Domenico Modugno was born in 1928 in Polignano a Mare. He is known for his 1958 song “Nel blu dipinto di blu“, perhaps best known simply as “Volare!” To Fly!
It is perhaps one of the best known italian songs, just next to “O Sole Mio…”
Because some of his very early songs were sung in a dialect very similar to Sicilian dialect, and also his wife was Sicilian, the legend of the Sicilian Modugno was born, as many mistake the Salento dialect of this and other songs as Sicilian language, and Mimì—as he was known—does not deny, attracting the resentment of the fellow Puglia citizens.
However, it is not at all difficult to imagine when he sung “🎵 volare, in the blue, painted in blue 🎶” that it was of Polignano that he was indeed thinking!
Although, the song “Vecchio frac” (literally “Old tailcoat“), a song written some years earlier did not immediately received the success that it deserved.
The song is a dramatic ballad, with Modugno telling a story about an elegant man in tailcoat who is walking at midnight through the deserted streets and at dawn he commits suicide, and Modugno does not know who this man is and where he comes from. This song gets inspiration from the story of Raimondo Lanza di Trabia, who committed suicide by jumping from a window of Hotel Eden in Rome.
In August 26, 1993, in Polignano a Mare, his hometown, he held the last great concert of his career, in the presence of 70,000 people on the occasion of the “reconciliation with the people of Polignano” for having always declared himself Sicilian. Mimí offered his excuses to the people of Polignano and declared in front of everyone: “I apologize, but for hunger I would also said to be Japanese!».
Domenico (Mimí) Modugno died in Sicily in 1994.