Rossella Seno is “Milly” to reaffirm the strength of women
Venetian by birth but Roman by adoption, the singer and actor is once more on stage with “Dear Milly, words of war and love”. She has always been committed to the defense of the weakest and hers is one of the images of the “Involved women” of the 2017 Solidarity Calendar.
By Tiziana Primozich
Photography by Carlo Bellincampi
For the third straight year Giuseppe De Grassi’s “Dear Milly, words of war and love” directed by Fabio Crisafi will play at the Rome’s Teatro Tor Bella Monaca with Rossella Seno and Primiano Di Biase from October 28th to 30th. The show once more sets out to tell the story of the strength of women with music, a theme that is strongly linked to the social commitment of Rossella Seno, the venetian singer and actress who knew how to bring together theater and music for her messages in defense of the weakest categories of our society, a confluence that occurred thanks to Carlo Bellincampi’s sensitive use of his camera. He is an artist who knows how to use his camera to capture the spirit of the subject and produces portraits that manage to describe in full the sensitivity of those who entrust themselves to his skill. So it is in a very informal manner that Rossella Seno greeted us in her home in Rome’s quarter of Prati, to narrate her commitment and her being as a complete artist at the service of the common people. Slender, with two big green eyes framed within a sweet face that is surrounded by a mass of red curly hair, accompanied by her magnificent black cat, Rossella is almost the theatrical symbol of a modern Joan of Arc who uses song to improve the world.
Rossella, you began your stage career as a singer, what moved you to also seek a role in the world of theater?
I began as a singer because I loved singing, but I never compromised with music. Then I married a music producer, but instead of settling down as almost always happens in these cases, I stopped singing for eight years. Then I felt the need to improve and to complete my training and so I moved to Rome and approached the theatre with Beatrice Bracco and Francesca De Sapio, as well as Carlo Merlo and Michel Margotta, who are all members of the Actors’ Studio. They were great teachers who put me in the condition of being able to work as an actress in televisions programmes such as “Un posto al sole” and “Il bello delle donne”. Yet my great love was always music and since I was already prepared in relation to acting I began to experiment with musical theatre. The word at centre stage which then gathers more force when it is accompanied by music, the sung word which reaches efficiently reaches the audience and is then able to “tell” the story.
Such as Milly’s story, born Carla Mignone..
Dear Milly is a show we already staged three years ago and also the year after. Initially it was a project that Giuliano Valori, an extraordinary musician, and I produced ourselves. Unfortunately he left us when he was 41 years old. Our effort in the first draft was considerable, but when the passion hits nothing frightens me. We began from scratch, without a budget, nobody takes notice of you when you’re not famous, the formula I use as do many others who believe in the cultural wealth of theatre is that of working together and then sharing the costs and income. Then came the death of Valori on August 15th two years ago, the great pain of the loss of a friend whose soul was pure, healthy and happy to be involved. I found myself having to do everything, there were no texts or a song, what built this show was harmony between who sang and acted with the musician. Then came the lucky meeting with Primiano Di Biase. Stitching together everything once more we went on stage and the result was more than satisfying. The show pleased so much that in August 2015 the Spoltore Festival wanted it.
Amongst all the figures of Italian music, why did you choose Milly?
Due to this woman’s dignity, she never used her beauty or connections, she always worked hard. We women think that everything is easier if a man makes a call and asks for you. In her long career Carla Mignone showed the world what a woman can do on her own, if she has talent, training and obstinacy. So much so that she returned to the stage at almost fifty years of age after being chosen by Giorgio Strehler to play Jenny delle Spelonche. The show that Milly gives tells a little about all women and wants to reaffirm their strength and place in society. In this sense it seems we have gone backwards over the years. Thanks to Marco Pannella we had made steps forward with the referenda on divorce and abortion. I am not a feminist and I think that there are roles that with the confusion of the years that have taken on all the defects of men and the men have taken ours. Men are no longer men, they are terrorized, they are scared of attachments, and there is a climate of incommunicability between the sexes, men angry with women. I have a better rapport with women because with men there is a type of confrontation to decide who is the stronger. Generally I understand that there is a lot of violence in every sense, we kill each other for a parking space. People are stressed and live running around paying the living expenses, taxes and bills. Life should not be having to run to pay. When we wake up our only thought is to survive, there is an anger and violence that leaves us breathless. If, instead of letting go of our anger at the stadium we went into the streets one voice together with other voices can form a choir , instead of taking it out with each other we should take it out on who is truly responsible.
