ROME — Milva, whose charisma, heat voice and flaming crimson hair made her one among Italy’s most recognizable divas from the Sixties by the ’80s, died on April 23 at a hospital in Milan. She was 81.
Her daughter, Martina Corgnati, mentioned the trigger was a neurovascular illness.
In an eclectic profession that spanned greater than 50 years, Milva sang at pop festivals and carried out in high-culture homes just like the Paris Opera and Milan’s prestigious Piccolo Theater. She turned standard throughout Europe, particularly in Germany. She crooned conventional songs and had up to date hits. She wore glamorous attire whereas singing leftist anthems.
President Sergio Mattarella, in an announcement, referred to as her “a protagonist of Italian music, a cultivated, delicate and versatile interpreter.” Her physique lay in state final month on the Piccolo, the place followers lined as much as pay their final respects.
“She used to say, ‘First I’ll end the present, then I can die,’” Ms. Corgnati mentioned. “The present got here at the beginning.”
Milva was born Maria Ilva Biolcati in Goro, a small northeastern city, on July 17, 1939. Her father, Pescariello Biolcati, was a fishmonger. Her mom, Noemi Farinelli, labored as a tailor and had a present for singing. Maria Ilva, though she was shy, typically sang as nicely, in out of doors dance halls and with native orchestras. When she was a young person, her father’s fish truck broke down and his enterprise collapsed, and she or he started contributing to the household’s earnings.
Audiences knew her as Sabrina, for her resemblance to Audrey Hepburn’s character within the 1954 Billy Wilder film of the identical identify. However her household referred to as her Milva, a fusion of her two first names, and it caught professionally.
Her deep, highly effective voice garnered consideration. However her quick brown hair and slight construct had been removed from the thick manes and full hourglass figures then in demand.
To compensate, she padded her bras and thickened her legs with three pairs of stockings. An agent really useful that she dye her hair crimson, a colour that turned her trademark and earned her the nickname La Rossa, or the Redhead.
Her profession took off in 1959 when she received a contest for brand new voices held by Italy’s nationwide broadcaster, RAI. She was given her personal tv particular, directed by Maurizio Corgnati, an antifascist mental, whom she married in 1961.
“Then he created the Milva character,” Ms. Corgnati mentioned.
Mr. Corgnati took over the shaping of Milva’s profession, engaged on her stage presentation and her repertoire. He accompanied her on excursions to Japan and the US and, Ms. Corgnati mentioned, turned a “clumsy provincial woman” right into a charismatic diva.
The couple separated in 1969.
Milva was outspoken about her leftist views and her votes for Communist politicians. She sang concerning the killing of manufacturing facility employees by the Italian police, carried out conventional antifascist songs of the Italian Resistance, and sang musical variations of the work of anarchist poets. She turned — additionally thanks partially to her blazing crimson hair — recognized with the political left.
In 1968, when she sang the Resistance track “Bella Ciao” on the RAI Auditorium in Naples, she instructed the presenter, “I’ve a weak point for freedom songs.”
The famend Italian director Giorgio Strehler, who oversaw the Piccolo, solid her in Brecht roles, most notably Jenny in “The Threepenny Opera.” She carried his theatrical affect into her concert events, which included 15 appearances on the Sanremo Music Competition in Italy.
She demonstrated “tireless perfectionism” in making ready her performances, mentioned the director Filippo Crivelli, who labored together with her for a number of years.
She characteristically sang together with her hand on her hip, typically wearing Gianfranco Ferrè’s luxurious attire and sporting a Guerlain fragrance detectable from the primary few rows.
Magazines put her on the duvet, paparazzi chased her, and she or he was the topic of tabloid headlines, particularly after one among her former boyfriends was discovered fatally shot in his automobile in mysterious circumstances and one other killed himself.
She had no scarcity of admirers. The Oscar-winning composer Ennio Morricone devoted an album to her. Astor Piazzolla requested her to sing his tangos. Italians knew her finest for “Alexander Platz,” successful track tailored for her by the singer-songwriter Franco Battiato, a large of Italian pop music, and “La Rossa,” a track written for her by one other main artist, Enzo Jannacci.
She toured Asia and Europe, singing in not less than seven totally different languages.
All that work took its toll. When her vocal cords grew infected, she gave herself cortisone photographs to maintain singing. Docs mentioned the therapies contributed to her neurovascular illness, in line with Ms. Corgnati. She retired in 2012.
Along with her daughter, she is survived by a sister, Luciana, and a brother, Antonio.
Vicky Schatzinger, a pianist who labored with Milva for 15 years, mentioned she had repeatedly promised to chop her crimson hair as soon as she left the stage, however she by no means did.
“She felt that her hair made her a personality,” Ms. Schatzinger mentioned. “However in actuality, she was her character herself.”