Patrizio Ratto’s audition on America’s Got Talent in 2019 has been viewed over 9 million times on YouTube. However, the beginning of his performance didn’t bode well. Firstly, the Italian appeared to be overwhelmed with shyness and nerves. “I’m so excited to perform,” he just about managed to say in broken English. Secondly, he appeared to be a simple pianist in a formal dinner jacket. He would perform the beautiful – but relatively easy to play – “Für Elise”, composed by Beethoven.
As his piano was wheeled onto the stage, the judges looked anything but excited about what was to come. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been here for ten years,” Howie Mandel joked, “but I bet you we have a piano player coming up next.” With a look of abject boredom, Simon Cowell responded with a sarcastic, “Whoopee!” Ratto began his rendition of “Für Elise”, and Cowell looked incredulous at how mundane the performance was. But what happened next blew all his preconceptions out of the water.
Suddenly, Ratto slowed the tempo, and an electronic hip-hop beat began in the background. He continued to play the piano with one hand while moving his other arm in rhythm with the music. Cowell’s eyes widened with surprise, struggling to understand what was happening before him. At that point, Ratto kicked away his piano stool, leapt to his feet and threw away his suit jacket.
Now, he broke into jerky, robotic dancing full of crazed energy. “What is going on?” presenter Terry Crews shouted to the camera, echoing the thought of everyone watching. Ratto moved his body around with an incredible show of contortion and flexibility. He threw himself forward to the floor, bouncing up and down with his arms. Then he leant back so far that it was a wonder he didn’t snap both of his legs in two.
The supremely talented Italian also showed a humorous side as he pretended to look at his own arm wobbling independently from the rest of his body. He checked his watch as if wondering when the arm would finish its solo, bringing laughter from the audience. After more jaw-dropping robotic moves, Ratto returned to the piano to finish “Für Elise”. This calm moment contrasted perfectly with the frenetic chaos that had just ensued.
Cowell, who had been the biggest sceptic of this performer, was the first on his feet to applaud. Given the ecstatic reaction, it was no surprise that Ratto received a yes from all four judges to go through to the next round.
He was eliminated from the Judges Cut round, ending his hopes of winning the competition. However, his audition had caused quite a stir. It proved to Simon Cowell – and everyone watching – that excitement and innovation can still be found in playing a Beethoven piece on the piano. If you would like to see more from Patrizio Ratto, you can subscribe to his YouTube channel or follow him on Facebook or Instagram.