An Interview with Nico Fidenco by John Mansell © 2002
Nico Fidenco, artistic name of Domenico Colarossi, (born in Rome on January 24th 1933), is an Italian singer who gained considerable popularity from 1960 onwards, after the release of the film WHAT A SKY, (Italian: SU NEL CIELO, taken from the film of Francesco Maselli I DELFINI). Self-taught in music, Fidenco did a few cover versions of film title songs for the Italian market. This interest in cinema lead him to be a prolific soundtrack composer.
I understand you received no formal musical education and for the most part are self taught?
I simply learnt about music by listening to it. Also I was helped by being close to, and with, musicians and singers. I listened, watched and took note. By doing this I was able to pick things up.
You started out as a singer. Why did you changed direction in your musical career?
When I was singing I did a few cover versions of movie songs: Exodus, Moon River, Suzie Wong and What A Sky, for example. These recordings were very popular in Italy and my interest in movie grew out of this, so I decided to try and write some material myself. Cinema has always attracted me, even as a child, and to be a part of the cinema world was like a dream come true. I’m still learning now though. Last year I attended a course at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografa in Rome.
What was the first score for a movie that you were involved in?
It will probably not be a surprise when I tell you it was a Western, a Spanish-Italian co-production entitled IN THE SHADOW OF THE COLT. It was a very low budget film, nothing like the films of Leone, but nevertheless it was popular in Italy and Spain of course. Well I don’t think it got released anywhere else, so I’m glad it was popular in these two countries, the theme was recorded on a 45 rpm record and to my surprise, sold over ten thousand copies in Italy, which at that time was the early 1960’s was very good indeed.
At times you used the choir of Allessandro Alessandroni’s IL CANTORI MODERNI on your soundtracks. What was it like working with Alessandroni?
I never actually worked with him in the sense of writing anything together, but yes, I did have him and his excellent choir perform on some of my scores. If I remember correctly JOHN IL BASTARDO, DYNAMITE JIM and two of the EMMANUELLE soundtracks were performed by them, and RINGO IL TEXICAN I think. It was all such a long time ago, but Alessandroni is a wonderful person. He is a talented performer, with his guitar and whistle, and also a gifted and very underrated composer. Nora Orlandi would also conduct her choir on some of my scores – things like EL CHE GUEVARA. I think she also is very good. Alessandroni was and still is a very good friend of Giacamo Dell Orso who conducted most of my soundtracks. His wife Edda has an exquisite voice and is responsible for a lot of work on Morricone soundtracks, as I’m sure you know. Giacamo would take my musical sketches and turn them into something really special. He is a skilled orchestrator and an excellent conductor.
Did Giacamo ever compose any scores for film?
Yes, I think he did a few. Two of his most well known are for movies about Caligula, which I think were a little risque.
Were there any composers or soloists that the composer found interesting within the film music industry, or maybe some that were no longer living?
Oh yes, Henry Mancini. I think he was a big influence upon me. His music is so easy going and full of melody. Also Dimitri Tiomkin, Ennio Morricone. Morricone is an inspiration to us all.
How long have you been associated with Giacamo dell Orso?
It must have been 35 years or more now, we still see each other and occasionally do musical things together, but I rarely write for cinema now and spend a lot of time performing recitals on piano in Italy and also in South America.
Do you consider that the music you wrote for movies during the 60s and 70s have stood the test of time and do you feel that the music that you wrote for Italian Westerns was good? I ask this because a number of Italian composers refuse to talk about their spaghetti western period?
I do consider the music I provided for these movies to be good, and yes it still has a certain something to it now, but that is my opinion. I know that many Italian Westerns that I thought were great during the 1970’s etc. are for me very hard to sit through now. Times change and so do tastes and styles. It’s all down to the individual, I think.
Do you have a favourite score of your own?
Yes, I would have to say BLACK EMMANUELLE. I also consider that to be my best movie score, or at least my most memorable.
What about a favourite that is by another composer?
Nico Fidenco: Well I would have to say anything by Mancini.
As a singer do you like to try and include a song on your soundtracks?
Not always. Only when it really called for it, or if the director or producer asked for one, but no it’s not something out of my way to do.
Where do you get inspiration from?
That’s a difficult question. Sometimes my inspiration comes from reading the script. Other times from a situation in the film, or even from a character in the story. It is different each time.
During the 1960s and 70s many Italian composers wrote under aliases. Did you do this at any time?
No, there was no need for this. I thought if I was not happy to write under my own name then I would have not have written the music in the first place. The music I wrote for film I was proud of so I wanted my name on the credits.
Do you have any thoughts about the way in which you are represented on compact disc? Is there enough of your music being released?
No, never enough (laughs).
And what of the future?
I never look to the future. I live for today. Never look further than tomorrow and then we cannot be disappointed.
My thanks to Nico Fidenco