Volare

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last week, Italian TV news programmes alternated election campaigning and debates with coverage of the San Remo Festival, which is getting on, though not quite as old as the Oscars, but sees no need to hide its age. Two highlights have stayed in my mind, both from San Remo: a compere/comic being shouted down with cries of “No politics!” when he started mocking Berlusconi, and the Red Army Choir singing Volare. The Chagall-inspired lightness of Volare (the best Italian pop song ever, corny but irresistible) is lost in the mouths of massed Russian basses, but there’s a further incongruity in the continuing existence of the choir itself. A relic of Cold War attempts at cultural conciliation, it seems too much at odds with the sabre-toothed czar that is Putin.

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