Sanremo Music Festival 'will make money for first time ever'
Raffaella Carrà, the Kessler Twins, Cat Stevens at 64th edition17 February, 18:38
Italy's 64th annual publicly-funded song competition and televised prime-time entertainment extravaganza, which has launched many a musical career including those of Andrea Bocelli, Gigliola Cinquetti and Eros Ramazzotti, kicks off Tuesday in the northeastern sea resort by the same name.
This year's festival cost 18 million euros, but will rake in 20.2 million euros in advertising, the director of RAI 1 State TV channel, which has broadcast every edition since 1955, told reporters.
"We will make 2.2 million euros, plus 600,000 euros in ticket sales," for the festival which runs February 18-22, said RAI 1 Director Giancarlo Leone.
"In terms of ratings, I'd be happy if we end up somewhere between the 35.4% low of 2004 and the 2013 peak of 47.3%".
Leone also downplayed an ominous tweet by anti-establishment Five-Star Movement leader Beppe Grillo, in which the gadfly comedian-turned-politician promised to attend the festival on Tuesday, "both outside and inside" the theater.
"He knows you can't interrupt a show," Leone told reporters, but not everyone was satisfied with this sanguine reply.
"Simply trusting that Grillo will have the manners not to interrupt Sanremo is absolutely reductive and unacceptable," said Democratic Party (PD) House whip Silvia Velo.
The opening night guests of honor will be singer and TV star Raffaella Carrà, French actress and model Laetitia Casta, and British singer-songwriter Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens.
Actress Franca Valeri and the 78-year-old Kessler twins, who charmed the 1960s TV generation with their singing and dancing, will also attend, organizers said. The festival on Thursday will pay tribute to the late conductor Claudio Abbado, who died on January 20, with a concert by the Venice Fenice Philharmonic Orchestra.