ROME (AP) – Milwaukee, one of Italy’s most famous singers of the ’60s and’ 70s, loved by many fans abroad, died at his home in Milan on Saturday. He was 81 years old.
Announcing his death, Italian Culture Minister Dario Francescini said Milwaukee’s multifaceted voice “stirred deep emotions in all generations”. No cause of death was reported.
Milva also starred as a stage actress, whose repertoire is largely based on the works of German playwright Bertolt Brecht. He often worked with Giorgio Orgio Strehler, director of the Milan Theater, who directed him in one of Brecht’s signature collections, the musical drama The Millennium Opera.
He died in 1939, when Maria Ilva Biolcati, in the town of Goro in the delta of the river Po River, adopted the stage name Milva in a word. Italian singers Ornella Vanoni և Mina, another performer who only used a name, Milva was considered one of the most popular Italian female singers.
According to LaPresse news agency, Milva sold about 80 million records և recorded 173 albums. She was nicknamed the “Red Milva” for her voluminous red hair, and the “Goro Panther” for her vitality.
Germany, France and Italy all honored him with national awards. Milva also had a number of fans in Asia, particularly in South Korea. He performed 15 times at the San Remo Festival, the annual Italian song contest, joking that he would never win after the 12th time.
One of his hits was the song “Alexander Platz”. Composed in 1982 by Italian composer Franco Battiato, it explored love in Cold War-torn Berlin, named after the famous Alexanderplatz in Berlin.
Other top Italian composers whose works were sung by Milva included Luigi Tenko և Fabrizio De Andre.
Italian President Sergio Matterella on Saturday praised Milva as a “cultural, sensitive, versatile translator who was highly regarded abroad”. He expressed his condolences to his family.
Milwaukee, who announced his retirement in 2010 after performing for more than half a century, lived in Milan with his daughter Martina Corgnati. The singer’s ex-husband, Maurizio Cornati, was a TV director who died in 1992.
Music critic Mario Luzatto Fegiz writes in the Corriere della Sera that Milva’s many talents have an unusual ability to sing any kind of music in any language after listening to it once.
“He worked with memory,” recalled Luzatto Fegiz. “He could not even order breakfast in German.”
Strhler, the Piccolo Theater in Milan, said it would hold a wake-up call in the lobby on Tuesday, after which Milwaukee’s funeral would be private. In a Facebook post, the theater paid tribute to her, saying that she was “a weak, sensitive, passionate woman, an artist with all her heart and voice.”