Rossella, recently you recorded a song in which you openly declared No to the upcoming referendum on constitutional reform. What are your reasons for your No?
The song “Good evening everybody” by Pino Pavone and Fabio Bianchini is also a video made with the collaboration of Francesco Felli and picked up in its entirety by the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano (http://tv.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2016/10/08/referendum-la-carta-non-si-tocca-e-la-nostra-bandiera-il-no-arriva-anche-in-musica-con-a-tutti-buonasera/565262/). It was born from the idea shared by a group of artists with the intention of giving a creative contribution in support of all the initiatives that explain the reasons for the No to the constitutional referendum on December 4th next. “The charter is untouchable, it is our flag” is our means of reaffirming the centrality of the Constitution which in recent years has been disregarded on two fundamental points: the right to paid work and the sovereignty of the Italian people. In this pseudo reform there is nothing that could improve upon the choices made by the fathers of the Constitution. That does mean that there is no need for renewal, but it is a choice that must find its possible implementation in harmony with the widest agreement of the groups of the two houses of parliament. But there is more, as well as the No, the song is our accusation against everything that does not work. Ours is no longer a republic based on work, our country no longer guarantees work, in fact it is working for cash, little and badly. We pay very high taxes useful only to cover a debt that, it must be stressed once and for all, that we did not make, it came about by the bad administration of our politicians. In the text there is the case of Stefano Cucchi who, beyond everything stated in the legal documentation was undoubtedly beaten up. How can they make us believe he died from an epileptic fit? I am against drug pushers and if there was a crime it would have been enough to condemn him. But you cannot kill him. It is an abuse of power, abuse of the uniform, Cucchi is a symbol, but there are many others. The Constitution is not respected, but population is not sovereign, even the sea is no longer “ours” and you need to pay to get into a factory. This summer I was asked to go away from a beach because behind us there was a lido and it was not allowed to stay on the so-called shoreline because you either paid, or you went to a free beach which are now only illusory because it is almost totality made up of the organized beach front resorts and they are expensive.nt resorts and they are expensive.
At the present time many choose to become vegetarians of vegans, more for fashion than for conviction. What was the reason for your Rossella Seno’s veganism?
I became vegan at twenty years of age, but when I was younger I refused to eat anything I loved, the thought of what some poor animal had to go through for my eating pleasure used to stop me. We have always been driven towards a single aim, that of consumerism. The great marketing companies have contributed to the deterioration of our health, we see more and more tumors and other sicknesses, and even if you choose to become vegan it becomes difficult understanding what to eat, or not to eat. Even if I carefully read the label of foods I buy some things are deliberately hidden. And so I feel like a sort of “Alice in Wonderland” who does not know what to believe, what is real and what is evidently false, we are manipulated by inexorable consumerism and I understand that I am, if anything, “Alice in shittyland”! I have great respect for the lives of animals, that they are instinctive and do not have the aim of making money; we have much to learn from them. There is an industry of the multinational companies that makes us eat food that makes us sick thus making an advantage for the industries that must cure us and this is done intentionally.
With Carlo Bellincampi’s photos you are one of the protagonists of the 2017 solidarity calendar
This year the solidarity calendar is in its third edition and all us protagonists are committed to social causes. As well as me there are Beatrice Luzi, Giuliana De Sio, Carolina Rosi, Isabel Russinova, Eva Robin’s, Ilaria Borrelli, Lina Sastri, Alessandra Di Sanzo, Giusi Cataldo, Piera Degli Esposti, Marisa Laurito, Maria Rosaria Omaggio and Rosa Pianeta. The authors, Ezio Alessio Gensini, Leonardo Santoli e Carlo Bellincampi.
With the proceeds of the 2015 calendar we contributed to the acquisition of an ocular computer for a sufferer of motor neuron disease in Borgo San Loren and the proceeds of the 2016 calendar were given to the “Piccino Piccolo” (Small child), an organization for the parents of the newborn in Florence involved in premature births and assists the parents in their difficult task .
Rossella is also a testimonial of ‘Ti Amo da Morire onlus’ a non-profit organization, which supports female victims of violence. As part of the campaign against gendered violence, the organization presented a musical play a few days ago along with Daniela Terreri , “I’m with the turtles” ( Io sto con le tartarughe). The play is based on the book by Simonetta Bumbi and published by Fabrizio Emigli and is committed to raise awareness on issues of gender-based violence that continues to claim victims every day.