Italian singer-songwriter Franco Battiato was born in Rome on September 18, 1954. His debut album Il mistero delle ceneri (The mystery of the ashes) released in 1984 and helped catapult him to success as a musician that continues today.
Franco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was born in Rome on December 24, 1948. His debut album “Franco Battiato” came out in 1976. The album has been certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry for more than 500,000 copies sold. He also released a second album named “Le ceneri di Gramsci” which was also certified platinum. In 1984 he released his third album “La fabbrica delle vanità”.
Franco Battiato, a long-time Italian superstar, rose from a prog-psych singer/songwriter in the early 1970s to become one of Europe’s biggest pop stars, all while pursuing his recording interests in a variety of genres, including but not limited to pop, electronic, and opera, which combines rock and classical music. He was also a visual artist and filmmaker who used the alias Süphan Barzani to distinguish his cinema work from his musical identity.
Battiato began his musical career in the 1960s with the song “La Torre,” which he performed on television. He was born in the Sicilian town of Ionia in 1945 and moved to Rome and then Milan in 1964. With the romantic follow-up “L’amore,” he fared well on the radio. He met experimental musician Juri Camisasca in 1970 and worked with Osage Tribe, an Italian psychedelic-progressive rock band, after additional versions of mainstream tunes failed. He released the science-fiction single “La Convenzione” (The Convention) as a solo artist, which is considered one of the best Italian prog rock songs of the 1970s. For the underground label Bla Bla, he started releasing a series of CDs. He made his mark in the highly fermented world of Italian prog rock with Fetus in 1971 (considered one of the most significant albums of the decade by Julian Cope) and L’Egitto Prima Delle Sabbie (Egypt Before the Sands) in 1978. These albums ranged from severe experimentalism to more song-focused attempts, and were musically competent though sometimes badly recorded, and unafraid to indulge in more than a little whimsy; the two most noteworthy were 1972’s Pollution and 1973’s Sulle Corde Di Aries (On the Ropes of Aries). However, in contrast to other bands such as Area and PFM, Battiato and his band were cult characters who were more popular overseas than at home. Audiences in France and Germany greeted them warmly as they opened for Brian Eno and Nico. Battiato’s lavish look at the time earned him comparisons to Peter Gabriel, but his lyrics avoided the then-trendy Maoist/terrorist stance in favor of a profound yet funny mix of Asian ideas and literary contemplation.
His career increased in the 1980s after switching labels to EMI’s Italian division (again in an eerie parallel with Gabriel), particularly with 1981’s La Voce del Padrone (The Voice of the Master). Battiato was rewarded with an Italian hit after adopting a more direct synth pop approach — hardly unexpected considering that keyboards had always been his main musical instrument — allowing his fame to grow both at home and across Europe. While he has not explicitly returned to that sound in its entirety since then, he has continued to experiment with a variety of musical directions and techniques to this day. Genisi, his debut opera, was published in 1987. A series of orchestral collaborations and multimedia tours followed, including a visit to Baghdad in 1993 with Virtuosi Italiani to cooperate with Iraq’s national orchestra, as well as pieces commissioned by his home Sicily to commemorate the island’s rich heritage. Gilgamesh, his second opera, premiered in 1992, followed by Messa Arcaica nearly immediately. Battiato started working with Sicilian philosopher Manlio Sgalambro in 1994, and Sgalambro would ultimately compose nearly all of the lyrics for his subsequent albums. Following the hesitant L’ombrello e la Macchina da Cucire in 1995, the pair released L’imboscata in 1996, which included the romantic smash “La Cura” (The Care), which was named best Italian song of the year. Gommalacca, released in 1998, surprised fans with its heavy emphasis on hard rock and even metal. It was followed by the chart-topping hit Fleurs, which was gentler and more focused. Battiato released Ferro Battuto (2000) and the opera Campi Magnetici at the turn of the century, followed by the rock album Dieci Stratagemmi in 2004. All three albums utilized traditional pop and rock structures as springboards for sometimes extreme innovation.
Under the name Süphan Barzani, Battiato released his debut feature film, Perduto Amor, in 2003. The music was also written by Battiato (under his own name). For best new director, the film received the Silver Ribbon. His second film, Musikanten, a somewhat unorthodox piece about Beethoven’s last four years, was not well received by reviewers. In fact, it was criticized as much for putting Chilean filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky in the main part as it did for the story’s odd pacing. Niente è Come Sembra (2007) and the controversial Auguri Don Gesualdo (2010), his following two films, garnered critical praise and performed well in art house theaters. Between the two, Battiato released Fleurs 2 in 2008, which became Italy’s first triple-platinum album. Inneres Auge: Il Tutto è Più Della Somma Delle Sue Parti, a follow-up experimental pop album, topped the charts and went platinum the following year. In 2011, Battiato released Telesio, an opera based on the writings of Bernardino Telesio, a Cosenza philosopher and one of Italy’s finest naturalists of the 16th century. It was commissioned by the city of Cosenza to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of the opera’s namesake, and premiered in early May 2011 at Cosenza’s Teatro Rendano before being published at the end of the year.
Battiato accepted an invitation from newly elected Sicilian regional president Rosario Crocetta to become the next Regional Minister for Tourism and Culture in November 2012, but said that he would not accept a salary. Unfortunately, he was fired from his job shortly after for making provocative remarks against Parliament. During his time in administration, Telesis Sesamo was freed. Battiato worked with Antony Hegarty (now Anohni) on Del Suo Veloce Volo the following year. Joe Patti’s Experimental Group, a 2014 collaboration with Italian sound engineer Pinaxa (Pino Pischetola), was released in 2014. For Universal in 2016, he recorded a live CD with Alice (Carla Bissi, a longtime friend, contemporary, and sometimes collaborator since the 1980s) and Tuscany’s Ensemble Symphony Orchestra.
Battiato supervised a thorough remastering and reissue campaign of his library in his latter years. After recording Torneremo ancora with the Royal Philharmonic in 2019, he announced his retirement from music due to health concerns. Battiato passed away on May 18, 2021, in Milo, Catania. He was 76 years old at the time.
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Franco Battiato is an Italian singer, songwriter and guitarist. He was born in Milan on June 2, 1954. His music has been described as a blend of progressive rock, jazz fusion, electronic music, world music and pop. He released his first album in 1976 with the band I Camaleonti. In 1978 he released his first solo album “Cristallo”. Reference: franco battiato youtube.
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