Anything but Démodé: The Sanremo Music Festival

The Sanremo Music Festival stands as a testament to Italy's cultural magnificence, blending iconic musical performances with unparalleled sartorial statements, marking its enduring importance in the tapestry of Italian heritage.

 Anything but Démodé: The Sanremo Music Festival

As the curtains rise on the 2024 edition of the Sanremo Music Festival tonight, the air is thick with anticipation, not just for the showcase of musical talent that awaits but also for the live spectacle that will once again illuminate the Ariston Theatre. This year's event promises a thrilling blend of traditional charm and contemporary innovation, marking the continuation of a legacy that has defined Italian cultural heritage for over seventy years. Born out of the vision to rejuvenate the post-war Riviera, Sanremo quickly transcended its origins to become a beacon of Italy's artistic and stylistic contributions to the world. Furthermore, Sanremo's historic connection to the Eurovision Song Contest, serving as the inspiration for its creation and a platform for Italy's representation, highlights its significance in the European musical landscape.

2024. The Ariston stage is preparing to host the 74th edition of the Sanremo Festival.

In the heart of the picturesque city of Sanremo, what started in 1951 in the Casino Municipale has evolved into an annual event that captivates the nation and viewers worldwide. The festival's history is a tapestry of Italy's post-war recovery, cultural renaissance, and the democratisation of music, making Italian melodies a universal language of emotion, struggle, and triumph. Icons such as Domenico Modugno, whose Volare soared beyond Italian borders, and Andrea Bocelli, whose tenor has enchanted global audiences, owe part of their international acclaim to the stages of Sanremo.

In the post-war Italy of 1951, the curtain rises on the first edition of the Sanremo Festival. Italians can only listen to the songs of the three competing artists on the radio: Nilla Pizzi, Achille Togliani, and the Duo Fasano.
1961. The edition in which "the post-war generation of children forcefully emerges onto the stage of the Festival and the country." Among them, Little Tony in the photo with other newcomers.

The Sanremo Music Festival has been the stage for numerous unforgettable moments that have left an indelible mark on the world of music and beyond. From Domenico Modugno's iconic victory in 1958 with Nel blu dipinto di blu, symbolising the universal appeal of Italian music, to Eros Ramazzotti's breakthrough in 1984, marking a fusion of traditional Italian music with contemporary charisma, these moments are etched in the annals of Italian cultural history. In 1967, when Luigi Tenco tragically took his life following the elimination of his song Ciao amore ciao, a poignant event that shook the festival's community and highlighted the intense emotional stakes involved. This moment underscored the festival's deep impact on artists and its role in the broader cultural dialogue of Italy. In 2003, Laura Pausini delivered a moving tribute, reaffirming Sanremo's status as a celebration of Italian identity. More recently, Mahmood's win in 2019 with Soldi showcased the festival's ability to evolve and address modern themes, further demonstrating Sanremo's relevance in today's music scene. These moments, woven together, narrate the enduring legacy of the Sanremo Music Festival as a celebration of Italian music, style, and cultural heritage, perfectly aligning with The Rake's ethos of artistry, heritage, and style. Another unforgettable instance was in 1990 when Toto Cutugno's performance of Insieme: 1992 celebrated European unity, winning the festival and later representing Italy at Eurovision. This song, with its message of hope and integration, captured a pivotal moment in European history, reflecting the festival's ability to transcend music and touch upon broader societal themes.

2010. The protest of the orchestra members over the choice of finalists: they throw the music sheets in the air in disagreement with the voting mechanism.
2000. The guest of honor is the star Bono Vox with the legendary band U2.
2011. The interview with Robert De Niro,
1968. That year the memorable moment was the performance of the great Louis Armstrong on the stage of Sanremo.
1986. The performance of Loredana Berté and her dancers does not go unnoticed, as they take the stage with fake pregnant bellies, sparking a flurry of controversies.
1955. Pippo Baudo becomes the hero of the Festival: the edition is shaken by the attempted suicide of the unemployed Giuseppe Pagano, who is "saved" by the presenter in front of an incredulous audience and live.
2001. To save Sanremo, "valletto" Piero Chiambretti will introduce his alternative festival of Neapolitan songs.

The festival has consistently been a showcase for Italy's world-renowned fashion, with each edition serving as a snapshot of evolving trends and timeless styles. In the 1960s, performers like Claudio Villa set the standard with impeccably tailored suits, embodying the era's masculine elegance. Villa's choice of classic, refined attire underscored the sophistication and grace of Italian menswear, making a statement about the artist as much as the music. The 1980s brought a flamboyant turn to Sanremo's fashion narrative, with artists like Vasco Rossi bringing rock and roll's edgy aesthetics to the stage. Rossi's leather jackets, distressed denim, and statement tees introduced a rebellious yet stylish undertone to the festival, showcasing the diversity of Italian fashion and its ability to embrace and influence global trends. In recent years, the festival has seen a blend of contemporary and traditional styles, with artists like Mahmood, who won in 2019 with "Soldi," showcasing modern Italian fashion through bold prints, eclectic mixes of textures, and contemporary silhouettes. Mahmood's style represents a new generation of Italian artists who are redefining the boundaries of menswear, blending the rich heritage of Italian tailoring with innovative design and cultural influences from around the globe.

1973. "Un grande amore e niente più" sung by Peppino di Capri wins.
1987. Gianni Morandi, Enrico Ruggeri, and Umberto Tozzi won with "Si può dare di più."
1958. Domenico Modugno is the first singer-songwriter in the history of Sanremo with the song "Nel blu dipinto di blu," destined for an unprecedented success with a staggering 22 million copies sold worldwide.
1970. Two sixteen-year-olds capture the sympathy of the Sanremo audience, namely Nada and Rosalino, who later adopted the stage name Ron.
1982. On the stage of the Ariston, the rocker Vasco Rossi makes his appearance: memorable is his exit from the stage with the microphone in his pocket.
1978. Among the singers, the originality and avant-garde spirit of Rino Gaetano take center stage.
1969. An edition marked by protests and the climate of the late 1960s, including the "Controfestival" organized by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, along with a large police presence in front of the Casino.
1955. For the first time in Sanremo, playback is used: Claudio Villa, due to a sudden pharyngitis, is forced to use a recording of the song on the evening of the final. And he won the Festival.
1961. For the first time, two women host the music festival: they are Lilli Lembo and Giuliana Calandra. In the photo, the singers Nicky Davis and Tony Renis with Lilli Lembo in Sanremo.
1953. The winners of the Festival, Flo Sandon's and Carla Boni (on the right), with the conductor Giovanni D'Anzi.
2019. Mahmood wins with the song "Soldi."

As the 2024 edition unfolds, the Sanremo Music Festival stands ready to write the next chapter in its storied legacy. With a lineup that promises to blend the traditional with the contemporary, and fashion that continues to push the boundaries of style, this year's festival is not just a celebration of Italian music and artistry; it's a beacon for those who appreciate the finer nuances of culture, history, and style. For the readers of The Rake, Sanremo is more than just an event; it's a yearly pilgrimage to the heart of Italian elegance and artistic innovation.

Amadeus, who has been the host of the Sanremo Festival for 5 years.