There were a couple of things that could've ruined my Il Volo experience. First off, I initially thought they were called Il Vulva and were a Vagina Monologues tribute opera. Not the case. Secondly, there was an oddly dressed and smelly man sitting in front of me who yelled out whoops like he was at a Jay-Z concert.
Once I got past all of that, I was still an opera novice at a sold-out teen opera concert. It didn't help that the show opened with cheesy lighting and background images straight out of a Windows screen saver. I haven't seen anything like it since I saw Neil Diamond in concert (that insufferable genius bastard).
With everything apparently working against the trio -- who I dubbed "Pretty," "Smooth Operator," and "Glasses," (respectively, see above) -- things weren't looking good. And then they opened their mouths.
They were all born in the '90s. I know, it's totally gross. They've accomplished more as teenagers than most people probably will ever. And it's not from a false inheritance of fame or the whoring of fame that's so prominent these days. It's because they not only have an incredible gift, but they have clearly worked meticulously at growing and maintaining that gift.
Glasses and Smooth Operator (a.k.a Piero Barone and Ignazio Boschetto) unexpectedly brought an element of slapstick comedy to the show. It was like watching two of the Three Stooges goof off in between bouts of astonishing vocal performances. Between Glasses trying to say the word "world" without seductively licking the audience and Smooth Operator ordering Glasses to de-clothe him, they managed to keep everyone laughing.
Pretty, (AKA Gianluca Ginoble, whom I suspect knows exactly how attractive he is) made the error of mistaking overly dramatic facial expressions and hand movements for showing passion for his singing. Corny doesn't begin to cover it, but his saving grace was his breathtaking rendition of West Side Story's "Maria." Not an audience member gambled to breathe, lest they be too loud and miss a note. Even my odorous neighbor dared not let out a single whoop.
"Funiculi, Funicula" was the song that brought everyone to their feet. You've probably heard it, even if you don't recognize the name. The lively music paired with their sensational voices made the experience of watching them exhilarating. Although each member of the group brings an indelible talent to the stage, it's when they sing together in three-part harmony that magic is made.
Throughout the show, I kept changing my mind on whose voice I liked the most. In the end I decided on Glasses, despite the hipsterness of his nick-namesake. But if I saw them tomorrow I'd probably change my mind. The talent is undeniable, the gimmick is their age, but one day that won't work any more. Good thing they don't need it. All they need is a stage and someone lucky enough to listen.