[music:] Anna Arazzini, Vola, vola in alto amore mio (1970)
Fabio Carboni from Die Schachtel lended me this album in a plain yet beautiful gatefold die-cut cover some time ago, saying something like: “it’s quite an interesting record, but there’s actually just one song which is worth the listening”. Oh, boy. Fabio, you definitely must have picky tastes – or maybe you were just kidding me. I brought it home, and I played it. Once and then again. And again. I was thunder-struck.
Is this an art pop female singer/songwriter? In 1970? Is she the same girl who wrote some songs for the popstar Iva Zanicchi? And that sitar-driven track? There are several reasons because Vola, vola in alto amore mio (“fly, fly high my love”, a line from “Se mi vuoi”) is astonishing. The most striking is perhaps its spectacular lack of impact on the early seventies Italian music scene, its being in vain, a grand miss; it’s like if the record, and Anna herself, imploded somewhere in outer space instead of burning like a bright sun at the centre of the star system as it, and she, should have done, undeterredly continuing to vanish for almost forty years.
Then come, of course, its strictly musical qualitites, such as the excellent songwriting (all tracks are credited to Arazzini and the producer Ezio Leoni), which spans classic ballads and torch songs, rarefied jazz, bloodless soul, bossa, Italian folk and world music (such as in the klezmer-like “Ballata di una bimba”) and seems not completely unaware of the recent achievements by Fairport Convention and Pentangle, Joni Mitchell, or Jefferson Airplane at their folkiest, while the lyrics astoundedly record in ecstatic surrender the beauty and pain of nature and love. Or the magnificent, ethereal and roomy arrangements by Enrico Intra, which shake and break their Morriconian mould by dint of insisting on the darkest and most troubled zones, eventually gracing the record with a pervading imaginary soundtrack mood (by the way, in 1969 Anna had performed the song “Un posto per un addio” – “a place for a farewell” – for the Piero Umiliani’s score to La morte bussa due volte by Harald Philipp – international title: Death knocks twice).
And, above all, the depth and intensity of her performance: starting from the positions of Mina or Patty Pravo she comes to expressive solutions and emotional lands that Italian female musicians such as Giuni Russo and Alice would have rediscovered after ages (try listen to “Quanti anni, ragazzo” or “Il mare è tranquillo”), approaching priestesses like Sandy Denny or Beth Gibbons (“Palden”, for instance, would have easily fit in the latter’s masterpiece with Rustin’ Man Out of Season).
Here is the tracklist:
01, Tu non sei più innamorato di me (“you’re no longer in love with me”)
02, Quanti anni, ragazzo (“how many years, boy”)
03, Sveglierai la luna (“you will wake up the moon”)
04, Sarà Emanuela (“it will be Emanuela” also released as a 7″ b/w “Lontano dall’inverno” – “far from winter” – in 1969)
05, Ballata di una bimba (“ballad of a baby girl”)
06, Come il vento notturno (“like the night wind”)
07, Se mi vuoi (“if you want me” also released as a 7″ b/w “Tu non sei più innamorato di me”)
08, Il mare è tranquillo (“the sea is still”)
10, Elegia (“elegy”)
11, Oggi il sole è il re (“today the sun is the king”)
12, Una volta (“once”)
After this largely unnoticed exploit, Anna Arazzini went on working as a theatrical actress, mostly in musicals, before vanishing without a trace in the late eighties. You can see and hear her in an excerpt from the original 1980 staging of Tito Schipa jr.’s Er Dompasquale after the Don Pasquale by Donizetti, in which she played the role of Norina.