Natalia Aspesi – Mina, the enchantment of a free woman’s voice – Venerdì di Repubblica 30.10.1987

By Natalia Aspesi – Friday of the Republic
30.10.1987

They last saw her on a stage in the summer of ’78, in Versilia. The audience was the usual vacation crowd, lots of people who felt beautiful; all tanned, all thin, even overdressed. Mina was an enchanting apparition, benevolent, maternal, ironic, even disturbing in her total disobedience to aesthetic cravings. Like a distant queen, confident of her mysterious powers, she exhibited the soft whiteness of her complexion, her fattened body, the messy black veils that covered her. The transgression made her beautiful, and punishing: her bravura, that ability to move with fury and the sweetness of her voice, stunned as always the audience who, watching her, became restless feeling wrong: too tanned, too thin, too elegant. Once again Mina gave a lesson in freedom, with quiet indifference, without pride.

And since then her freedom has been to escape the stage, the television, the concert, the appearance, the dangerous imprisonment of success. She was, that summer, 38 years old, two years older than Garbo when she decided to retire. Only she has continued to do the job she likes, singing, but according to her own rules: every now and then, lazily, professionally, conducting radio broadcasts that conceal her, preparing, studying, recording a double album a year, which her devotees wait passionately for. Without forgetting her, in times when everything is quickly swept away and impatience with impromptu idols narrowly follows delirious enthusiasm. What you see of Mina on television today are the re-enactments of her black-and-white broadcasts, when she was a genial, back-combed, skinny, paunchy provincial girl who became a homegrown star by singing “Le mille bolle blu” and “Tintarella di luna.” Or the rare photographs snatched from her by stubborn photographers and published by shameless magazines that show her, candid face, hair pulled back black glasses, heavy body, as she gets into the car with her partner, doctor Eugenio Quaini, or as, as happened last year, having become a grandmother at 46, she entered the clinic to see her grandson Alex, son of her first-born son Maximilian. This very child was the first scandal in Mina’s life: one day in the fall of 1962 she convened a press conference in Milan to announce that she was expecting a child with a married man, Corrado Pani, and that she was overjoyed. These were things that back then, in the pre-minigonna and pre-sexual liberation era, were not done and especially not publicized.: the most beloved singer of the moment, at 22, was in danger of being banned from television, from the probe houses where a girl mother had no right of asylum even in the form of a record. Newspapers camped for months on the unprecedented event. Then about her marriage to journalist Virgilio Crocco, the birth in 1971 of her daughter Benedetta, her separation, her widowhood. The siege around her to spy pain or meekness was unbearable. After also disliking fiscal affairs Mina left Italy and has lived in Lugano since 1979. She is the strongest, always saying no to everything and everyone. She achieved the impossible, to be a diva by living the way she likes. She has saved herself from the slavery of image, from obsessively repeated face-lifts, from slimming and humiliating diets, from hating her own aging, from eager, dangerous exhibitionism. She has escaped the invincible involution of television that annihilates characters in the repetitiveness of appearances. Singing, fattening and playing cards: perhaps she is right.

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They say about her

11 November 2023

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