IL POSTINO: THE OSCAR ONLY FOR BACALOV

L’enigma Bacalov-Endrigo-Del Turco-Margheri-Pelanti in “Segreti Pop La Musica Copiata” di Michele Bovi (Raiuno, 2015).

THE ACADEMY OF HOLLYWOOD FINALLY DECIDED ABOUT THE MUSIC OF AN ITALIAN MOVIE OF TWENTY YEARS AGO. THAT’S HOW IT WAS SETTLED THE LONG LAWSUIT FOR PLAGIARISM.

Academy Award Il Postino

“Il postino” got there in the end: there will be no delving enquiries regarding the Oscar awarded in 1966 to Luis Bacalov for the theme music of the last film of the late Massimo Troisi “Il Postino”. Thus, the statuette remains and crowns the Italo-Argentinian Bacalov as the ‘sole composer of the soundtrack’ even though in 2013, the underlying theme’s birth certificate acquired two new signatories that was officially registered at the Italian Performing Rights society SIAE the document added names of Riccardo Del Turco and Paolo Margheri as co-authors of the music. The confirmation from the Hollywood Academy Awards arrived from the authoritive composer Charles Fox who won the Grammy Award for his masterpiece evergreen “Killing Me Softly With His Song”.

Charles-Fox

Charles Fox.

When Mr. Fox was consulted regarding the intricate meanderings surrounding the incident, he stated through his spokesman, that, the prize awarded to Bacalov was not in question because in 1996 it was awarded for the whole soundtrack and not for a single song even if it was a recurrent theme throughout. The affair came under the spotlight in October of 2015 with the release of Andrea Bocelli’s album, a homage to the most appreciated cinematographic soundtracks.

Andrea Bocelli Cinema

Worldwide the album shot to the top of the hits and in the track list we can see the song “Nelle mie notti” that was at the centre of the acrimonious plagiarism court case that dragged on doggedly for 17 long years. Joy, trouble and strife for luis Bacalov which ended in 2013 with a new accreditation of two more authors.
The soundtrack of “Il Postino” was awarded the Oscar in 1996, but, exactly 22 years before, an elegant and delicate singer/musical composer, Sergio Endrigo, had already recorded and released a song with a melody line remarkably similar to the one used to accompany the film scenes: the title of the song is “Nelle mie notti”. It was on an album entitled “La voce dell’uomo” which was the first solo work produced by Sergio Endrigo after his demise from the eleven year creative partnership with Luis Bacalov. An artistic relationship that gave us a treasure trove of memorable songs like, “Io che amo solo te”, “Era d’estate”, “Canzone per te” and “L’arca di Noè”.

Sergio Endrigo Luis Bacalov

Sergio Endrigo and Luis Bacalov when they worked together.

Sergio Endrigo

Sergio Endrigo.

The song “Nelle mie notti” was duly registered with the official Italian Performing Rights society SIAE under the names of Sergio Endrigo and Riccardo Del Turco who was a singer/composer popular during the 60’s, he was Endrigo’s brother in law, and Paolo Margheri, who was a Tuscan restaurant owner with the hobby of music. All three denounced Luis Bacalov for plagiarism. Then, once again, the same old story, the case dragged ploddingly through the Italian law courts, which emitted two conflicting sentences: one in favour of Bacalov and the other in favour of the plaintiffs-then followed an adjournment decreed by the High Court of Appeal.
In 2013, eight years after the death of Sergio Endrigo, Bacalov decided to acknowledge co-authorship to put an end to the bickering and the never ending court case.

