Here's Luiz Amorim in front of a poster announcing Pavone's visit to Sydney, Australia in 1982. The tour however was called off with no explanation to anyone concerned. Rita finally visited Sydney four years later in January 1986.
Myself at a Parramatta Road shop, Annandale, NSW in 1982... waiting for Godot that did not come.
Rita Pavone sings in Sydney in January 1986.
Transcription of Interview granted by RITA PAVONE to Luiz Amorim on 27 January 1986 – Monday at 1:15 PM at the lobby of the Manly Pacific International Hotel in Sydney, Australia with the participation of Laura Trentacarlini AKA Laura Blue.
When I read the Australia-Italian newspaper ‘La Fiamma’ and realized that Rita Pavone was comingo to Australia for a couple of appearances I got all worked up and thought I’d finally have a chance to meet my 'Teen-agerzeit' idol in person and maybe interview her. When Rita finally arrived I told my friend Lutch about this ‘dream’ I had and he asked me: ‘Why don’t you go and interview her posing as a journalist?’ I retorted, ‘What a swell idea!’ like in those Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland MGM musicals. And that was it. Next thing Lutch got on the phone and rang the Mainly Pacific Hotel and asked to talk to Mr. Ferruccio Ricordi [AKA Teddy Reno] one of their guests. Lutch, posing as a Brazilian newspaper man, just like in those Humphrey Bogart movies, told Mr. Ferruccio he worked for a Brazilian publication that was about to launch a ‘History of Rock’n’roll’ series of articles and would like very much to interview Rita. Teddy was very forthcoming and made an appointment for Monday the 27th of January 1986. Rita was busy with rehearsals and preparation for her big gig on the Sunday, 26th January – Australia’s day, its national holiday.
Rita’s show would be the culmination of sundry varieties organized by the local Italian community centred around the Church of San Giovanni Battista in Brookvale, a suburb in Sydney’s North Shore. This day of celebration was on a long week-end. I arrived at the event at 2 PM, attended half of the Catholic Mass then followed a procession through the streets of Brookvale led by a brass band and a priest reciting the Rosary with the Faithful responding it... all way to the Brookvale Oval, which is a cricket ground stadium. Cricket is Australia’s national sport. At the Oval there was a variety-show going on with the presence of various Italian-Australian bands and singers until such time as Rita Pavone was announced by Teddy Reno around 8 PM. Rita sang a few songs and introduced Laura Bue AKA Carolain or Laura Trentacarlini her new ‘discovery’. After Rita & Laura’s show there was a display of fireworks, a typical activity of Australia’s Day.
When Monday came I knew I had a ‘Misson Impossible’ to accomplish. I was anxious about the interview and was not sure whether I would be able to go ahead with it. I went to the Manly Pacific Hotel with baited breath. This was the newest and most luxurious hotel in Sydney – the same hotel whose owner would become infamous a few years later for havind slayed his own wife. Somehow I spotted Teddy Reno in the lobby who told me Rita was at the swimming pool on the roof of the hotel and I should go there. When I got to the top I saw something I would never forget: Rita lying topless on her stomach on a beach-chair by the pool reading a book about Jacqueline Onassis. She had sun glasses on, a white sun protector on her nose and a baseball cap on her head. When I approached her she raised her head and looked bewildered at me. She wasn’t aware of the interview arrangements with her husband and after I explained it to her she asked me to wait for her in the lobby and she would be with me in 15 minutes.
I walked around the block having second thoughts about ‘facing the beast’ and probably took longer than expected and when I was back at the lobby Rita and Laura were already waiting for me sitting at a small table where I dutifully installed my AIWA walkman and started the interview which follows. I intended to ask questions in English and Rita would answer them in Italian but from the very beginning Rita made a point of speaking in English and turn to Laura for help any time she would have any difficulty with the language. I have to admit I have never listened to this interview after it was made. Many were the reasons for not doing so. First I felt guilty I had taken too much of Rita’s time. Second I thought I had been too ‘aggressive’, but I’m pleased to know that that was only an ‘impression’. Listening back to the tape 15 years later I found the interview was a joy!
It’s a long interview but never a dull moment. Especially Rita herself was enthusiastic all along up to the last minute. I hinted of finishing the interview twice only to find Rita urging me to ‘go on’ with it which I think it’s a kind of a compliment on her part. It means she was having fun as well. Rita talks about her early recordings, her relationship with her parents, her mother’s hard time while chaperoning her daughter all over the world, her only regret of not having stayed in the United States when she had the chance, feminism, her kids and a lot of other stuff. I realized listening to the tape that there was a strong empathy between Rita and myself which is flattering in a way. Laura’s participation was a plus too although I must say she sometimes would not follow what Rita and I were talking about. In general all went smootlhly. I hope you will have as much fun reading it as I had in making it and transcribing it.
Luiz Amorim, 8 September 2001.
Rita Pavone, Laura Trentacarlini & a friend in Australia, January 1986.
Luiz: I'm from a radio station in São Paulo, Brazil.
Rita: Ah, Brasile?
Luiz: Yeah! Ah, this is from a friend of mine who did this... [giving Rita a booklet Fabio Miranda had compiled about Rita Pavone’s discography]...
Rita: Ah, si, si, I received this.
Rita: [telling Laura Trentacarlini who sits beside Rita] It’s from a young man, a fan of mine.
Luiz: That’s right! He sent it to me.
Rita: Questo è... is a friend of his. Quel ragazzo che mi scrive sempre dal Brasile. Che mi manda sempre cartoline, auguri per Natale. È questo così qua.
Luiz: [fumbling] So, well... We are planning to do a research on rock’n’roll. Just like this publication made in England; [Luiz shows Rita an issue of ‘The History of Rock’, a weekly magazine published by Orbis Publishing Limited, London, which dealt with European Rock, bearing Rita Pavone’s name in one of the articles].
Rita: You write for Brazil?
Luiz: I write for Brazil! I’ve got some questions I'd like to ask you about your career. [trying to find the article in the magazine] There’s something about YOU here, The Rokes etc!
Laura: [looking at the magazine]. They had a lot of ... here!
Luiz: First of all I'd like to say I saw your show last night. It was very good. Did you like it?
Rita: Yes, but the stage was very bad. They told me they had a problem in the afternoon because...
