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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

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In Music

Italian pop-opera trio Il Volo is coming to the Milwaukee Theatre Saturday night.

Italian trio Il Volo defies the definition of boy band


At first glance, the singing Italian trio of Il Volo – comprised of Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble – looks no different from most modern boy bands you may see (except perhaps with an above average stylist). Even their television origins are reminiscent of One Direction and Emblem3.

And then you hear them sing.

When I first popped on the music video for the band's early single "'O Sole Mio," I thought I was watching some SNL Digital Short parody of a boy band, with robust opera tenor and baritone voices supposedly falling out of these teenage boys. Then I watched a live performance video and confirmed that, yes, that's actually what they sound like. The definition of "boy band" had just pleasantly expanded outside the world of homogenized pop.

Fans of the group's operatic stylings won't have to settle for YouTube clips this weekend, however. Il Volo will be performing at the Milwaukee Theatre on Saturday, June 21, collaborating with the Wisconsin Philharmonic. Before they hit the stage, OnMilwaukee got a chance to chat with tenor Barone about the group's origins, meeting his idol and their mission as a "boy band."

OnMilwaukee.com: When did you realize that you had these vocal chops?

Piero Barone: I realized I had this voice when I was young. When I was a kid, my grandpa was the one who discovered my voice.

OMC: Did you always know you wanted to be a singer at that point?

PB: Of course. I was born into a music culture, and music was my life. Music was everything, so I always trained to be a singer.

OMC: How did the three of you then join together and realize you had these three voices that worked so well together?

PB: When we met on the Italian TV show ("Ti lascio una canzone," translated into English as "Leavin' You A Song") five years ago, we were like single singers. Then the producers decided to put our voices together.

OMC: Was it kind of awkward as originally a solo singer being paired up with two different singers?

PB: You know, at this time, we have to focus on Il Volo because we are like three boys but just one soul. Maybe one day in the future, who knows, but right now, we have to stay focused on Il Volo.

OMC: At the time, when you first came together, was that odd at first being teamed up with two strangers?

PB: No, no, no, no. Since the beginning, we had a great feeling. Since the first time, we felt like brothers.

OMC: You guys have done a lot of really cool stuff – you've sung on "American Idol" and with Barbra Streisand – but what's been the best or most meaningful moment for you so far?

PB: You know, the three of us, we have different tastes. But I'm Piero, no? And I love Placido Domingo. I was born listening to opera music, so when we recorded this song ("Il canto") with Placido Domingo, it was my dream come true.

OMC: What was it like meeting him and recording with him? Did you learn anything from him?

PB: Of course, he's like a teacher. He's the maestro; he's the legend, the number one tenor right now. I learned so many things from him, but the most important thing is to keep studying. Study, study everyday.

OMC: Is it hard to keep motivated to study that much, especially considering you have to learn so many different languages as well?

PB: You know, it's difficult because you're traveling everyday, and you're always in a different city. So you have to be really focused and careful with everything you do.

OMC: Is there a language that's harder than the rest for you?

PB: For me, German is the hardest language. But I think for everyone, German is the hardest language.

OMC: Do you have any new albums in the works?

PB: Yes, we are working on our new album. It will be released, I think, in 2015. We're working on that, and we really can't wait to release the new album.

OMC: You guys are technically a boy band, but comparing your voices to what American and British boy bands do, it's pretty black and white. Do you still have to deal with that boy band stigma?

PB: In a way, we're not a boy band. It's strange to see three young guys singing this kind of music because usually, a man like 45 years old sings this kind of music. But that's our goal: to bring this kind of music to all different generations, especially to the younger generation. That's the point, the contrast; you imagine a man of 50 years old, but it's an 18-, 19-year-old.


Talkbacks

Lab.Lover2 | June 20, 2014 at 4:00 p.m. (report)

Even though your review of Il Volo was very positive you need to know that they do NOT like being referred to as a "boy band".

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