Italian entertainment: Farewell to the smile of Romagna, Raoul Casadei
- WTI Magazine #138 Apr 17, 2021
The first Italian immigrants in the United States of America brought many unique features and customs, such as the culinary tradition, the vivid language, and some peculiar musical genres. Your grandparents probably remember when, in the early 1900s, a particular Italian musicality became popular especially in Californian ballrooms: for sure, they went at least once in their life dancing the “ballo liscio” or smooth dance.
This typical genre of the Northern Italy originated primarily in the Romagna Region, under the influence of Viennese ballroom dances (including the mazurka, waltz, polka, schottische, march), and then had a great success in the whole country and abroad.
In March 2021, Italy mourned the passing of the maximum exponent of “ballo liscio”, the great artist Raoul Casadei. He inherited a strong passion for this musicality from his uncle, Secondo, who was the director of the most famous liscio orchestra in Romagna, founded in 1928. The “Orchestra Casadei” represented a cornerstone of the dance music from Romagna, surviving the influence of the American boogie-woogie, highly spread in the second post-war period. In 1954, the international public was astounded by the unforgettable hit “Romagna Mia”.
Raoul joined the orchestra in the late ‘50s, singing and playing the guitar, but the largest success came in the ‘60s: a National tour started, performing no stop concerts in the whole Peninsula and, in 1967, the orchestra was renamed “Orchestra Secondo e Raoul Casadei”. In 1971 Secondo died and Raoul took his place as director of the orchestra.
The 70’s were characterized by a boom of the “liscio” genre and “Orchestra Casadei” produced some of its most celebrated songs, such as “Ciao mare”, “Simpatia”, “La mazurka di periferia”, “Romagna e Sangiovese”, “Tradizioni”, “Romagna Capitale”, “Tavola grande”, “La musica solare”. In that period Raoul became also extremely popular, he started to be loved by Italians because through his songs he transmitted the values of family, love and friendship. Indeed, he was chosen as the main performer of some important commercials, among them one of the famous Barilla pasta.
During the years, the amazing artist participated in some of the most known Italian Music festivals, such as the Sanremo Festival and the Festivalbar, plus he composed famous theme songs for some then in vogue TV shows (“Domenica in” and “Stasera mi butto”).
In 2000 he left the “Casadei Orchestra”, and his son Mirko took the reins on it. At the age of 83 Raoul sadly passed away, due to the covid virus.
Casadei was not only the artist who embodied the representation of the ballo liscio, he was the true living and undisputed symbol of his land, Romagna, the eastern part of Emilia Romagna, close to the sea: a land that has always been famous for its great cheerfulness, joviality and smile. It is the land where Rimini is, and therefore where an icon of Italian show business such as Federico Fellini was born: yet no one better than Raoul Casadei, not even Fellini, was able to personify the positive and carefree message of Romagna, that joyful approach that the whole world recognizes and appreciates in the people of Romagna.
In his last Facebook post, on March 6th, he thanked all the fans for the affectionate messages during the hospitalization and for the positive energy he received. The same energy that the unforgettable singer and great Italian gave to his fellow Italians after the II World War and for many years later.