Laura: It was uncomfortable!
Luiz: It was supposed to start at 5:30 PM and it was already 7:30 PM.
Rita: They said the stage had damaged the lawn the year before when they had the same festival because it was too heavy... [Rita asks Laura for help] ... quelli che si occupano del prato dello stadio che ci era troppo pesante palcoscenico!
Laura: Oh, the stage was too heavy. They were afraid it was going to ruin the grass of the ...
Rita: They told the organizers only yesterday afternoon. Non volevano che quest’anno fossi lo stesso.
Luiz: Well, I can understand what you said. You can speak Italian if you want to. I can’t speak it but I understand it.
Rita: Ah, sì. E loro han detto che era troppo pesante, che avrebbe ronivato tutto, così han detto, però il problema è che loro gli han’ detto soltanto in pomeriggio... in the afternoon at 5 o’clock they said: ‘No, you can’t build any stage because it’s too heavy, five in the afternoon! Crazy, so the organizers were very disappointed. And the stage was too low, so ugly! You cannot work in a stage like that!
Luiz: Even so I thought your show was good!
Rita: And also a lot of people went away for the long week-end to the sea, to the beach.
Luiz: That’s what I thought as well. Even so there were a lot of people.
Rita: Yah! I think it will be better on the 2nd of February when we'll be at the Appia Club.
Luiz: There was something... the show started too late.
Rita: They had told me it would start at 8:30, then 9:30 and then 10:30. There is no organization.
Luiz: I know!
Rita: You know the only problem with Italian organization? They have no organization [Rita laughs contentedly]
Luiz: At all!
Luiz: Rita, I’m interested in the beginning of your career when you recorded ‘La partita di pallone’. Afterwards, mainly when you went to the United States where you recorded ‘The International Teen-Age Sensation’.
Rita: It’s so very easy! I was a son... a son? [Rita asks Laura for help] a daughter of a working man. My father worked at FIAT and I had always this ... piacere... desiderio... pleasure [Laura’s voice] to work on the stage one day. I started very very young; I was 9 years old.
Luiz: Who were your idols when you were a child?
Rita: The first in my childhood was Claudio Villa, an Italian singer. When I was 12 years old I loved Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Ricky Nelson...
Luiz: He’s dead now! [Ricky had died on 31 December 1985 in a plane crash].
Rita: Frankie Avalon, Elvis Presley. And I sang like ... come dilettante...
Rita: Amateur... until one day my father wrote a letter to my [future] husband. He was not my husband at that time [laughs]. He was a very popular singer, Teddy Reno, and informed: ‘My daughter, she’s a good singer...’
Luiz: Oh, your father did that?
Rita: ‘I’d like you to listen to her’... and my father sent a tape of my voice to Teddy.
Luiz: So you had a tape recorder.
Rita: A tape recorder, well, you know, those old tape recorders with quelle bobine, with the rolls...
Luiz: Reel to reel.
Laura: Eight-track tape.
Laura: Eight-track tape recorder.
Rita: Sì... No! Quelli Gelosi, quelli piccolini... fatte imaginar!
Rita: And invited me to take part in this contest he organized near Rome, a place called Ariccia.
Luiz: What song did you sing there?
Rita: I sang an American song from Paul Anka... ahn...
Luiz: ‘Diana’? ‘Crazy love’?
Rita: No, no, no. Ogni... come facciamo...?
Rita: No, aspetta!
Luiz: ‘Put your head on my shoulder’?
Rita: [singing] ‘Love me warm and tender’, dear... na na na na! And they invited me to take part in the contest, ‘The rally of the Unknowns’.
Luiz: Festival degli Sconosciuti.
Rita: ... and the award for the winner was a record with the RCA, Italian RCA. I sang 'Ogni giorno' and another one.
Luiz: Which was the other one? Do you remember?
Rita: A song from Mina... ‘Tintarella...’
Luiz: ‘Tintarella di luna’?
Rita: No! [snapping her fingers] ‘Mogliendo café’!
Rita: A Spanish song, but it was very popular in Italy at that moment.
Luiz: [humming/mumbling some notes from ‘Mogliendo café’]
Rita: [singing]: ‘Cuando la tarde languidece renacen las sombras...’. And I won the contest.
Luiz: How many contestants?
Rita: Oh, three thousand. And we ended up with only fifteen in the final night. Then many song writers tried to write especially for me!
Luiz: What was your first song?
Rita: ‘La partita di pallone’ was the first song I recorded. It was a big hit and all of a sudden I realized I had become a star because people, girls in the streets, tried to grab me [laughing] and cut a piece of my hair. That happened overnight! It was like a fairy tale, really!
Luiz: I know a little bit about it because I read about it.
Rita: And in three months there were three different records.
Luiz: What’s the flip-side of ‘La partita di pallone’?
Rita: ‘Amore twist’.
Luiz: What was your second record?
Rita: The second record was ‘Alla mia età’ and...
Luiz: ‘Come te non c’è nesssuno’?
Rita: [trying hard to remember] ‘Alla mia età’ and... something ... because the B-side normally... then ‘Come te non c’è nessuno’. We made three records the same year.
Luiz: Same session?
Rita: No, in the same year! No, because normally in Italy you came out in ...
Rita: In summer and one record in winter. Three records only in springtime... and we sold a lot of records. At the end of May I received my first Million Record golden disc.
Luiz: Which was something nobody had done.
Rita: Something strange because in Italy, we, at that time had problems with electric power. In many regions of the country there were power outages so there was no radio transmissions. So it was even more amazing that the the records sold that much...
Luiz: And then came 'Alta Pressione’ which was your first TV show!
Rita: ‘Alta Pressione’ was my first show. The first show where I presented ‘La partita di pallone’. One of the producers of ‘Studio Uno’, that was the greatest TV show in Italy... because at the time we had only one channel, so people watched only this channel.
Luiz: Channel One?
Rita: Channel One! So this producer Falqui, very well known, he saw me in 'Alta Pressione' and proposed me to make twelve apparizioni, appearances at ‘Studio Uno’. I just thought: ‘Come on, it’s crazy!’ It’s like appearing at the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ twelve times.
Luiz: You mentioned the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’! When was the first time you went to America?
Rita: It was in 1964.
Luiz: When you recorded ‘The International Teen-Age Sensation’.
