The singer will perform on the final evening of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday 14
In 1964 he was 16 and won Sanremo with Non ho l’et. How did she keep her head off?
The head was already mounted on my own, regardless. Gigliola Cinquetti in the mid-sixties was already an international diva, a two-time winner in Sanremo, a triumph at Eurovision, tugged by half-European TVs. In three minutes my life changed because from an ordinary girl I became a little celebrity. I realized it immediately, just the Sanremo after the first television appearance: outside the hotel in a moment I was attacked by a crowd of people. It was a kind of aggression, bordering on hysteria. I, my parents, my record companies, everyone, perceived for that period as the era of ephemeral successes: I thought it lasted months, instead it lasted years.
She was paired with the singer Patricia Carli, in that edition there were also Milva, Claudio Villa, Gino Paoli, Modugno, Gaber, Tony Renis, the American stars. A teenager who beats the giants … What emotion did she feel?
It had no effect on me, because I was absolutely self-aware, in my presumption as a girl. In addition to me there were other rookies, we had no respect or awe in the face of hunger that we thought was already over. In our eyes they were the “old men”. We knew perfectly well that we were the winners.
Didn’t the shy girl clich belong to you?
I was shy, I did not like at all being exposed to the assaults of the public, nor being forced to speak, to say something. I just wanted to sing. I sang for that very reason: because I didn’t want to talk. But there was the awareness that we were a new generation, that we were for the first time – as very young – the real protagonists. Inside of us we felt like protagonists and when one believes something, even easy, it becomes true. Thus we have become masters of our destiny, as a generation we have marked an epoch.
What was it like managing that violent, sudden popularity?
The head was already mounted on my own, regardless. I was very proud of who I was, not of success. I was busy living my life and trying not to waste anything, not to take my steps wrong. I was also terrified of the responsibility I had to myself. I wanted the things that matter, I wanted love; success mattered very little to me even though I was sure of my artistic vocation; I was looking for authenticity, I was trying to understand who I was, a search of extreme difficulty in that whirlwind of events that overwhelmed you, of physical aggression of one’s own space and time. Everyone asks you something, everyone wants to use you, even if I have never given a negative meaning to “being used”: to be used beautifully, but you have to allow it while respecting your essence. But where was this essence? They tell you: be yourself. Try it yourself? What the fuck does that mean? This idea of being yourself makes you dizzy with panic.
After Sanremo he also came first to Eurovision.
In a few weeks I won Castrocaro, Sanremo, then they called me to sing at the Olympia in Paris, all day at Galeries Lafayette they played my song, I performed on German TV: I was already an international singer, Eurovision was almost the natural consequence , there was no longer anything to be surprised by. I am not aged
it was a truly global success, my records also made it to Kinshasa.
In Sanremo she was second in 1965, then the following year again first with God, as I love you paired with Modugno.
It was an exciting recognition because it was exclusively Mimmo’s choice. She asked me to meet him and listen to this song alone in a room, she took the guitar and sang it for me. I was a child who read many adventure books and dreamed of a life of adventures. Her music for me represented that world of adventure I had dreamed of as a child.
For Modugno he went alone to Eurovison. Was she upset?
No. It seemed right that whoever wrote the song did what he wanted with it; I already felt more than grateful to Mimmo for Sanremo. What more could I want.
The song came last. So she was happy not to be there …
Maybe I wasn’t last … but probably not before, it was a piece that took time to become an evergreen.
At a certain point, in full success, he took a sabbatical: he left the music to devote himself to the family. Why this step backwards?
I have been with the suitcase in my hand for 15 years, I still remember the fatigue and intensity of those experiences. But when I got married in 1979 (with the journalist Luciano Teodori) and had two children, I told myself that I couldn’t keep going around the world. Above all, I didn’t want to. I wanted to enjoy life. Just working everything passes in front of you, one day you are here, another there, you do not build relationships, you do not build anything for yourself. But I wanted to build, I wanted to have fun, I wanted to enjoy my life. With my husband we toured Italy, we made many trips abroad to show the world to children. I have allowed myself those luxuries that I could not allow myself before. It was a waste to see beautiful places, to live intense experiences but not to be able to share them with anyone; or with people I didn’t give a damn about, like the promoter on duty. Success was a means, not an end.
On the day of the final, Saturday 14, I will go up on the Eurovision stage in Turin to sing Non ho l’et once again.
Pasolini used to say that success is the other side of aggression, an aggression that for me has turned into an embrace, into something beautiful, sweet, intimate. When that sudden and naturally violent success is disposed of, and vanishes, a trace remains, which is the one that brings me back to singing at Eurovision today. Total gratitude for the success I have had; if it had not been there I would not have this extraordinary gift of singing a sweet song that has been the talisman of my life, every word of that song I have introjected. And that transversal success ended up binding me intimately even to people I don’t know personally.
In the race there are Mahmood and Blanco.
They are delightfully tender, I like them in their grace, they are very good.
Last year the Mneskin won: do you like them?
I always plan to listen to these “new” artists more widely, I know what they did in Sanremo but I don’t know much else about their repertoire. I understand the great strength of their image, I like their youth, their beauty, I like this very Italian aesthetic applied to rock. In this I see the novelty. an overcoming of certain clichs.
Today at 74, what is he not aged for?
For all. I still feel immature, and I love that feeling.
May 6, 2022 (change May 6, 2022 | 12:30 pm)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED