This evening saw the first of five shows of the 63rd Sanremo Festival. Hosts Fabio Fazio, who first hosted the festival in 1999 and comedian Luciana Littizzetto, introduced seven of the 14 acts in the Campioni section for established acts. Usually, each singer has one song, but this year came with a new innovation.
Not since 1960 have the participants in the festival had to sing more than one song. This year, the organisers decided to let each entrant perform two songs, with one being eliminated via the now well established procedure of a public phone vote combined with the votes of a jury, which was made up by representatives of the press. The surviving song will compete for overall victory in the final evening of the festival this Saturday. During the final evening, the act to represent Italy in Malmo in May will be announced and will be chosen from one of the singers competing in the festival.
Opening the festival was Marco Mengoni. His first song, Bellissimo, was very much in the mould of songs which have been successful in the past, but the public and jury voted for his second song, L’essenziale, to go forward to the Ultima Serata.
Raphael Gualazzi, who came second when Italy returned to the Eurovision Song Contest in 2011, was next to perform. His songs, Senza Ritegno and Sai (ci basta un sogno) were both what you would expect from him, both being very much in the jazz style. Senza Ritengo is mixed with blues while Sai (Basta un Sogno) was more commercial jazz. Sai (Basta un Sogno) was voted through to the final evening.
Daniele Silvestri always provides something a little bit different and this year his two songs, A Bocca Chiusa and Il Bisogno di te were no exception. Thankfully (if you’re a stage hand) he used the same piano that Raphael had just vacated. The slower A Bocca Chiusa was kept in contention for the big prize later in the week.
More jazz followed when Simona Molinari and Peter Cincotti took to the stage, although there was also an element of swing about both their songs. The first, Dr Jeckyll Mr. Hyde, suffered from a weak vocal by Simona, but she was much better during the second song, La Felicità. This was probably reflected in the fact that Dr Jeckyll , Mr. Hyde will play no further part in the festival.
From his appearance, you could be forgiven for expecting a rock song from the next singer, Marta sui Tubi, but no! Instead, he went leftfield for his first song, Dispari, which, quite appropriately, translates as Odd. His second song, Vorrei, is a bit more ‘standard’ in sound, but the fast, slightly jumbled style of the ‘melody’ remained. With not much to choose from, Vorrei stumbled into the final.
Glamorous Maria Nazionale was up next with her first song,
Quando non Parlo. The sound is in the style of her native Neapolitan and was a
much more conventional song. Her second
song, E’ Colpa Mia, is also in the Neapolitan tradition and is, frankly,
stunning in its beauty! E’ Colpa Mia was the favoured song, but either could
have contended for victory on Saturday.
Before the final singer of the evening performed, Toto Cotugno was given award in recognition of his immense contribution to the festival over his long career. He couldn’t have left without singing one of his songs; it would not have been right under the circumstances, so he gave a rendition of L’italiano, his song from the 1983 Sanremo festival.
After much chit chat with Toto, Chiara Galiazzo was finally able to perform her two songs. L’esperienza dell’amore, was sung first and is a big, sweeping, very Italianesque ballad which Chiara’s young voice couldn’t quite match. Il Futuro che Sarà brought the evening’s competition to a close. Although mid-tempo, it had a relaxed feel to it. It did the trick with those that matter as Il Futuro che Sarà proved to be the favourite with those that matter.
On Wednesday, the second evening of the festival will see the other seven acts in the Campioni section perform and put their songs at the mercy of the public and press. The first four singers in the Giovani section for new acts will also perform.