29 July 2013

Al Bano

Italian pop singer Al Bano (1943) is also known as an opera tenor, as an actor and as a winemaker. For about 30 years, he formed Italy`s most popular singing duo with his ex-wife, Romina Power. They performed twice at the Eurovision Song Contest and numerous times at the Sanremo Music Festival.

Al Bano
Italian postcard by Grafiche Biondetti (GB), Verona, no. 54.

Romina Power
Al Bano was born Albano Carrisi in the town of Cellino San Marco in Southern Italy in 1943.His mother Iolanda Ottino named him Albano because, when he was born, his father Carmelo Carrisi was fighting in Albania for the Royal Italian Army during World War II. He has one brother, Franco Carrisi (Kocis). Al Bano made his debut as a singer in 1966, at the Festival delle Rose. Two years later, he won at the Disco per l'Estate song competition, with Pensando a te in 1968. He recorded some major hits such as La siepe and Nel sole at that time. Nel sole sold 600,000 copies in Italy within three months of release, and eventually over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc in July 1968. During that time he also started a musical collaboration with Romina Power, the daughter of the film stars Tyrone Power and Linda Christian. Al Bano had met Romina Power during the production of the Musicarello (Italian teen musical) Nel sole/The World's Gold (Aldo Grimaldi, 1967), named after his hit song. They also co-starred in Pensando a te/Thinking of you (Aldo Grimaldi, 1969), Il suo nome è Donna Rosa/Her name is Donna Rosa (Ettore Maria Fizzarotti, 1969) and Mezzanotte d'amore/Midnight Love (Ettore Maria Fizzarotti, 1970). In total, the couple shot seven films, based on their songs, between 1967 and 1983. They married in 1970 and recorded the duet album Storia di due innamorati (1970). They sang as the duo Al Bano & Romina Power for almost thirty years; their work has been especially popular in Italy, Austria, France, Spain, Romania and Germany. In 1975, the couple released their first album as a duo, Dialogo, which was followed by numerous others. Many of them were also released in Spanish versions. In 1976, they took part in the Eurovision Song Contest with the song We'll Live It All Again. In 1982, the duo broke an Italian record with four songs on the Italian hit parade at the same time. The same year, they participated in the Sanremo Music Festival with the song Felicità and finished second. The song became widely popular, over 6 million copies of the single were sold and in 1985 they received a German Golden Globe for it. In 1983, they made their final Musicarello together, Champagne in paradiso (Aldo Grimaldi, 1983), with Edmund Purdom and written by Al Bano They won first prize in the Sanremo Music Festival 1984 singing Ci sarà and again took part in the Eurovision Song Contest 1985 with Magic Oh Magic. Both their Eurovision entries placed 7th. Other hits include: Nostalgia canaglia (awarded 3rd prize at Festival di Sanremo 1987), Libertà (1987) and Cara Terra mia (third at the Sanremo Music Festival).

Romina Power
Romina Power. Italian postcard. Photo: RCA.

Al Bano
Italian promotion card by EMI / Grafica Galiati, Milano. Photo: EMI.

Passion For Opera
In 1991, Al Bano and Romina Power again participated in the Sanremo Music Festival, this time with the song Oggi sposi. In the same year, they celebrated 25 years of their joint artistic careers with an anthology which included their most popular songs, Le più belle canzoni (in Italy) and Vincerai – Their Greatest Hits (in Europe). They also wrote their autobiography and released a video, both entitled Autoritratto dalla A alla R. After their daughter Ylenia Carrisi disappeared in January 1994 in New Orleans, Al Bano and Romina cancelled all of their concerts and dedicated all their time to the search for their daughter. Police efforts yielded no results. Al Bano returned to his solo career in 1996 with the pop song È la mia vita. Besides for pop music, he has a great passion for opera. During, his career, he has released several opera albums as a tenor. In 1997 he recorded the album Concerto Classico, which went double platinum in a short time. He also performed in place of Luciano Pavarotti alongside two other renowned tenors Plácido Domingo and José Carreras. In 1997, he played in the music video of Herşeye Rağmen (Nonetheless), by Turkish singer Sima (Sima Sarıkaya). His pop hit È la mia vita was followed by Verso il sole (1997) and Ancora in volo (1999). In 1999, Al Bano announced the separation of Romina and him in an open letter to the weekly magazine Oggi. He explained reasons for their break-up, related to the disappearance of their eldest. In 2000, Al Bano returned to the Eurovision stage, providing backing vocals for the Swiss entry (performed in Italian) La vita cos'è? by Jane Bogaert. This song placed 20th out of 24. On 16 October 2001, Carrisi was nominated Goodwill Ambassador of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In 2005, he starred in the Italian reality show L'isola dei Famosi (Italian version of Celebrity Survivor) with his daughter, Romina Carrisi. It introduced him to a new generation of fans. Al Bano returned to Sanremo in 2007, where he sang Nel perdono which came in second place. He still tours all over the world. He is a constant on Italian television and has a large number of fans who follow his career very closely. To date Al Bano has sold 165 million albums around the world. Al Bano and Romina Power have a son, Yari Marco (1973), and three daughters Ylenia Maria (1970), Cristel Chiara (1985) (starred in the Reality TV show La Fattoria, an Italian version of The Farm) and Romina Iolanda (1987). He has one daughter and one son from ex-girlfriend and journalist Loredana Lecciso, Jasmine Caterina (2001) and Albano Giovanni (2002). He still lives in his birthplace, Cellino San Marco. And about his ‘nameplace’: he has visited Albania a number of times. Al Bano was there for a concert in 1989 and has been enjoying great popularity there.

Al Bano e Romina Power sing Ci Sara' at Sanremo in 1984. Source: Seradimusica (YouTube).

Al Bano & Romina Power sing Felicita (New Version). Source: Dimitar Gunchev (YouTube).

Al Bano sings Tu Per Sempre. Source: ROssOnera (YouTube).

Sources: Evan C. Gutierrez (AllMusic), Al Bano Carrisi Official Web Site, Wikipedia and IMDb.