ROME – Milva, whose charisma, warm voice and fiery red hair made her one of Italy’s most famous singers from the 1960s to the 1980s, died on April 23 in a Milan hospital. She was 81 years old.
Her daughter, Martina Corgnati, said the cause was a neurovascular disease.
In an eclectic career spanning more than 50 years, Milva has performed in pop festivals and played in haute culture houses such as the Paris Opera and the prestigious Piccolo Theater in Milan. She became famous throughout Europe, and especially in Germany. She sang traditional songs and had contemporary songs. She wore bright dresses while singing left-wing anthems.
President Sergio Mattarella, in a statement, described her as “the heroine of Italian music, an educated translator, sensitive and versatile”. Her body lay last month in Piccolo, as fans lined up to pay their last respects.
“She used to say, ‘I’m going to finish the show first, and then I can die,'” said Ms. Corignati. “The show came first.”
Milva Maria Elva Piolcate was born in Gouraud, a small town in the northeast of the country, on July 17, 1939. Her father, Pescarillo Piolcate, was a fish seller. Her mother, Noemi Farinelli, worked as a tailor and had a knack for singing. Maria Elva, although she was shy, also sang at times, in open-air ballrooms and with local orchestras. When she was a teenager, her father’s fish truck broke down, his company collapsed, and it began contributing to the family’s income.
The public knew her as Sabrina, for her resemblance to Audrey Hepburn’s character 1954 Billy Wilder movie With the same name. But her family called her Milva, which is a combination of her first two names, and it remains that way professionally.
Her deep and powerful voice attracted attention. But her short brown hair and slight build were a far cry from the thick guy and full-on hourglass figures of the time.
To compensate, she cushioned her bras and thickened her legs with three pairs of stockings. One of the agents recommended that she dye her hair red, the color that became her trademark and earned her the nickname La Rossa or Redhead.
Her career took off in 1959 when she won a contest for new voices held by the Italian national radio, RAI. She got her own TV, directed by anti-fascist intellectual Maurizio Corgnati, and married him in 1961.
“Then create the character Milva,” said Ms. Corignati.
Mister Corgnati took over Milva’s career, working on her stage show and her repertoire. He accompanied her on tours to Japan and the United States, and Mrs. Corgnati said, she turned “a clumsy country girl” into an attractive singer.
The couple separated in 1969.
Mileva has been outspoken about it Leftist Views and Its Vote for Communist Politicians. She sang about Italian police killing factory workers, sang traditional anti-fascist songs of Italian resistance, and sang musical versions of the works of anarchist poets. And thanks in part to her glowing red hair, she became attached to the political left.
In 1968, when she sang the resistance song “Bella Ciao” at the RAI Auditorium in Naples, she told the announcer, “I have a weakness in songs of freedom.”
Famous Italian director Giorgio Striller, Who supervised Piccolo, cast her in the roles of Brecht, most notably Jenny in “The Threepenny Opera.” She carried his theatrical effect in her concerts that included 15 appearances at the Sanremo Music Festival in Italy.
Filippo Crivelli, a director who has worked with her for several years, said she has shown “unfailing perfection” in preparing her shows.
She sang distinctively while placing her hand on her hip, often wearing luxurious Gianfranco Ferre dresses and wearing a Guerlain fragrance that could be discovered from the first few rows.
Magazines put her on the cover, photographers chased her, and she was the subject of tabloid headlines, especially after one of her ex-friends was found dead by a bullet in his car in mysterious circumstances, and another killed himself.
She had no shortage of fans. Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone has dedicated an album to her. Astor Piazzolla asked her to sing his tango. Italians knew her best for “Alexander Platz,” a hit song adapted for her by singer-songwriter Franco Patiato, the giant of Italian pop music, and “La Rossa” written for her by another great artist, Enzo Jannacci.
She has toured Asia and Europe, sang in at least seven different languages.
All this work has had an effect. When her vocal cords flared up, she gave herself doses of cortisone to keep singing. Doctors said the treatments contributed to her neurovascular disease, according to Ms. Cornati. I retired in 2012.
In addition to her daughter, she survived her sister Luciana and her brother Antonio.
Vicky Schatzinger, a pianist who has worked with Milva for 15 years, said she repeatedly promised to cut her red hair off as soon as she left the stage, but she never did.
“It felt like her hair made her personal,” said Ms. Schatzinger. “But in reality, it was her character.”