The Leonardo da Vinci Society of the Bay Area is celebrating its 70th Anniversary. Founded by Italiophiles who were captivated by the genius of...
We are usually attracted by people’s personality, behavior, and look. In particular, we tend to remember more easily a rude and impolite person who gives us a hard time, rather than those who spread joy and good vibes.
This is because, even if they don’t have a stronger or more remarkable personality than the “good guys”, aggressive people are, as a matter of fact, more common. Filippo Voltaggio - singer and entertainer specialized in Italian music – is an exception: he’s a good guy and, at the same time, a person not easy to forget.
Born in Monterey in 1964 of immigrant parents from Sicily - his father Antonio and his mother Chiara left Italy in the 1950s -, Filippo grew up in Northern California with the determination to keep the Italian language and culture alive in the family.
His parents, in fact, raised their children - 3 sons and a daughter - in Italian social circles, where everybody spoke, ate, and drank the Italian way and listened to Italian music, mainly operas. Filippo’s father worked as a teacher, but back in Sicily he used to work both as a teacher and a singer. “He had a classical background,” Voltaggio recalls, “and according to him not even Frank Sinatra was a singer”.
But despite this “family tradition” - or maybe because of that -, Antonio Voltaggio didn’t want his children to become singers. “My father always said and felt that all Italians have beautiful voices and the gift of being singers, but not all of them can become top-level engineers or doctors. He wanted us to be doctors and engineers”.
And so it was: shortly after graduating with a Bachelor Degree in Engineering Management with emphasis on Electrical Engineering from the University of California, San Diego, Filippo was recruited by IBM and quickly moved up to Jr. Management.
“I worked there for 7 years and I was doing very well, but I wasn’t following my real passion. During my entire childhood, I was always interested in arts, mostly singing and painting. Even when I became an engineer, I continued to perform in groups, orchestras, or as a soloist. This is the reason why I quit IBM and became a full-time singer and entertainer”.
Filippo Voltaggio grew up listening to all the Italian classics, such as Beniamino Gigli, Domenico Del Monico, Tito Schipa, and Domenico Modugno. He was also passionate about famous tenors the likes of Enrico Caruso, Sergio Franchi, and Pavarotti. “I have always wished to be a tenor,” he says, “but I never could, as my voice is naturally closer to a baritone.” Baritones can easily adapt to love songs, thanks to their strong sensuality. This peculiar feature was recognized in Filippo by the Worcester Magazine in Massachusetts, which described him as a High-Voltage Italian, from where his nickname The Voltage of Love has derived.
Always ready to embrace the change - one of his colleagues also nick-named him as The Master of Change -, Voltaggio is currently producing a radio show called The Life Changes Show, aired live every Monday evening at 7pm on BBS Radio. “The World is changing, and we talk about this in the show,” he explains. “Basically, we interview some people and ask them about how their lives have changed, even though the development hasn’t started from a positive change”.
After all, changing has been a huge part of Filippo Voltaggio’s life: “Since when I was a child, I always asked why things were happening and why they were happening in that way. I also used to tell people the meaning of things. My father was a heavy-handed person but he had his reasons, as his life experiences brought him there.
I make use of former life experiences to ask myself and others: “How can we do it better?” With every single step that I take, I watch myself and pose questions. I have changed from the little Italian boy I was. I grew up humble, then was selected by IBM and became a manager, doing the things that people expected me to do, like buying a car and a house. But that wasn’t my life. I made mistakes and changed again. Actually, I keep changing constantly.”
And this is why his shows are always funny and sober at the same time, in a way that makes people laugh responsibly, with consciousness and awareness.