Luiz: And ‘Small Wonder’!
Rita: ‘Small Wonder’, yeah! I stayed in America from1964 until 1968 [sic]. And during that time I made 6 times ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’, ‘Top of the Pops’ [this is actually in England], ‘Hullabaloo’, ‘Shindig’, the most important shows.
Luiz: Now, tell me something; How did the American people see you? And how was your relationship with other stars like Lesley Gore, Shirelles, Little Peggy March, remember her?
Rita: Yeah! But you know, it was very funny because my English today is very little. At that time I didn’t speak a word. And they send me a girl to accompany me, she would translate what I said. It was a pleasure for me to work with such big stars as Ella and Ellington: it was incredible,
unbelievable, because until the day before I was their fan. The only thing I remember working at the Ed Sullivan Show with Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington was to ask them for autographs to show my friends in Italy, you know, ‘I’m working with them... in the same stage’... this was my only, only [turning to Laura] sola preoccupazione, no?
Laura: It was her own problem! [Laura translates it wrongly].
Rita: Problem! And I remember the ... it’s difficult when you don’t speak the language. Any way it was a very good time.
Luiz: At the same time you recorded in German as well, right? What’s the difference between the German public, German audience and the American audience?
Rita: It’s different. The German like songs that go like a pah rah pah [immitating a Beer Hall trombone]... it’s a typical German song... just a little boring [she laughs!! She chuckles, indeed.].But the public, I think, they're similar. Maybe the American people are more naive, more ... più spontaneo... più genuino che il tedesco. How do you say it in English? [turning to Laura].
Laura: I don’t know how to say it!
Rita: You know, più genuino, più tranquillo. The American people, anche, even if they don’t know you but somebody tells them: ‘This is a popular singer in her country!’ They are not... hon hanno... non sono prevenuti... [suspicious, she meant]... they have no prevention against you. If they like you they clap! They make an standing ovation. That’s wonderful! The German people, also the Italian people... before they understand they are really... you know [she laughs]... something like that... between 1963 until 1968 I had my international careeer... the most interesting part of my life, my artistic life. I traveled all around the world and met very important people and performed in the most fabulous stages. That was really incredible.
Luiz: Where were you more successful, in Germany or America?
Rita: Well, in Germany because... I... you know, in America I been there when I was too young. I had a lot of problems because my mother followed me and she was crying all the day ‘cause she missed my father. Yes, she wanted to came back. I remember the time I was [to be] signed with the William Morris Agency and they told me, ‘Rita, remember, if you leave [the] United States you’ll miss your train because there is a lot of competition here...’ so if you don’t stay here you won't... my...[turning to Laura] come si parla ‘mia dote’?, come dici ‘la dei miei...’ ci son ‘i difetti e i pregi’! ‘Il mio pregio’, come si può dire ‘Il mio pregio’ in inglese?
Laura: I don’t know what it means.
Rita: Difetto è una ragazza cattiva, il pregio è una brava ragazza! Mio pregio, I, I don’t know [frustrated] mai, io non sò come se dice in inglese [laughs disconcertedly] ‘Il mio pregio’.. cioè è una buona ragazza però ha il difetto di essere curiosa! The good thing in me is that I don't have the typical Italian face, you know?
Laura: You look Australian!
Rita: People used to tell me I looked Irish!
Luiz: [looking up a dictionary] ‘Pregio’: good quality merit, value.
Rita: Yeah, my special quality for the Americans who were... Che si occupava di me? [to Laura]
Laura: People that were...
Rita: ... working with me... they wanted to present me in such a way that pleased the American audience, not the Italian typecast. They said: 'You look Irish, Australian, because you’re skinny, have freckles!' This could be good for the American audience, for the local people because you’re not the typical Italian! They tried to put me in such a good light but I was too young and I had a lot of problems.
Luiz: [interrupting] But even so you recorded two very good records.
Rita: I was in the charts at 15th place with ‘Remember me’ a 45rpm! It was a really good job because no Italian had ever done that except Domenico Modugno with ‘Volare’!
Luiz: and Emilio Pericoli with ...
Rita & Luiz together: ‘Al di là’!
Luiz: Nobody else!
Rita: So that was really important. If I was older I could have said to my mother] ‘Come on, go ahead, go home and I’ll stay here in America’. But my father had a typical Italian mentality. Even when I was twenty-one he wouldn't leave me alone [laughing]. You know, it’s my only [to Laura] il mio ripianto, regret. Yes, you know it could have been good for me, for may career. Maybe also I could have [imparare] learned a lot of things. In Italy you can’t, you know, because people are immature there, you know, they like improvising. We are the most [start laughing] improvisational people in all the world! If things go good it's good, but sometimes...
Laura: Sometimes it doesn’t work.
Luiz: In Germany you had a meeting with Paul Anka, didn’t you?
Rita: Yeah, we recorded a 45 rpm together!
Luiz: And a TV show as well.
Rita: TV shows. We made a 45 together because he had a big hit in Germany and so do I. We recorded for the same company and they decided to put us together on vynil and we recorded ‘Kiddy, Kiddy kiss me’. It was a smash hit too!
Luiz: And how about ‘Mein Jack, der ist Zwei Meter gross’?
Rita: [half-surprised] Oh, but I had many records there. The first one was ‘Wenn ich ein Junge wär’ and I know now that Nina Hagen recorded a new version.
Rita: I've seen 'Wenn ich ein Junge wär' on the televison.
Luiz: [trying to throw a spanner in the fan] Nena, the one who sings ’99 Luftbalons’?
Laura: She does the same record that Rita...
Rita: No, Nina Hagen... the ‘New York, New York’ [Rita imitates Nina Hagen’s voice]
Luiz: [feigning surprise] Oh, I see, all right! I know! Oh, yeah!
Rita: THAT Nina!
Luiz: The one who went to Rio de Janeiro, right? [Rock in Rio]
Rita: She is a crazy girl. [laughs]
Laura: She does the same hiccups as she [pointing to Rita] used to do.
Rita: I heard the record, she copied me. It’s a cover of my record. The arrangement is similar.
Luiz: That’s interesting!
Rita: It’s crazy! My second biggest hit in German was ‘Arrivederci Hans’. We sold one million records! I recorded 6 LPs in Germany. You know, Germany is interesting but their music is
boring. Now they’re starting to change.
