Gianna Nannini looks exhausted when we reach her for an interview via Skype. But also determined. Italy’s most successful rock singer, who still fills large halls in Germany, wants to give another living room concert on her Instagram account today. At 16 o’clock. From her house in Milan, which she has not been allowed to leave for a long time because of the Corona curfew.
It is her third concert of this kind, but this time she is not singing against loneliness. This time, the 63-year-old wants to raise money for two Milan clinics, one of which is under Burden of pandemic collapse threatens. Protective masks, rubber gloves and clothing are still lacking, says Nannini. The 63-year-old has registered that Germany, France and other EU countries do not help Italy in this emergency. But that’s not why she is accusing. She just asks how it could be. And then, at the end of the conversation, she puts her fist in the camera in front of her computer – as she often does on stage. Don’t let it get you down. She laughs her hoarse laugh, says goodbye and wishes us to stay healthy.
WORLD: How long have you not been allowed to leave your home in Milan?
Gianna Nannini: I honestly didn’t count the days. This curfew feels like it has been going on for a few weeks. But having to stay at home isn’t too bad. I feel okay. My daughter Penelope is nine, she does homework and lessons online. I can spend more time with her, we play, we cook together. Only when I stream a living room concert via Instagram, like today, is the daily routine a little different.
WORLD: You were one of the first musicians to give an improvised concert from the living room on Instagram, originally to sing against the corona loneliness that hit many of their countrymen after the shutdown in Italy. After a second concert, there will be a third today at 4 p.m. on Thursday. How is it for you when you sing the wall in your living room?
Nannini: I feel a greater tension and more emotion than at normal concerts when I can look the audience directly in the eye. At the Instagram concerts, I have to stay very focused because I don’t have a band around me and therefore have to play an instrument myself – which I don’t normally do on stage. I mainly sing there. When I play in front of an audience, there is definitely more party atmosphere, it is like a wave that comes over me from the audience. But I don’t miss that feeling right now. When I sing, it always feels the same to me. I feel what I’m singing – even when there are no people in front of me. I also get incredible reactions from my followers.
WORLD: Which one, for example?
Nannini: They wrote me how much it meant to be able to be together in this digital space for an hour listening to my voice. “We are all alive,” some wrote to me. There is enthusiasm in the comments. And humility too. Many simply wrote: “Thank you.” I am not doing anything great here, I sing for an hour online and bring people together in a time when they have to be separated in life. And I started this kind of performance for one very specific reason: there was this urgency. An extreme urgency, I felt I had to do something for my community here.
WORLD: Can you do more with your Instagram concerts than give comfort?
Nannini: I hope so. My concert today is different from the previous two. I combine it with a call for donations for the two clinics San Carlo and San Paolo in Milan to raise money for them. In both hospitals there are no protective masks, no more protective clothing for doctors and medical staff. The lack of protective masks is the biggest problem. The situation here is dramatic. I last spoke to three doctors from these clinics on the phone, I know them. The doctors cry, they are desperate. It shivers down my spine now when I just think of their voices. They all told me there was a single disaster in the clinics. It is the same in the Milan area. I hope to be able to raise money for these clinics. I’ve never done anything like this before. Usually, in emergency situations, one would like to literally want to help literally with the hands, to help. This is not possible this time. The best thing at the moment is to use this form of engagement in social networks. Hopefully a lot of my followers will watch. In moments of great need everyone has to do something for their community and not just think about themselves. We have to forget our egos. This pandemic is a new dimension. We are all in the same boat. We have to stick together – and keep our distance at the same time, that’s the challenge.
WORLD: The deputy editor-in-chief of the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica”, Gianluca Di Feo, wrote in a guest commentary for WELT that Italy had asked Europe for masks, rubber gloves and plastic glasses and that France and Germany had banned the export of these products. Has the EU let Italy down?
Nannini: I don’t want to talk big about it. But yes, I heard about this export stop for protective clothing. That the trucks with the materials had to stop at the border. It is difficult to understand why such things happen. But it’s true: nobody helps Italy. I just don’t know who is ultimately responsible for it. It is too easy to push everything onto the EU. Only we originally founded the EU to help each other – and not to cause such problems now. It’s difficult to talk about it, I don’t know the context. I know one thing for sure: Italy needs help. I even called Berlin for the face masks and tried to reach friends of mine there.
Nannini: Politician. They told me there was nothing they could do about it. You could not send us protective masks or the like. However, the masks are extremely important for the doctors. If we soon run out of doctors because more and more people are infected at work – who will be able to save anyone ?! Severe pneumonia is currently the biggest problem in hospitals. People who come to the clinics with this clinical picture have no chance. It’s terrible. I hope that I can at least help the clinics a little with my concert.
WORLD: Are you already dealing with how things could go in the near future with public life? They planned concerts in Germany and Europe in May and June. Many concerts have already been canceled. This not only affects musicians and visitors who bought concert tickets, but also stage technicians, local helpers, tour operators. Can you deal with it at all in the current situation?
Nannini: At the moment I don’t know if my concerts will be canceled. I think I will decide that with my European organizers next week. We originally wanted to start in London, I was supposed to play in a stadium in Florence in May – that should be difficult. We have to wait. If we can no longer give concerts in the foreseeable future, we will think of something else to share music with without endangering people. In Italy, we not only gave concerts online in this crisis, but also singing on balconies or from windows. I myself have sung out of my open window in Milan – and at that moment I saw so many other people doing the same thing, lighting candles or lighting with lamps. Everyone sang something different. I then lit a candle and felt supported by these good vibrations. A few people recognized me from afar, shouted “Gianna, Gianna”, filmed it and posted it. (laughs) And again and again many of the balconies sang “Un’ Estate Italiana ”.
WORLD: The song you sang with Edoardo Bennato in 1990 at the World Cup in Italy.
Nannini: Yes – back when the Germans became world champions in Italy. The song brought happiness to the Germans. (laughs) Now it is sung again on the balconies in Italy. They are songs that bring people together, give them a sense of belonging. Italy is currently in a really bad situation. We now need everyone’s energy. Italy is currently a good example of solidarity among themselves. We all do our best. And the best thing for everyone is to stay at home. This means everyone has to make a sacrifice, but there is no alternative. The longer people stay at home, the faster the infection rate is reduced. I have to admit that I myself thought the first reports about Corona were exaggerated. But now? After seeing the terrible situation in our clinics, the desperate doctors ?! Stay at home! Those who stay at home do not infect others. And that’s the most important thing at the moment.
WORLD: If, hopefully, this pandemic and its aftermath are finally overcome, what impact will it have on the EU? Will it break?
Nannini: When we have got over this crisis, I should actually be the boss of the EU (laughs out loud). Because we could no longer stand this emptiness. Seriously: I only live day after day at the moment. My longing is that when all of this is over we can get back together, have a big party, drink wine and, yes, enjoy life again.