old younger brother (who's already taller than he), soccer every day with his buddies, some free moments to wander the meandering streets of his quaint hilltop village — it's all a nice break.

"I'm enjoying my vacation — for a month!" exclaims Gianluca Ginoble, on the phone from Italy.

But don't get the 18-year-old Il Volo singer wrong. He's excited to get back to the crushing schedule of an international pop-opera star.

After a whirlwind couple of years in which the trio has criss-crossed the globe, including concerts and TV appearances, in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and South America, the three singers — Ginoble, Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto — are embarking on a new American tour.

Fresno is one of four West Coast appearances scheduled, along with Vancouver, Concord and Los Angeles.

The group plays Friday in a presentation by Fresno Grand Opera at the Saroyan Theatre.

The funny thing is, Ginoble says, that Il Volo gets more attention overseas than in his native country.

"We are not so famous in Italy," he says.

Sure, many Italians know about the group. The three singers first became known after they met at a TV music competition in 2009. Packaged together as a trio, they performed under several names until becoming known as Il Volo ("the flight").

But his countrymen — especially the younger ones in his age group — are much more likely to go wild over Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars, he says.

"I have two kinds of life. One is when we go to the U.S. When we come back to Italy, it's completely different."

The same goes for such famed Italian crossover pop-opera singers as Andrea Bocelli, he says. Bocelli can play at the Hollywood Bowl and attract a crowd of 20,000 people. In Italy, he says, it's more common to see Bocelli performing for 2,000 people.

"It's very weird, how the Italians cannot love and adore this kind of music," he says.

If you could give points for intercontinental charm over the phone lines, the amiable Ginoble would rack up enough to reach the bonus round. He's unfailingly polite, funny and well-spoken — the kind of nice Italian boy that any gal would love to bring home to Mama. (Well, if Mama didn't freak out about a singer with matinee-idol looks and a voice as smooth as Italian silk dating her daughter.)

Actually, Il Volo seems to perform the feat of attracting both daughter and mother in terms of demographics — particularly in the U.S.

The New York Times noted in 2011 that the group channels an unlikely mixture of Bocelli and the Jonas Brothers.

"The group attracts an older demographic as well as a much younger audience than we would typically see at other opera performances," says Ronald D. Eichman, general director of Fresno Grand Opera.

Ginoble says he takes the screaming fans in stride. He can identify with what it's like to be on the other end, after all.

The group got the chance to perform with Barbra Streisand, a concert that will be packaged as an upcoming PBS special.

What was it like to meet one of his idols?

"She is Barbra Streisand," he says with a laugh. "When I met her for the first time I was crying like a baby. It was a dream come true."

This will be the group's second visit to Fresno. In June, the singers came to Fresno to announce the concert and support the Valley Public Television pledge drive.

Just by examining photos of Il Volo since they came together, it's clear the members of the group have matured from baby-faced teens to a more sophisticated, mature look. (Boschetto, in particular, has gone from chubby-cheeked crooner to leading-man material.) The biggest change, though, might be the voices themselves.

Ginoble felt when he was younger that he was definitely a tenor.

Now he considers himself a baritone.

He says he loves opera. (An oft-told story has him performing arias as a tyke with his grandfather.) But he wants to be clear about something: He does not want to be an opera singer, and, in fact, only began taking vocal lessons a year ago. He does not see a future of tromping through three hours of "Turandot" just for the chance to sing "Nessum Dorma."

Instead, he's far more interested in a Rat Pack-style arc of a career.

The best part of our brief interview: the enthusiastic Ginoble going on about his favorite singer — Frank Sinatra.

At the Fresno concert, Ginoble will sing Sinatra's trademark "Night and Day."

And then he launches into a line or two for the song. It's like my own mini-long-distance crooner's concert. Like I say, he knows how to pour on the charm.

"I think that music speaks when words fail," he says.


IF YOU GO

Il Volo, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saroyan Theatre, 700 M St. fresnograndopera.org, (559) 442-5699. $37.50-$137.50.

 

WIN TICKETS

Go to fresnobeehive.com for a chance to win two tickets to the Il Volo concert.

 

The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6373, dmunro@fresnobee.com and @donaldbeearts on Twitter.

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