- Category : Entertain-Music-Vocalist-Pop,-Rock,-etc.
- Type : GE
- Profile : 1/4 - Investigating / Opportunist
- Definition : Triple Split
- Incarnation Cross : RAX Laws 4
Dalida (17 January 1933 – 3 May 1987), born in Cairo with the name Iolanda Cristina Gigliotti, was a famous singer and actress born in Egypt to Italian (Calabrian) parents but naturalised French with the name Yolanda Gigliotti. She spent her early years in Egypt amongst the Italian Egyptian community, but she lived most of her adult life in France. She received 55 gold records and was the first singer to receive a diamond disc. Dalida performed and recorded in more than 10 languages including: French, Arabic, Italian, Greek, German, English, Japanese, Hebrew, Dutch and Spanish.
Renowned for the changes she wrought to the French and global music industry with her powerful and colourful performances, she is today still remembered by aficionados throughout the world. A 30-year career (she debuted in 1956 and recorded her last album in 1986, a few months before her death) and her death led to an iconic image as a tragic diva and renowned singer.
Early life and beginnings
Iolanda Christina Gigliotti 'aka' Dalida was born in Shubra, Cairo, Egypt. Her family was from Serrastretta, Calabria, Italy, but lived in Egypt, where Dalida’s father, Pietro Gigliotti, was first violinist (primo violino) at the Cairo Opera House.
Iolanda Gigliotti was the cousin of Attilio Notaro of Tiriolo, a well known theatre director from Calabria. Attilio, maybe inspired by Iolanda's success started writing. The Associazione Filodrammatica “Attilio Notaro” is today dedicated to him. Attilio Notaro is also the grand father of Italian singer Furia Tania and Italian singer now living in Japan Neal Century 'aka' Maurice Yandiorio 'aka' Furia Mauro, both born in Milan, Italy.
She was the middle child between two brothers, Orlando and Bruno (who would later in Dalida's career change his name to Orlando like his brother and become her manager). Dalida’s early life was spent in the district of Shoubra, where she attended the Scuola Tecnica Commerciale Maria Ausiliatrice, an Italian Catholic school.
In 1950, Dalida participated in the Miss Ondine beauty pageant and won the title, and shortly after began working as a model for Donna, a Cairo-based fashion house. In 1954, at the age of 20, Dalida competed in and won the Miss Egypt pageant, and was crowned Miss Egypt. It was then that she was spotted by French director Marc de Gastyne and, much to the reluctance of her parents, she moved to Paris on Christmas Eve of the same year with the intention of pursuing a career in motion pictures. It was about this time she adopted the name Dalila, which was soon changed to the more familiar Dalida.
Dalida collected 19 number one hit singles to her name in four languages (French, Italian, German, and Arabic) and has a long list of top 10, and top 20 hits in French, Italian, German, Spanish, and Arabic, and accumulated myriad top selling singles and albums largely, in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, Canada, Russia, Japan, and Israel, spanning over forty years. Four of Dalida's English language recordings ("Alabama Song", "Money Money", "Let Me Dance Tonight", and "Kalimba de Luna"), gained moderate success primarily in France and Germany, without being widely distributed in the UK and US markets. Worldwide sales of her music are estimated at over 130 million, establishing her as one of the most noteworthy multi-lingual recording artists of the 20th century.
Dalida's mother language was Italian. She learned Egyptian Arabic and French growing up in Cairo, and improved her French after establishing herself in Paris in 1954. She later achieved command of the English language as well as reasonable conversational skills in German and Spanish. Dalida also had the aptitude of greeting her fans in basic Japanese. She was considered as a pop and music icon in Japan and her concerts there were met with almost unprecedented enthusiasm. Once during a concert in Japan, Dalida felt ill and couldn't continue performing. The organisers expected an enraged reaction due to the cancellation of the concert, but when Dalida came onstage and explained to her fans that she couldn't perform, she was met with great applause and her name echoed everywhere. She promised to hold the concert again, a promise which she soon fulfilled.