Luiz: I don't follow German pop but I like the songs you did especially one of them...
Rita: The German people is fantastic but the record producer comes and decides for you. He thinks only because I was Italian I always had to sing ‘Signorina’, ‘bambina’... [laughing aloud].
Luiz: That’s what I noticed when I went through your German records.
Rita: [chuckling] Yeah!
Luiz: bambina, carina, signorina...
Luiz: Piccolino, Luigi, Marcellino [laughing]
Rita: [cracking up] MO!
Luiz: Did you ever meet the Beatles?
Rita: No, never!
Rita: Elvis, yes, in Nashville. We posed for pictures together. It’s a great privilege to have met him. It was a funny story because my second album ‘Small Wonder’ was produced by Chet Atkins. They invited me to record in Nashville and I had a wonderful time there.
Luiz: Oh, you had two different producers?
Rita: Yes, the first time was a two-men team. [Hugo & Luigi]
Luiz: Joe something... [actually Joe Rene, producer of Rita's first US album]
Rita: Joe something like that, very good! But the second time they gave me this was-a ... they wanted to produce the ‘Nashville sound’ in my record, so...
Luiz: Which record do you like best? The first or the second?
Rita: [undecided] Puff! I don’t know! I don’t know. Maybe I prefer the first one. So I went to Nashville and we were in a hotel where I gave an interview. During the interview this man asked me ‘who my favourite singer [was]’ and I answered; ‘Brenda Lee’. Then he said ‘Brenda Lee lives here!’, ‘Lives here?’; ‘Yes, would you like to meet her?’; ‘Oh, my God!’ [Rita expresses exultation]. So I called her, she made an appointment for the afternoon and she received me in her bureau [office]. It was a beautiful bureau, she was a very nice girl.
Rita: Really nice... very...
Luiz: ... sweet?
Rita: simpatica.... And she told me it would be a pleasure if I wanted to see her recording the following day. 'Do you want to be present?' I said: ‘Okay!’ And it was a very good day. In the same day I foud out – I overheard my producer [Chet Atkins] talking with another person that Elvis [Presley] would come in the night to record his new record at RCA. I said ‘Come on, I’m here from Italy. I’ve never seen him, never in my life, give me this chance!’ Chet said: [chuckling] ‘Come on, only if you are a good girl [chuckles some more] ... I remember this: ‘If you are a good girl we’lll invite you, we’ll present him to you.’ Elvis arrived at 11 o’clock PM and outside the building was full of girls screaming...
Luiz: ... pulling their hair...
Rita: something like that... He was a very tall boy, blue eyes and at that time he was thin...
Laura: Thin [trying to help Rita in the pronunciation of the TH].
Rita: Skinny, no? He looked at me and said: ‘Ah, I saw you on television last night!’ [at the Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night]. We took a picture together. I met Colonel Parker and the group that accompany him The Jordanaires. He gave me a big poster of himself that is still in my bureau [office] at home. It’s a wonderful poster. You know, in one day I met the two most popular persons in the world so I was happy for that [exulting!]. More than my recording sessions! It was very exciting.
Luiz: You sing in many languages, right? What language are you most comfortable with? German or English?
Rita: I think German. I was told I have a good accent in German. But also in Spanish there’s no problem.
Luiz: Talking about impersonations that you did in the 60s: which is your favourite impersonation?
Rita: You know, it really started as joke because... nella occasione che faccevo questo show...
Rita: In the occasion I did this show for televison they told me: ‘Puoi fare qualcosa di diverso oltre di cantare?’
Laura: Can you do something else instead of only singing?
Rita: And I said: ‘I like to imitate some persons, you know...’ , ‘But try, try’. It started like a joke in reality and then it went so well that they insist I would watch old movies to learn how to imitate other stars.... Come se dice: ‘Io avevo un vantaggio... como si chiama quelllo che... a medio...The most glamorous girls like Rita Hayward [laughs]... It was funny because I’m so little and at that time I looked more like a tom-boy, no? When I impersonated a glamour Hollywood star I changed my personality, nobody believed it ...
Luiz: I remember Mina. You looked tall!
Rita: Tall, yeah! [laughing radiantly]
Luiz: Marilyn Monroe.
Rita: Marilyn Monroe, so! I would walk in a different way [laughs], I don’t know why. Or a comic person like Charlie Chaplin. It was a joke before it started to be a serious thing.
Luiz: How about Carmen Miranda?
Rita: Carmen Miranda? Yes!
Luiz: That was a good one too!
Rita: Really good!
Luiz: There’s something very interesting that I’d like to ask you: your relationship with Lina Wertmüller. She was the director of your first movie ‘La figlia americana’?
Rita: No. ‘Rita, la zanzara’.
Luiz: ‘Rita, la zanzara’, ah!
Rita: ‘Rita, the mosquito’.
Luiz: and then the second one was ‘Non stuzzicate la zanzara’.
Luiz: You made also ‘Gian Burrasca’, the whole album with music by Nino Rota.
Rita: and lyrics by Wertmüller.
Luiz: Why did you separate? Why did you go apart? Is there any possibility of your coming back together again? Not now, but...
Rita: ... in the future? I’m a little sceptical about it because I think she now believes she's become a big director...
Luiz: [interrrupting] She’s not German, is she?
Rita: She’s German from family, yeah. I think from Ausschwitz! The difference between an Italian and an American directors is that: the American director take a singer and they are able to [turning to Laura] per fare diventare questo cantante un grande attore...
Laura: to make him become a big actor. They train him.
Rita: He believes in him, they trust him. She thinks she’ll waste her time, personality... la sua importanza fare un fin con una cantante oggi.
Laura: Oh! [caught unawares] She thinks that she might be losing time to try to teach a singer to become an actor. They don’t believe in this in Italy. A singer is not an actor, that’s it. It’s only a singer. Instead in the States if you’re a singer you can be an actor, can be a dancer.
Rita: But they don’t understand that type of mentality in Italy. If Liza Minelli was born in Italy she would never become Liza Minelli.
Luiz: But she [Wertmüller] directed you in ‘Gian Burrasca’.
Rita: Yes, but you know, I had met her before, during my first show on television. She was a co-writer of the TV script. After she proposed me to do this story she had in her hands and she offered the story to the TV director and she told him: ‘I think this person....’ come si chiama questo personaggio di questa storia [turning to Laura] new film; personaggio, come si chiama?
