Franco Battiato is an Italian singer-songwriter, composer, filmmaker and, under the pseudonym Süphan Barzani, also a painter. He is considered one of the most original personalities in Italian music from the 1970's to now. Together with Alice, Franco Battiato represented Italy at the Eurovision Song Contest 1984 with the melody "I treni di Tozeur". Battiato's songs are dreamy, controversial collages of images and sensations, very experimental and convoluted, rich of esoteric, philosophical and East Asian religious themes. His collaborations (from 1994 onward) with the nihilistic-cynical philosopher Manlio Sgalambro have added further depth to his apparently nonsensical lyrics, with references to Emil Cioran, Friedrich Nietzsche and other anarchistic and problematic thinkers.
Franco Battiato left his native Sicily moving to Milano around 1965. His first real break occurred in the early 1970's when he began recording a series of albums for the underground label Bla Bla: "Fetus" (1971), "Pollution" (1972), "Sulle corde di Aries" (1973), "Clic" (1974), "M.elle le Gladiator" (1975). With Ricordi, he released "Feedback" (1975), an anthology in a double album of his Bla Bla production, "Battiato" (1976), "Juke Box" (1977) and "L'Egitto prima delle sabbie" (1978), which gained him, Karlheinz Stockhausen prize. In 1979, Battiato released "L'Era del Cinghiale Bianco", his first recording for the EMI italian branch, "Patriots" (1980) and, in 1981, "La voce del Padrone". This was the first Italian album to sell more than a million copies, with very good arrangements and highly inspired and original lyrics, sometimes very deep, sometimes ironic, full of philosophical, political and mythological references. "L'arca di Noè" (1982), "Orizzonti perduti" (1983), "Mondi lontanissimi" (1985), "Echoes of sufi dances" (1985) were his next albums.
Nevertheless, Franco Battiato devoted himself to studying of the inner self, and the ancient Sufi Doctrines. In 1985, he founded, with Longanesi, L'Ottava, a publishing house specialized in esoteric books and in 1989, the homonymous label dedicated to fronteer music, between serious composition and ethnic songs, releasing six album by 1988 and 1989. Since 1984 Franco Battiato has been at work on Genesi, an Opera in three acts, recorded live on CD in 1987 by the Symphony Orchestra Arturo Toscanini and performed for the first time at the Teatro Regio in Parma, on April 26th, 1987, enjoying triumphal consent. With EMI he released also: "Nomadas" (1987, EMI Spagnola), "Fisiognomica" (1988) and, in 1989, double live album "Giubbe rosse".
In 1990 Franco Battiato composed the soundtrack for the TV-Film Benvenuto Cellini - Una vita scellerata. In 1991 he recorded "Come un Cammello in una grondaia". The album contains an easy-listening performance of romantic lieder by L.v. Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Wagner and Martin and Povera Patria, that becomes a symbol of civil engagement soon after. "Come un Cammello in una grondaia" was Best album of the Year (1991) in a market survey promoted by Musica e Dischi music magazine. In the same period he worked to his second grand opera, Gilgamesh, that performed for the first time on June 5, 1992, that proved very successful. Then Battiato started the "Come un cammello in una grondaia" Tour, with Virtuosi Italiani, Antonio Ballista and Giusto Pio. On December 4, 1992 he went to Baghdad with Virtuosi Italiani to collaborate with Iraqi National Orchestra. In October 1993 Battiato released "Caffé de la Paix", once again Best Album of the Year in Musica e Dischi magazine market survey. In the same period the first perfomance of Messa Arcaica, composition for soloist, choir and orchestra took place.
The mid 1990's and Franco Battiato's musical partnership with Manlio Sgalambro. In 1994, Battiato started a musical partnership with the philosopher Manlio Sgalambro, who wrote texts for the drama Il Cavaliere dell'intelletto, dedicated to Frederick II, and performed in September 1994, at the Palermo Cathedral. In autumn 1994 "Unprotected" followed, live album recorded during the same year tour. In 1995 he released "L'ombrello e la macchina da cucire", pop album with lyrics by Manlio Sgalambro. In 1996, the EMI released "Shadow, Light", the album contains the Messa Arcaica and other mystic songs.
In 1996, Franco Battiato signed a contract with Polygram, marking a new music turn in his career with "L'imboscata", featuring further enrichments of hard and sharp sonorities. La cura (track from the CD), is Best Song of the Year in the International Music Awards. In 1997 Battiato performed in a long and successful tour. In September 1998 he recorded "Gommalacca". The album was anticipated by the single Shock in my town, that Battiato performed at Sanremo Festival as guest star the following year. "Fleurs" was released in October 1999. In it, Battiato interprets 10 standards and 2 previously unpublished works.
In June 2000 "Campi magnetici" followed. The album contains music for a ballett for the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. The ballet, on texts written by Manlio Sgalambro, performed at the Teatro Comunale in Florence with coreography by Paco Decina. In April 2001 Battiato released "Ferro Battuto" also featuring, Simple Minds'Jim Kerr, Natacha Atlas and, in the spanish version, Mercedes Sosa. "Fleurs3", recorded in August 2002, sharing the same inspiration of the first Fleurs.
"PERDUToAMOR", released in May 2003. The debut film of Franco Battiato is written with the philosopher Manlio Sgalambro and has been deemed to be of National Cultural Interest. Battiato features Italy during the 1950's and 1960's, those euphoric years of the economic boom and the rise in pop music, seen through the eyes of Sicilian, Ettore Corvaja who is growing up during that heady time. The soundtrack features 24 pieces, two by Franco Battiato. The other 22 tracks range from symphonic pieces to opera tracks and a number of classic italian songs of the 1960's. In October Battiato released "Last summer dance", a live anthology in a double album of his more than thirty years in music, recorded during the summer tour of the same year. In April 2004, "PERDUToAMOR" gained him the Silver Ribbons as best debuting director. In July of the same year Battiato started a new summer tour, Live in. With a chamber ensemble, he performed many of his more inspired songs.
In October 2004 Battiato released "Dieci Stratagemmi". The album steals the title from the book The 36 Stratagems of War, ancient Chinese text of military tactics and strategy, and was anticipated by the singles Ermeneutica and Tra sesso e castità. On November 22, at the Opera Theatre in Rome, Franco Battiato together with the British Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, offered a unique chance to hear the classics from musician's eclectic repertoire in unexpected and hitherto unperformed renditions. The income of the concert went to the Italian Heritage Fund FAI. In December 2004, the TV debut with "Bitte, keine réclame". The programme showed a daring new approach, linking music and the other arts with contemporary spirituality and modern philosophy. If you speak Italian, you can read more information about the talk show here. In the early months 2005 Battiato performed in the long and successful "Dieci Stratagemmi" tour. "The Art of Living". This was the theme of the Italian Pavilion at the 2005 Universal Exposition in Aichi, Japan. Franco Battiato attended to the music, to create a Mediterranean atmosphere of a millennial culture.
L.v. Beethoven, quantum physics, mysticism, energetic nodes, pioneers, astronomers-composers, sufi dancers, Wittgenstein, Steiner. All this can be found in Franco Battiatos second film, "Musikanten", who brought an esoteric work to Venice. A work shot in three movements as a musical work. Indeed, Musikanten tells the story of a soap opera actress who meets a shaman for one of her TV programmes. He will put her under regressive hypnosis. This woman, performed by Sonia Bergamasco, wildiscover that she has perhaps been Lichnowsky prince in a former life, one of L.v. Beethovens friend and patron. L.v. Beethoven is performed by the filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, who is making his debut as an actor. The script was written by Battiato and the philosopher Manlio Sgalambro.