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1 July 1952

Viola Valentino (real name Virginia Minnetti) was born in Canzo, Como, Italy in 1952. She started her career as a singer in 1968 initially under her first name Virginia. She released her debut single single ‘Dixie’, produced by famous Italian singer-songwriter Gino Paoli. It failed to attract any attention. She formed the singing ‘Renzo & Virginia’ together with famous Italian singer Riccardo Fogli from the rock group ‘Pooh’. They released the single ‘Zan zan’ in 1970, but again without any success. Virginia decided to proceed her career as a photo model. In 1972 she married Riccardo Fogli. In 1978 Giancarlo Lucariello, producer of the Italian rock band ‘Pooh’, invited Virginia to join the new group ‘Fantasy’ with Tony Cicco, Carla Vistarini, Luigi Lopez and Danilo Vaona. They released one album entitled ‘Uno’. Virginia sang lead vocals on the song ‘Cantando’ (‘Singing’).

Lucariello helpt Virginia to create an image of eroticism and glamour, including her new characteristic singing style with a subdued, almost sighing voice. In 1979 Virginia started singing under the stage name Viola Valentino. Her first single was ‘Comprami’ (‘Buy me’), written by C. Minellono and R. Brioschi, which became a huge hit in Italy and Spain and made her famous instantly. The lyrics of the song initially caused some controversy especially among feminists, but have since then become a bold statement particularly hailed by homosexuals. It was the start of Viola’s close connection with the gay community, which would help her to become one of Italy’s most appreciated gay icons.

In 1980, Viola released two more songs that also became hits, ‘Sei una bomba’ (‘You are a bomb’) and ‘Anche noi facciamo pace’ (‘We will make peace too’). In the same year, her first album ‘Cinema’ came out. She also posed on the front covers of two editions of Playboy magazine during this period. In 1982, Viola Valentino took part in the San Remo Festival for the first time with the song ‘Romantici’ (‘Romantic’) which also became a hit. In the same year, her second album ‘In primo piano’ (‘In the first spot’) was published, contanining partly new songs, partly former hit singles. The song ‘Sola’(‘Alone’) was released as a single. Thanks to her success Viola was invited to play a part in the movie ‘Delitto sull’autostrada’ (‘A crime on the highway’). In 1983 she participated in the San Remo Festival for the second time with the song ‘Arriva arriva’ (‘Come, come’). In that same year she starred in the movie ‘Due strani papà’ (‘Two strange daddies’). In 1984 she released the single ‘Verso sud’ (‘To the south’) and in 1985 the ep ‘L’angelo’ (‘The angel’).

Since the mid eighties her success began to fade. Despite her role in the movie ‘Le volpi della notte’ (‘Night foxes’) in 1986 and the single release ‘Il posto della luna’ (‘The place of the moon’) in that same year which failed to reach the finals of the San Remo Festival. In 1991, an album ‘Un angelo dal cielo’ (‘An angel from heaven’) came out which included Viola’s hits with two new songs: the title track and ‘Quasi mezzanotte’, which were both released as a single. In 1993, Viola Valentino and Riccardo Fogli divorced after more than twenty years. Following her divorce she released the single ‘Me marito se n'è ito’ (‘My husband he's gone’, an ironic reinterpretation of the well-known song ‘El meneaito’, in 1994.

In 1994, Viola released an album with new material after many years. It was very fittingly entitled: ‘Esisto’ (‘I exist’). Many famous Italian songwriters contributed lyrics and music for the album, like Mogol, Cheope, Lavezzi, Avogadro, Grazia Di Michele, Marco Ferradini e Gianni Bella. The album was followed by the single ‘Probabilmente niente’ (‘Probably nothing’), signed by Oscar Prudente, in 1995 and the single ‘Estasi’ (‘Ecstasy’) in 1996. It was during these years that Viola’s singing style changed significantly. From a soft, whispering voice to a strong, expressive voice full of contralto. In 1997 she released the song ‘Anime d’autunno’ (‘Spirits of autumn’), an Italian interpretation of Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’. It was a precursor of the 1998 album ‘Il viaggio’ (‘The voyage’), an album in which she re-interpreted several of her most famous hits.

In 2000 Viola collaborated with rap group Zerodecibel on ‘Comprami 2000’ an ironic reinterpretation of her most famous single. The song was accompanied by a video featuring Viola and the members of Zerodecibel, together with many transsexuals and surpise guest Platinette. In 2002 Viola teamed up with Alberto Camerini with whom she released the single ‘La surprise de l amour’ (‘The surprise of love’). In 2004 the double cd ‘Made in Virginia’ was released, a collection of Viola’s successes and new songs, to celebrate her 25 year career as a recording artist. In 2006 she participated in the third season of the reality show ‘Music farm’ but she got eliminated during the first few weeks of the show. She then released the single ‘Barbiturici nel tè’ (‘Barbiturates in the tea’), the last release songwriter Bruno Lauzo, who passed away a few months later. The following year, Viola debuted in the theatre participating in the musical comedy ‘La surprise de l'amour’, with Manuel Casella, Leda Battisti and Stefano Sani.

In September 2009 Viola released the ep ‘I tacchi di Giada’ (‘Heels of Jade’). The album contained six songs whose common thread is the world of women, with a particular focus on the issue of pain, suffering and violence. Due to its commercial and critical success, the ep was followed by the release of ‘Alleati non ovvi’ (‘No obvious allies’) containing the six songs of the ep plus six additional new songs and a separate cd containing the digital book written by Louis Matta, producer of the disc with Luca Venturi, which tells the dramatic story of violence that happened to Jade, the protagonist of the song that gave the ep its name. On 17 May 2011 Viola released the single ‘Domani è un altro giorno’ (‘Tomorrow is another day ‘) on the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia recorded in four languages: Italian, French, English and Spanish.

In October 2012 Viola released an ep entitled ‘Panna, fragola e cipolle’ (‘Cream, strawberries and onions’), containing seven new tracks and two instrumental bonus tracks. The ep-release is preceded by the successful single ‘Stronza’ (‘Bitch’), written by John Germanelli and Francesco Mignogna, who wrote almost all the songs on the ep as well.

On the web:

- Viola's website:http://www.violavalentino.it/

What do we think:

PR: Viola Valentino is definitely not Europe’s best female singer. However, she created her own niche in the early eighties in Italy combining French whispering swinging style (Jane Birkin, Françoise Hardy) with uplifting disco tunes. After success faded she completely reinvented herself, changing her singing style significantly and starting to interpret far more credible material. With the 2009 ep ‘I tacchi di Giada’ she achieved her creative peak, which she succeeded to continu on the following releases ‘Alleati non ovvi’ (2010) and ‘Panne, fragole e cipolle’ (2012). I can only hope diva extraordinaire and gay icon La Valentino will continue to release albums with this high quality for many years to come. Yes, I am a fan!

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

Marianne Rosenberg (Germany)

Severina (Croatia)


Dixie (7”) – 1968

Zan zan (Renzo & Virginia) - 1970

Uno (with the band Fantasy) - 1978

♪♪ - Cinema - 1980

♪♪ - In primo piano - 1982

♪♪ - Sola - 1983

♪♪ - L’angelo - 1985

♪♪♪ - Un angelo dal cielo - 1991

♪♪♪ - Esisto - 1994

♪♪♪ - Il viaggio - 1998

♪♪♪ - Made in Virginia 1 + 2 - 2004

♪♪♪♪ - I tacchi di Giada (ep) - 2009

♪♪♪♪ - Alleati non ovvi - 2010

♪♪♪♪ - Panna, fragole e cipolle (ep) - 2012


♪♪♪♪♪ = 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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