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EUROVISION SONG CONTEST

Eurovision in Italy: Six things to expect from the 2022 contest

As Italy prepares to host the Grand Final of Eurovision 2022 this weekend, here's our quick guide to making sense of it all.

Eurovision in Italy: Six things to expect from the 2022 contest
Italy's Eurovision contenders Mahmood & BLANCO arrive for the opening ceremony on May 8th, 2022 at the Palalpitour in Turin. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

The northern Italian city of Turin is hosting the glitzy event in 2022 thanks to the leather-clad, eyeliner-wearing Italian rock band Måneskin, who claimed the title in Rotterdam last year with their track ‘Zitti e Buoni’.

As the acts move through the semi-final stages this week before the Grand Final on Saturday, here’s what you can expect from the 66th edition of Eurovision. Get your score cards, flags and sequins at the ready.

High expectations for Italy’s entry

After last year’s win, Italy’s act for 2022, Mahmood and BLANCO, have a lot to live up to. Not just because of the country’s Eurovision victory, and not even because Italy has been on a winning streak – but because the duo have their own hype to follow.

The young musicians shot to prominence after winning this year’s Sanremo Music Festival in Italy in February with their hit, ‘Brividi‘ (Chills).

That’s the track they’ll be playing at Eurovision and hoping it’s enough to convince the international judges and audience to award them votes of douze points.

In rehearsals, they seemed to be performing below par, but then brought back their A-game ahead of Saturday’s final.

Individually, they boast their own successes too. Mahmood broke into the spotlight on X Factor Italia, as did the reigning champions Måneskin. He’s got a stream of singles and two albums under his belt and has already experienced Eurovision accolade, coming second in 2019 with his hit ‘Soldi‘.

BLANCO is a singer/rapper from the northern Italian city, Brescia, with chart-toppers in the form of a single and an album.

You can listen to the track here, with the lyrics in Italian and English translation underneath.

Italy doesn’t have to compete to get into the final

Italy can participate in the final without needing to qualify, as it is one of the five countries that have a right to enter, along with Spain, Germany, France and the UK.

The other countries must first compete in the semi-finals, which begin on Tuesday, May 10th and the second lot are due to compete on Thursday, May 12th.

This year’s theme

As you may expect, Italy is injecting a certain artistic (higher brow?) flair into this year’s theme.

The organiser, Italian public broadcaster Rai, described the theme in Turin as “a visual representation of The Sound of Beauty”.

“In order to represent sound and its visual properties, the design is based on the symmetrical structure and patterns of cymatics – the study of sound wave phenomena,” it added.

Expect lots of beautiful, symmetrical sound waves, akin to the shape of looping Italian gardens.

Initial snaps from rehearsals show the event promises to have the expected fireworks and pomp too, even so.

Hats off to Italy for exerting some cultural influence, but this is Eurovision, after all. It’s an unspoken law that feathers, sparkles, tassels and questionable taste are a founding principle of the event – and this year will surely be no different.

You can join in by voting

Once upon a time, voting at home was almost a parlour game played among family and friends with pencils and notebooks.

Then it evolved into televoting, sending texts, and now for 2022, you can play a part in choosing the winning act by voting through Eurovision’s Official Eurovision Song Contest app.

Details of how and when to vote will be shared during the shows.

This would be Italy’s fourth Eurovision win

Should the rapping duo give everyone the chills as they hope to and they bag the title, it would mark the fourth time Italy has won Eurovision.

The country previously won the contest in 1964 with Non Ho L’età, receiving nearly three times as many votes as the runner-up, then in 1990, when Toto Cutugno won with the song Insieme:1992 and last year with Måneskin’s triumph.

Italy’s Maneskin performs during the final of the 65th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest 2021, at the Ahoy convention centre in Rotterdam, on May 22, 2021. (Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP)

Italy is one of the 14 founding participants of the Eurovision Song Contest – it could even be one of the reasons the world tunes in to watch the sometimes controversial, often hilarious music competition, as it’s said to be modelled on Italy’s Sanremo music festival.

You can watch on TV or online

If you’re in Italy, you can catch the spectacle on host broadcaster’s network Rai or get tickets at the PalaOlimpico venue in Turin, Piedmont.

For a full list of which channel to tune into for your country, or for online streaming, check here.

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CULTURE

Why did Italy choose opera over espresso in its bid for Unesco status?

Italy has put another pillar of national culture forward for inclusion on the UN agency's list of intangible global heritage - but it's not the art of making coffee, as many had hoped.

Why did Italy choose opera over espresso in its bid for Unesco status?

Music or coffee? This was essentially the tough choice Italy’s National Committee for Unesco was faced with when deciding which treasured Italian art form to recommend for recognition this year.

In the end, the committee on Monday chose to put forward the art of opera singing as the country’s candidate – meaning the art of making espresso coffee will not be considered for addition to the list alongside Neapolitan pizza-making after all.

On announcing the decision, the committee did not give any reason for its selection though said the much-discussed and somewhat controversial application for the candidacy of espresso coffee had been “highly appreciated”.

“With the candidacy of the Italian opera to the world’s intangible heritage, Italy is aiming to get recognition for one of its most authentic and original cultural expressions,” said culture minister Dario Franceschini after the committee’s decision.

“Italian opera singing is an integral part of the world’s cultural patrimony, which provides light, strength and beauty in the darkest hours”.

A performance of Puccini’s 1900 opera ‘Tosca’ at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. Photo by Andreas SOLARO / AFP.

The announcement came as a boost for those working in opera houses and theatres across Italy after the Italian arts an cultural sector was hit hard by pandemic-related closures.

Italy has around 60 opera houses – the most in the world.

“Opera was born in Italy,” said Stephane Lissner, the French director of the San Carlo theatre in Naples, which opened in 1737 and claims to be the world’s oldest opera house.

“In the 19th century, when you arrived in any Italian town, the entire population sang opera arias. It was normal,” he told AFP.

Compared to France or Germany, he said: “Italy is different, Italian theatres are different… and if you go into the villages, they’re not even towns, you find small theatres.”

In Italy, lyrical music “is not just reserved for the elite”, he added, although he said “the majority of the public cannot pay certain ticket prices and has been abandoned”, which he said was a “huge error”.

In contrast, Italian coffee is an everyday pleasure enjoyed by the majority of the population – and the price of an espresso is kept below the symbolic threshold of one euro at most local bars due to the widespread belief that the drink should be  accessible to all.

READ ALSO: Where, when and how to drink coffee like an Italian

In fact, it’s not unusual for people to avoid bars that charge more than one euro for un caffè normale, even if that’s for a better-quality cup – with some reports of customers even complaining to the police about being charged higher prices for artisanal or specialist coffees. 

But this focus on keeping the price of Italian coffee low may be part of the reason the Unesco bid was rejected, according to food writer Nunzia Clemente in Naples.

“90-cent coffee shouldn’t make us proud,” Clemente wrote in a post on Italian food blog Dissapore.

Pointing to examples of corner-cutting by bar owners struggling to make a profit, she said “the final result is, half the time, bad to say the least”.

Unesco’s ruling on the bid for recognition of opera is due at the end of the year.

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