Laura: Uh? [lost in space]
Rita: Ah, ah, ah [laughs]. Tu sei meglia di me in inglese.
Luiz: Does she speak good Italian?
Rita: Yes, a little bit.
Laura: No! Non capisco.
Rita: Il personaggio di un film.
Laura: The first actor, you mean?
Rita: Yeah? Yes, but you make a part, your role, when you do a part in a ... another person; when you make a film you don’t do yourself, you do another part. What do you call this part?
Luiz: Character, isn’t it?
Rita: Yes! Okay! [Rita snaps her fingers] Thank you!
Laura: I didn’t get it!
Rita: Ah ah [laughs satisfied]. Okay! She [Wertmüller] told him: ‘This character [personaggio] is right for Rita’.
Luiz: and so she was the one...
Luiz: All right! [half-surprised]
Rita: So we decided to do the script on TV and it was a big success. She is a very [well] known personality in show business for her intelectual movies but she’s got no box-office... only for the critics, you know. At that time I was so popular that I was successful in the film [snaps her finger] without problems. So she tried to..
Laura: She got famous with you?
Rita: Yes, for the first time, yeah!
Luiz: She’s very famous today.
Laura: Yah, she is!
Rita: She was very popular with intelectuals but not with the people. Her movies are seen only by critics, you know, ten hundred people [laughs], it’s not enough. But the first time she didn’t sign [sic] her own name [she wasn’t credited with her own name]. She signed as George Brown because she felt a little upset for that [?]. After the success of this movie [Rita, la zanzara] she signed Lina Wertmüller on the second [film]. You know, that’s life. At the
moment she because famous she forgot me.
Luiz: I thought you had an argument with her or something.
Rita: Nothing about [sic] that.
Laura: [suspicious] Everyone thinks you had na argument with her.
Luiz: A quarrel? No! Not at all. I think I said the truth because I can’t say nothing more than the truth. Yes, the moment you become a personality you forget the friends. This is reality. Maybe she tried another way because she made a film with Giancarlo Giannini, very particular movies, sophisticated and complicated stories, with typical Italian style, you know... they talk [Rita imitates certain sounds] this type of movies I don’t like too much, but...
Luiz: But it’s universal because...
Rita: When she tried to do a movie with Candice Bergen for the American it was a flop!
Luiz: Well, a little bit of gossip!
Rita: [still laughing] Sometimes you need it!
Luiz: Yes, of couse. Ah, something very interesting. The song ‘Datemi un martello’ which was a hit in Brazil, it was Number One in 1964. Why is it so different from the original? It was [Sergio] Bardotti who wrote the lyrics, right?
Luiz: Why did he change it so much?
Rita: It was originally a non-violent song about freedom. It was said that in Italy we didn't have those kinds of problems so why should we talk about it? And why Rita should sing about them? She who had such a joyfull face... it could be dangerous, you know. This was a production by RCA and they decided to change the words completely and it became a very refreshing song [Rita laughs at her own wit].
Luiz: Very refreshing! Very much! Did you record any songs with The Rokes?
Rita: The Rokes? They were discovered by my husband. They won the second ‘Festival of the Unknowns’. We made a film together. We made a tour together. And when they were a little bit popular and theyrecorded their first record...
Luiz: ... they took off...
Rita: They took off! I’m a very lucky girl in the sense that I porto fortuna... everyone that worked with me...
Luiz: You’re a good luck charm!
Luiz: Good on you!
Rita: Yeah! Normally, yeah!
Laura: I hope it’s the same with me!
Rita: [laughs] She’s my new discovery.
Luiz: I saw her last night. She was good!
Laura: She’s my boss!
Luiz: When you’ll get a little bit of sucess you’ll take off as well!
Rita: She recorded a 45 and we’re thinking ...
Laura: The record is going to be coming out about in...
Luiz: The Italian song? ‘Cause that was very good!
Rita & Laura: No, no.
Rita: The American!
Luiz: The Italian song?
Laura: That’s a song of Eros Ramazzotti. He’s an Italian singer. He did San Remo and he got famous with this song.
Rita: She sings it in English; a very good song: ‘Blue headed woman’, a mix. I think she did a very good job.
Luiz: Let’s talk about the present now. What do you think of Madonna?
Rita: I like her. I think she has a rich personality. She has a good face for the movies. She became a really good star.
Luiz: Did you see ‘Desperately seeking Susan’?
Rita: No, only in the video-clip, you can see that she is really good, her face, her movements.
Luiz: She’s very ambitious?
Rita: Well, you know, it is good to be ambitious in this kind of business...
Luiz: ... otherwise...
Rita: Otherwise you have no chance. It’s a jungle [ ah ah laughs, chuckles].
Luiz: It’s a dog-eat-dog...
Rita: It’s a jungle!
Luiz: Cindy Lauper?
Rita: I like her [authoritatively]. I like her voice much more than Madonna's. She has more talent!
Luiz: [reminding Rita about the interview’s length] Any time you want to finish it [the interview]...
Rita: [dismissive] Don’t worry! I prefer Tina Turner all over!
Laura: [half-shouting] We all prefer Tina Turner!
Rita: Alyson Moyet also!
Luiz: Well, that’s a good one too.
Rita: and then Lennox from Eurythmics.
Luiz: Annie Lennox, right?
Luiz: In Italy is there any...?
Rita: [jumping the gun] They are very popular. Now is different from the 50s and 60s when a hit in the United States only reached Italy after two years. Now it is simultaneous; we listen here to the same music we listen in Italy.
Luiz: South America was the same.
Luiz: [insisting again] Is there anybody in Italy, any singer that you particularly like?
Rita: Well, Fiorella Manoia, Anna Oxa, Ramazzotti. There are two, three names. I’m not actually their fan, I’m not crazy about them but I think they are good professional artists.
Luiz: I’ve got something for you here which is a cassette tape of a radio show, an interview you gave Dick Danello. I don’t know if you know his name, if it rings a bell.
Rita: Thank you.
Luiz: And that’s the show he presented on the radio. So you can have it. [hands her a cassette tape].
Rita: Thank you. My present is the new way that I ... ho preso [turning to Laura] la nuova strada che ho trapreso.