Luis Bacalov Sergio Endrigo - Il Postino - Nelle mie notti

It seemed like a belated posthumous moral gesture towards the part played by Sergio Endrigo and others in his winning of the Oscar. But, now comes the classical spanner in the works. Then, the plot twist: on the album “Cinema” of Andrea Bocelli, the music of the film “Il Postino” is accredited to Bacalov along with Del Turco, Margheri and for the lyrics Marco Marinangeli: Therefore, Bacalov has recognised and accepted the sharing of the credits and stated publicly that the music was an offspring of the song “Nelle mie notti”, but he surprisingly withheld the name of Sergio Endrigo, who recorded the song and tenaciously and adamantly claimed the paternity. The mystery was seemingly unraveled by no other than Paolo Margheri, who has been named by Bacalov as a co-author, during a TV interview in a program called “Segreti Pop, Copied Music” which was transmitted on the Italian national television network RaiUno. This revelation was sensational: Margheri said that the original melody line of “Nelle mie notti” that was the accompanying music of the film “Il Postino”, was born from an artistic relationship between himself and Stefano Pelanti, who could not sign the song because he was not a member of the Italian authors and performing right society SIAE. Stefano Pelanti appeared in the program and confirmed Margheri’s version of the story. He then played and sang the song as it was, when they delivered it to Sergio Endrigo and Riccardo Del Turco who was the producer of the record for RCA Italiana. When Michele Bovi, the author of the TV program, got in touch with all those concerned, Bacalov, Del Turco and Claudia Endrigo the daughter of the deceased singer, he heard only the sound of silence, they all kept quiet. Their lawyer later confirmed that the dispute had been resolved in private and the clauses in the agreement specifically obliged them to strict silence. However, this confidential pact did not take into account unforeseeable situations that effectivly undermine the agreement, such as, new authors popping up out of the blue, or the worldwide release of the Bocelli album.
It should be mentioned among other things that “Mi mancherai” had already known the honors on the international scene: in 2003, the song was recorded by American baritone Josh Groban and went around the world with the signatures of Luis Bacalov and Marinangeli (the lyricist).

Josh  Groban - Closer

About the news of the new paternity of the song it should be mentioned among other things that the rigid rules and regulations of the Academy of Hollywood regarding the originality of a work are unbendingly categorical: ‘if the work is not original, the award will be revoked’. This is exactly what happened in 1972, when the splendid soundtrack of “Il Padrino” written by Nino Rota, was chosen as a candidate for the prestigious cinematographic award. In one of the episodes of “Segreti Pop” the orchestra director Vince Tempera gave us a behind the scenes version of the reason behind the unexpected exclusion of the music. When Nino Rota was writing the musical score for the Coppola’s film he re-used a light march theme that he had written for an Italian film of 1958 entitled “Fortunella”, directed by Eduardo De Filippo with Giulietta Masina and Alberto Sordi. In other words, he literally plagiarized himself.

Il-Padrino_Fortunella

Strangely enough, these doings were brought before the Los Angeles Law Court by none other than Dino De Laurentis, who was not only the producer of “Fortunella” and at the same time the publisher of the music. Subsequently the Academy Board of Governors was severe in its judgment: it decreed the unappealable revocation of the Oscar. In the light of the revalence of this previous pronouncement, it could be surmised that the success of Bocelli’s album could ignite a fuse that could induce the awards committee to take a closer look at the regularity in awarding the Oscar for the melodies of “Il Postino”. We must also remember that Bacalov took the lead against outstanding odds; his rival competitors were soundtrack giants. In fact, the music of “Il Postino” won in the Academy awards of 1996 was pitted against the soundtracks of “Apollo 13” and “Braveheart” which were both composed by James Horner, and also the background music of the film “Nixon” by John Williams.
Now the words of Charles Fox are reassuring: the Oscar remains assigned exclusively to Luis Bacalov, the case is closed. A decision that will comfort the Italian-Argentine composer, probably already mortified by the act of having to share, even on the label of Bocelli album, the music of “Mi mancherai” with Riccardo Del Turco and even with Paul Margheri, that of ” Nelle mie notti” he appeared as the author of text. It remains the surprise to see that at the end of this complicated story has been cleared the name of Sergio Endrigo. The silent transaction that led to the extinction of the cause for plagiarism should allow elements of satisfaction for all the original contenders. All the more so when you consider that the publisher of the music of “The Postman” as the album of Bocelli is Filippo Sugar. And Filippo Sugar is also the president of the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers. It is estimated that its dual role in this story represents a guarantee of regularity.

Nelle mie notti - Mi mancherai

The data sheets of the two songs in the Archive of SIAE.

In: MUSICA ALLA SBARRA |