The Great Neapolitan Song Thread

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Derek McGovern

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Oct 15, 2007, 2:07:42 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
I can't resist initiating a discussion on Lanza's recordings of
Neapolitan songs - a genre of music very close to my heart, & one for
which he obviously felt a great affinity.

But when you think about it, in terms of Mario's actual recorded
output, he sang comparatively few Neapolitan songs: just 20 in all.
Surprising, isn't it? And yet these songs - unlike any other genre
that he sang - spanned the entire 19-year period of his recorded life:

Pecche'? (one verse only - primitive home recording, 1940)
Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape?
Core n'grato
O Sole Mio
'A Vucchella
Marechiare
Torna a Surriento
Funiculi' Funcula'
Dicitencello Vuie
Maria Mari'
Voce 'e notte
Canta Pe' Me
'O Surdato 'Nnammurato
Come Facette Mammeta?
Santa Lucia Luntana
Fenesta Che Lucive
Tu Ca Nun Chiagne!
'Na Sera 'e Maggio
Passione
Senza Nisciuno

So, interestingly, although it's Neapolitan songs that Lanza is
usually identified with, he actually sang just as many songs in
*Italian* (as opposed to Neapolitan dialect). These include Mattinata,
Lolita, Toselli's Serenade, Drigo's Serenade, La Spagnola, Neapolitan
Love Song (actually sung in Italian!), Non Ti Scordar di Me, Parlami
d'Amore Mariu', etc, plus all of the Caruso Favorites album except
Pour un Baiser & Senza Nisciuno.

Many of these Italian songs are incorrectly referred to by reviewers
and fans alike as Neapolitan songs (though I guess you could argue
that Santa Lucia is *technically* one since it was originally written
in Neapolitan).

But restricting the conversation just to bona fide Neapolitan songs,
which of them do you think Lanza truly "nailed" (to use one of Joe's
favourite words :-))?

This may surprise a few of you, but I've never felt that Mario did
Marechiare anything like full justice - even though he regularly sang
it in his concerts. (In fact, his Albert Hall version is the worst of
all his renditions of this song!) I like both his 1951 commercial
version & the partial take for The Great Caruso soundtrack, but
neither is what I'd call a definitive rendition.

And O Sole Mio is what I'd call a near miss. Mario sings it
thrillingly in his 1949 commercial version (though with not a hint of
tenderness!), and much more appropriately & suavely in his beautiful
1958 version (if only he'd sung more than one verse, though!), but
even in the latter - to me, at least - he doesn't *quite* make it his
own.

Ah, but Mamma mia, Che Vo' Sape is another story! Again, he sang it
regularly, and of all the versions we have (quite a few if you include
the various radio show renditions in the 1940s), the 1949 commercial
take is the obvious standout for me. (I also like Mario's softer
version with piano for the soundtrack of That Midnight Kiss.) This is
one Neapolitan song that I've never heard anyone else sing better.

But what of the other Neapolitan songs that he recorded? My personal
favourites are well known to most of you, so I think I'll open up the
floor now and ask for your opinions...

(Don't forget, by the way, that lyrics and translations for most of
the Mario! album songs are now available in our Pages section.)

May the great Neapolitan song debate begin!

jora...@comcast.net

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Oct 15, 2007, 4:34:10 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Without question" Mama Mia Che Vo Sape" is one of Mario's masterpieces
but I also love these two as well, but for different reasons:

Ditcittencello Vuie for its "electricity", always thrilling!. I once
had an English version of this called 'just tell her I love her" by
Tony Dalli. Quite good and a real 'sound alike' for Mario's voice
( either by imitation or design)

A'Vucchella for its "sweetness". Mario almost carries you "piggyback"
with him as he follows this young girl around.

Vince Di Placido

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Oct 15, 2007, 4:47:12 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
A great topic for discussion, Derek!
I do like Mario's 1951 Marechiare, I think it is full of excitement &
I love the sheer joy in Mario's voice when he comes back in after the
orchestral interlude "A Marechiare nce STA NA-A-A fenesta"
I think the problem with Mario's early RCA Neapolitan recordings is
the orchestrations, they are just a bit too "Hollywood", O sole mio,
Core 'ngrato, Marechiare (The Italian Mattinata suffers too). And
Mario's performance is affected by these arrangements.
Compare these to some of Ennio Morricone's beautiful settings on
"Mario!"
I would have loved a Core 'ngrato recorded for the "Mario!" album, Oh!
How beautiful that would have been, & you just know Mario wouldn't
have gave out that primal scream on the reprise of "Core, CORE
'ngrato!" not with that wonderful interpretive mood he was in during
those late 1958 sessions.
I know some people really have a problem with that reprise but I
sometimes wonder was it good phrasing & interpretation? Is Mario
playing out a cry from a broken heart, a primal scream of pain & loss?
One thing is for sure this arrangement is a wee bit over the top &
quite unique, I've never heard a recording of Core 'ngrato that uses
the "Tu nun 'nce pienze a stu dulore mio" line as the intro, it is a
great melody line.

Derek, Mario definitely owns Mamma mia, che vo' sape? it just fits him
perfectly as does 'A Vucchella I think Mario sings both of these
better than anybody else, including Caruso.
The list of Neapolitan songs I wish Mario had sung is very long,
Chiove, 'O Paese d' 'o sole, Munasterio 'E Santa-Chiara, Lacreme
Napulitane (which would have been very apt for Mario as an Italian
American), Picatore 'e Pusilleco, 'A Canzone 'e Napule & a real
personal favourite of mine I' te vurria vasà!

BUT the "Mario!" album makes up for these wishful gems, here we have
real interpretive genius & beautiful singing of the highest order
coupled with some of the true Neapolitan classics, Mario becomes a
true Napulitano & gives 1 definitive performance after another, his
voice carressing those wonderful Neapolitan lyrics & phrasing at a
career high & creating scenes of heartbreak & melancholy & even the
odd joyous celebration that are truly authentic & compelling. Mario's
love of these songs is so evident to me, he is in the zone & if there
are any Lanza recording sessions I wish I could be at it is these.

So Mario's Neapolitan recordings overall have a few dodgy moments &
some sublime exquisite moments also, not unlike Mario's(& most
singer's) total catalogue. I think Mario's high points in Neapolitan
song show what he was capable of & he should be hailed as a true
interpretive genius of Neapolitan song.

Derek McGovern

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Oct 15, 2007, 5:10:44 PM10/15/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Vince: I agree that the overblown Hollywood-style arrangements were
often the problem on Mario's early Neapolitan song recordings - as
indeed they *still* are today on many other singers' versions of these
songs. But you're right about the joy in Mario's 1951 Marechiare! He's
having great fun here, and I wish they'd asked him to sing the second
verse.

As for Core 'ngrato, I would love to have heard a more restrained
Mario sing this in December 1958 - say, with the beautiful arrangement
that Carreras uses. Of the two versions he recorded, though, I
definitely prefer the commercial take. Better to go sharp on the
reprise than launch into a primal scream...though just imagine the
impact of the latter on an audience of Neapolitans!

Joe:I also love the 1951 commercial recording of 'A Vucchella - its
sweetness, as you say, is overwhelming. Just gorgeous!

am...@ruc.dk

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Oct 15, 2007, 5:15:09 PM10/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Derek, just a short hallo from me.
What an inspiring introduction to a great topic.
I am one of the fans, you referred to, who thought songs like
Mattinata, Non Ti Scordar di Me and Parlami d'Amore Mariu', all of
which I enjoy very much, belonged to the category of Neapolitan songs.
Thanks for clearing that up. :-)

Mamma mia, Che Vo' Sape? is definitely one of my favourites too. Both
of the two versions you mentioned (1949 & TMK) is so beautifully sung
by Mario. As for the other Neapolitan songs - I'll go for Voce 'e
notte, for now, it's just fabulous. But I'll really have to hear them
all again, to give you a full answer. I'll get back to you.
Ann-Mai

Derek McGovern

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Oct 15, 2007, 5:34:24 PM10/15/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hello Ann-Mai, and a hearty welcome aboard! I've been very impressed
with your comments on Mario's recordings on another forum - in
particular, the way you discuss *in detail* a particular turn of
phrasing that grabs your attention. You'll find many kindred spirits
here in that regard! :-)

But I wasn't actually thinking of you when I mentioned the many fans &
reviewers who get confused as to what a Neapolitan song is. When I
wrote that, I'd just been re-reading a couple of professional reviews
of Caruso Favorites, and both reviewers - who really should have known
better - refer to the songs as Neapolitan. Even the original liner
notes writer on the Mario Lanza Sings Caruso Favs - Francis Robinson -
thought that the Caruso Favs were Neapolitan songs!

Voce 'e Notte is also my favourite Neapolitan song recording by Lanza.
(In fact, I named one of my essays on these pages after it: Voice in
the Night.) I'd like to discuss this one in depth with you when I have
more time - and I'm sure our Muriella will want to contribute to that
discussion as well! After Voce 'e Notte, my favourites (in no
particular order) from the great 1958 Mario! album are Passione, 'Na
Sera 'e Maggio, Canta Pe' Me, Santa Lucia Luntana, Tu Ca Nun Chiagne,
and Fenesta Che Lucive. Comme Facette Mammeta is also perfectly sung!

lamuriella

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Feb 10, 2014, 8:41:14 PM2/10/14
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My Mario! CD is always at hand and I play it when my spirits need a
huge boost.  Here's what I wrote about Voce e Notte a little while
ago.....

  As I listened to Voce e Notte, I really
concentrated.  What I realized is this song is probably one of the
better examples of hearing the "complete" Mario! Complete? It is no
secret that I love this voice the best of all in Mario's recorded
history. All the elements of maturity, intelligent interpretation,
richness of timbre, and expressive phrasing come together to make
this song one of Mario's very best.

