Milva: 45 years on and still going strong

The celebrated Italian diva Milva, who has had the pleasure of working closely with Astor Piazzolla and even having songs written by him especially for her, is coming back to Greece for a concert at the capital’s open-air Lycabettus Theater on September 11, where she will be accompanied by the Tangoseis ensemble in a program of the composer’s songs. «The seven years I worked with him,» she says, «represented the most important period of my career. «After his death [in 1992], not just I, but other artists, such as Daniel Barenboim, Yo Yo Ma and Gidon Kremer, have tried to keep his magnificent oeuvre alive.» Milva (short for Maria Ilva Biolcati) was born on July 7, 1939, in Ferrara, Italy, and stood out for her vocal talent in a 1959 competition held by the television station RAI that allowed her to record her first 45rpm album. Her 45-year career since has included appearances in the theater, cinema and opera, awards and distinction and many valuable collaborations. «I may not be Barbara Streisand, but while I began singing so-called pop songs, I succeeded in becoming one of the most respected interpreters of the songs of Brecht.» Among her many collaborations are ones with Greek artists Thanos Mikroutsikos, Vangelis Papathanasiou and Mikis Theodorakis. «My collaboration with Theodorakis began before I met him in person,» she explains. «My [recording] company and I decided to make a selection of songs from his repertory, mostly operatic pieces which I sang with the utmost respect toward him.» What does Milva see as the key to success, and more importantly, distinction? «Talent, luck, the right connections, sacrifice and as few compromises as possible. The most important thing in my case is that I am not just a singer. I am a performer. I act and sing at the same time. And this is something I have succeeded in keeping for many, many years. Also, I keep trying to change, to rejuvenate my image. There are many artists who have a few hits and then base their entire careers on them. They don’t try anything new. The end, for them, is therefore inevitable,» advises the diva, who appears never to give up. «Over the past few years I have felt my voice getting stronger and that makes me go on. I feel good and my audience still responds to me with interest and love. As soon as I feel I am having any difficulty with my voice, or with my interpretation, or I start disliking my audience, I will stop. And then, I will throw myself to the joys of life…» Tickets for Milva’s concert at the Lycabettus Theater are available from Ticket House: 42 Panepistimiou, Athens, tel 210.360.8366, and 20 Ethnikis Amynis, Thessaloniki, tel 2310.253.630.

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