Home / News / Italy’s return to Eurovision – San Remo festival to pave the way for Düsseldorf 2011 – exclusive interview with Jalisse (ESC 1997)

Italy’s return to Eurovision – San Remo festival to pave the way for Düsseldorf 2011 – exclusive interview with Jalisse (ESC 1997)

It was the biggest news at the start of the Eurovision season: Italy, after 13 years of absence, applied to take part in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Italy was one of the seven countries which participated in the debut contest in 1956. For 25 years the country remained a consistent ESC contender until, during the Eighties and mid Nineties, Italian broadcaster RAI chose to stay out of the contest on random occasions.  At the end of the Nineties, Italy finally abandoned the Eurovision Song Contest for a longer lasting period.

This week, from today, Tuesday, 15th Feb , to Saturday, 19th Feb, Italy celebrates the 61st edition of the legendary Sanremo Festival. During the course of the festival a special jury will choose the artist best fit to represent Italy in Düsseldorf in May. On this occasion, we will broadcast an exclusive interview with the duo Jalisse, Italy’s last ESC representatives at the 1997 contest. If you missed the broadcast today, Tuesday, 15th Feb at 15:00 CET, you can listen to the interview here:

[audio:https://www.escradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Jalisse-Italy-interviewed-by-Matthias-Petermann-Podcast.mp3|titles=Jalisse (Italy) – interviewed by Matthias Petermann Podcast]

It was the biggest news at the start of the Eurovision season: Italy, after 13 years of absence, applied to take part in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. Italy was one of the seven countries which participated in the debut contest in 1956. For 25 years the country remained a consistent ESC contender until, during the Eighties and mid Nineties, Italian broadcaster RAI chose to stay out of the contest on random occasions.  At the end of the Nineties, Italy finally abandoned the Eurovision Song Contest for a longer lasting period.

This week, from today, Tuesday, 15th Feb , to Saturday, 19th Feb, Italy celebrates the 61st edition of the legendary Sanremo Festival. During the course of the festival a special jury will choose the artist best fit to represent Italy in Düsseldorf in May. On this occasion, we will broadcast an exclusive interview with the duo Jalisse, Italy’s last ESC representatives at the 1997 contest. If you missed the broadcast today, Tuesday, 15th Feb at 15:00 CET, you can listen to the interview here:

[audio:https://www.escradio.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Jalisse-Italy-interviewed-by-Matthias-Petermann-Podcast.mp3|titles=Jalisse (Italy) – interviewed by Matthias Petermann Podcast]

From early on Italy’s participation in the Eurovision Song Contest had been linked to the Sanremo Music Festival. From 1956-1966 the Sanremo winning songs were automatically sent to represent the country at Eurovision. All Italian entries from that era are classics in their own right, but we would like to point out three songs explicitly. In the 1958 Eurovision Song Contest, the legendary Domenico Modugno presented his Sanremo winning song “Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu”, better known as “Volare”. The song won the third place in Eurovision, went on to become a massive international hit and is regarded today as one of the greatest songs of European pop music ever. Three years later, Betty Curtis represented Italy in the 1961 Eurovision Song Contest with the song “Al Di Là”, coming 5th. Emilio Pericoli’s version of the song reached #6 on the US Billboard pop chart and #3 on the easy-listening chart. Conny Francis’ bilingual version, English-Italian, became a hit in several countries. In 1964, Italy finally scored its first win with Gigliola Cinquetti and her beautiful ballad “Non Ho L’Età”. The song reached the top ten in several European countries, peaked at #17 in the United Kingdom. Until today “Non Ho L’Età” is considered one of the finest Eurovision winning songs ever.

At the end of the Sixties decade, Italy still sent the Sanremo winners to Eurovision, but not with their Sanremo winning songs.

During the 1970’s the Italian Eurovision entries were no longer directly linked to the Sanremo Festival. Nevertheless, Italy continued to send big names to the Contest: Gianni Morandi, Nicola di Bari, Massimo Ranieri, and, once again, Gigliola Cinquetti who almost won the contest for a second time with her brilliant “Si”, only kept off the number one position by Sweden’s ABBA. Other 1970s Eurovision contenders from Italy were Wess & Dori Ghezzi, Al Bano & Romina Power, Mia Martini, Ricchi e Poveri and Matia Bazar. The following decade, Italian broadcaster RAI chose to stay out of the contest on three occasions, in 1981, 1982, and in 1986. Among the seven Italian Eurovision songs from the 80s, again three songs should be mentioned explicitly: Alan Sorrenti’s 1980 entry “No So Che Darei” came 6th in the contest and made the top ten in several countries, a #1 in Italy, #3 in Switzerland, #5 in Sweden and Norway, #14 in Austria and #22 in Germany. Italy’s entry to the 1984 Eurovision Song Contest, Alice e Battiato’s “I Treni Di Tozeur” came 5th in the competition, and is a big favourite among the fans of the Contest. The same applies for the Italian entry of 1987. Superstar Umberto Tozzi, in a duet with Raf, sang “Gente Di Mare”. The song become another European hit, a #3 in Italy, #6 in Sweden, #7 in Switzerland, #8 in Austria, #20 in the Netherlands, and a #39 in Germany.

The start of the 1990s decade brought Italy a second victory:  Toto Cutugno won the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest with “Insieme: 1992” and went on to achieve moderate European chart success, #2 in Switzerland, #3 in Austria, #9 in France and #13 in Germany. The following years, Italy remained successful in the competition. Peppino di Capri came 7th in the 1991 contest (“Comme È Ddoce ‘O Mare”), the legendary Mia Martini returned to Eurovision in 1992 singing “Rapsodia”, a 4th place, and another very popular song among ESC fans. Enrico Ruggeri represented Italy in the 1993 edition of the festival, coming 12th with the song “Sole D’Europa”. His participation was followed by a three-years break. In 1997, Italian broadcaster RAI chose the duo Jalisse with their Sanremo winning song “Fiumi Di Parole” to represent the country at Eurovision. However, their excellent fourth place in Dublin also marked the beginning of a 13-year Italian absence from the Eurovision Song Contest.

In 2011 Italy finally returns, and in the course of this week’s Sanremo Music Festival, 15th to 19th Feb, a jury will choose the artist to fly the Italian flag in Düsseldorf in May.

For more info on Italy in the Eurovision Song Contest please visit http://www.eurovision.tv

For more info on Jalisse please visit http://www.jalisse.it

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