As he begins to sing, it truly sounds like a "voice from the night".
He sings thoughtfully, as the composer intended, directing his words
to his lover in such a way as to not frighten her, but to pour out
his emotions, his need to serenade her even though she cannot
acknowledge him. "Si'sta voce te sceta 'int'a nuttata...." ("If this
voice wakes you in the night....")

I like the second verse.  There is a lot of tension at the
beginning: "Don't go to the window to see who's there because you
can't mistake it - that voice is mine".  As he progresses, "The same
voice as when we both were strangers, both so formal". He reveals a
more lonely quiet mood at the end.

The third verse is sung evenly and reassuringly. His love's husband
will not know the fellow is singing to his wife as no names are
mentioned. "Dille ca dorme e ca se rassicura...." is poignant and
deliberately enunciated.

Derek has quoted, "Dille accussi: Che canta 'int 'a 'sta via o sarra
pazzo, o more'e ggelusia...." as the highlight of the song for him.
It is that, to be sure - it sends chills down your spine. You live
the misery and feel helpless along with the poor man.  Mario makes
sure you experience the forlorn emotion of the sad situation. Total
desolation pours from the last line: "Canta isso sulo. Ma che canta a
ffa?" "He sings alone. And really - what's he singing for?"
Mario "gets it right" in every line. You know he has gone deep inside
himself to
bring this song to life. He is complete. The song is complete. And -
you are spent along with him....

lamuriella

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May 13, 2014, 8:05:21 PM5/13/14
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Another favorite of mine on the Mario! CD is Tu, Ca Nun Chiagne.
We don't often talk about it
and I really don't know why not. It is quite stunning, and one of the
more strongly sung songs on the CD. Mario presents it in a no-
nonsense way. It is rousing at times even though it is one of the
usual Neapolitan laments about an absent love. As I understand it,
the fellow is looking at the mountain at night and is giving it
almost human qualities. As he ponders that, he is thinking about the
lover who has rejected him. She might be looking at the same moon
that he sees above the mountain and he sings out his pain, perhaps
hoping
she might hear him. "You, who weep not while you make me weep, where
are you tonight? I need you! I need you! These eyes of mine desire to
see you once more!" He sings this verse two times and the second time
he increases the passion of his plaintive plea and holds, "Voglio a
te! Voglio a te!"  We suffer along with him and hope all will turn
out well. Knowing the Neapolitan song, we don't hold our breaths,
however....

The song is significant and powerful as it is interpreted by Mario.
He again makes the lyrics real and we find ourselves getting lost in
the mood along with him.  I wish I could hug him again and again for
all of these gems!

I agree that 'A Vucchella is one of the sweetest songs Mario ever
recorded. I especially love his quietly seductive "Che pare naaaaa
ruselllllaaa, nu poco pocorillo...appassuliaaaa....tellll...aaaa.

It would be a shame if I didn't include Canta Pe' Me, 'Na Sera 'e
Maggio, Santa Lucia Luntana (actually my very first favorite because
of its wistful tone) and Passione. I've written  something about
Passione in one of my essays, so I'll let you off the hook for
tonight...

Mario sang these songs (as others have mentioned) as though he were
born with them in his golden throat. By 1958, he understood them
completely - they were verismo, and he had learned all about
that......

Goodness! How I love these songs!!!!!  Buona sera....

am...@ruc.dk

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May 13, 2014, 8:05:48 PM5/13/14
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Thank you for your nice welcome, Derek, and thanks for inviting me
here.
I hope you didn't misunderstand my lines about the distinction between
Neapolitan and Italian songs, yesterday. I really didn't intend to
imply anything. I just meant; that I wasn't aware of which songs
belonged to which group before I read your post, and that I am
grateful for the information.
I am still just a 'novice' on the subject of Mario's life, many
recordings, singing technique ect. I have only been a dedicated fan
for a year now, so I'm still in the early learning process and have
much to learn. So, it is really a joy for me to read all these very
interesting and enlightening posts on Mario's lovely Neapolitan
songs.

Ann-Mai

am...@ruc.dk

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Oct 16, 2007, 10:18:26 AM10/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Lamuriella: I loved your thoughts on Voce 'e notte and Tu, Ca Nun
Chiagne.
No doubt, Mario really had the ability to make us 'feel' the emotions
of the characters in his songs. I really admire the way he pronounces
and emphasizes specific words to 'visualize' a specific state of mind.
His rolling 'r' in the line 'N'ánema pare, rrrrrassignata e stanca' in
the first verse of Tu, Ca Nun Chiagne - really emphasizes the feeling
of stagnation that often goes with a resigned state of mind. I also
admire his clear and 'strong' diction on the title line 'Tu, ca nun
chiagne', especially the word 'chiagne', which does something to me
that I just can't define. This is the word for 'crying', right?
Finally the line "e i' sulo veglio, pecché veglia Ammore..." also got
to me. The way he sings the word 'pecché' is filled with despair.

Oh! And, your quoted lines from A vucchella, immediately made me hear
and see Mario's Caruso performance in my mind - such a cute and very
seductive performance. :-)

> On Oct 15, 9:24 pm, lamuriella <

> > On Oct 15, 5:34 pm, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > > Hello Ann-Mai, and a hearty welcome aboard! I've been very impressed
> > > with your comments on Mario's recordings on another forum - in
> > > particular, the way you discuss *in detail* a particular turn of
> > > phrasing that grabs your attention. You'll find many kindred spirits
> > > here in that regard! :-)
>
> > > But I wasn't actually thinking of you when I mentioned the many fans &
> > > reviewers who get confused as to what a Neapolitan song is. When I
> > > wrote that, I'd just been re-reading a couple of professional reviews
> > > of Caruso Favorites, and both reviewers - who really should have known
> > > better - refer to the songs as Neapolitan. Even the original liner
> > > notes writer on the Mario Lanza Sings Caruso Favs - Francis Robinson -
> > > thought that the Caruso Favs were Neapolitan songs!
>
> > > Voce 'e Notte is also my favourite Neapolitan song recording by Lanza.
> > > (In fact, I named one of my essays on these pages after it: Voice in
> > > the Night.) I'd like to discuss this one in depth with you when I have
> > > more time - and I'm sure our Muriella will want to contribute to that
> > > discussion as well! After Voce 'e Notte, my favourites (in no
> > > particular order) from the great 1958 Mario! album are Passione, 'Na
> > > Sera 'e Maggio, Canta Pe' Me, Santa Lucia Luntana, Tu Ca Nun Chiagne,
> > > and Fenesta Che Lucive. Comme Facette Mammeta is also perfectly sung!
>

> ...
>
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>
> - Vis tekst i anførselstegn -

Derek McGovern

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Oct 16, 2007, 2:57:42 PM10/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Great posts by Ann-Mai and Muriella: you've both highlighted some of
Mario's most masterful phrasing in these songs. And yes, Muriella's
right that Tu Ca Nun Chiagne doesn't get commented on enough. The
extra vocal "bite" in Mario's delivery on the 1958 version and his
complete involvement in the lyrics make this one of his best
performances. Tu Ca Nun Chiagne is an old song, but Mario imbues it
with such freshness that I hear something new in it every time I play
it.

It's interesting, isn't it, that of the five songs by Ernesto de
Curtis (1875-1937) that Lanza recorded, at one point or another in his
career he gave an outstanding performance of every one of them. Think
of his Voce 'e Notte, Canta Pe' Me (1958 version), Tu Ca Nun Chiagne
(1958), Senza Nisciuno (1959), and Torna a Surriento (1955) -
masterpieces one and all. In fact, you could argue that Mario had as
much affinity for the music of De Curtis as he did for that of Sigmund
Romberg!

Incidentally, I'd love to hear some of the composer Giuseppe Cioffi's
other songs. He was quite prolific, though of course Mario only
recorded one of his songs: 'Na Sera 'e Maggio. (Cioffi lived until
1976, and his son Luigi was also a composer of Neapolitan songs.)
Lanza's 1958 version of 'Na Sera 'e Maggio is very special to me. It's
full of incredible little touches that simply seem to pass other
singers by; for example, the line "voglio bene sulo a te" (I love only
you), which Mario somehow sings in the voice of a different person -
which is exactly as it should be since he's reporting the words of his
beloved. Brilliant! And yet people say that Mario lacked nuance in his
singing! 'Na Sera 'e Maggio, Voce 'e Notte, and Passione are three of
his most intelligent, nuanced performances, as well as being
formidable feats of story-telling.

But you'd never know this from some of the nonsense written by Lanza's
critics! Take a look, for example, at the 1960 review of the Mario!
album by Burnett James (it's on the page entitled Reviews of Opera
Appearances, Concerts, etc on this site). James actually claims that
Mario "had little ability to caress a phrase" and that his "chief
fault" on this album "is his lack of feeling for the words...he simply
rolls his tongue around a collection of vowels and consonants."
Unbelievable! In fact, this judgement is so far from the truth that
it's hard to believe that James actually listened to the album. He
also misunderstands the nature of the Neapolitan dialect and its
authentic pronunciation (for example, unlike standard Italian, it
features a vowel sound known by linguists as the schwa) - Vince will
no doubt want to elaborate on this! - and he complains that Mario has
"no sharpness of enunciation; linguistically these songs are a mess."

Could this critic *be* any more wrong?!!

Jan Hodges

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Oct 16, 2007, 6:10:44 PM10/16/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Derek asks if the critic Burnett James could possibly be more wrong in his assessment of the Mario! album......well possibly if he had stated that Mario was really a bass baritone and not a tenor! [G]
 
Hello everybody...nice to be back.Thanks for the invite Derek.
 
