24 December 2010

Merry Christmas with Robertino!

Robertino and we, here at EFSP, wish you all a merry Christmas! Italian singer and actor Robertino Loreti (1946) is best known as 'Robertino - The Young Italian Singing Sensation' of the early 1960s. As a child star he appeared in Italian, Danish and German films. Today he is a living legend, especially in Russia.

French postcard by Editions Publistar, Marseille, no. 811. Photo: President.

The Son of Peppone

Robertino was the nickname of Roberto Loreti (sometimes written as Loretti), born in Rome nearby the Cinecittà Studios, in 1946.

He was born into a large family with eight other children. His father was a baker and little Robertino often sang for the customers.

Robertino was thus discovered for the cinema and appeared as the son of Peppone (Gino Cervi) in the film comedy Le retour de Don Camillo/The Return of Don Camillo (Julien Duvivier, 1953) starring Fernandel as Camillo.

Robertino studied singing at the conservatory of Tito Schipa. When the boy was 10 his father fell ill and he had to help the family deliver bakery products to the restaurants of Trastevere. As the lead singer in his choir, he took part in a performance at the Vatican City in the presence of Pope John XXXIII.

After a request to sing at a wedding in a restaurant, Robertino was sought after by other restaurants for the same services.

During the Olympic Games of 1960 Robertino sang in the Café Grand´Italia at the Piazza Esedra where Danish TV director-producer Volmer Sørensen and his wife, singer Grethe Sønck noticed the boy soprano. Their interest in him led to a successful performance (in short trousers) on the Danish TV show TV I Tivoli.

In Copenhagen Robertino recorded also his first records. His songs like Santa Lucia, O sole mio, and La Paloma became popular all over Europe, and he was promoted as The Young Italian Singing Sensation.

Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 6127. Photo: Combi Press, Amsterdam.

Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam, no. 320/962.

Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, sent by mail in 1963.

Golden Boy

Robertino appeared as himself in the Danish film Flemming på kostskole/Flemming Goes to Boarding School (Niels-Jørgen Kaiser, 1961) and sang Schubert’s Ave Maria.

He played a piccolo in the musical comedy Im schwarzen Rößl/The Black Horse Inn (Franz Antel, 1961) starring Karin Dor and Peter Kraus. In this film he sang an Italian version of the evergreen Mama, which would also become a huge hit for another European child star, Heintje, in 1968.

Robertino toured through Europe, Australia, Japan, Canada and the United States, where ‘the Golden Boy’ appeared in the Ed Sullivan Show, and sang in Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden.

Robertino’s voice eventually changed and he returned to Italy.

At 18 he participated at the San Remo Festival 1964 with the song Un bacio piccolissimo (A Little Kiss). It stayed several weeks on #1, and became one of the year’s biggest hits in Italy.

German postcard by ISV, no. H 86.

Dutch postcard.

Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. AX 4960. Photo: CNR.

The Voice of Space

The next year Robertino returned at the San Remo Festival with Mia cara. Many hits and festival performances followed.

In the 1970s he appeared as Roberto Loreti in the films, I giardini del diavolo/The Gardens of the Devil (Alfredo Rizzo, 1971) and La Bolognese/The Woman from Blogna (Alfredo Rizzo, 1975).

Since then his popularity in Italy diminished, but Roberto Loreti still travels through Europe, the US and Russia performing in concerts. He is still popular in Scandinavia and curiously his biggest fans are the Russians.

In fact, another nickname was the ‘Voice of Space’. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin loved his songs and the first woman astronaut, Valentina Tereskova, and her colleague-husband Valeri Bikowski wanted to listen to Robertino's songs during their space voyage on board of the Vostok.

Robertino's songs are still extensively broadcast in Russia. He was invited by the presidents Kruschev and Yeltsin for numerous shows and always more than welcomed by the Russian public.

Reportedly Robertino has sold more than 25 million records during his career. In februari 2010 the Canadian police arrested a man who planned to murder Loreti, while the singer had an engagement at the Fallsview Casino, Niagara Falls, Ontario, the following weekend.

The suspect, Pietro Castelluzzo (58) had known Loreti for decades. Loreti had stayed at the Castelluzo family home in Toronto in the 1980s, and Castelluzzo believed Loreti had slept with his wife then.

Currently, Roberto Loreti lives with his family in Palestrina, near Rome. With his wife Maura, a micro-surgeon, he has a teenage son Lorenzo. From a previous marriage, he has a daughter, Norma and a son, Francesco. He has two grandchildren.

Scene from Le retour de Don Camillo/The Return of Don Camillo (1953). Source: Olivnet (YouTube).

Robertino sings Mama in Im schwarzen Rößl/The Black Horse Inn (1961). Source: SweetestAngel1983 (YouTube).

Robertino Loreti sings Non t'aspettavo più (I Didn't Expect You Anymore). Source: keymon7 (YouTube).

Sources: René Nicolini (Robertino Loreti- French), Historical Boys ClothingWikipedia, and IMDb.

1 comment:

Bunched Undies said...

Great post. I'm a big fan of the Don Carmello films and highly recommend them. Merry Christmas Bob to you and your family.