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17 July 1939 - 23 April 2021

Maria Ilva Biolcati was born on July 17, 1939 in Goro. Apart from being one of the most succesful Italian singers, she is also an actress and TV personality. She is known as 'La Rossa' ('the Red', due to the colour of her hair) or as 'La Pantera di Goro' ('the Panther from Goro'), which stems from a journalist naming the 3 most talented Italian female singers of the seventies with the birth place plus an animal name (the other two being Mina, 'La Tigre di Cremona', and Iva Zanicchi, 'L'Aquila di Ligonchio'). Milva has a daughter named Martina, born after the marriage with Maurizio Corgnati in the early 1960s.

In 1959 Milva won a contest for new voices, and was named the overall winner from more than seven thousand participants. In 1960 she recorded her first 7" single 'Milord', an Edith Piaf standard. The following year, she debuted at the Sanremo Music Festival, where she took third place. She competed many times at the Festival (14 times in total, the last time in 1993). The highest position she has reached is second place in 1962, but she has never won to date.

In 1965 she met the Italo/German actor, dramatist and director Giorgio Strehler. He helped her 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 like a cycle of songs from Bertold Brecht and ennio Moricone. Already in the early seventies she started expanding her adventure outside Italy. Soon her star was shining all over the world, and Milva became especially succesfull in Germany and Japan.

Milva's voice is sometimes being chritisized of being not technically perfect and being somewhat limited compared to other female singers. Still there are few singers who can express so much emotion with their singing. Furthermore, Milva has a tremendous stage personality. During her carreer, she collaborated with an impressive range of famous people, like Franco Battiato, Vangelis, Francis Lai, Mikroutsikos, Strehler, etc. etc. Her choice of song material is very eclectic: from pop music tot Brecht, from French chansons to German schlagers. Being a born performer as she is, Milva also toured theatres in every corner of the world.

In 1984 she performed the show 'El tango' with Astor Piazzola in 'Les Bouffes du Nord' Theatre in Paris. This was just the beginning of an important new collaboration, interpreting the tangos of revolutionary Piazzolla all over the world. During the eighties Milva recorded some of her best and most succesful pop records both in Italy and Germany. In the nineties, she shifted to more mature material when she collaborated with Thanis Mikroutsikos, James Last and Shinji Tanimura. The end of the nineties was not her most creative period, Milva mainly recording easy listening records in German (especially the record 'Stark sein'). Fortunately, she regained credibility in the new millennium when she recorded poems from Alda Merini in 2004. With the 2007 album 'In territorio nemico' she proved that she was still able to reïnvent herself, exploring new directions, mixing pop-and-chanson cobined with beautiful lyrics. In 2010 she teams up again with Franco Battiato for a third time. On 23 April 2021, Milva died at her Milan home.

On the web:

- official website: http://www.milvalarossa.it
- great discography: http://pagesperso-orange.fr/denis.schwartz/milva1

What do we think:

PR: Milva is one of the greatest female performers on the international scene ever. Whatever music style she is performing, she always completely makes it her own as if it was written only for her to perform. Her voice is deep and emotional with some rough edges. Her stage personality is extremely impressive. Her choice of material and composers outstanding (Battiato, Vangelis, Brecht, Moricone, Piazzola...). I have had the chance and honour to attend two of her performances and both times I was completely taken away by her. Therefor, I will forgive her the few albums of lesser quality she recorded during the nineties (Stark sein, Artisti).

DB: La Rossa or la Pantera. Both nicknames suffice for Milva. Temperamentfull even at her current age. She sings fluently German but, as we found out, doesn't speak a word of it. This makes you wonder how much she actually understands of what she sings in German. Never mind, it sounds like she means it. Being Italian her shows can sometimes be...how do I put this...chaotic. Watch her Merini-dvd to see what I mean. When you don't speak Italian you won't have a clue of what's going on. And maestro Natale Massara is often the subject she points her anger towards... But seriously, Milva has one of the greatest voices in the world that can almost sing anything. Even Italo disco.

If you like this, you probably like.. / european counterparts:

Hana Hegerova (Slowakia)

Hildegard Knef (Germany)

Recommended albums:

♪♪♪ - Milva - 1967

♪♪♪♪ - Tango - 1968

♪♪♪ - Milva canta Brecht - 1971

♪♪♪ - La filanda e altre storie - 1972

♪♪♪♪♪ - Dedicato a Milva da Ennio Morricone - 1972

♪♪♪ - Von Tag zu Tag - Lieder von Mikis Theodorakis - 1978

♪♪♪♪ - Ich hab' keine Angst - 1981

♪♪♪♪- Das Konzert - 1982

♪♪♪♪ - E dintorni - 1982

♪♪ - Immer mehr - 1982

♪♪♪ - Mut zum Risiko - 1985

♪♪♪ - Tra due sogni / Geheimnisse - 1986

♪♪♪♪♪ - Unterwegs nach Morgen - 1988

♪♪♪♪♪ - Das beste Milva live - In Concert - 1988

♪♪♪♪♪ - Una storia inventata - 1989

♪♪♪ - Ein kommen und gehen - 1990

♪♪ - Uomini addosso - 1993

♪♪♪ - Tausendundeinde Nacht - 1995

- Stark sein - 1999

♪♪ - Artisti - 2001

♪♪♪ - Sono nata il 21 a primavera, Milva canta Merini - 2004

♪♪♪♪♪ - In territorio nemico - 2007

♪♪♪♪♪ = outstanding album, an absolute must-have
♪♪♪♪ = great album, highly recomended
♪♪♪ = nice album
♪♪ = be careful, requires listening before buying
♪ = best to be avoided


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