Maria Ilva Biolcati Commander OMRI (Italian pronunciation: maˈriːa ilˈva bjolˈkaːti; born July 17, 1939), known as Milva, is an Italian singer, stage, and film actress and television personality. She is also known as 'La Rossa', (Italian for 'The Red'), due to the colour of her hair, and additionally as the 'Panther of Goro', which stems from the Italian press having nicknamed the three most popular Italian female singers of the 1960s, combining the names of animals and the singers' birth places. Popular in Italy and abroad, she has triumphed on musical and theatrical stages the world over, and has received popular acclaim in her native Italy, and particularly in Germany where she has often participated in musical events and televised musical programmes. She has also released numerous successful albums in France, Japan, Korea, Greece, Spain and South America.
Having received enormous success both in Italy and internationally, she remains to this day one of the most popular Italian personalities in the fields of music and theatre. Her artistic stature has been officially recognised by the Italian, German and French republics, each of which have bestowed her with the highest honours. She is the only Italian artist in contemporary times, in fact, who is simultaneously: Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour of the French Republic (Paris, 11 September 2009), Commander of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic (Rome, 2 June 2007), Officer of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany Berlin, 2006 and Officier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Paris, 1995).
Early life and career beginnings edit:
Maria Ilva Biolcati was born in Goro, province of Ferrara, Italy. In 1959, she won a contest for new voices, and was named the overall winner from more than seven thousand six hundred participants. In 1960 she recorded her first 7" single with Cetra Records: Édith Piaf's song "Milord". Her real debut was on the stage of the Sanremo Music Festival in 1961, where she took third place. She has competed at the Festival a total of 15 times, the last time of which was in 2007. The highest position she has reached is second place in 1962, but she has never won to date.
In 1965, a fortunate meeting led to a definitive change in her career: Italian director Giorgio Strehler helped to develop her skills in staging and singing in Italian theatres (especially the Piccolo Teatro in Milan) and she began to perform a more committed repertoire (songs of the Italian resistance movement, songs from Bertolt Brecht's pieces, etc.). In the following years she starred in Giorgio Strehler's production of Brecht's The Threepenny Opera which was performed in several cities of Western Europe. Milva's albums were certificated gold and platinum in West Germany. In 2006 she was awarded with the First Class of the Bundesverdienstkreuz
In 1962 Milva was the first singer to sing Édith Piaf's repertoire at the prestigious Olympia theatre in Paris. In 1983 she performed the repertoire at the venue again and again received an ovation from the audience and the French press, very surprised how a non-French artist could interpret with such a feeling and energy the songs of Piaf.
A highly eclectic artist, she performs pop music, opera (in duet with Luciano Berio), comedy, drama, TV shows (Al Paradise in 1983 won the Rose d'Or of the Montreux Film Festival) and musicals. She also occasionally appeared in some Italian movies of the 1960s, like La bellezza di Ippolita with Gina Lollobrigida. From 1973 to 1980, Milva is on tour (Italy, USA, Greece, France, Germany, Canada, Russia and Japan) with the band "I Milvi" composed by Neno Vinciguerra on piano, Franco Paganelli on guitar, Claudio Barontini on bass, Giovanni Martelli on drums and Marco Gasperetti on flute. The entire band becomes Livorno "Black and Withe" when in concert joins the gospels of the New Folkstudio Singer composed Lois Cantor, Hazel Rogers Nat Bush, Eddie and Jesse Hawkins.
She has collaborated with such European composers and musicians as Ennio Morricone in 1965, Francis Lai in 1973, Mikis Theodorakis in 1978 (Was ich denke became a best selling album in Germany), Enzo Jannacci in 1980, Vangelis in 1981 and 1986, Franco Battiato in 1982 and 1986.
Her stage productions of Bertolt Brecht's recitals and Luciano Berio's operas have toured the world's theatres. She has performed at La Scala in Milan, at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, at the Paris Opera, in the Royal Albert Hall in London, at the 1984 Summer Olympics, at the Edinburgh Festival, and others. In 1984 she performed (with Ástor Piazzolla) the show El tango in the Les Bouffes du Nord Theatre in Paris. This was the beginning of a collaboration with Ástor Piazzolla, interpreting the nuevo tango.
In 1997 her mentor Giorgio Strehler died. She temporarily reduced her theatre activities and focused on music only. She received new inspiration collaborating with Thanos Mikroutsikos, James Last and Shinji Tanimura. Then she performed her fourteenth tour in Japan. In 1998, she sang with Alexia Vassiliou on Alexia's album, Alexia - Mikis Theodorakis, a double album with new approaches to 26 Mikis Theodorakis compositions.
Personal life edit:
Milva has a daughter, Martina, born during her marriage to Maurizio Corgnati in the early 1960s.