Laura: She’s just become a song writer.
Luiz: Oh, I know, there is ‘Dimensione Donna’ in that tape too.
Rita: Have you listened to the record?
Luiz: I can’t tell you much about it because I have just listened once, one time.
Rita: Okay. [disappointed].
Luiz: But he’s going to send me the record now.
Luiz: From Brazil.
Rita: I will give you a tape now so you don't have to wait it comes from Brazil...
Luiz: You got the record here?
Rita: I’ll give you the cassette.
Luiz: Oh, that’s a lovely present.
Rita: It’s my first record as a song writer. I think it was about time to do it.
Laura: a change over!
Rita: Did you know that song writers always wrote me songs about children stories, always the same stories? Then I asked my husband: ‘Listen, if you really trust me give the possibility to fly alone’. And I searched my new team worker...
Luiz: How long have you known each other?
Rita: Three years. [which sends us back to 1983].
Laura: almost three years.
Rita: and we’ve worked together for two years.
Luiz: Did you meet each other in America or... ?
Rita: Yes. In Florida.
Laura: I was a waitress once after school.
Luiz: I was a waiter once too. I know!
Laura: A part-time job, you know. And I bumped into her and I had a cup of coffee on my tray and it fell all over her.
Rita & Luiz: [crack up laughing]
Laura: I didn’t know who she was then... She didn’t get mad anyhow and we made friends and we became friends, good friends. She invited me to Switzerland if I ever went to Italy.
Luiz: Did she know you sang?
Laura: Yes, I told her. Then she told me she was a famous singer and I said: ‘That’s terrific, I’d love to become a singer too, I write songs’...
Luiz: You are from Chicago, right?
Laura: I told her I write songs and she said: ‘All right, if you ever come to Italy I’m in Switzerland, come and see me’. Sure! After not even a year I called her up: ‘Hello!’ [laughs] ‘How are you?’, ‘Remember me?’, ‘No! Who are you?’; ‘Remember a cup of coffee I stumbled on you? ... and everything...’; ‘Oh, yeah, come on over!’ She invited me in and I started a new career!’.
Luiz: That’s lovely, isnt’it ?
Laura: I only say: ‘She had to change her dress and she changed my career!’
Rita: We wrote two really good songs for this album ...
Luiz: I beg your pardon?
Laura: I write the songs and Rita does the lyrics.
Rita: The LP is very good and the critics have been good.
Luiz: You know, last night was good. It's a differente feeling you both singing together. I thought she [Laura] was a kind of enemy, you know... you were competing...
Rita & Laura: No, no, not at all, not at all!
Rita: I laughed last night when she said: ‘Gimme some more!’ I started laughing! a ridere...
Rita: No, perchè facciamo a ridere, pare una cosa strana, no? [laughs]
Laura: ‘Gimme some more’ when you are singing... when someone sings you: ‘Come on, gimme some more!’
Rita: [still laughing] Mi ha fatto ridere la cosa! No, we are good friends. I think in this kind of work you must have sympathy [simpatia] and respect the other’s work. If you don’t respect it it’s finished.
Laura: It’s over!
Rita: And I think she’s got charisma!
Laura: [not paying attention to Rita’s compliment] So you think we were enemies?
Luiz: Well, you know, because when Teddy Reno presented you, Laura, he said YOU wereHIS discovery, so I thought she must be...
Laura & Rita: So he said it was HIS discovery? [cracking up]
Rita: Give him the cheque. We work together now.
Luiz: Do you remember when Teddy said something about you being ‘small’ and I don’t know...
Laura: I don’t even hear what he says truly because I’m so nervous when I’m up there. I don’t ever hear what he says. I only say: ‘Yes, it’s all right!’ [laughs]
Rita: Actually, my husband always presents talent-scout shows. I follow his career. In reality we scout together. We work together, he produces...
Laura: But truly Rita was the one who believed in me.
Luiz: Oh, that changes the whole picture.
Rita: I think it's good that Laura works with me until the moment that she can fly alone. She’s got charisma!
Luiz: I liked the moon-walk as well. [no one heard Rita’s compliment]
Laura: Yeah! Ha, ha [laughs contentedly]
Luiz: You should develop that!
Laura: It wasn’t slippery up there. Stick up there and it was small.
Rita: A lot of tables... amplifiers... small stage...
Laura: ... microphones all over the place.
Luiz: That’s nice that you’ve been together for three years now.
Rita: And we work on a lot of songs. We sent a song for San Remo Festival this year . I don’t know if we'll enter or not. We are a good team. I’ll give you the record. If you listen to it there are beautiful songs inside. And for the first time in the last 5 or 6 years I've had good reviews by the critics because they only remember me as a teen-ager. So now they've changed their minds about me. They said the record is good. They said I took the right step.
Luiz: There’s something else I’d like to ask you. Something I read in the Australian-Italian newspaper ‘Il Globo’. You said that you’ve been in Cuba.
Luiz: How was it? You were invited by whom?
Rita: By the government.
Luiz: By the government? How long did you stay there?
Laura: We stayed five days.
Rita: Seven days! We stayed together. I have received a lot of letters from Cuba during these 20 years. Fans, they write about... I was very popular...
Luiz: But how do they know you? Were you on television there?
Rita: [surprised] I don’t know. I really don’t know but I remember a magazine called L’Europeo, an Italian political magazine whose journalista once wrote in an article: ‘Im here in Cuba and it feels like I’m in Italy because you listen to Rita Pavone the whole day’.
Luiz: [did not understand that Rita meant those were L’Europeo’s journalist’s words]. What songs? Do you remember?
Rita: I don’t know, ‘La partita di pallone’, something like that.
Laura: [thinking that we are talking about Rita’s repertoire at Cuba’s tour] There was a song that they asked...
Rita: ‘Nella mia stanza’... nella mia stanza [Rita sings it] ... they wanted me to sing ‘Nella mia stanza’.
Rita: ‘If I had a hammer’ also.
Rita: ‘Datemi un martello’. So, many times I was told: ‘You’re so popular in Cuba, you’re so popular in Cuba!’ [snaps her fingers]. And last year they invited me and they said: ‘Come on!’. We had nothing to do for seven days... we went there. ‘You sing only for the television, it’s good for us. Don’t worry about travel arrangements and hotels, you don’t have to spend anything’. And I discoverd, I was suprised, they invited me for one show at the Carlos Marx Theatre with 3,500 people. A big theatre and when they announced my name people stood up and cheered.