I absolutely adore Mario's Neapolitan songs. My special favourites are Na Sera e Maggio, Canta Pe Me and Tu Ca Nun Chiagne. Then of course there is Passione and that drop dead gorgeous final note. I turn to jelly every time I hear it. Actually just thinking about it sends shivers down my spine! [LOL]
Regards  Jan
 
faint_grain.jpg

Vince Di Placido

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Oct 16, 2007, 6:51:24 PM10/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
That review of the "Mario!" album has mad me so angry! I actually
posted about this kind of thing on Rense's forum this evening, Mario
never really got the recognition he deserved as regards his
interpretive & phrasing gifts. The only explanations for this review
are either, as you said Derek, the album was never actually listened
to or it was a personal attack on Mario by someone who just didn't
care for his work. I can't understand how anyone who truly listens &
hears what Mario achieved on this album could have anything but
complete praise for him & recognise the album as a true classic.

> faint_grain.jpg
> 1KViewDownload

Vince Di Placido

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Oct 16, 2007, 7:22:45 PM10/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Yes, Derek! "voglio bene sulo a te" - is definitely a great moment.
Mario sings that line & we are treated to an inspired piece of
phrasing & singing acting as we get to hear how the young woman
actually said "I love only you".
Derek I love what you wrote, that Mario "somehow sings in the voice of
a different person" your perception & understanding of Mario is
fantastic & like Muriel's observations they open up Mario's music to
even more enjoyment for all of us, you have a great gift, thanks for
sharing.

Derek McGovern

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May 13, 2014, 8:08:51 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Vince & Jan: Well, if nothing else, this review shows the kind of
thing that Mario was often up against in his own lifetime. In fact, if
he'd lived to read this and another review (which is also included in
one of the review pages on this site), he would have thrown up his
hands in despair! James, for example, writes (grudgingly) that Lanza
is better in the slower songs on the Mario! album - when there's less
of a sense of "a steamroller laying down a gravel path" (?!) - while
another critic says the exact opposite, complaining that in the slower
songs Mario "is on the verge of slipping into that horrible sliding
effect that completely mars Del Monaco's recordings of the same
songs". So who's right? Neither of them!

It also annoys me that the arrangements were singled out for criticism
by one of the reviewers. Admittedly, he was referring to the cloying
Hollywood angel-type choir on Voce 'e Notte in the example he gave,
but to overlook the otherwise splendid arrangements on this album is
ridiculous. And, inconceivably, neither reviewer mentions Ferrara and

his wonderful orchestra or the obvious rapport between conductor &
singer here.

Incidentally, Ferrara (1911-1985) was a very highly regarded musician.
He had to give up regular conducting because of health problems, but
by all accounts he was quite an inspiration both in the pit and as a
teacher. There are three pages of interesting photos of this
distinguished (and distinguished-looking!) man, and a lot of
information in Italian about him, here:

http://www.geocities.com/gianluigizampieri/FRANCO_FERRARA.html

Our member Armando, as most of you know, interviewed Ferrara in 1977,
and the conductor had only the highest praise for Mario's "Caruso-type
voice" and great musicality. If only the two men had worked together
again! The 1959 Caruso Favorites with Ferrara, rather than with the
unsympathetic Baron (as I can vouch from having met the ghastly
fellow!), could have been quite something, for if there's one thing
that's often lacking on this album (apart from Lanza's obvious
tiredness at times), it's the extraordinary attention to detail in the
phrasing that makes the Mario! album so special.

But getting back to these incompetent reviewers, it seems almost
inconceivable in this day & age - when new recordings by major vocal
talents are loudly trumpeted in classical music/opera magazines - that
an album as magnificent as Mario! didn't warrant at least an article
in the likes of Gramophone. Here we have a famous if controversial
tenor in an extraordinary return to form: couldn't *someone* have been
despatched to the Villa Badoglio to interview him about it?! In fact,
I find it very frustrating indeed that no one musically inclined ever
seems to have interviewed Mario (apart from Heindorf, I suppose you
could say). Think of the questions they could have asked him  about
his approach to these songs, not to mention his newly acquired
baritone-like qualities, etc, etc.  Aaaaargh!

Savage

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Oct 16, 2007, 8:37:56 PM10/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
My great love of Mario's 1949 recording of Mamma Mia is a result of
the brilliant way he builds the song from the gentle initial phrases
where he sounds like a crooner (with the most beautiful voice in the
world) to the soaring operatic climax.
This song is a showpiece for the greatest crossover artist of all time
and I can't get enough of it.


David

lamuriella

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Oct 17, 2007, 12:17:30 AM10/17/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Ann-Mai: I can tell you are hearing Mario with your heart as well
as with your ears! These Neapolitan songs are truly meant to be
*experienced* as well as heard. Good for you! I like the words and
phrases you have taken from Tu, Ca Nun Chiagne. Mario's rolling of his
*rrrrs* has always had a deep effect on me as well. He does it (but
with less importance) on the two "dormas" and slightly on "more". From
what I recall, Mario did this more often in his earlier years (perhaps
to show off a little?), but he knew when it was needed for the proper
effect. In these songs, it is never distracting, but conveys how *in
control* he is of his voice. And- that control is surely one reason we
respond to his presentation so completely.

Yes, again I think Mario instinctively articulates the word "chiagne"
as it is an important idea here. Crying denotes a final letting down
of one's defenses and this man has been deeply hurt and is left alone
in his suffering. He calls out that he longs to be reunited with his
love. The line "e i' sulo veglio, pecche veglia Ammore" is indeed
heartrending as he is awake while the world sleeps, because Love is
awake. Night time is the most vulnerable time for him. Mario makes us
understand that desolation.

Finally, hear how Mario enunciates each syllable of the last two lines
- "Chist'uocchie te vonno, n'ata vota, vede!" It seems to me that he
wants to leave us with an indelible impression of an aching heart.

Oh! How those Neapolitans can suffer! This is almost as sad as the
man in
Fenesta Che Lucive who walks to the cemetery to wait for death to
reunite him with his lost love. Molto triste....

Ciao, Muriel

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lamuriella

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Feb 10, 2014, 8:41:35 PM2/10/14
to
Derek, I share the frustration  I read in the remarks from you, Vince
and Jan. Surely the critics had some other agenda when they reviewed
this album. Mario totally identified with each song and it should have
had proper recognition. It's so disheartening to read remarks from
those who could not have allowed themselves to *hear* Mario's luscious
voice and perfect interpretations. It seems to me that they went out
of their way to write such extremely different reports. Perhaps they
felt they had to perpetuate Mario's temperamental image created by
years of bad press?  i'm sure they didn't understand the mechanics of
singing, let alone something like innate musicality. Poor Mario - why
weren't we there to help him?

Derek McGovern

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:09:23 PM5/13/14
to

A wonderful example, by the way, of the splendid music-making going on
here is Come Facette Mammeta, which I was playing in my car just now
at full throttle along a country road! The song may be silly to some,
but it's a much more difficult number to pull off than probably most
listeners realize. (Of course, Mario makes it sound all-so-effortless,
and his sense of rhythm is spot on, as usual.) It's worth a much
closer listen! Mario and the orchestra are perfectly in sync here -
especially if heard on the magnificent SACD (Super Audio CD) version
of this disc, which features a much better balance between the two
than has been heard before - and you'd swear they must have had to
rehearse the number a hundred times to achieve this kind of
perfection. But I bet they didn't. In fact, according to Ferrara, he
and Mario only went over the songs a couple of times at the Villa
Badoglio prior to meeting in the recording studio. I think that in
itself speaks volumes for the kind of musical ear that Mario
possessed. As Ferrara observed 19 years later: "I don't know if
[Lanza] could read music, but he certainly had a great musicality - a
great musical sensibility."

Bravo, Ferrara!

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 17, 2007, 2:04:24 AM10/17/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Just to clarify something I mentioned earlier, Neapolitan includes a
vowel sound known as a schwa (or shwa). It's one of the most common
(unstressed) vowel sounds in English, but doesn't exist in standard
Italian. Think of a word like "banana", and how you pronounce the
first & third syllables: they're both schwas. Or think of "che
faie" (or "faje", as it's also written) in Passione with the schwa on
the end of "faie". Anyway, my point in mentioning it again is that I
think silly old Burnett James, in his absurd review, was criticising
Mario's pronunciation - particularly in Come Facette Mammeta (which is
loaded with schwas!) - because he simply didn't appreciate that the
vowel sounds *were* being pronounced correctly. Neapolitan has a
"lazy" sound of sound to many non-Neapolitans - probably in part
because of the schwa - and to my ears, Mario captures it perfectly.
That's no mean feat either - Pavarotti, after all, never sounds truly
authentic on Neapolitan songs, as Vince has pointed out.

That's not to say Mario's *Italian* pronunciation - as opposed to his
command of Neapolitan on the Mario! album (which fooled even some of
my Italian friends) - was perfect, though. As Armando points out in
his book, Mario grew up speaking the Abruzzi dialect with his parents,
and this dialect, which I assume is fairly close to Neapolitan
(Armando will certainly tell us if I'm wrong), differs considerably
from Italian. I'm sure Armando won't mind if I reproduce this post
that he once wrote on the subject for an earlier incarnation of this
forum:

Joe, in answer to your question, Mario's overall pronunciation
when singing in Italian was good. His diction is wonderfully clear
and would never be mistaken for an American singing in Italian but,
at the same time, it's obvious that he's an Italian born in
America who makes all the typical errors that are common not only
of someone who didn't grow up in Italy, but of someone whose spoken
dialect at home was one from the south.

