The review of La Bussola – The Star Collector: Andrea Soldani’s documentary, presented at the Rome Film Festival, is the story of Sergio Bernardini and his historic venue, La Bussola, “the first real music hall in Italy”, as Gino Paoli defines it.
“The idea of bringing the show business of the world to nothing“. This is the revolutionary idea of Sergio Bernardini, owner of La Bussola in Viareggio, one of the places that, by all accounts, projected Italy into the future. Nothing was the Focette area, near Marina di Pietrasanta, between Viareggio and Forte dei Marmi. The best of the performers from all over the world were brought by him, Sergio Bernardini, and it is to him that the documentary that we tell you about in the review of La Bussola – The Star Collector by Andrea Soldani, which was presented as an absolute preview at the eighteenth edition of the Rome Film Festival. After managing La Capannina and the Gatto Nero, Bernardini buys a place which finally becomes his place, where he puts his signature. “It was the first real music hall in Italy“, tells Gino Paoli, one of the protagonists of Bussola and the music scene of those years. The thing that Bernardini did, and that no one else had in mind at the time, was to take the plane and go looking for talent in America and around the world. Sergio Bernardini believed that people’s taste could be formed, bringing to the public those they did not yet know. He has been a protagonist through three decades, three seasons of Italian music. The documentary that tells his story then becomes a how we were: it is also the 30-year history of our country and the artists who accompanied us. And it’s a truly fascinating story.
Sergio Bernardini, a talent discoverer
Sergio Bernardini he was a talent discoverer. Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, The Platters, are characters who have made the history of music, and who seem impossible to think have passed here to us. Bernardini brought them to Italy: their Italian success is due to him and the Platters phenomenon in Italy was created by the patron of the Bussola. Look at those reworkings of their music that the Cetra Quartet and a playful Marcello Mastroianni make. But Renato Carosone, the first artist to arrive at the Bussola, was also an international artist: he did, in his own way, world music: his was swing, but Italian style.
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Mina: The Compass was her kingdom
And La Bussola was also the home of those who were the great stars of our country at the time. Mina, for example, is inextricably linked to the Compass. It was her home, it was her kingdom. Here there was constant cheering for her, she felt pampered, protected. Yet, there is a curious anecdote about Mina: at first Bernardini didn’t want Mina because he considered her a screamer. But then, invited to Rome by an impresario to meet an emerging singer, he understood that she was Mina: he saw that he really sang, and from there a great love was born. It will be right here, in 1978, that Mina will hold her last concert, before leaving the scenes. La Bussola also explores the alleged rivalry with Ornella Vanoni, which in reality was artfully created by the press. But the two were very different. Mina is more virtuous, Ornella Vanoni is more cerebral and tormented.
That time with Rita Pavone…
Yes, Bernardini had an excellent relationship with the artists. He was the man who whispered to the stars and, every time with the right way, managed to convince them to perform at his club. But there is someone he doesn’t take to. Rita Pavone, for example, left because Mina’s name on the bill was bigger. But that was because her name was shorter. With Celentano, however, he went very well. He showed up in shorts and looked like a lifeguard. But she immediately told him: “Hello, let me introduce you to rock. That’s me”. But that venue was so important that, every summer, the artists asked their managers when planning dates “but the Compass is there, right?” “If you didn’t go to the Bussola you were nobody” Ornella Vanoni tells us in her usual trenchant manner.
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That first Fabrizio De André concert
Thus Bernardini and his friends managed to convince Fabrizio De Andrè to play at the Bussola. On March 16, 1975 there was his first ever live performance. At first he didn’t feel ready, prepared, he thought that he would never have concerts, that it was better to listen to him than to see him. But, shortly before the concert, he was still hesitant in the hotel. “Is it possible that I have to come and sing to entertain those who contest?” he said. It was a friend of Sergio’s who intervened.”You contest the bourgeois and come to the bourgeois to contest them” he told him. De André also introduced Bernardini to De Gregori. “I will never come to this bourgeois place” said the singer-songwriter. And it really never came: it was coherent.
A story that touches politics and society
As you may have understood, the history of Bernardini and the Bussola is intertwined with that of politics. Thus went down in history December 31, 1968, when the protests reached the Compass. The film, at that point, turns to history, politics and society. The protesting students in Pisa chose the Bussola because it was nearby, and also because it was the symbol of Italy’s boom. It was a bad evening for everyone, in which gunshots were also fired. And an era ended.
Another era: disco and big concerts
But Bernardini, who was truly a man who could see into the future, had another idea. The one of make the show accessible to everyone. She understood that great concerts would be born. And if the Compass could accommodate 1200 people, and at high prices, he founded the Compass Tomorrow, a tent theater with 7 thousand seats. It could accommodate many kids. And he brought high culture (Nureyev Carla Fracci, Carmelo Bene, Lindsay Kemp) alongside Renato Zero, Miguel Bosè, Julio Iglesias. Donna Summer gave her first concert in Europe here. Ray Charles, Ike & Tina Turner, Barry White arrived.
Blitz, Mastelloni and the end of everything
But then the moment of the end came. Blitz, created in agreement with Bussola Domani, was a TV program with 2 thousand young people, which was broadcast on Sunday afternoons on Rai. In one of these live broadcasts, a Leopoldo Mastelloni there’s a blasphemy. For this reason everything was frozen. Bernardini’s activity stopped here. He didn’t have the strength to recover yet. The film also tells the story of his end. But, as a fiction film uses flashbacks, it comes back with a glorious ending, that famous Mina concert in 1978. A very high moment of spectacle. As, in those 30 years, there have been many.
In the review of La Bussola – The Star Collector we told you the story of a man who was a protagonist through three decades, and therefore three seasons of Italian and international music. The documentary that tells his story then becomes how we were: it is also the 30-year history of our country and the artists who accompanied us. And it’s a truly fascinating story.
Because we like it
- Sergio Bernardini’s story is so fascinating that it seems like a written screenplay.
- And it is also the opportunity to relive 30 years of Italian and international music.
- The great work of interviews and also on the repertoire…
- … such a fascinating repertoire that we would like to see more of it, and for longer.