Laura: She had an standing ovation.
Rita: I was surprised because I didn’t believe about this popularity.
Luiz: That’s very nice.
Rita: Fantastic! The people in Cuba are so hot!
Luiz: It must be be a little bit like Brazil, don’t you think?
Rita: Yes, they like music, dance, you know. I like them very much.
Luiz: There was something else I read in this paper I was surprised: I think your opinion concerning children is too conservative.
Luiz: Yes [smiling]. You said something about children being ungrateful to their parents because they have done everything they could. You hinted you have problems with your oldest son.
Rita: No, not problems. It’s too much to say ‘problems’. I think it’s important for children to understand that you work hard. That [being an entertainer] is not a joke... for us is not... non è un divertimento... We’re not having fun all the time. Sometimes you have time to take your son to a swimming pool but usually we have to work hard. It’s serious work, not play. When I spend 25 hours in an airplane - to fly from Europe to Sydney, Australia - it is not a joke.
Luiz: Especially coming to Australia, right?
Rita: From Italy!
Rita: 25 hours! So I think this should be on their minds. You risk your life everyday to make their lives better than mine. My son goes to college and I have never been to college because my father, my parents had no money. I would like to go to university one day...
Laura: What she means is that your own children should respect you.
Rita: Responsability, respect your work, respect your image. Not to be casual: ‘My mother, she’s rich and I’d like to...’ Tu devi guadagnare... [turning to Laura].
Laura: you have to learn to earn it yourself.
Rita: This is my opinion, right?
Luiz: I misunderstood you in the interview.
Rita: Ha! [happy she made her point]. Because they think, you know: ‘My mother is a singer, okay, she earns a lot of money. That’s normal. It is a duty!’ No, it’s not a duty.
Luiz: He’s a care-free boy, then!
Laura: Yeah! [laughs]
Rita: This is the only issue with the oldest [son]. We have no problem with the second son. Actually we don’t have a real problem with the first one because I started to be very hard with him, very rough.
Rita: I understand they are...
Luiz: What do you think, Laura?
Laura: I think the same. I think the same thing!
Rita: He is in this age that he is not a man or a child. He wants to be a man but he moves, he talks like a child. He wants to be a man because he’s tall.
Luiz: Taller than you.
Rita: [laughs] Oh, that’s very easy to be taller than me [chuckles] .
Luiz: Something else that struck me as ... is your opinon about feminism. Are you against feminism or what?
Rita: I’m not against feminism! I’m against the hysterical facet of feminism. I don’t believe in a woman without a man. I think that we are two [man & woman], we can do something togheter.
Luiz: But feminism is not against men.
Rita: [laughing] Oh, you don’t know the Italian feminists.
Luiz: I’m not in Italy but...
Rita: I don’t know about here but in Italy a feminist never talks well about men. A man is [she affects distaste] something... qualcosa che non si può toccare...
Laura: [jokingly] Are you really?
Laura: Something that’s untouchable... you don’t mention it.
Luiz: I’m not talking about lesbians. I’m talking about feminism.
Laura: No, in Italy is like that.
Rita: Hysterical types of feminists.
Luiz: [pondering] Humm!
Rita: I am not a feminist because I’m, I’m ... mi son sempre gestitta.
Laura: She always made her own decisions.
Luiz: Rita, just a minute. You’re not like everybody else. You are different. You’re not like any other woman.
Rita: Yes, but I decided all my life. When I was young I told my father that I wasn’t what he wanted me to be: to get married and be a housewife.
Laura: ... and wash the dishes...
Rita: and take care of children. I said: ‘Come on, daddy, I’m not this type of girl. I’d like to find my own life. I would like to make my own dreams come true. So leave me alone! Come on, you lived your life so let me live mine.
Luiz: Was it a big argument?
Rita: Yeah, my father wanted to be, you know... if a girl was independent to him it was revolutionary, you know [excitedly].
Luiz: I’m sorry. Is he still alive?
Rita: Yes, yes!
Luiz: Your mother as well?
Rita: My mother is not so well because she’s got some health problems. She’s in a clinic. But my father is okay. He’s a strong man.
Laura: Strong Sicilian man!
Rita: ... and so [continuing her story] he was shocked that I took care of myself. If I hadn’t taken this job [i.e. become an international singer] I don’t think I would get married before I
realized myself. Only if I wanted to marry I would marry, not because I had to. No, that’s not me.
Luiz: Dont’ you think that when he was against your marriage with your empresario it was because he was jealous of you?
Rita: I think all fathers are jealous of their daughters. All fathers! When it comes the day they have to leave their daughters alone they lose their minds [laughs].
Luiz: He felt betrayed?
Rita: No, I think that he wanted me to marry a boy friend of his choice. I was not in love with this particular boy. This boy was good but... Also Teddy had been married and there was no divorce in Italy then. He had a child from his first marriage so it was a complicated story. For my father it was something like seeing an alien [laughs]: ‘My daughter is married to a man older than her and he is divorced!’ [imitating her father – laughs]. But in March  we’ll be married for eighteen years.
Luiz: Well, it proves something...
Rita: something, no? [laughs]
Rita: So I’m not a feminist in the hysterical terms. I’m a feminist because when someone tells me a girl can’t do a job better than a man I think this is stupid and a man who thinks like that is not very intelligent. If a woman does a better job than a man's then I’d choose her... and the same if a man does a better job than a woman...
Luiz: Yeah, but don’t you think the way society is structured – just the way it is – women have a much worse place than men?
Rita: I don’t think so!
Luiz: Do you think they are equal? They have equal opportunities?
Rita: No, they are not. They don’t have the same opportunities because normally if you have a job proposition and you're presented with five men and five women – the five men will have more chances in getting the job than the five women. Maybe they would have the same ability to do the job but they prefer men!
Luiz: Because this is a man’s world, don’t you think?
Rita: Well, it’s a man’s world, really.
Luiz: Well, so I think this interview is almost through! I could go on talking for hours but I know you’ve got things to do.
Rita: Okay, we talk a little bit more.
