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Talking Sanremo With RAI’s Claudio Fasulo Written by on January 17, 2022 | 4 Comments

As we look forward to this year’s Sanremo Music Festival, we should take a moment to look back at Sanremo Giovani, the newcomers contest . With the top three acts winning a place in the main event, how important is Giovani to Sanremo, and how important is Sanremo to Italy’s public broadcaster RAI? Ewan Spence talks with RAI’s Claudio Fasulo to find out.

In another world, I would have talked with Claudio Fasulo, RAI’s Deputy Director of Events in the busy streets of Rome, a festive chill in the air and a sharp espresso to keep us warm. Alas, we are not in that world, so the internet will have to do.

We’re digitally meeting in a lull between two key events in the Italian music and TV calendar. The Sanremo Festival takes place in the first week of February; while Sanremo Giovani showcases twelve newcomers just before Christmas.

Sanremo Giovani and Public Service Broadcasting

This Newcomers show is something Claudio is proud of. “Sanremo Giovani is so important because it is an outlet for people who are passionate. Giovani allows them to present their music at a professional level. We welcome the young artists and we allow them to be known by the largest audience. I think that is so important for RAI as a public broadcaster”.

And it’s been one of the most successful Sanremo Giovani events in recent times. “It was three and a half [percentage] points up from last year’s audience. And it was a very enjoyable show, we mixed the twelve young artists and their brand new songs alongside the presentation of the ‘Big Champions’ that we will meet in February at the Festival.”

Three of those young artists are going to be joining the Big Champions in the Ariston Theatre in February, “Yes,” explained Claudio,” this year we changed the regulations. In February we will have only one category, the Campioni [the Big Champions] and the artists who won Giovani. I think this is so important. Remember Mahmood?”

I think we all remember Mahmood in the Eurovision community, but Claudio is on a roll.

“Mahmood won Sanremo Giovani in 2019. Then he went on to the Festival and won that. And then he finished second in Tel Aviv at the Eurovision Song Contest. So from scratch, in a few months, Mahmood became an international star. The social media platforms have played a big role in lessening the gap between the young artists and the big champions. The young artists can become champions in just a few weeks.

“That’s why we decided, with our Artistic Director Amadeus, on just one big competition.”

The Importance Of Sanremo

Which leads Claudio and myself to the Big Artists and the upcoming Sanremo Music Festival. But not before a question. Why is Sanremo so important to Italy?

“Sanremo in Italy is tradition,” Claudio explains. “It is the most popular event in the whole year. Sanremo is as popular in Italy as the World Cup. In that week, everyone talks about the Festival, the sounds, and the fashion. Everyone is a critic, everyone is a jury member, everyone talks about it. It’s so much more than a simple TV show.

Lucio Dalla, Sanremo 2017 opening VT (image: RAI Play)

Sanremo legend Lucio Dalla (image: RAI Play)

The 72nd Festival della Canzone Italiana di Sanremo takes place between the 1st and the 5th of February this year. Unlike the Eurovision Song Contest, Sanremo has not missed a year through a coronavirus cancellation; the 70th Festival in 2020 finished on the 8th February… the first clusters of CoVID-19 in Northern Italy were registered a week later.

Last year’s Sanremo was heavily impacted. While still going ahead, the Festival had to deal with issues familiar to many event organisers, namely testing regimes, protective bubbles, social distancing, limited personal contact and more. Even then, tough decisions had to be made during the event itself to allow the show to continue, most notably with the permission of the acts sought by Artistic Director Amadeus to allow rehearsal footage of Irama’s ‘La genesi del tuo colore’, as Irama could not perform due to a positive CoVID test in his artistic bubble.

Sanremo 2022 will take place in a world coming to terms with the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s a world that has learned so much in the last twelve months, a world looking to get back to whatever normal can be.

Claudio’s main hope for the show? “It’s to have the audience back. Last year we did Sanremo without any audience. Five shows in an empty theatre was a very depressing vibe for the performers. It was so difficult for them

“With the Green Pass and the vaccination campaigns we’re working on how many people we can have, but we will have the audience back in the Ariston Theatre. We also hope to welcome back the International Artists to guest at the Festival. We didn’t have them last year, but maybe this year we will have something,”

And with a sparkle in his eye “…if you want to know who we have? You’ll have to watch it!”

Can we watch it?

“I have good news for everybody!” beams Claudio. “I can tell you right now that the Sanremo Festival will not be geo-blocked…” Yes, I’m smiling at this. “…We will see it open completely on RAI Play as well as on the RAI Italia channel around the world. We had a lot of feedback when it was blocked. That was not a good choice, so no limitations on Sanremo this year. Everyone will see it on RAI Play and”

L’Ordine d’Sanremo

L’Ordine d’Sanremo (Find out more here).

Looks like the marathon is on again for those of us drawn to this celebration and storytelling spectacular. For the Eurovision community, happy with the ninety-minute National Finals from around the continent, the length of Sanremo can be daunting. It is rather long…

“Honesty,” a little chuckle here, “it’s like this. We do have a runtime of two hours, three hours, because we have a lot of contest. We’re not just songs, but the best in Italian entertainment. They all want to come to Sanremo. So we are long, but our audience? They will not leave us.”


When Marcel Bezençon laid out the foundations of the Eurovision Song Contest, one of his aspirations was for the Song Contest to create stronger bonds between nations through the sharing of culture. The Sanremo Festival has always been for Italy. Yet Italy’s continued success at the Song Contest, as well as increasingly easy online access, has drawn more of the community to the greatest of shows to drink in the best that Italy has to offer, to learn more of the culture, and to listen to the music.

About The Author: Ewan Spence

British Academy (BAFTA) nominated broadcaster and writer Ewan Spence is the voice behind The Unofficial Eurovision Song Contest Podcast and one of the driving forces behind ESC Insight. Having had an online presence since 1994, he is a noted commentator around the intersection of the media, internet, technology, mobility and how it affects us all. Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, his work has appeared on the BBC, The Stage, STV, and The Times. You can follow Ewan on Twitter (@ewan) and Facebook (

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4 responses to “Talking Sanremo With RAI’s Claudio Fasulo”

  1. acerben says:

    Can’t wait for next week! Hoping there will be more traditional Sanremo ballads this year as I felt that was lacking last year.

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