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Italy's Francesco Gabbani spreads his Occidentali's Karma in Kyiv

05 May 2017 at 18:29 CEST
Italy rehearsal 2017 Thomas Hanses
Francesco Gabbani has received massive support from Italy after his victory in Sanremo — positive energy he takes with him on stage. Together with his dancing ape, which became the hallmark of his act.

Francesco Gabbani has won the Sanremo Festival for two years in a row. Last year he won the newcomer’s section and in February of this year he won the big artist’s category, which gave him the right to represent Italy at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest with his song Occidentali's Karma.  

The video of Francesco's winning performance at Sanremo went viral and was features in media across Europe. While most of the public takes his song lightly, Francesco has double feelings towards his song: "I would describe my song and performance as being very funny. But at the same time very heavy from an emotional point of view," Francesco said to 

"It was really moving"

During Francesco's first rehearsal, his aim was to feel the stage in order to find the right way to express the emotions that he wishes to convey: "The rehearsal went well and was really moving. I also noticed that the technical level was very high."

The characteristic attributes from the original performance in Sanremo and his music video has been transferred to the stage in Kyiv. The dancing ape is there, as well as the well-known meditative signs and patterns. "My main goal in the Eurovision Song Contest is making myself and my song known to the European audience," Francesco said.

Revealing the ape

The idea of bringing the ape on stage came from Francesco himself, because he wanted something that expressed the naked monkey from the lyrics on stage. The man behind the ape mask is an Italian professional dancer and choreographer named Filippo Ranaldi. 

"My favourite bit is comunque vada, panta rei e Singin' in the Rain.” Pants Rei is Old-Greek meaning Everything Floats and that phrase comes from the Greek philosopher Herakleitos, which is a continuation of the philosophical trace in the lyrics.

To the zoo

Francesco also spoke about the greater meaning he sees behind the Eurovision Song Contest, above the competition in itself: "In addition to being a contestant, I am also being invited to the European music scene. I am proud to represent Italy and happy to share this experience with the other participants."

During Francesco’s time in Kyiv, he wishes to get the opportunity to explore the city — although he is well aware of his busy schedule. "Maybe we will take the monkey to the zoo in Kyiv after the performance," he joked.

As one of the so-called 'Big Five, Italy is immediately qualified to take part in the Grand Final of the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest, which will take place on Saturday, 13th of May.