My dad, Giorgio Gaber: 'I had the best laughs with him'

Dalia Gaberscik, the daughter of Mr. G who disappeared twenty years ago, tells the story of the man and the artist. Poker games until 6 in the morning and the courage to launch an unknown Franco Battiato, who one morning in 1967 buzzed at home: 'Good morning, I come from Sicily'

  yawns_ogg01 Giorgio Gaber was born in Milan, he died on 1 January 2003 at the age of 63 Photo

Dalia Gaberscik is the owner of Goigest, a large communication agency. She has a maternal calm but a very careful look that there is not one word more or one less. She maintains the same measure while she talks about her father, Giorgio Gaber, who passed away on January 1, 2003 – Photo

Alice Campello, the first images (with Bella and Morata) after the fear Alice Campello, the first images (with Bella and Morata) after the fear

Did your parents take you to school? «My grandmother Franca, who lived with us, almost always accompanied me. But it happened that mine also did it, perhaps on the first day, or when they returned from a tour at six in the morning. I saw the parents of the other children with their eyes wide open at the passage of these two great guys, especially my mother, who showed up with crotch miniskirts. After all, she had had me when she was 21. When I started school she was 27 ».

Your reactions? 'I wasn't very comfortable. I didn't want to feel more visible than other children, she made me feel different. I would have liked to have called myself Maria Rossi, instead of my name».

About his name, “the legend tells…” «Legend has it that my father showed up at my mother's hospital the day I was born with a huge bouquet of dahlias and that at that point they decided to call me Dahlia Deborah. Of the first h I managed to lose track, luckily. As a child this name created some difficulties for me, then I realized that it's a name that people remember and can be a help at work. Even the fact of being 'daughter of' is like a magnifying glass, if you are stupid you can see more, if you work well maybe you can see better. The more I grew up, the more being a “daughter of” became the norm».

Twenty years without Giorgio Gaber: “That time the unknown Battiato rang on the intercom

And how was the normality of the 'daughter of'? «My parents were above all very nice, very present, ours was a beautiful relationship, precisely in terms of the conversations we made. I was also lucky enough, without realizing it was lucky, to know certain people who frequented our house, from the intellectuals of the Frankfurt School to Cochi and Renato, Vanoni, Jannacci and Battiato. He showed up one morning in 1967, phoning the intercom. 'Hello, I'm Francesco Battiato, I come from Sicily and I would like to meet Mr. Gaber'. My mother, I don't know how, that morning let him in and even offered him a coffee. My father, who in the morning was as if he didn't exist, went down to the kitchen and Battiato told him who he was, what kind of songs he made. I remember the program that my father conducted then with Caterina Caselli, who in the same episode presented a Francesco Guccini. Since two Franceschis together could be confused, it was decided that Battiato should be called Franco. And from that moment, he said, even his mother always called him Franco. The great success didn't come immediately but the relationship with my parents was one of great affection and he became one of the most important musicians in my mother's band with which they played dozens of evenings. Then he wrote the album The era of the white boar . “You are crazy with a bang,” my father told him when he played it for him. It was very successful and we saw it less. He except on winter Monday evenings.'

What happened on those Monday nights? «The theaters were on break, and so they made an appointment at 21 with us. The quintet was: Gaber, Colli, Roberto Calasso, Fleur Jeaggy, ( Swiss writer, wife of Calasso , ed) and Battiato. They played poker until very late, even 6 in the morning ».

In the sense that they won or lost a book? «Loads of books, suitcases, boxes, and they were all Adelphi, so it can be said that Calasso always had to pay ( founder of the Adelphi publishing house , ed.). I remember my father, who had thousands of pages of 'volumes' who said: 'Thank you Roberto, I'll read this 'very light' little book during the minutes of break on tour'».

All Gaber on display – guard

Did she confide in her father? «I could talk to him about anything, he wasn't scandalized by anything. But our relationship was also formed through work, which for me began while I was still studying. My father had absolutely abdicated all ties to the media. I started working with Battiato, for the opera Genesis , then with Dialogues of the Carmelites by Luca Ronconi at the Regio di Parma, and then with Vanoni. At that point my father understood that I was serious. There were two performances by my mother, I'm a completely wrong woman and Help , i am a successful woman , in which he asked me to be there».