In the south the consonants are constantly mispronounced by the
generally unschooled. Double b, t, m, s, etc abound. Mario does this
frequently: eg, Mobbile, Uommini, Presso and so on. His Zs are also
faulty, notice silenzio, canzone etc. Had he been working in an
operatic environment this would almost certainly have been
corrected. I say almost certainly because this is something that
didn't happen in the case of Bjorling who didn't Italian and who,
in many instances, didn't mispronounce but simply sang non-existent
and meaningless words. E.g. in Boheme he sings aguzza l'ignegno
instead
of ingegno. Well, ignegno doesn't mean anything. Or pugne instead of
punge in Questa o Quella and many more. Mario, as far as I can recall,
is guilty of this only once and it's in one of his greatest
performances,
namely the Otello monologue where, instead of roseo riso, he sings
rospo riso or something similar.

The final two years spent in Italy were obviously beneficial, and the
only
thing that really keeps reoccurring is that flaming "z" in La mia
Canzone, in
which he pronounces the z as in zebra instead of softer, or what in
English
is like "tso" or "Cantsone".

-Armando, January 2004

Armando

unread,
Oct 17, 2007, 5:15:16 AM10/17/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
The Burnett James nonsense reminded me of another critic reviewing Di
Stefano's recital of French Arias and declaring the tenor's French
typically dreadful as that of all Italian tenors. This great expert
obviously made a total fool of himself as Di Stefano speaks French
fluently. He learned it during the two years he spent in Switzerland
between 1943/45.

As for Mario's Neapolitan song album, no doubt it's one of his
greatest achievements.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise given that he was working with
a top conductor, superb arrangements, and obviously superior recording
facilities and technicians.
For me the standout numbers are Na Sera 'e Maggio, Voce e Notte,
Passione, Canta pe me, and Tu Ca Nun Chiagne. Mario is not only in
total control of the idiom, but there are some wonderful touches in
all of the above mentioned. One example is how in Passione he caresses
the words Te voglio...te penso... te chiamo while executing a beautiful
diminuendo. Virtually all of the remaining selections are noteworthy.

Of course, as Vince and Derek have stated, his earlier recordings of
Neapolitan songs number the outstanding Mamma Mia Che Vo Sape' (the
1949 commercial version) and the piano accompanied version of 1948, as
well as what could have been an equally outstanding commercial
Core'Ngrato given a better arrangement. Yes, Mario does go sharp on
the reprise, but it's still a performance of considerable merit. I
quite like his commercial Marechiare but he should also have sung the
second verse. The 1958 O Sole Mio is superior to the earlier one in
just about every way, mostly due to the perfect arrangement, but the
voice does sound a little tired and just manages to get there on the
climatic note. In the earlier version Mario is in astonishing voice
but the arrangement is pure Hollywood and that ruins it for me. A
Vucchella is nicely done, and I love his 1959 Senza Nisciuno.

Notwithstanding Caruso, I feel that Mario, and Di Stefano, are the
greatest interpreters of Neapolitan songs.

Armando

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 17, 2007, 2:13:55 PM10/17/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Very interesting comments, Armando. If there's one thing I've truly
come to appreciate in recent years, it's the difference that a
superior arrangement can make. In fact, I've sometimes wondered what
Lanza thought on first running through, say, Ennio Morricone's
magical, evocative arrangement of Santa Lucia Luntana in 1958. Surely
it must have struck him just how infinitely superior this was to the
arrangement foisted on him six years earlier during the Coke Shows?
Did he say to himself, "*Now* I can finally do this song justice!"?

For me, it's the arrangement of Core 'ngrato that spoils it slightly
for me. Startling and unique though it is, as Vince pointed out
earlier, to use the "Tu nun 'nce pienze a stu dulore mio" line as the
intro, I simply find the whole thing too bombastic when a tenderer
approach would have worked wonders. I don't really mind the fact that
Lanza goes sharp in the reprise, but I do think the arrangement
encouraged him to go a little over the top on what is already a pretty
histrionic number!

In contrast, Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape, from the same session, is
perfect in every way - and I certainly understand why David (as he
mentions above) adores it. That melting mezza voce, the beautiful
vocal line throughout, and the extraordinary ending (anyone who doubts
Lanza's technique should be made to listen to this!)...the whole thing
is pure genius. It's extraordinary that Lanza was able to produce two
bona fide masterpieces (the other one being Che Gelida Manina, of
course) at his very first commercial recording session.

I agree with you about the excellent arrangement on the 1958 O Sole
Mio. I'm very fond of this recording too, and it's really only the
slightly strenuous ending that mars it for me. The opening phrases are
remarkable, though: that burnished quality in Lanza's voice here
(essentially the same voice that we hear on the Mario! album) - that
velvety richness is all enveloping, and I love the warmth with which
he caresses the words. *This* is the right romantic approach that was
so lacking in the 1949 version, though with such a bombastic
arrangement on the earlier recording, it's hardly surprising that
romance didn't really get a look in :-)

Incidentally, I've never asked your opinion of Lanza's 1958
Dicitencello Vuie. I know that most fans (not to mention RCA producer
Richard Mohr, who enthused over it in a telegram to Mario) rate this
recording as highly as, say, Passione, but to my ears it's not quite
in the same class as the greatest moments on the Mario! album.
Vocally, Mario doesn't sound as fresh to me - certainly not compared
with how he sounds on something like Canta Pe' Me - and he's slightly
uninvolved (almost too restrained) by *his* standards in the first
half. But I'm very fond of it nonetheless, and on almost any other
album it would stand out as a highlight. And that's the interesting
thing about the way the Mario! album performances are grouped (whether
by design or accident: it'd be interesting to know which!), as each
one improves on the preceding track until we reach the fourth song -
Voce 'e Notte - and the magic from that moment on is sustained
throughout. Passione, incidentally, was (as Mike points out in his
essay on this site) the perfect choice with which to finish the album,
and it proves that even RCA must have listened to these
recordings!

> > -Armando, January 2004- Hide quoted text -

Armando

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 12:03:27 AM10/18/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Derek, I listened again to Dicitincello Vuje on the SACD , it has it's
moments, but like you I feel that the voice is not as fresh here as in
most of the other tracks. Mario sounds tired, almost lethargic in
places and I also feel a little more light and shade would have
helped.

I'm not sure what you and Vince mean regarding Core 'Ngrato as he
sings only the one stanza plus the reprise but he does it as written.
"Tu nun' nce pienze a stu dulore mio" is exactly where it should be,
towards the end of the first stanza. I agree on the overblown
arrangement.

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 18, 2007, 2:26:48 AM10/18/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Armando: Vince & I were both referring to the dramatic opening bars
of the orchestral lead-in, not Mario's vocal part. On every other
arrangement of Core 'ngrato I've heard, the orchestral intro has used
the melody that accompanies the words "Core, core 'ngrato" as its lead-
in. Sorry for the confusion!

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 23, 2007, 4:01:55 AM10/23/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Getting back to Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape? - which was mentioned in
passing a few posts back - of the many Lanza versions in existence,
the two I love unreservedly are the 1949 commercial take and the 1948
rendition from the soundtrack of That Midnight Kiss. As I wrote
earlier, the 1949 version is the definitive one for me, though the
softer 1948 rendition (with Mario's coach Spadoni on the piano!) comes
close. The 1949 version is the perfect combination of tenderness and
power - from his use of some of the most beguiling mezza voce
imaginable (especially on "e nun pòzzo arrepusá"!) to the brilliant
ending. Lanza's phrasing is immaculate, his vocal registers are
seamless: this is a man in complete control.

But don't take my word for it if you haven't heard this rendition (or
the 1948 version). They're both available here (for a limited
time :-)):

http://mariolanza.4shared.com/

And here - to sing along with again - are the lyrics:


Quanno 'a notte se ne scenne
p'abbruciá chist'uocchie stanche,
quann'io veglio e tu mme manche...
sento 'a smánia 'e te vasá!
E te chiammo e schiara juorno,
ma è pe' ll'ate stu chiarore...
tengo 'a notte dint''o core
e nun pòzzo arrepusá...

Ah, nun mme fá murí!...
tu che ne vuó' da me?
Mamma mia mme vène a dí pecché
chesta smánia nun mme vò' lassá...
Ah, nun mme fá murí...
Tu che ne vuó' da me?
Mamma mia che vò' sapé?
Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá?
Nun mme fido d''a vasá...
Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá! x 2

When night descends,
to close these eyes of mine.
When I awake and miss you,
I feel restless as I yearn to kiss you.
And I call you and daylight comes,
but this daylight belongs to someone else.
Because I am carying the night in my heart and I cannot sleep.
Oh! don't let me die! what do you want from me?
My Mother, come and tell me why.
Why doesn't this restlessness leave me?
Oh! don't let me die, what do you want from me?
Mother, what do you want to know?
My Mother has to know
I have no courage to kiss!
Oh! My Mother has to know!

