Italy’s Tonina Torrielli: ‘I didn’t know I was singing at Eurovision before’ | Eurovision 2022
wooHen Tonina Torrielli represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest in Lugano, Switzerland in May 1956, not only did she never know how well her song performed, as the winner was announced only after a secret vote, But what she didn’t even know was that she was participating in the first edition of what would become the biggest music competition in the world.
“They packed me like a parcel for Lugano, without explaining what it was for,” said Torrielli, who lives in Turin, where the 66th Eurovision Song Contest is taking place. “So I went and sang and that was, I didn’t know it was the first European song contest because nobody was talking about it.”
Her singing career in music competitions lasted until the mid-1960s when she opened a music shop called Maschio on Piazza Castello in the center of Turin with her late husband, Mario Maschio, a drummer.
The shop also became famous, and was the place to go for music lovers for the next four decades. “Even today, people come and ask: ‘Where is Mashio?'” said Shpatim Zani, a concierge in the building next door. “It was very famous; People came from everywhere because you could find all kinds of music there.”
Maschio may be gone – a clothing store has replaced it – but music fever is very much in the air as Piazza Castello and other squares and parks around Turin are filled with buskers and local musical acts in the lead up to the Eurovision Grand Final on Saturday. are filled.
“There’s a really lovely setting where he used to shop for musical instruments,” said Dino Ricciutti, who was playing the saxophone a few steps from Maschio. Well, Turin is back to life.”
Italy is hosting Eurovision for the first time in 31 years after glam pop band Menskine won the 2021 edition with a stunning performance from Zitti a Buoni. The band in Rome enjoyed unprecedented success, including supporting the Rolling Stones at a concert in the US in November.
Menaskin’s victory, along with the fact that Italy is this year’s host, helped revive the competition in a country that withdrew from the event on several occasions over the past 66 years, citing lack of interest.
In 1974, the state broadcaster Rai censored the contest for fear that the title of the Italian song, C, sung by Gigliola Cinquetti, Italy’s first Eurovision winner in 1964, may have gotten the public to vote yes in support. have been approved. For the upcoming referendum on divorce. Italy last withdrew from the competition in 1997, returning in 2011.
The country is now the most successful in the “Big Five” automatic qualifiers along with France, Germany, Spain and the UK, having finished in the top 10 in eight of the previous competitions. Mehmood, who came second in 2019, is doing competition again this year, singing Brividi, a classic Italian ballad, in duet with Blanco.
“It is difficult to compare this competition to the previous one, although we are very happy to represent Italy on home soil,” Mahmoud said. “We are really drawn to it, and hope to give it our best so that our music can be better known overseas.”
Torrielli got his big break singing competitively at the Sanremo Music Festival, which had started a few years earlier and was the inspiration behind the Eurovision Song Contest. Still wildly popular in Italy today, whoever wins Sanremo sings for the country at Eurovision.
Torrielli, nicknamed “Candy Girl” because she worked in a sweets factory, became an overnight sensation when she won 6,400 from all over Italy to earn a spot among 15 people who took part in the Sanremo festival in March 1956. More candidates defeated.
“The factory owner must have heard me sing opera songs, and so prompted me to participate,” said 88-year-old Torrielli. Her song, Amami Se Wooie, came in second, but because Eurovision previously allowed two songs for each of the seven. Among the participating countries, Torrielli represented Italy with that year’s Sanremo winner, Franca Raimondi.
Torrielli competed again in Sanremo, placing third in 1957 and second in 1958, and has traveled the world attending other music festivals.
Journalist and music critic Federico Capitoni noted that Eurovision had become more fashionable in Italy, mostly thanks to the menacing, but that Sanremo still ruled. “If you think about who has participated in Eurovision in the past, nobody remembers who they are,” he said.
Not true at all. Torrielli, who spoke to the hospital where she was operated on after a recent accident, still receives fan mail. There is also a page dedicated to him on Facebook, where supporters share clips of his songs.
Surprisingly, though, she is not such a big fan of his music. “If you asked me the lyrics of my own songs, I wouldn’t remember,” she said. “But ask me to sing like Mi chiamano mimi . [by Puccini]I know them all by heart because opera is the music I love.”