We The Italians | Italian entertainment: Mina, Cremona's tiger

Italian entertainment: Mina, Cremona's tiger

Italian entertainment: Mina, Cremona's tiger

  • WTI Magazine #126 Apr 18, 2020
  • 1335

Who has ever heard of “La tigre di Cremona” (Cremona’s tiger)? Well this is how is called one of the greatest Italian singers of all times: Mina Mazzini. And, this year, we celebrate her 80th birthday.

Mina was born in 1940 in a small town close to Milan but, at the age of three, she and her family moved the most known Cremona. She appeared for the first time on the music scene when she was eighteen, on the stage of a renowned nightclub in Versilia (Tuscany), “La Bussola”. There, many famous Italian and International artists performed in that period, such as Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Ginger Rogers, Louis Armstrong, Tom Jones. After all, Mina’s out of the ordinary musicality was influenced by some American “sacred cows”, among these Frank Sinatra, Sarah Vaughan and Elvis Presley.

From that night, her life completely changed and her striking career began. She joined the “Happy Boys”, a band which was succeeding in the Cremonese reality, and then she was given the stage name of “Baby Gate” used in occasion of the recording of her first songs. But the real success came in 1960 with the song “Tintarella di luna” which soon gained the first position on the hit-parade: it represented an hymn to freedom, the same freedom that Mina embodied during all the ‘60s and ‘70s. She started to be considered an out-of-the-box woman, not only from the artistic point of view, but also from the human one. Indeed, in her early twenties, she revealed the love story with an Italian actor and married man, Corrado Pani.

1960 was a crucial year for Mina, especially because of her debut in the 10th Edition of the “Festival della Canzone Italiana” in Sanremo. She ranked 7th, but the show gave her a vast visibility and incremented considerably her success. During the same year, the song “Il Cielo in una stanza” came out and it rapidly climbed the world charts, also in the U.S. where the English version “The world we love in” gained the 90th position in Billboard.

In this period of great fame, some unpleasant circumstances started to undermine Mina’s emotional stability. First of all, she suffered from the annoying interest of the media especially towards her love affairs, the majority of which had been invented by the journalists in order to create scandal.

Secondly, her participation in the 11th Edition of the “Festival di Sanremo” represented a striking delusion: she was accused of inadequate musical sensitivity. Indeed, the song she presented, “Le mille bolle blu”, was not understood by a part of the public and, in particular, her hand gesture while singing was misinterpreted as a sneer, a lack of respect. This severe blow led Mina to no more participate in a musical competition, not even the “Festival di Sanremo”. Nevertheless her popularity was not damaged, sales and ratings increased and Mina exported her talent abroad. She performed in Spain, Japan, France, Germany and South America.

In 1963 she gave birth to her first son Massimiliano, conceived with her partner Corrado Pani. It was something unbelievable for that time, an unmarried woman conceiving a baby with her partner, who had a wife. For this reason, the Italian state television (RAI) decided to marginalize Mina for some years and, in the meantime, the media lashed out at her illicit relationship. Despite of such a stir, the majority of people supported the great singer and, after receiving so many letters from her fans, RAI readmitted Mina to the television stage.

In 1965 she became the television host of “Studio Uno”, a show where she performed some of her big successes and, in the meantime, she invited some important entertainment personalities, such as Totò, Alberto Sordi and Marcello Mastroianni. In 1966 Mina was reconfirmed for the TV presenting of “Studio Uno” and, during one of the week’s shows, she launched one of her most famous songs, “Se telefonando”, on Ennio Morricone’s musical base. Initially it did not reach a high position on the world rankings but, over the time, the song became an “evergreen” and one of the Mina’s most known successes.

The beginning of the 70s marked an important phase of Mina’s career: she became the muse of two of the most influential Italian record producers of that period, Mogol and Lucio Battisti. From this incredible collaboration arose some other acclaimed hits, such as “Insieme”, “Io e te da soli”, “Amor mio” and “La mente torna”.

In 1973 Mina started to vividly manifest her reluctance towards the stage, as she affirmed during an interview for Playboy in January: she was sick and tired of the spotlight, of all the media obsessive attention towards her life and she no longer enjoyed to be on the stage, feeling discomfort and unease.

For these reasons, some years later Mina took the incontestable decision of leaving the public scene. August the 23rd , 1978: this was the date of her last concert, in the place where Mina’s striking career started and where she still felt serene and like at home. That night, at the “Bussola” in Versilia, Mina said goodbye to her fans, who continued to support her during the years and follow her musical activity behind the scenes.

During her career, the acclaimed singer performed more than 1500 songs and sold more than 150 millions of albums and singles. This year Italians celebrate Mina’s 80th birthday, remembering her extraordinary sound, whose extension, intensity and ductility have made it one of the greatest and most unique Italian voices of all times. But Mina is not only a musical icon, she represented and still represents for people, especially for women, a symbol of liberty and courage, who carried on her personal decisions, often contrasting the public opinion and putting at risk her success. This freedom is also well embodied on the covers of her albums, on her gesture, on her attitude, which reveal a strong eclecticism and interpretive talent.

Are you still wondering why the nickname “Tigre of Cremona”? Well someone says that, before going on the stage, Mina was almost intractable, she walked nervously behind the scene and she was very meticulous towards the orchestra. But, when Mina took the stage, she transformed all that anxiety in intensive power, devastating the public with her energy and strength, like a tiger.