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:11:59 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Derek, two very great versions of 'Mamma mia, che vo sape?'. I just
LOVE this song, it is SO beautiful.
Again, like the two 'Cielo e mar', I think it is pretty hard to choose
one over the other. I keep changing my mind as I am listening to them.
When I have heard the first one I think it is better, but then when I
have listened to the second one I think that is the best.
But if I 'had' to choose, I think I would rate the 1948 best. It seems
more intimate to me. But then again - I am a sucker for soft
singing. :-))
The 1949 is without any doubt also an absolute gem, and I think Mario
seems a bit more intense here especially in the second verse. The
character's troubles comes more across, where the 1948 is sung more
calmly, imo.
And like you said, Derek, the 1949 has both softness and power - Oh,
no! Now I'm about to change my mind again....
Thank God, we have both of them to enjoy. :-)

Ann-Mai

Derek McGovern

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May 13, 2014, 8:12:11 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Ann-Mai: You mentioned that Mario is more intense on the 1949
version, and for me that's exactly the right approach on this song.
The transition he makes from tenderly expressed yearning to the
anguished "Ah, nun mme fá murí!" (Don't make me die!) is a masterpiece
of vocal control. We get to hear everything in this recording:
gorgeous mezza voce, the luscious, darker coloring of his middle
register, the brilliant upper register: a seamless voice from top to
bottom. The 1948 version - essentially because it's Mario's debut
scene in a fluffy MGM musical - is a much less dramatic reading. But
it's a great example of Lanza's soft pedal, as well as making nonsense
of Andre Previn's recent claim that Mario was incapable of singing at
anything less than fortissimo.


am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:12:25 PM5/13/14
to
I have a question about the term ‘mezza voce’. I am not quite sure if
I understand it correctly. I first heard of ‘mezza voce’ in connection
to Di Stefano’s awesome ‘Salut’, and when I asked my mom about the
term, she told me that it meant ‘half voice’, which is very evident in
Di Stefano’s rendition, as he literally goes from full voice to a half
one (stunning!).
My question is now: what is the difference between ‘mezza voce’,
‘piano’ (soft singing) and ‘pianissimo’ (which I guess will be twice
as soft)?
Derek, you mentioned that Mario did a ‘mezza voce’ in the 1949 ‘Mamma
mia..’, (and it is beautiful) but it sounds very different from the
one Di Stefano did. Mario didn’t come from a full voice to the ‘mezza
voce’, did he? And, does it matter at all to the term which volume is
the outset?
I used to be under the impression that what Mario did was more like
‘piano’ or 'pianissimo', but now I’m not quite sure of the difference
between the three terms.

Ann-Mai

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 24, 2007, 5:38:28 PM10/24/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ann-Mai: I must confess I haven't heard Di Stefano's much-discussed
Salut from the Met, though from what I've read it wasn't mezza voce.
Armando will be able to confirm this, but my understanding is that Di
Stefano hits the high C in full voice and then does a diminuendo on
it, scaling it right down to pianissimo.

Mezza voce indeed means half voice, and is often confused with
falsetto, which is a thinner, less resonant sound. The final note, for
example, on Mario's Golden Days (1952 MGM version) is mezza voce,
whereas he uses a most unexpected and exquisite falsetto on the final
note of The Bayou Lullaby (commercial version). Do let me know if you
don't have the latter - it's the only time I can think of when Mario
does this.

"Piano" is softer than mezza voce, and "pianissimo" is even softer
still. But I'll leave the more detailed explanations to Armando and
others!

> > > On 23 Okt., 10:01, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > > > Getting back to Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape? - which was mentioned in
> > > > passing a few posts back - of the many Lanza versions in existence,
> > > > the two I love unreservedly are the 1949 commercial take and the 1948
> > > > rendition from the soundtrack of That Midnight Kiss. As I wrote
> > > > earlier, the 1949 version is the definitive one for me, though the
> > > > softer 1948 rendition (with Mario's coach Spadoni on the piano!) comes
> > > > close. The 1949 version is the perfect combination of tenderness and
> > > > power - from his use of some of the most beguiling mezza voce

> > > > imaginable (especially on "e nun pňzzo arrepusá"!) to the brilliant


> > > > ending. Lanza's phrasing is immaculate, his vocal registers are
> > > > seamless: this is a man in complete control.
> >
> > > > But don't take my word for it if you haven't heard this rendition (or
> > > > the 1948 version). They're both available here (for a limited
> > > > time :-)):
> >
> > > >http://mariolanza.4shared.com/
> >
> > > > And here - to sing along with again - are the lyrics:
> >
> > > > Quanno 'a notte se ne scenne
> > > > p'abbruciá chist'uocchie stanche,
> > > > quann'io veglio e tu mme manche...
> > > > sento 'a smánia 'e te vasá!
> > > > E te chiammo e schiara juorno,

> > > > ma č pe' ll'ate stu chiarore...


> > > > tengo 'a notte dint''o core

> > > > e nun pňzzo arrepusá...


> >
> > > > Ah, nun mme fá murí!...
> > > > tu che ne vuó' da me?

> > > > Mamma mia mme včne a dí pecché
> > > > chesta smánia nun mme vň' lassá...


> > > > Ah, nun mme fá murí...
> > > > Tu che ne vuó' da me?

> > > > Mamma mia che vň' sapé?


> > > > Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá?
> > > > Nun mme fido d''a vasá...
> > > > Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá! x 2
> >
> > > > When night descends,
> > > > to close these eyes of mine.
> > > > When I awake and miss you,
> > > > I feel restless as I yearn to kiss you.
> > > > And I call you and daylight comes,
> > > > but this daylight belongs to someone else.
> > > > Because I am carying the night in my heart and I cannot sleep.
> > > > Oh! don't let me die! what do you want from me?
> > > > My Mother, come and tell me why.
> > > > Why doesn't this restlessness leave me?
> > > > Oh! don't let me die, what do you want from me?
> > > > Mother, what do you want to know?
> > > > My Mother has to know
> > > > I have no courage to kiss!

> > > > Oh! My Mother has to know!- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:12:40 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Derek, thank you for a very fine explanation. It makes perfect
sense.
It was from Youtube I got the impression that Di Stefano did a mezza
voce in his 1950 ‘Salut’, but they could of cause have been wrong. If
you haven’t heard it, permit me to post the link to it here – it is a
‘must hear’. :-)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9uRMplmuqA

No, I don’t think I have heard Mario’s commercial version of ‘Bayou
Lullaby’, I only know the one from TONO. But the ‘Golden Days’ I know
– one of my all time favourite Mario song.
Ann-Mai

Armando

unread,
Oct 24, 2007, 8:18:13 PM10/24/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Ann-Mai,

What Di Stefano does in Salut Demeure is to effect the most stunning
diminuendo I have ever heard. He attacks the High C in full voice and
tapers it down to almost inaudible as the note ends. Extremely
difficult to do, but as I wrote on another post he did have a
technique at the start otherwise there is no way he could have
accomplished such a remarkable piece of singing.

Diminuendo, or Smorzando as it is also known, is different from mezza
voce. The latter consists of the tone concentrated like the rest of
the voice in the mask but using, as the term implies, only half the
strength of the voice.

Piano and pianissimo are terms used to describe the intensity of the
tone produced whether singing full voice or mezza voce.

Mamma mia che vo sape’ is a good example of mezza voce, as is the end
of Golden Days as Derek pointed out. Mezza voce is not to be confused
with crooning which, as the term suggests, is the way pop singers
produce the voice and is the opposite of singing in the mask. An
example of crooning is Lanza’s Torna a Surriento in The Great Caruso.

I hope the above is reasonably clear.

You’ll find other examples of crooning as opposed to mezza voce in
Discussions, under the heading Discussion on Vocal -Placement.

On Oct 25, 4:31 am, a...@ruc.dk wrote:
> I have a question about the term ‘mezza voce’. I am not quite sure if
> I understand it correctly. I first heard of ‘mezza voce’ in connection
> to Di Stefano’s awesome ‘Salut’, and when I asked my mom about the
> term, she told me that it meant ‘half voice’, which is very evident in
> Di Stefano’s rendition, as he literally goes from full voice to a half
> one (stunning!).
> My question is now: what is the difference between ‘mezza voce’,
> ‘piano’ (soft singing) and ‘pianissimo’ (which I guess will be twice
> as soft)?

> Derek, you mentioned that Mario did a ‘mezza voce’ in the 1949 ‘Mamma

> > > > Getting back to Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape? - which was mentioned in
> > > > passing a few posts back - of the many Lanza versions in existence,
> > > > the two I love unreservedly are the 1949 commercial take and the 1948
> > > > rendition from the soundtrack of That Midnight Kiss. As I wrote
> > > > earlier, the 1949 version is the definitive one for me, though the
> > > > softer 1948 rendition (with Mario's coach Spadoni on the piano!) comes
> > > > close. The 1949 version is the perfect combination of tenderness and
> > > > power - from his use of some of the most beguiling mezza voce

> > > > imaginable (especially on "e nun pňzzo arrepusá"!) to the brilliant


> > > > ending. Lanza's phrasing is immaculate, his vocal registers are
> > > > seamless: this is a man in complete control.
>
> > > > But don't take my word for it if you haven't heard this rendition (or
> > > > the 1948 version). They're both available here (for a limited
> > > > time :-)):
>
> > > >http://mariolanza.4shared.com/
>
> > > > And here - to sing along with again - are the lyrics:
>
> > > > Quanno 'a notte se ne scenne
> > > > p'abbruciá chist'uocchie stanche,
> > > > quann'io veglio e tu mme manche...
> > > > sento 'a smánia 'e te vasá!
> > > > E te chiammo e schiara juorno,

> > > > ma č pe' ll'ate stu chiarore...


> > > > tengo 'a notte dint''o core

> > > > e nun pňzzo arrepusá...


>
> > > > Ah, nun mme fá murí!...
> > > > tu che ne vuó' da me?

> > > > Mamma mia mme včne a dí pecché
> > > > chesta smánia nun mme vň' lassá...


> > > > Ah, nun mme fá murí...
> > > > Tu che ne vuó' da me?

> > > > Mamma mia che vň' sapé?


> > > > Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá?
> > > > Nun mme fido d''a vasá...
> > > > Mamma mia ch'ha da appurá! x 2
>
> > > > When night descends,
> > > > to close these eyes of mine.
> > > > When I awake and miss you,
> > > > I feel restless as I yearn to kiss you.
> > > > And I call you and daylight comes,
> > > > but this daylight belongs to someone else.
> > > > Because I am carying the night in my heart and I cannot sleep.
> > > > Oh! don't let me die! what do you want from me?
> > > > My Mother, come and tell me why.
> > > > Why doesn't this restlessness leave me?
> > > > Oh! don't let me die, what do you want from me?
> > > > Mother, what do you want to know?
> > > > My Mother has to know
> > > > I have no courage to kiss!

