For three months, Cosimo Sannelli, the father-in-law of Galaxy defender Rolf Feltscher, battled COVID-19 from an Italian hospital bed. Because her father was in a coma, Giuliana Feltscher had to rely on doctors and nurses for updates on his health. When the virus got the upper hand in May, she couldn’t even say goodbye, much less return home for the funeral.
“Somebody goes there just to see your father in a coffin? Her father didn’t want this,” Feltscher said last week. “The people who die of this, the coffin cannot be opened.
“It went how it went, you know?”
The way it went left Feltscher’s wife with little more than memories — one of which stood out above the others. When she was growing up, her father, whom everyone called Mimmo, wound serenade her with the 1962 ballad “Quando, Quando Quando,” the biggest hit of Italian crooner Tony Renis’ career and one covered in English by everyone from Michael Bublé and Engelbert Humperdinck to Pat Boone and Connie Francis.
Three years ago, Sannelli started singing the song for Feltscher’s daughter Kim, who’s now 6 years old. Feltscher refused to let that tradition be silenced, so he reached out to a friend who also knew Renis and asked whether the aging artist would sing the song one more time for his wife and daughter.
A recording wouldn’t suffice, so Feltscher, a talented Michael Jackson impersonator, came up with a plan. He would bring his wife and daughter to a recording studio in Los Angeles under the guise they were going to help him record a Jackson song. When they got there, they were greeted by a smiling Renis, appearing on a video link from Rome.
“Hello, Giuly. I am Tony Renis,” began the singer, 82, who really didn’t need the introduction.
“I have prepared something very, very special for you … that you can keep as a memory of your beautiful, beautiful father,” he continued.
And with that, Renis’ song began playing over a video showing Giuliana with her father and their family.
Tell me when will you be mine; Tell me when, when, when
A speechless Giuliana, 31, answered with tears.
“She didn’t expect nothing,” Feltscher said. “When Tony appears in the laptop screen, then she understood. She was crying for about 10 minutes. Everybody was crying. It was so emotional.
“Mimmo, he was an amazing father. … This is more important than anything that could happen with football.”
Feltscher, 29, in his third season with the Galaxy, was born in Switzerland and spent the first 10 years of his professional career playing in Switzerland, Spain, Germany and Italy as well as with the Venezuelan national team because his mother is a citizen there. He met Giuliana while playing with Parma in Italy’s Serie A.
Her father contracted COVID-19 in March, when the Feltschers already were in Southern California for an MLS season that would be interrupted several times by the coronavirus. Because of COVID-19, Giuliana could not travel home to see her father, who slipped into a coma shortly after entering the hospital. He died at 63.
“Her father is the biggest person for her,” said Feltscher, who said his wife hoped Renis’ gesture might inspire other singers to share their talents in a similar way. “It’s nice for other artists to do the same thing for people who have suffered like that.
“It was very powerful.”