As he prepares to get generations of Italo-Australians on their feet, Toto is eager to see how his audience has changed in his absence over the past few years.
With a singing career spanning 52 years, Cutugno has had a lifelong passion for music thanks to his father, a trumpet player who introduced his son to the creative world at a young age.
Toto began playing instruments early on, beginning as a drummer in a band in La Spezia, to which his father belonged.
Over the course of his career, Cutugno has learnt to play an array of instruments, developing a preference for the guitar and piano.
“I’d like to have the opportunity to play the saxophone, especially in Australia, but we’ll see,” the singer said.
His excitement for this national tour stems from a fond memory he shared with his audience at one of his more recent concerts in Australia.
“We had just finished performing and we were leaving the venue,” he recalled.
“Outside there was a car park where many people from the audience had parked. When some of my fans saw me they began singing my songs. I called the band to play and we all sang together outside the venue. It was really moving.”
Famous for his track ‘L’Italiano’, Toto climbed the European ranks and many of his songs were translated into other languages.
‘Insieme: 1992’ was particularly successful, becoming well-known across the world after winning the 1990 Eurovision Song Contest in Zagreb.
It was Italy’s second victory and, so far, its last.
Toto’s win also made history, as it was the contest’s first song presented by the actual writer and composer.
Last weekend the 2018 edition of Eurovision took place in Lisbon, with Fabrizio Moro and Ermal Meta representing Italy with their song ‘Non mi avete fatto niente’, the winner of this year’s Sanremo Festival.
During our interview, which took place a few days before the contest, Toto gave us his opinion on this year’s Sanremo, hosted by his friend Claudio Baglioni.
“Young singers today are very impressive; they have talent and they’re not afraid,” he explained.
“The two [Sanremo] winners have what it takes to make a good impression in a contest like Eurovision.”
Cutugno was particularly impressed by the band Lo Stato Sociale, with their slightly unusual performance.
Unfortunately, Moro and Meta didn’t take out the top gong at Eurovision, coming in fifth place.
Toto Cotugno is a name recognised across the globe, particularly in Russia and Asia where people love romantic music.
“Emerging singers have talent but they have a slightly arrogant side and they tend to make music that attracts people of their own age,” he said.
“They talk about the same things, but they could learn a lot from us and appeal to lovers of romantic music.”
Toto is the writer of more than 250 songs, which have been performed by many national and international artists, among them his friends Adriano Celentano, Domenico Modugno and Ornella Vanoni.
He has also had the chance to sing his songs in many different languages: ‘L’Italiano’ was adapted in Finnish and Hebrew and, more recently, Arabic.
A Korean version of the song took Toto by surprise, but which one was the hardest to learn and sing?
“The Chinese version made me suffer,” he laughed.
On the horizon for Cutugno is an album, set to be released this September, featuring 19 songs written and composed mainly by him, but leaving room for a collaboration or two.
Toto’s fourth Australian tour will kick off in Sydney on May 24, and will include two Melbourne dates (May 26 and 27), before wrapping up in Perth on May 29.
“I’m anxious to meet my fans,” the singer concluded.
“I can’t wait to sing along with them and hear ‘L’Italiano’ sung with a spirit which has been lost in Italy, but which survives in Italians abroad.”