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text Antonia Ruggiero
photo portrait Assunta Servello

February 5, 2024

The Sanremo pop of Amadeus

The presenter and artistic director of the 74rd edition of the Italian song tells us about his Festival

Rome, where are you? You were with me, today you are a prisoner, I am a prisoner. Rome, ancient city, now old reality, you don't notice me and you don't know what pain you cause me.

This is the beautiful fresco of Rome that Matia Bazar painted during the Sanremo Festival in 1983, with the song Vacanze Romane. A text inspired by the end of the "dolce vita", with a vision of the future, still very relevant today. After all, the authors and interpreters of a song are nothing but modern poets of our time. From Adriano Celentano to Vasco Rossi, from Renato Zero to Zucchero, from Rino Gaetano to Elio e le Storie tese, from Mia Martini to Mahmood, these are just some of the most innovative artists in the history of the Italian Song Festival. This year, Amadeus will take the stage at the Ariston for the third consecutive year and will once again pay homage to great Italian music. The Festival is the great family celebration that brings together all Italians, where we tell each other how we are and how we will be. 

Your childhood memories related to the Festival?

My memories are tied to my family, my parents, my grandparents. We would all stay home and watch television, we would not make any commitments and we would say "oh, tonight is the festival!" This still happens today. For over 70 years, everyone has been gathering to watch it, everyone is talking about it, everyone is into songs, trivia, gossip. That's why I always say that the festival belongs to everyone.

From Radio Verona and Radio Deejay to Sanremo, a real achievement for a TV host: when did you realize you wanted to do this job?

Right away. As a kid, when I was 13 and 14, my dream was to be a presenter. Even when I saw Mike Bongiorno's quiz shows, Rischiatutto or Canzonissima presented by Corrado and Carrà. At the time, we are talking about the 70s, it was almost an impossible dream, but it was the only thing I really wanted to do, I didn't have a plan B or I was a presenter. It was a risk, it wasn't obvious for a guy who came from the province, without connections, without an important parent. But I think that in life, if you have a dream and you want to make it come true, things can be done, you just have to insist, try, be curious and sacrifice yourself. Maybe if you dream of 100 you won't achieve 100 but maybe 50. Well, in my case, I dreamed of 100 and, by doing Sanremo, I can say that I achieved 100. 

Amedeo Sebastiani

As a host, how would you define your Festival?

I believe that the Festival must have its dose of tradition because there are certain liturgies that must be there, but then I believe that each conductor brings his own personal way of telling the story. Pippo Baudo's Festivals have been different from those of Fazio or Bonolis or Claudio Baglioni. I bring my friendly, ironic and self-ironic way of conducting. I love deconstructing things, so it's fine that there are liturgies but, at the same time, I like that nothing is taken for granted. I always say that it has to be an unpredictable Festival, I don't really like the repetitiveness of things. 

Radio and music are imprinted in your DNA as an artist: what is your favorite song of the Festival? 

There isn't one in particular, but there are many that I like and many that I remember with affection. On the other hand, the beauty of Sanremo is that there are songs that have accompanied us and are linked to our history, our life, our path.

As an artistic director, what is the line you take when selecting songs?

I start from the emotions. The pieces that came in are so many and the choice was very difficult. Unfortunately, many were not included and this is a pity. They are songs that are looking for emotion, but thinking about a possible recording path, they must be songs that have a following on the radio. I want a pop Sanremo, that is for everyone, popular, so I prefer to make a record choice rather than a personal one.

Festival di Sanremo

The welcome of the city of Sanremo

Sanremo is celebrating. The Festival has now left the Ariston. The temple is there but there is also an external temple with very nice things that will happen for the whole city of Sanremo.

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