Derek McGovern

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:13:08 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Ann-Mai

Thanks for the link to Giuseppe's Salut Demeure: I've just listened to
it, and it's magnificent!

And here's a link for you too:

http://www.4shared.com/file/27376717/4597f883/The_Bayou_Lullaby__1950__-_Lanza.html

This is the Bayou Lullaby we were talking about. The song's nothing
special, but the contrast between Mario's soft and loud pedals is
quite startling - especially in the second half. Hope you like the
falsetto note at the end!

Oh, and thanks for introducing yourself on the Members profiles! Much
appreciated.

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
Oct 25, 2007, 1:30:08 PM10/25/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Derek, thank you for the Bayou Lullaby, indeed it is a beautiful
falsetto Mario does in this version.

Armando, thank you for a very good and understandable explanation on
the different terms.
I also read your piece on voice placement, and it is very enlightening
and interesting. I don't now much about singing technique. I have
always just listened to music with heart and intuition, but lately I
have realized how exciting it is also to know what singers are doing
technical. So, I really enjoy learning more about it.
Oh, I also read your bio on Mario last January. Great book! It was so
gripping, I read it in 1½ day - I just couldn't put it down. :-)
But now I'm way off the original topic of this thread, so I'd better
stop now.
Ann-Mai


On 25 Okt., 08:47, Derek McGovern <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Ann-Mai
>

> Thanks for the link to Giuseppe's Salut Demeure: I've just listened to
> it, and it's magnificent!
>
> And here's a link for you too:
>

> http://www.4shared.com/file/27376717/4597f883/The_Bayou_Lullaby__1950...


>
> This is the Bayou Lullaby we were talking about. The song's nothing
> special, but the contrast between Mario's soft and loud pedals is
> quite startling - especially in the second half. Hope you like the
> falsetto note at the end!
>
> Oh, and thanks for introducing yourself on the Members profiles! Much
> appreciated.
>

> On Oct 25, 11:19 am, a...@ruc.dk wrote:
>
>
>
> > Hi Derek, thank you for a very fine explanation. It makes perfect
> > sense.
> > It was from Youtube I got the impression that Di Stefano did a mezza
> > voce in his 1950 'Salut', but they could of cause have been wrong. If

> > you haven't heard it, permit me to post the link to it here - it is a
> > 'must hear'. :-)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9uRMplmuqA


>
> > No, I don't think I have heard Mario's commercial version of 'Bayou
> > Lullaby', I only know the one from TONO. But the 'Golden Days' I know

> > - one of my all time favourite Mario song.
> > Ann-Mai- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 25, 2007, 3:21:26 PM10/25/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
I'd like to return to my favourite among all of Lanza's Neapolitan
song recordings: Voce 'e Notte. (Muriella's already shared some of her
thoughts on this in a delightful post earlier in this thread, but I'm
sure she hasn't exhausted the subject!) Like the MGM version of the
Student Prince Serenade, to me this rendition is one of those magical
moments from Mario's recording career in which everything came
together - conductor, arranger, recording engineer and, above all,
Lanza himself in top vocal & interpretive form - to create a little
piece of perfection. Yes - as with the Serenade - we probably could
have done without the choir (which actually infuriated a Lanza-loving
friend of mine to the extent that he couldn't listen to the
recording!), but Morricone's minimalist arrangement is just so right
in every other respect that it seems unfair to quibble over such a
minor thing.

Lanza sings only two verses of the song. This is a wise choice: I've
always felt that singing all three verses of any Neapolitan song is
overkill. But whereas many singers will simply approach each verse in
the same way, Lanza sings them both differently. There's a heightened
sense of anguish as he begins the second verse, and he builds this
despair to one of his most devastating climaxes. Perhaps the most
impressive thing about this recording is that although Lanza literally
*becomes* the character whose story he is telling, he never loses
vocal control. It's a masterful balancing act!

Here are the words, folks, and if you haven't already heard this
recording, a gentleman by the name of Alfredo Cocozza has made it
available here:

http://mariolanza.4shared.com/

I look forward to your comments!


Voce 'e Notte (Russo-De Curtis)
Voice in the night

Si 'sta voce te sceta 'int'a nuttata,


If this voice wakes you in the night

Mentre t'astringe 'o sposo tuio vicino,
While the man at your side is holding you
Statte scetata, si vuo sta scetata,
Stay awake if you want to stay awake
Ma fa vede ca duorme a suonno chino.
But pretend that you're fast asleep.

Nun gghi vicino'e llastre pe' ffa' spia,


Don't go to the window to see who's there

Pecche nun puo sbaglia: 'sta voce e'e mia...
Because you can't mistake it - that voice is mine...
E'a stessa voce 'e quanno tutt'e dduie


The same voice as when we both

Scurnuse, nce parlavamo c'o "vvuie".
Were strangers, both so formal.

Si 'sta voce, che chiagn'int' `a nuttata
If this voice crying into the night
Te sceta'o sposo, nun ave paura,
Wakes your man, don't be afraid
Vide ch'e senza nomme'a sserenata...
Because there are no names in my serenade...


Dille ca dorme e ca se rassicura...

Tell him to sleep, that everything's all right.

Dille accussi: "Chi canta 'inta 'sta via
Tell him: "Whoever is singing down in the street
O sarra pazzo o more'e ggelusia
Is either crazy or dying of jealousy
Starra chiagneno quacce `nfamita
He's probably crying over some betrayal,


Canta isso sulo. Ma che canta a ffa?"

He sings alone. But what's he singing for?"

> > > > Mamma Mia, Che Vo' Sape?

> > > > This may surprise a few of you, but I've never felt that Mario did
> > > > Marechiare anything like full justice - even though he regularly sang
> > > > it in his concerts. (In fact, his Albert Hall version is the worst of
> > > > all his renditions of this song!) I like both his 1951 commercial
> > > > version & the partial take for The Great Caruso soundtrack, but
> > > > neither is what I'd call a definitive rendition.
>
> > > > And O Sole Mio is what I'd call a near miss. Mario sings it
> > > > thrillingly in his 1949 commercial version (though with not a hint of
> > > > tenderness!), and much more appropriately & suavely in his beautiful
> > > > 1958 version (if only he'd sung more than one verse, though!), but
> > > > even in the latter - to me, at least - he doesn't *quite* make it his
> > > > own.
>
> > > > Ah, but Mamma mia, Che Vo' Sape is another story! Again, he sang it
> > > > regularly, and of all the versions we have (quite a few if you include
> > > > the various radio show renditions in the 1940s), the 1949 commercial
> > > > take is the obvious standout for me. (I also like Mario's softer
> > > > version with piano for the soundtrack of That Midnight Kiss.) This is
> > > > one Neapolitan song that I've never heard anyone else sing better.
>
> > > > But what of the other Neapolitan songs that he recorded? My personal
> > > > favourites are well known to most of you, so I think I'll open up the
> > > > floor now and ask for your opinions...
>
> > > > (Don't forget, by the way, that lyrics and translations for most of
> > > > the Mario! album songs are now available in our Pages section.)
>

> > > > May the great Neapolitan song debate begin!- Hide quoted text -
>
> > - Show quoted text -- Hide quoted text -

Joe Fagan

unread,
Oct 25, 2007, 3:38:39 PM10/25/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Sometimes it is difficult to believe that *THIS* is the same man that
recorded Lanza On Broadway .From heaven to hell!

What would you guess were the biggest reasons for the (thankfully,
infrequent) Mario "bombs": poor health, alcohol, depression , lack of money
forcing a recording with NO preparation, maybe a little of all the above?
The biggest mystery of all to me is WHY an agent, friend or somebody allowed
the" bombs" to reach the public!

Derek McGovern

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Oct 25, 2007, 4:50:56 PM10/25/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Joe: Yes, it's almost inconceivable that the Lanza of Voce 'e Notte
is the same singer as the one heard on the Lanza on Broadway album of
just two and a half years earlier. (And to those of our members who
aren't unfamiliar with the Broadway album, this was a collection of 12
songs that Lanza recorded over three sessions in May 1956. Although
there are hints of his old vocal self on three of the songs, the
remaining nine numbers are so bad that it's impossible to understand
RCA's reasons for releasing them. Happily, though, Lanza returned to
vocal splendour just three months later with his Cavalcade of Show
Tunes album - an extraordinary turnaround.)

How could the Mario! (Neapolitan album) and Lanza on Broadway be so
different? Well, for a start, on the former Lanza was surrounded by
all the right people: conductor Ferrara, arrangers Morricone and
Savina, etc. He was also working with excellent vocal coaches in Rome,
and he was living in an environment in which he loved. A very musical
environment. All of these factors would have helped to put him in the
right frame of mind, artistically speaking.

Contrast this with the circumstances of the Broadway album. In May
1956, his comeback film Serenade had been released the previous month
to some very nasty reviews from the likes of Time and Newsweek.
(Remember those comments about him looking like "a colossal ravioli
set on toothpicks"? So much for Time's journalistic standards.) He may
have sensed that Serenade was not going to be the commercial success
he had hoped for - and desperately needed. I'm sure he was depressed,
and he was obviously drinking heavily at the time. (Terry Robinson,
however, once told me that Lanza was not drunk during the actual
sessions.) His film career was seemingly over, and he was in financial
difficulty. Who wouldn't be depressed? Towering over everything, he
knew that he wasting his talent by not returning to the operatic
stage. But he was scarcely in the right frame of mind to contemplate
that.

So that was his mood in May 1956. And when you add to this equation an
incompetent conductor like Irving Aaronson, it's little wonder that
Lanza on Broadway turned out to be a disaster!