Dalida's singing career started in Egypt, when she was discovered by Cherif Kamel, host of the "Hit Parade" at the Geuzira Sporting Club during the early 1950s. Dalida's quest for a career in French cinema proved to be of limited success. Instead, she began taking singing lessons, and was booked as a cabaret act on the Champs-Élysées, which proved successful. Performing the song "Étrangère au Paradis" in a variety show at Bruno Coquatrix’ recently opened Olympia theatre, Dalida was introduced to Lucien Morisse and Eddie Barclay, who played a considerable part in launching the starlet’s career. Morisse was artistic producer of the popular Radio Europe 1, and Barclay an established record producer. After signing a recording contract with Barclay, Dalida’s debut single "Madona" was promoted heavily by Morisse, and was a moderate success. However, the release of "Bambino" in 1956 would prove to be even more triumphant – it spent 46 weeks in the French top ten and remains one of the biggest-selling singles in French history, and for its sales (which exceeded 300,000 copies) Dalida was awarded her first gold disc, presented on 17 September 1957. The song "Bambino" echoed everywhere in France and was a success even beyond the French frontiers. In the same year, she would also support Charles Aznavour at the Olympia. The follow-up single to "Bambino", the exotic-sounding and mesmerizing "Gondolier", was released in the Christmas on 1957, was also a great success, as were other early releases such as "Come Prima (Tu Me Donnes)", "Ciao Ciao Bambina", and a cover of The Drifters’ "Save the Last Dance for Me", "Garde-Moi la Dernière Danse". These classical songs mark the first phase of Dalida's album and maintain their charm even today.
Dalida toured extensively from 1958 through the early 1960s, playing dates in France, Egypt, Italy, and the United States. Her tours of Egypt, and Italy spread her fame outside of France and Dalida soon became well-known throughout Europe. However, she waited too long before entering America's music scene and though great names of the American music industry wanted to introduce her to the United States, she refused commenting that "I took too long to start here". However some of her English songs and her performance at the Carnegie Hall in New York were much applauded.
In 1961, Dalida performed a month of shows at the Olympia in Paris, with each selling out completely. Shortly afterwards Dalida embarked upon a tour of Hong Kong and Vietnam. Throughout the 1960s Dalida would frequently perform sell-out shows at the Olympia, and international dates became more frequent. In December 1968, she was awarded the Médaille de la Présidence de la République by General Charles de Gaulle, the only person from the music industry to have received this medal.
The early 1970s became a transitional period for the singer, highlighted by some of her most successful singles. After gaining a keen interest in academia in the mid-1960s she chose to sing songs with more profound lyrics. She tried to probe into her inner-self and declared that she would sing only those songs which have a meaning for her. Bruno Coquatrix was dubious about Dalida’s career evolution, and was hesitant to book her for a series of performances in 1971. Dalida hired the hall herself, and her show was met with an impressive public response, thus forcing the world to acknowledge that a new and more powerful performer had emerged in Dalida. In 1973, a French version of the Italian song "Paroles Paroles", originally performed by Mina, was recorded by Dalida and her close friend Alain Delon. The song became a big hit and was the number one single in France and Japan. It was played consistently on French radios, at the request of listeners. The follow-up released in 1974 "Gigi L'amoroso' and B-side 'Il venait d'avoir 18 ans' reached number one in nine countries, and sold three and a half million copies in Europe. The way Dalida interpreted these songs left people amazed. Touring would follow this period of unprecedented sales awarded with the first ever diamond disc. In February 1975, French music critics presented the singer with the prestigious Prix de l'Académie du Disque Français.
1976 Rerecording what is widely regarded as the first French disco single, "J'attendrai". Around the same time, the popularity of the variety show in France was soaring, and Dalida made many television appearances during this period, not only in France but across Europe. In 1978, she recorded "Salma Ya Salama", based on a traditional Egyptian folk song which, due to its chart success was translated from Arabic into French, Italian, and German. It was amongst the first Ethnic fusion hits in the world. Part of the lyrics are based on an old Egyptian folk song about homesickness and celebrating the Egyptian nation.
A traditional Egyptian and both Palestinian, Hebrew song "Hene Ma Tov" broke her soul. Again discarded in that part of the world for her voice and sensuality. Back in Paris at the Bobino, for benefit of the Red-Cross, Dalida performed Mistinguett , Kurt Weills' Alabama song, Whisky Bar and Monday,Tuesday. Merely a work out for the Palais des Sports concert a few months later.
1981 marked the release of "Rio do Brasil", and several dates were played at The Olympia in Paris, emulating her successful 1980 tour. On the night of her first performance she became the first singer in the world to be awarded with a diamond disc, in recognition of her record sales which, at that point in her career, had exceeded 86 million. She was therefore much ahead of American singer Madonna since she was the first person to receive this success, thus paving the way for women to deliver powerful performances. Dalida spent much of 1982 and 1984 on tour, releasing the album Les P'tits Mots in 1983, which featured hit singles "Lucas" and "Mourir Sur Scène". The album Dali was released in 1984, and was accompanied by the release of several singles, including "Soleil", "Pour te dire je t'aime", a cover of Stevie Wonder’s "I Just Called to Say I Love You", and "Kalimba de Luna", originally recorded by Tony Esposito. All three achieved moderate chart success, and her next 1986 album, Le visage de l'amour, would become her last album of completely new recordings (except the final song being "Mourir sur scène").
