Bulgarian-born Sylvie Vartan enjoyed her first hit in France in early 1962 but had to wait over five years to find success in Italy.
Sylvie Vartan was born in the Bulgarian village of Iskretz on 15 August 1944. Her father had a job at the French embassy in Sofia and, when the family decided to flee the Soviet-occupied territory in 1952, it was to Paris they headed.
By the time she was in her late teens, her older brother, Eddie, was working for the RCA record label and it was through him that she came to record her first song, in 1961, although she remained uncredited for her work.
However, bosses at the RCA label were impressed and offered her a solo contract. Her second solo release, Est-ce que tu le sais?, a cover of Ray Charles’s What’d I say?, issued in early 1962, became her first hit.
Given Italy’s inward-looking approach to music, it was no surprise that Sylvie’s first two Italian releases, Quand le film est triste and Les vacances se suivent, both issued in their original French, flopped.
In 1963, her record company, RCA, realised its mistake and issued La più bella, a version of her huge French hit La plus belle pour aller danser, as a single. However, the release failed and it wasn’t until 1967 that she tried to crack Italy again. This time she issued Due minuti de felicità, a version of her 2’35 de bonheur, and the single raced up the Italian charts, eventually making number two in January 1968.
Come un ragazzo – another cover of a French hit, Comme un garçon – quickly followed, peaking at number six.
The cheesy Zum zum zum was issued as the follow up and, in December 1968, it also made number two, beating a rival version by Italian superstar Mina.
The infinitely superior French hit Irréstiblement was chosen for translation into Italian, and, as Irresistibilmente, it shot up the charts in early 1969, also reaching number two.
The Italian original composition Buonasera buonasera followed, reaching number five later in the year.
Her next single, Festa negli occhi, festa nel cuore, made the top 20 but was a relative flop for the singer, who was a huge star in Italy by this time, even though Quando sorridi tu, a version of the magnificent dance number L’oiseau and included on her 1969 Italian LP A doppia coppia, had been issued on the B-side.
One further release in late 1969, an Italian version of Abracadabra, missed the charts and Sylvie’s chart career in Italy was almost over, save for one small hit in 1972.