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
Oct 25, 2007, 7:33:37 PM10/25/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Derek. 'Voce e notte' is truly a masterpiece and Mario certainly
does build up an emotion full of despair and anguish in this song. He
sings with 'tears' in his voice.
The song is somehow filled with a phenomenon the old Greeks called
'catharsis' (sp?). Empathizing with a tragic character in a play/story
cleanses your soul, the Greeks said, and there certainly is some truth
to it, I think.
At times I avoid these Neapolitan songs, because some of them are just
too sad for me. I often feel a little down after hearing them. But
actually, despite the sadness, I find that listening to them also
gives some strange kind of comfort - this I presume would be the
'catharsis' the Greeks were talking about.
'Catharsis' can be found in a good opera too, but seldom with such
compressed depth of suffering as in some of these Neapolitan songs and
especially this one. It is wonderful and at the same time almost
unbearable.
Ann-Mai

> ...
>
> læs mere »- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

Derek McGovern

unread,
Oct 25, 2007, 10:19:23 PM10/25/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ann-Mai: I know what you mean about some of these recordings being
"almost unbearable" to listen to - especially if one is in a
susceptible mood. It's very difficult to listen to something like Voce
'e Notte and not be drawn into it. Some people find these songs
"wonderfully" draining, both physically and emotionally; in fact, one
acquaintance of mine - a newcomer to Lanza at the tme - felt that he
was almost breathing with Mario on this song!! And that's the
difference between Lanza's renditions of these songs (especially on
the Mario! album) and, say, Pavarotti's. With Pav, I'm detached from
the story, and I'm certainly not living it with him - for the simple
reason that *he*'s not living it either. At least, not in a way that
touches or reaches me - and surely that's what great singing should be
all about?

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:13:30 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Derek, you are right; it does depend on how susceptible one is when
listening. Sometimes I'm more influenced than other times. But the
main thing for me too, is that a performance moves me somehow. Which
particular feeling it awakes matters less, whether it is happiness,
sadness or whatever - as long as I'm touched, it counts for more in my
book than any impressive technique, whether it is sung 'correctly' or
not, and sometimes even whether the pronunciation is good or bad. Of
cause if all of it is fulfilled it is absolutely fantastic, but I
don't see it as a crucial necessity for a rendition to be treasured.

Ann-Mai


am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:13:46 PM5/13/14
to
Hi, I have just listened to 'Santa Lucia luntana' again, and I find
myself totally smitten by the way Mario sings this song. Am I right in
presuming the song is about the love for Naples?
Anyway, the way Mario 'slides' from line to line is awesome, it has a
very special effect, as in the line 'Santa Lucia, luntano 'a te quanta
malincunia!' - just great, and then his little giggle...lol.. I also
like the way he sings 'cantano a buordo e so' napulitane!' in the
first verse. His beautiful underling of the last words in the line 'ma
cchiù luntana staie, cchiù bella pare!' I think has already been
mentioned, but it's worth a repeat. As only Mario could do it. He
undeniably had a unique gift for wording. This song will definitely
count as one of my favourites too.
The more I listen to this album, the more I cherish it. It just keeps
getting better for each time.

Ann-Mai

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 1, 2007, 12:07:26 AM11/1/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Ann-Mai: I'm glad you brought up Lanza's 1958 Santa Lucia Luntana.
Yes, the song is about the love for Naples that Neapolitans who are
far from home invariably feel. (The lyrics and translation are in our
Pages section.)

As a 15-year-old hearing this for the first time, Santa Lucia Luntana
was actually the song I initially loved most on the Mario! album. It
was a combination of the perfect arrangement (so suggestive of waves
gently rocking the ship at the beginning) and Lanza's endearing
phrasing - not to mention that chuckle! - that somehow made me "see"
the moonlit Bay of Naples glimmering as the boat left Santa Lucia. How
different this arrangement is from the ghastly Coke one of six and a
half years earlier!

I'll be back to discuss this one when I have more time. Meanwhile I'm
sure Muriella will have a few thoughts of her own to share with you
all! I know this is one of her favourite recordings.

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 1, 2007, 3:11:44 PM11/1/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Santa Lucia Luntana
by E.A. Mario (1884-1961) Composed 1919

Santa Lucia Far Away

Partono 'e bastimente
The boats are leaving
p' 'e terre assaje luntane,
For far away lands


cantano a buordo e so' napulitane!

On board they sing, "I'm a Neapolitan!"
Cantano pe' tramente
They sing while in the sunset
'o golfo già scompare,
the bay disappears,
e 'a luna, 'a miez' 'o mare,
and as the half-moon of the sea
'nu poco 'e Napule lle fa vede'.
still reveals a little of Naples.

Santa Lucia,
Santa Lucia


luntano 'a te quanta malincunia!

How sad it is to be so far from you!
Se gira 'o munno sano,
One circles the world
se va a cerca' furtuna,
One seeks one's fortune
ma quanno sponta 'a luna
But when the moon rises
luntano a Napule
Far from Naples
nun se po' sta!
One cannot stay away!

Santa Lucia tu tiene
Santa Lucia, yours is
solo 'nu poco 'e mare,
Only a little sea,


ma cchiù luntana staie, cchiù bella pare!

But the longer I stay away, the more beautiful you are!
È 'o canto d' 'e Ssirene
It is like the song of the sirens
ca tesse ancora 'e rezze,
That are still casting their net
core, nun vo' ricchezze:
My heart doesn't want riches:
si è nato a Napule
If it was born in Naples,
ce vo' muri'!
it wants to die there!

Santa Lucia,
Santa Lucia


luntano 'a te quanta malincunia!

How sad it is to be so far from you!
Se gira 'o munno sano,
One circles the world
se va a cerca' furtuna,
One seeks one's fortune
ma quanno sponta 'a luna
But when the moon rises
luntano a Napule
Far from Naples
nun se po' sta!
One cannot stay away!

Reproducing the lyrics to this melancholic gem of a song just now, I
was reminded of the fact that even though the song was almost 40 years
old when Lanza recorded it in 1958, its composer (E.A. Mario - there's
a coincidence!) was still alive at the time - indeed, he outlived
Mario by a couple of years. So he would almost certainly have heard
this recording.

While I'm pretty confident that E.A. Mario would have liked Ennio
Morricone's shimmering arrangement, I doubt that he would have
approved of the Coke version! You can compare them both here:

http://mariolanza.4shared.com/

Perhaps "ghastly" was a slight exaggeration on my part in describing
the Coke arrangement, but it's still a very ordinary, uninspiring
effort. Incidentally, Mario's performance here is not the version
featured on the CD Don't Forget Me; it's the somewhat superior
unreleased broadcast take. But it's still a long way from the 1958
performance. What a difference six years (and a decent arranger &
conductor) can make!

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
Nov 1, 2007, 5:08:49 PM11/1/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Derek
Thanks for uploading both the 1952 and 1958 version. Without any doubt
the 1958 is by far the superior one, but the 1952 version is not
without its charm. It is more young-Mario-like, which I also enjoy
very much - but of cause, like you said, very different from the later
and obviously more mature 1958 version. However, if we didn't have the
1958 version, I would have been more than happy with the 1952. :-))

Ann-Mai

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 15, 2007, 4:51:14 PM11/15/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
I'd like to discuss another one of my favourite Neapolitan songs: Senza Nisciuno.

What a demanding piece this is to sing! The late conductor-arranger Christopher Palmer, in his notes to Jose' Carreras' s 1993 tribute to Lanza CD, sums it up very well:

"[Its] style is more that of an operatic aria than of an Italian popular song - in fact, if asked out of the blue to identify the composer, most of us would probably opt for Leoncavallo or one of his contemporaries. It is a tragic scene: at midnight, utterly alone ("senza nisciuno") the singer makes the sign of the cross and thinks of his mother. "Does my torment not trouble you? Your death pains me so much."

Very melodramatic indeed! And not surprisingly, Lanza doesn't disappoint on his 1959 rendition from the Caruso Favorites album. To me, this is one of his most compelling performances of a Neapolitan song. He could easily have gone over the top here (as he does - predictably! - on his Coke Show version), but instead he's quite restrained - and the impact of the song is all the greater for it. I love the brooding quality of the opening lines - I always picture the singer in a graveyard here - and Lanza's quieter approach on the first verse, as he saves his full anguish for the second verse and that final cry of despair. Very intelligent singing, coupled with a beautiful sense of line.

Vocally he's in very good form here too - almost on a par with the best moments on the Mario! album of six months earlier. As Mike McAdam points out in his excellent "Musings" essay in our Pages section, the only hint of Lanza's health problems comes at the end of the song, when there's a slight effort as he sustains the end of the line "Tu morta si'". But it's barely perceptible. Elsewhere in the song, his high notes ring out magnificently ("Che malasciorte, ahimé!") - much more impressively, in fact, than they do on the earlier Coke performance. Of the Coke version, incidentally, it's been said that Mario adopts an almost Ferruccio Tagliavini-approach with his use of soft pedal here.

Anyway, that's my quick opinion on Lanza's two Senza Nisciunos. I'd be very interesting in knowing what the rest of you think!

Both performances are available here, though from memory there's a bit of "skipping" on the unreleased Coke version:

http://mariolanza.4shared.com/

And here are the words:

Senza Nisciuno (Without Anyone)

Tramonta 'o sole, vintiquatt'ore...
The sun sets, twenty-four hours…

Sona 'ave mmaria...
The Ave Maria sounds

Senza parole
Without words

mme faccio 'a croce
I cross myself

e penzo a mamma mia...
And think of my mother…

Che malasciorte, ahimé!
What misfortune, ah!

Sulo,
Alone

senza nisciuno...
Without anyone…

e tu...
And you…

tu morta si' pe' me...
you are dead because of me…

tu morta si' pe' me!
You are dead because of me!

