At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Adriano Celentano – singer and actor

Italy’s biggest-selling recording artist of all time


Adriano Celentano on stage in 2012
Adriano Celentano on stage in 2012
The pop singer and movie actor Adriano Celentano, who is estimated to have sold in the region of 200 million records in a career spanning 60 years, was born on this day in 1938 in Milan.

One of the most important and influential figures in Italian pop culture, Celentano enjoys such enduring popularity that when he gave his first live performance for 18 years at the Arena di Verona in 2012, screened on the Canale 5 television channel, it attracted an audience of more than nine million viewers.

He has recorded more than 40 albums, the latest of which, Tutti le migliori (All The Best) reviving his collaboration with another veteran Italian star, Mina, was released only last year and included new material.

Celentano’s biggest individual hits include Stai lontana di me (Stay away from me, 1962), Si è spento il sole (The sun has gone out, 1962), Pregherò (I will pray, 1962), Il ragazzo della via Gluck (The boy from Gluck Street, 1966), La coppia più bello del mondo (The most beautiful couple in the world, 1967), Azzurro (Blue, 1968), Sotto le lenzuola (Under the sheets, 1971), Ti avrò (I will have you, 1978) and Susanna (1984).

He also had an unexpected worldwide hit in 1972 with Prisencolinensinainciusol – a made-up word that Celentano sung in such a way as to demonstrate what American English – the language of most pop songs – sounds like to a non-English speaking Italian.

Celentano, centre, with his 1950s band The Rock Boys
Celentano, centre, with his 1950s band The Rock Boys
Celentano also appeared in more than 30 films and countless TV shows, mainly comedies, in which he developed a character with comic facial expressions and a distinctive way of walking. It was no surprise that he was a great fan of the zany American comic actor Jerry Lewis.

One of his earliest parts was in Federico Fellini’s classic La Dolce Vita, in which he played a rock musician, while his most acclaimed role was in Pietro Germi’s Serafino, in which he played a simple shepherd who inherits a fortune from a wealthy art and squanders it all before returning to his old life in the mountains.

Born in Milan in Via Cristoforo Gluck, in a modest neighbourhood near Milano Centrale station, Celentano grew up obsessed with the American rock and roll scene.  His early music was pure rock and roll, heavily influenced by Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Bill Haley, whose iconic track Rock Around the Clock was part of the soundtrack of Blackboard Jungle, the film that captured the imagination of Celentano and his fellow teenagers when it was released in 1955.

He and a group of friends formed a group The Rock Boys, who recorded covers of Rip It Up, Jailhouse Rock, Blueberry Hill and Tutti Frutti.  They are credited now with having introduced Italy to the rock and roll genre.

Celentano with his wife, actress Claudia Mori, on the  set of a TV show in 1972
Celentano with his wife, actress Claudia Mori, on the
set of a TV show in 1972
As his career developed, he won the Sanremo Music Festival in 1970 with Chi non lavora non fa l’amore (Who does not work does not make love), in which he partnered his wife, Claudia Mori.

He had met Claudia, a beautiful actress and singer from Rome, on the set of a film in 1963 and they married secretly in Grosseto the following year.  

Mori, who appeared with her husband in several films as well as accompanying him in several duets, is the manager of his record company, Clan Celentano. They have three children – Rosita, Giacomo and Rosalinda, all born in the 1960s.

In the 1970s, Celentano was so popular and the demand for tickets for his concerts so great he began to stage events at football stadiums, playing to 65,000 at the San Paolo stadium in Naples and 50,000 at the football stadium in Rimini.

He has several times taken long breaks from performing live, in order to focus on other projects. After 14 years without going on stage, he made a comeback of sorts in 2008 at the Giuseppe Meazza Stadium in Milan – home of his beloved Internazionale – as part of the celebrations for the club’s centenary.

Scene at the Arena di Verona for Celentano's 2012 concert
Scene at the Arena di Verona for Celentano's 2012 concert
It set the seed for him to plan his 2012 show in Verona, where he demonstrated that his voice had lost none of its power and sophistication, reeling off a string of his greatest hits from six decades of music.

Increasingly a political figure – many of his songs carry strong messages – he is a supporter of the centre-right Five Star Movement, led by his long-time friend Beppe Grillo.

The Palazzo del Ghiaccio now stages events such as banquets in a uniquely striking setting
The Palazzo del Ghiaccio now stages events such as banquets
in a uniquely striking setting 
Travel tip:

Adriano Celentano made his performing debut in 1957 at the Palazzo del Ghiaccio (The Ice Palace), a beautiful Art Nouveau building in Via Piranesi, in the Porta Vittoria area of the city. Opened in 1923, covering 1,800 square metres, it was once the major covered ice rink in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The building was seriously damaged during the Second World War but was restored and reopened and remained an active venue for skating events until 2002. It has also hosted boxing, fencing and basketball among other sports, as well as entertainment events such as the Italian Festival of Rock and Roll at which Celentano took his first bows. His contemporary Mina played there for the first time in 1959. The Palazzo is still an important venue today for fashion shows, exhibitions, business conventions, concerts and other events.

The Piazza Cinque Giornate
The Piazza Cinque Giornate in Milan
Travel tip:

Porta Vittoria was formerly known as Porta Tosa, the eastern gate of the Spanish walls of the city in the 16th century. It was renamed Porta Vittoria with Italian unification in 1861 in respect of its historical significance, having been the seen of a battle between Milanese rebels and the occupying Austrian forces during the so-called Five Days of Milan in 1848.  The actual gate was demolished in 1881 and its location in what is now Piazza Cinque Giornate is marked with an obelisk designed by Giuseppe Grandi.










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