Vittorio Grigòlo is renowned for his soaring tenor voice, his handsome stage presence, and his unmatched success in the fields of opera and popular music. But he learned his craft in a very different arena of music-making. From the ages of 11 to 14 he was a chorister with the legendary SISTINE CHAPEL CHOIR in Rome, one of the oldest choirs in the world and the source of western religious music. For this reason, he brings a uniquely authentic approach to his intimate sacred album Ave Maria, available now from Sony Classical. "I want to let people know where I come from, and to share my story," says Vittorio, who personally unearthed some of the hidden scores from the Vatican and closely advised on several of the orchestral arrangements.
The album contains many sacred favorites, such as Franck's Panis angelicus, Verdi's Ingemisco, Mozart's Ave verum corpus, and both Schubert's and Caccini's Ave Maria. But it also includes beautiful music which was composed specifically for the Sistine Choir and which has never before been recorded or performed outside the ensemble. Vittorio has included 4 works by two composers/choirmasters whom he knew personally during his time in the choir: Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci and Padre Giovanni Catena. Embracing the composers' own advice about their work thus gives authority and authenticity to Vittorio's performance, and influenced his own beautiful arrangements.
The tenor, who sang as a boy contralto in the Sistine Choir, has a personal connection to every note of the repertoire. Gaetano Capocci's Dolce cuor was his first ever solo with the group. The same composer's Salve Regina was sung as a prayer by the boys at the end of every day. The tenor first learned Schubert's Sérénade (the only non-religious item) while on annual holiday with the choir and Jacques Offenbach's orchestral version is included on the album. There are works by former choirmaster Lorenzo Perosi (whose music was much admired by Puccini) and Louis Niedermeyer, and other rare pieces which are still part of the everyday life of the choir.
Vittorio is joined by his friend and former fellow Sistine chorister Fabio Cerroni as conductor of the Orchestra Roma Sinfonietta, and he teams up once more with the current youngsters of the choir. "When I met the boys during the recording process, I felt for a moment as if I'd stepped back into my past," he says. "I feel the album is a tribute to all the incredible people who helped me as a boy, and to all the hours we studied and practiced in those little rooms in the chapel."
The title sums up the disc for him. "Mary is a symbol of love. And even for people who are not religious, this music speaks of the mystery of fate, and of things which are beyond our understanding. This album is a dream come true for me."