Luiz: I’d like to talk about your first records too. If there’s anything particular that you’d like to say about the records. Ah, first record is ‘Abbiamo 16 anni’ – that was not you, was it? You don’t sing in that record.
Rita: No, I don’t sing in that record. This song it was I had a little company of persons [sic] that were working around me – girls and boys – and they sing this song.
Luiz: Is Gianni Morandi in that record as well?
Rita: Yes, but nobody knew it was him.
Luiz: It’s not written on the record.
Luiz: ‘Clementine cheriè’! Is there anything you remember about this song?
Rita: Yes. It was a song for a French movie. They invited me to take a little part in this French movie...
Luiz: You were in the movie?
Rita: Yes, in the movie. Clementine is a cartoon characher in France about a very crazy girl and they made a movie about her and I sing in it. I have a part only as a singer.
Luiz: ‘La commessa’, remember that song?
Rita: [laughs contentedly] These are the oldest songs on my first album. And that song is part of ‘Studio Uno’ because every week I sang one song!
TAPE ENDS HERE
Luiz: ‘Si fossi un uomo’
Rita: ‘Wenn ich ein Junge wär’
Luiz: ‘Quando sogno’, where is that song from?
Rita: It’s an American song ‘On the sunny side of the street’.
Luiz: I never heard the original.
Laura: [singing] ... on the sunny side of the street...
Rita: [joins in] ... on the sunny side of the street...
Laura: Grab your coat ... [starting the song]
Rita: Sometimes they proposed me some type of song and sometimes I proposed something I would like to sing and they would change the arrangements.
Luiz: They changed this one a lot.
Rita: Yes, yes, because this is a Swing Era song [Rita gives the pace and the rhythm of the swing beat snapping her fingers and immitating a trombone – a few bars of ‘On the sunny side of the street’] you know, for the children’s taste.
Luiz: No, teen-agers at that time, right? Oh, that song ‘Scrivi’ was a big hit in Brazil too. Did you record it in the same session as ‘Datemi un martello’?
Rita: We recorded that song in America, in the United States. I was in America then.
Luiz: [totally surprised] Oh, you did?
Rita: We were there and we had do do a new 45 for Italy. Also thecover [sleeve] was me with black-coloured girls. But it was not a big hit in Italy. No, because the taste of the song was so American, a really American song.
Luiz: I particularly think it’s a very well-constructed song with claps and...
Rita: But for the Italian taste it sounds different. It was a moderate success but not full [sic] success.
Luiz: ‘San Francesco’ with the Rokes.
Rita: ‘San Francesco’ was a crazy story about my director then at RCA. He was sure it was a song for me...
Luiz: [laughs at Laura who is impatient]. I’m almost through!
Rita: Yeah! I don’t believe it was. I don’t believe in songs about Christ, San Francesco and so so. He said: ‘Oh, it’s a beautiful song, we’ll record that song!’ I said: ‘Okay!’ It’s one of the
songs I like the least.
Luiz: You don’t?
Rita: There’s a lot of songs in my life that I don’t like.
Luiz: Tell me some songs that you don’t like.
Rita: ‘Pel di carota’!
Luiz: You don’t? I don’t like it either!
Rita: I don’t like ‘La bretella’, ‘Cam cam cammello’.
Luiz: I like ‘La bretella’ [sings some bars].
Rita: There are some songs you have to record as part of compromise, right?
Luiz: Yes. Do you like ‘Questo nostro amore’?
Rita: Oh, yeah!
Luiz: Which is your favourite song?
Luiz: Let’s say five favourite songs.
Rita: The older ‘Cuore’, ‘Fortissimo’, ‘E... zitto zitto’. Come si chiama quella lì? ‘Per tutta la vita’ e poi credo ‘Un paio di stavalli’.
Luiz: Right! I think that’s all!
Rita: That’s all! Can you leave me that? [meaning the ‘History of Rock’ magazine]. May I have it?
Luiz: Ah... this is part of a collection.... [trying to hold on to it]
Rita: Oh my God!
Luiz: But, well, in this case...
Laura: [laughs away]
Luiz: That’s great! Just let me know the number of this magazine. What’s the number?
Rita: Number 35.
Luiz: You can have it!
Rita: Thank you!
Luiz: So, you’ve got this one [meaning Fabio Miranda’s Pavone’s record list booklet], right?
Rita: Yeah, I’ve got, yes, he sent me a lot of these, uh hu [laughs].
Luiz: He’s a very nice boy!
Luiz: Well, I think that’s all.
Rita: If you want something from Italy I have an International Fan Club – there’s this guy Gianni Falorni who has a lot of things about me, tapes, video-tapes...
Luiz: [Affecting ignorance] He lives here?
Rita: In Italy.
Luiz: What’s his name?
Rita: He has things I don’t have.
Laura: Chinese records!.
Rita: Japanese records!
Luiz: [to Laura] Do you know him?
Laura: Yeah, I know. He showed me his collection.
Rita: Fabulous collection of my records all over the world. Video tapes, concerts. Sometimes when I have some problem I have to call him and say: ‘Come on, can you send me this because I have to do an interview for the radio; I don’t remember the day that I made this record!’ [Rita & Luiz laugh]. He sends me everything. He’s my biographer!
Luiz: Talking about biography, when are you going to write a book about yourself?
Rita: Myself? I’ll give you his phone number because he likes to...
Laura: No, vuole sapere quando scrivi un libro.
Rita: Un libro io? C’è un libro mio in giro.
Laura: When are you going to write your life?
Rita: My life? I don’t know! I’m starting to do...
Luiz: [half believing] You’re starting...
Rita: But there’s a book about me in Italy by... an edition ... I don’t know... a little book... come si dice ‘stò faccendo’...
Laura: She’s writing... she began...
Rita: a year...
AND HERE THE TAPE-RECORDER WAS TURNED OFF
Sydney, 27 January 1986 – Monday – 1:15 PM – at the Manly Pacific
Rita Pavone & Laura Trentacarlini AKA Laura 'Blue' Carolain - November 1987 in Brazil.
Laura Trentacarlini & Rita Pavone in São Paulo, Brazil - 16 November 1987
Rita in São Paulo, Brazil - 1987 - all photos by Mauricio Ignacio.
this is the 45 rpm single 'Remember me'/'Just once more' released in Australia in 1964.