The comeback experience
- First of all thanks Nicola (pictured below) for giving us some of your time. Let's start by talking about last year's experience, the long awaited comeback of Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest
You're welcome! It was a great experience. Really intense but an interesting challenge to convince the Italian viewers. We decided to bring something completely different and unexpected from Italy and it worked.
- It definitely worked, Raphael Gualazzi placed second and he's a top star in the jazz circuit!
We wanted to bring someone with a real musical project. Raphael has not stopped working since he won Sanremo and his album is doing very well. There was a good harmony between Raphael, his record label and the contest. I think they understood the atmosphere very well.
- So all in all a good balance. Will you repeat the formula in broadcasting the contest this year?
The balance of last year has been incredible, a wonderful experience, but ee will not use the same broadcasting formula of 2011 with Raffaella Carra and Bob Sinclar, as we don't need this kind of interface between Eurovision and the Italian audience anymore. Last year we needed it as a whole generation had lost out on the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy, and we needed to explain a bit.
The Sanremo link
- Last year you picked the winner of the newcomer's section of the Sanremo Festival, this year one of the acts in the establised artists category. Is the association of the two festivals working?
Sanremo is a different program. For us it's natural to associate the two programs on RAI, but there are differences between the two programs. One is mainly adressed to the Italian viewers, the other one to more than 40 different countries. The music in Sanremo is played by a live orchestra. Last year there was a wave of excitement around our country, but I also believe that the fact that the song was completely different and the fantastic job Raphael did, took us to the second place; a success that suggests that associating the two programs works.
Sanremo lasts for five nights and the same song is played several times, with time to grow within the audience, while the Italian entry in Eurovision only has one shot
- Sanremo is massive in Italy. What's the situation of the Eurovision Song Contest there now?
There has not been the same wave in Italy about our own return. We need to give it a bit more time. It's a long-term investment, rebuild the thrill around this program. We are doing all that's possible in a time when we know that each new budget is a challenge, and the cost for the “Big 5” participation is “Big”. We're active now in social media and as part of promoting the new adventures of Italy at this competition we just launched the Official Italian Facebook page and I hope that all the Eurovision fans of Italy, and abroad, support us by clicking "mi piace" (I like it)!!
- What was the method this year to choose the Eurovision artist in Sanremo?
There is an internal committee at the Sanremo Festival which selects the artist. What we mainly wanted to do this year was to pick the artist first, giving us time to choose which song was best suited for the Eurovision. There are a number of factors that were considered: a good singer, an artist with a career, someone interested in an international project, and whose record company is also interested in taking part in this contest. The artist also has to be available on those dates. There were more artists interested this time, and in Sanremo 2012 there were many interesting acts, so it was not easy.
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The artist for 2012, Nina Zilli
- So how did you fall for Nina?
Nina already had a nice experienced career, she's not a newcomer. She performed 50 mila in the soundtrack of the film Loose Cannons (Mine Vaganti), which turned out to be a success not only in Italy, so an international project made sense for Nina. If we follow the old system of choosing the winner of Sanremo straight away to Eurovision, there are many risks, and the artists should agree to this first.
- How did Nina took the news?
For her it was bit of a surprise, and when we told her about the contest, she fell in love with the idea, the big production, the stage, etc. Of course having a promotion in 42 different countries, for a local singer is something attractive especially in these complicated times for record labels. It also seems that the image of the competition that we probably had is positively changing into a contest of great opportunities. This year the Big 5 has made great efforts in this matter.
The decision to change the song was taken between Nina's record company Universal and Italian broadcaster RAI
- There was a change of song from the Sanremo entry to the Eurovision entry. What's the reason behind this change?
At the beginning Per Sempre was chosen; a song with very nice sounds reminiscent of the 60s Italian music tradition. There are several reasons why it was changed. Universal is investing heavily in the Eurovision project, promotion of Nina's album will work better with a fresh second single than with one released back in February; also L'Amore È Femmina/Out Of Love lends itself better to the kind of performance for Eurovision. Having only one shot we thought that Per Sempre was a bit more difficult, and you know, when you enter a competition you always want to be on top.
- That also explains why you also sing in English?
It is important that the song communicates something to all viewers, as the audience is wide and varied, and singing in English will maybe give inspire Nina to release a full album in English. Taking our music beyond Italy’s frontiers is one of our purposes to have returned to the contest, that and the synergy between a recording project that sells and representing Italy in the best possible way!
- How is the promotion of the song going on?
Radios all around Italy are beginning to issue the single L'Amore È Femmina. Eurovision is helping to promote the song and the song is helping us to promote to the contest. In Baku, Nina will be accompanied by three professional backing singers with careers of their own. The official video for the song has just been released and we're proud to offer it to you now!
Eurovision.tv would like to thank Nicola Caligiore of RAI for giving us some of his time to talk to us.