How was Giorgio Gaber at home? “He did absolutely nothing. He couldn't even replace a light bulb. I can say though that he was extremely generous. The topic of money has to do with need. He said: I bought a house, then I bought another one, I have a car, I don't need anything else. He's never been in the pursuit of riches. I remember my grandmother, she would ask him: 'Giorgio, is there money to leave for groceries, for bills'. And he was grateful that she took care of her household. He was grateful to be able to pay for those things with the money he had earned through his greatest pleasure, his work.'

How was his maximum enjoyment organized? «He got up very late, sometimes I came back from school and went to wake him up. He went down to the kitchen, had breakfast and in the afternoon went to the theater to rehearse. In the evening he went on stage and after the show he stopped to chat in the dressing room especially with the boys who had come to see him, who perhaps asked him questions, because his performances had provocative content. He went to dinner with friends, collaborators, or even with people he met in the dressing room with whom he wanted to continue a conversation. He retired to the hotel around 2, 3 in the morning, and stayed awake smoking, writing notes, playing the guitar. He went to sleep around 6.'

Did he also play or sing at home? “In private he never performed. At a table with four or five friends he was the one who spoke the least. Sometimes I understood that he was thinking about writing a song or a show based on the questions he was asking, where he was trying to direct a conversation. He asked Calasso how he positioned himself in front of female writers, and then I knew that he was writing something on the condition of women in that period. For him, listening was a form of wealth. In the summer we moved en masse to Viareggio and the hours of the night became those in which he wrote the shows that he would then stage in the winter season, but there were evenings with friends in which he accompanied us on the guitar and we sang tracks by the Beatles, or for example all the songs from the commercials. Never his songs. He did not want. For a form of modesty, I think. After years of vacation in a hotel, my mother and I decided to buy a house right there, near Camaiore, and it is still our main home».

What do you remember about your father and mother together? “They were very cheerful, accomplices, present for each other. There was a time when I was very young when my father was very popular. He hosted the Saturday night show on the main network. Yet at a certain point he no longer felt at ease in that situation, and therefore decided to devote himself to the theatre, ( creating the TeatroCanzone, at the beginning of the 70s , ed.). No one could say how the decision to leave television, where he was highly paid and sure of success, would go. Both he and my mother came from two very simple families, they didn't have possessions or covered shoulders, especially her. Yet in that moment she fully supported him. I don't know if without her papa would have found the courage to take that step».

What do you feel when you listen to your father today? 'Actually, there's not much of him in the playlist I have in the car. I listen to him a lot in the time I dedicate to him through the Giorgio Gaber Foundation. But a few days ago a fragment of a show by him came into my hands, I think from 1996-97. Well, there I would have liked to tell him: did you really say this almost 30 years ago? I posted the video on Instagram.'

How was Gaber lately? «He continued to go on stage for 14 years despite his illness. She considered it a privilege because others diagnosed with cancer are gone within months. In 1998, however, he had to retire. So me and Paolo del Bon, president of the Foundation, like a brother to me, convinced him to make two more records. The second didn't have time to see him leave. During that time he gave many interviews. Looking back, there was always a word that he wished was another. From there, perhaps, my sense of absolute protection of what artists say has grown further. In many areas my father was of an intelligence that was ahead of his time. Also on my mother's political choices. We had suffered personal attacks, the left was indignant that he didn't ask for a divorce. ( Ombretta Colli had joined Forza Italia , ed.). But my father wasn't going to sketch it: “You're telling me I have to
divorce my wife?”

What will you do with the Foundation on the anniversary of his passing? «As always we will try to enhance the heritage he has left us. On January 1st, on Giorgio Gaber's website and on YouTube we will send a marathon of his works for 24 hours. It's not a very good date for me, but it allows me to start the year by reminding myself of the few, precise things that are really important in my life'.

What do you miss most about your father? “The laughter. She was perhaps the person with whom I had the best laughs of my life ».
After our chat, Dalia texts me the link to that snippet she posted on Instagram. There is Gaber who says…
«Stop believing that the only goal is the improvement of our economic conditions because the real stake is our lives. Stop feeling like a victim of money, work, destiny, and even power, because even bad governments are the natural consequence of human stupidity. To refuse, to refuse the freedom to trample on others but also to pretend equality. Unmask hysterical goodness, unmask our false social consciousness. Now, here and now. It would be enough to understand that a man cannot be truly vital if he does not feel part of something. It would be enough to abandon the our immeasurable need for affirmation, abandon even our passionate pessimism and finally find the audacity to look forward to the future with joy».
I think Dalia is right. She takes your breath away.