Other hit performances of Dalida include "The Lambeth Walk"; both in English and in French. The song "Je suis malade", written by Serge Lama and made into a success by Dalida, reflects the singer's personal torments and unhappiness. The emotions with which she sang the song is unmatched even today. At the peak of her success, an obsessed fan tried to kidnap her in Canada by using a hammer but didn't succeed.
Undaunted, she continued to deliver success after success: namely "Ensemble", "Ne lui dis pas", "La Valse des vacances", a cover version of Édith Piaf's "La vie en rose", "Born to sing"/"Mourir sur scène", amongst others.
Dalida underwent two major ophthalmic operations in 1985, forcing her to put her career on hiatus. The fear of her childhood days return as she again had to operate her eyes. The stage lights started to trouble her. In 1986, she would play the role of a young grandmother in the Youssef Chahine film "Le Sixième Jour", for which she received favourable critical response. Her last live performance took place in Ankara, Turkey, in 1987.
Despite enormous career success, Dalida’s private life was marred by a series of failed relationships and personal problems.
On January 1967, Dalida took part to the San Remo Festival with new lover, an Italian singer, songwriter and actor Luigi Tenco. The song he presented was "Ciao Amore Ciao" ("Bye Love, Bye"), which he sang together with Dalida. Tenco allegedly committed suicide on 27 January 1967, after learning that his song had been eliminated from the final competition. Tenco was found in his hotel room with a bullet wound in his left temple and a note announcing that his gesture was against the jury and public's choices during the competition. Only days earlier, Tenco's wedding to Dalida had been announced. It was Dalida who discovered his body. One month later, Dalida attempted to commit suicide by drug overdose at the Prince of Wales hotel in Paris. She spent 5 days in a coma and several months convalescing, only going back to the stage the following October.
In December 1967, just after her first suicide attempt, she became pregnant by an 18-year-old Italian student, Lucio. She decided to abort but the surgery left her infertile.
In September 1970, her pygmalion, lover from 1956 to 1961 and former husband Lucien Morisse, with whom she was still on very good terms, committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.
From 1969 to 1971, she had a relationship with philosopher and writer Arnaud Desjardins. However they split, because he was married.
In April 1975, her close friend singer Mike Brant leapt to his death from an apartment in Paris. He was 28. Dalida had contributed to his success in France and she had been the first to visit him in hospital after his first suicide attempt in November 1974.
In July 1983, her lover from 1972 to 1981, Richard Chanfray, committed suicide by inhaling the exhaust gas of his Renault R25 car.
After she broke-up with Richard Chanfray, Dalida had relationships with various anonymous men such as a sound technician, a lawyer, an Egyptian jumbo jet pilot, and lastly a French doctor named François during the period 1986-1987.
On Saturday, 2 May 1987, Dalida committed suicide by overdosing on barbiturates. She left behind a note which read, "La vie m'est insupportable... Pardonnez-moi." ("Life has become unbearable... Forgive me.")
She was remembered by her family and close friends in a private service at Church, and is now interred at Montmartre Cemetery, Paris.
Since her death, Dalida has become a cult figure to a new generation of fans. In 1988, the Encyclopædia Universalis commissioned a poll, which was eventually published in the French newspaper Le Monde, and which aimed to reveal the personalities who had the greatest impact on French society. Dalida polled second, behind Général de Gaulle.
In 1997, the corner of the rue Girardon and rue de l'Abreuvoir in the Butte Montmartre, Paris, was inaugurated as Place Dalida and a large bust in her memory was erected (which was quickly defaced with graffiti). In 1999, a 3-CD box-set compiling her greatest hits was released. In 2000, Dalida's longtime friend Charles Aznavour recorded the hit "De la scène à la Seine", a joyful song of her life in France, and in 2002, the French government honoured her memory with a postage stamp done in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of her death. In the same year, Universal Music Group released Dalida's early album releases in special-edition packaging, with all of the tracks digitally remastered. Her output has also been the subject of various remix albums. She sold a total of 130 million records from 1956 to 2006. Since her death, many of Dalida's hits have been remixed to modern techno and dance beats, topping the charts in various countries to this day.http://www.infodisc.fr/Artiste_Ventes.php
In 1999 the play Solitudini – Luigi Tenco e Dalida, written and directed by Maurizio Valtieri, was performed in Rome.
In 2005, her life was documented in the two-part TV film Dalida, in the role of Dalida was Sabrina Ferilli.
From 11 May to September 2007, the Paris City Hall commemorated the 20th anniversary of Dalida's death with an exhibition of her outfits and previously unreleased photographs.
2012 Belgium Michel Daerden chose Mourir Sur Scene for his funeral song.