4. Rita Pavone’s Musicarelli: Rethinking Genre and (Young) Women’s Representation

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by Stephanie Hotz

This essay examines Rita Pavone’s star image and musical films of the 1960s, including a close analysis of two of her most famous musicarelli, Rita la zanzara (Rita the Mosquito, 1966) and its sequel Non stuzzicate la zanzara (Don’t Sting the Mosquito, 1967). While studies on the postwar “woman’s film” have focused primarily on melodramas, this paper discusses how Pavone’s comedic musicals offered alternative narratives of female empowerment for young women during the economic boom. In addition to Pavone’s own unconventional depictions of femininity, this study illustrates how the singer’s musicarelli adapt, alter, and parody generic conventions typically associated with female narratives while utilizing recurring acts of impersonation (masquerade, imitation, and cross-dressing) to highlight gender subjectivity as performative, fluid, and in flux.