Sanremo 2019: Andrea Bocelli’s duet with son brings down the house

The Sanremo Music Festival, 'Italy's Eurovision', kicked off with a moving duet between Andrea Bocelli and his son.

Sanremo 2019: Andrea Bocelli's duet with son brings down the house
Andrea Bocelli with son Matteo in 2015. Photo: Rachel Murray/Getty Images/AFP

For language learners: we've highlighted some useful vocabulary in this news story. You'll find the Italian translations at the bottom of the article.

Bocelli, one of Italy's most famous living singers, was the first guest to take the stage on Tuesday night in the Ligurian seaside town of Sanremo, which has hosted the festival every year since 1951.

After a duet with another stalwart of Italian pop, Claudio Baglioni – the festival's artistic director – Bocelli was joined by his son Matteo, 21, for a rendition of 'Fall On Me', a single from his 2018 album  and the closing track to the recent Disney version of The Nutcracker.

The performance won them a standing ovation (full video here).

Just over 10 million viewers tuned in for the opening night of Sanremo, according to state broadcaster Rai, which airs the festival. That gave it a 49.5 percent audience share, which despite being almost half of all TV viewers was actually around 1 million fewer than last year's opening night, which attracted 52.1 percent of the audience.

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about the Sanremo Music Festival, Italy's answer to Eurovision

The music competition, which this year runs from February 5th-9th, was first created as a vehicle to boost Italy's post-war economy and its cultural exports. While these days it's not much watched outside Italy, it has helped launch some of the country's most successful pop songs and singers, including Bocelli, Mina and Domenico Modugno, who won the 1958 edition with 'Nel blu dipinto di blu' (better known as 'Volare').

It also served as the inspiration for the Eurovision Song Contest, which launched five years after the first Sanremo. Italy continues to pick its Eurovision entry from the Sanremo winners.

Bocelli has been a regular at the festival ever since winning the Newcomers' category in 1994 with 'Il mare calmo della sera' – the same song he performed with Baglioni, 25 years on.

There were also less traditional – and non-Italian – performances, including a mash-up of the musicals Sister Act, Mary Poppins and Bohemian Rhapsody.


i cantanti – singers

un ospite, un invitato – guest

il palco(scenico) – stage

il duetto – duet

la prestazione – performance

la prima serata – opening night

i telespettatori – TV viewers

la gara, la competizione – competition

di successo – successful

i vincitori – winners

la canzone – song

tradizionale, classico – traditional

We're aiming to help our readers improve their Italian by translating relevant vocabulary from our news stories of the day. Did you find articles like these useful? Do you have any suggestions? Let us know.

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Why Friday the 13th isn’t an unlucky date in Italy

Unlucky for some, but not for Italians. Here's why today's date isn't a cause for concern in Italy - but Friday the 17th is.

Why Friday the 13th isn't an unlucky date in Italy

When Friday the 13th rolls around, many of us from English-speaking countries might reconsider any risky plans. And it’s not exactly a popular date for weddings in much of the western world.

But if you’re in Italy, you don’t need to worry about it.

There’s no shortage of strongly-held superstitions in Italian culture, particularly in the south. But the idea of Friday the 13th being an inauspicious date is not among them.

Though the ‘unlucky 13’ concept is not unknown in Italy – likely thanks to the influence of American film and TV – here the number is in fact usually seen as good luck, if anything.

The number 17, however, is viewed with suspicion and Friday the 17th instead is seen as the unlucky date to beware of.

Just as some Western airlines avoid including the 13th row on planes, you might find number 17 omitted on Italian planes, street numbering, hotel floors, and so on – so even if you’re not the superstitious type, it’s handy to be aware of.

The reason for this is thought to be because in Roman numerals the number 17 (XVII) is an anagram of the Latin word VIXI, meaning ‘I have lived’: the use of the past tense apparently suggests death, and therefore bad luck. It’s less clear what’s so inauspicious about Friday.

So don’t be surprised if, next time Friday 17th rolls around, you notice some Italian shops and offices closed per scaramanzia’.

But why then does 13 often have a positive connotation in Italy instead?

You may not be too surprised to learn that it’s because of football.

Ever heard of Totocalcio? It’s a football pools betting system in which players long tried to predict the results of 13 different matches.

There were triumphant calls of ho fatto tredici! – ‘I’ve done thirteen’ – among those who got them all right. The popular expression soon became used in other contexts to mean ‘I hit the jackpot’ or ‘that was a stroke of luck!’

From 2004, the number of games included in Totocalcio rose to 14, but you may still hear winners shout ‘ho fatto tredici’ regardless.

Other common Italian superstitions include touching iron (not wood) for good luck, not toasting with water, and never pouring wine with your left hand.