E tu addó' staje?
And where are you?

Tu ride e si' felice
Are you laughing and are you happy

o si' scuntenta?
Or are you unhappy?

Nun chiagne maje?
Do you ever cry?

E stu turmiento
And does this torment of mine

nun te turmenta?
not torment you?

Che malasciorte, ahimé!
What misfortune, ah!

Sulo,
Alone
senza nisciuno...
Without anyone…
e tu...
And you…
tu morta si' pe' me...
you are dead because of me…
tu morta si' pe' me!
You are dead because of me!

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:14:12 PM5/13/14
to
Derek, I too think Mario's more restraint singing in the 1959 version
has a certain appeal to it. It somehow gives the song more depth and
expresses a more subtle kind of despair, which strangely enough leaves
one with a more profound feeling of irreversible loss than the more
unreserved and perhaps a bit 'overly done' Coke version. It is
actually quite interesting that 'less' is sometimes more.
It is almost like he is expressing two different sentiments in these
two renditions. In the 1959 he sounds kind of 'defeated' by his
sorrow, as if he has already given up, whereas the more outgoing
emotional expression in the Coke version sounds like his is still
'fighting'.
I don't know, I kind of like both of them, in their own different
ways.
Just my instant thoughts...

Ann-Mai

Joel

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:14:29 PM5/13/14
to
Derek: This is a great song and one of my favorites on the Caruso Fav
album. Mario's voice is much more operatic than his
CC recording. I love what he does with "Che malasciorte, ahimé!" on
the second verse. Great stuff! One question I do have,
the recording of Senza Niscuino I have from the CC show is sung a half
step higher. The Si on "tu morta si' " is an A natural
as opposed to the A flat on the Caruso Fav album. I've heard you
mention some of the non commercial recordings being at the
wrong speed, therefore affecting the pitch.

Derek McGovern

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:14:55 PM5/13/14
to
Hi Joel: Yes, Lanza is definitely much more operatic in his approach
on the 1959 version, and I feel that stylistically he's exactly right
here as well. He knows there's no need for unnecessary histrionics.
Let's face it: with a song as intense as this, the chances of falling
over the edge into bathos are very high indeed - and Lanza skillfully
avoids them.

The sweetness of his timbre is very appealing on the Coke version -
quite ravishing, in fact - but overall I find his delivery
over-wrought and the style sloppy. In a couple of places, his singing
verges on being a caricature of the archetypal sobby Italian tenor. He
also holds on too long to the "si" on "Tu morta si" to the point where
it becomes more about showing off his breath control than telling the
story. But even so, I'd still have to say that this is one of Mario's
better Coke Show renditions of a Neapolitan song, especially when
compared with something like his Canta Pe' Me (which should never have
been released!)

It's quite possible that the Coke version was sung a semitone higher.
I'd need to check for sure on a piano, but given the Coke arrangers'
love of transposing upwards on so many of Mario's numbers, it's a
fairly safe bet that the climactic note really was an A. (In fact,
that's quite low for a Coke song! :-))

Muriel

unread,
May 13, 2014, 8:15:29 PM5/13/14
to
Senza Nisciuno


First of all, let me preface this little commentary on Senza Nisciuno
by saying its mood fits mine today perfectly. For the last several
days, I've felt like the dredges of the earth and wanted nothing more
than to bury my poor aching head deep in a down comforter and go far
away from reality. Unfortunately, reality doesn't go away: I needed
some hot tea, the homemade chicken soup I made last week, pain
medication and other items to treat all my other symptoms. Problem?
There was "no one" around when I needed these things. I would get up
and get one thing and then I'd think of something else and drag myself
out of my newly found asylum to recover the next miracle cure
commodity. The last straw was finding the empty soup container in the
kitchen sink (along with other unwashed bowls, etc.). It just sat
there staring back at me and my heart fell to my feet. So - "senza
nisciuno" I know very well...

Thank you, Derek for starting this discussion. I listened to Mario's
CC recording as well as his Caruso Favs one. As I had Caruso's CD
handy from the L'Alba thread, I gave his version a whirl too.

Right away I hear the separate approaches by Mario. In 1952, Mario
sang it as he "thought" a song like this should sound, but by 1959, he
"knew" its true essence and he sang it with the proper attention to
its lyrics and tone.  As best as I can figure the "story", this man
hears the Ave Maria and thinks of his departed mother. But - the
person he is addressing is a lost love, and he can only deal with such
a great loss by imagining her as dead. He wonders if she has an
inkling of his torment, wherever she is or whatever she's doing. He's
alone and it's getting the best of him.

The CC song is a show: Mario is full of himself. He's very into
pronouncing "r"s, as in "turrrmiento" and "turrrmenta". I had to
chuckle hearing "malasciorte" in the second verse as he gets somewhat
tied up in it. Listen for it, but he does a nice mezza in the
following word, "ahime!" (in the first verse). There's a bit too much
"cry" in the last two lines, "tu morta si' pe me".  He holds onto
"si'" for over 6 seconds. (I was using a stopwatch for something else
and had it handy.) In the Caruso Favs, he holds it for about 5 1/2, tops
- not a big deal, but I was curious.  For most of the song, Mario
sounds like he's riding without a saddle and the horse is somewhat
disturbed by it. However,  it's clear he has no intention of being
thrown off.

What a lovely change I hear in 1959. As Derek says, he imagines him in
a graveyard and that's an excellent idea. If this were an aria, I'd
see him off to the side of the stage, by himself, singing of his
dilemma with the lights lowered, making him more of a shadowy,
dispirited figure.

What I find present in his last recording is the charming vibrato, all
the more gratifying because of, as Derek put it, a beautiful sense of
line. I am delighted, and it makes him sound less tired (to me) all
throughout this song. I know Michael thought he showed it at the end
of the song, but, to my ears, "pe' me" is sustained quite well. He
takes a short breath before that, but it's because he has held onto
"si" longer and needed a boost. Mario commonly inserted a vowel sound
before words, perhaps to help him get into it and he does that here.
Do you know what I mean? The one place I'd point out a sense of
fatigue is "Che malasciorte, ahime!" in the first verse. In the second
verse, he's right on the money.   Pay attention to the two "e tu..."s
after "senza nisciuno" and you will love the vibrato - very sweet.  I
also love his crescendo and following dimuendo here: "o si' scuntenta?
Nun chiagne maje? (up) and ""E stu turmiento nun te
turmenta?" (down).  I agree that Mario is in good vocal form. As you
listen to the lines, he doesn't falter on any phrasing or sound raspy
(as in L'Alba). I would say "bravo!" to him for this performance!

As for Caruso's recording, I have to say it was fine. He sang slowly
and I think I enjoy that more from him. Sometimes when he races along
too quickly, I imagine his tongue getting all twisted up in his mouth!
I like the way he sustains the "e tu" in the last verse, although I
hear it as "toe". One thing I found interesting is that he begins to
lift to a higher note on the "a" in "morta", while Mario doesn't go up
until "si". Caruso's crescendo and dimuendo are also present where I
noted when describing Mario's take, but not as noticeable.

I've now run out of steam and I hope I haven't confused anyone.

Bella sera from Muriel (Time for another pill and one last cup of
tea.)

Muriel

unread,
Nov 15, 2007, 10:54:19 PM11/15/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
One correction: I said Mario inserted a vowel sound at times, but, on
second thought, it has more of an "h" sound - maybe a quick "heh". At
any rate, it is an almost quirky thing....listen and give me your
ideas. In the last line, it is between "si'" and "pe' me".

(Am I delirious and hearing things?) M........
> On Nov 15, 10:05 pm, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com>
> > > > The sun sets, twenty-four hours...
>
> > > > Sona 'ave mmaria...
> > > > The Ave Maria sounds
>
> > > > Senza parole
> > > > Without words
>
> > > > mme faccio 'a croce
> > > > I cross myself
>
> > > > e penzo a mamma mia...
> > > > And think of my mother...
>
> > > > Che malasciorte, ahimé!
> > > > What misfortune, ah!
>
> > > > Sulo,
> > > > Alone
>
> > > > senza nisciuno...
> > > > Without anyone...
>
> > > > e tu...
> > > > And you...
>
> > > > tu morta si' pe' me...
>
> ...
>
> read more >>- Hide quoted text -

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
Nov 16, 2007, 7:55:11 AM11/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Derek, your description of the Coke version as sometimes tending a
"caricature of the archetypal sobby Italian tenor" was in my thoughts
too, I just didn't dare say it. lol

Muriel: First of all, I hope you get well soon!
I really enjoy your posts; you notice some very interesting things.
I loved your picture of Mario riding a horse without a saddle, in the
Coke rendition - it made me laugh.
I didn't notice his vibrato in the 1959 before you pointed it out. But
there it is, and quite sweet too, like you said. In general he didn't
have much vibrato did he? I mean compared to others?
Insertions of an 'h' sound, isn't it quite common? I believe I have
heard it in other renditions as well, but in this case between "si'"
and "pe' me" I don't quite hear it. But I believe I hear an extra 'h'
in 'ahimé (heh)!'

Ann-Mai

Muriel

unread,
Nov 16, 2007, 10:08:30 AM11/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Ann-Mai

I'm glad you found Mario's vibrato! He definitely had one, but it was
always beautifully contained - never a source of distraction as in
some other singers. It added to the listening pleasure, never taking
away from it. He actually had a fast vibrato early on as you can hear
in the recordings he did for his parents when he was nineteen years
old.

As for the "h" sound, I've noticed it many times. If you have the When
Day Is Done CD, listen to these songs: When You're In Love - on the
line "(h)and then each day will be like spring...."and also, Tell Me
Tonight - "So speak, (h)or never again...." These are examples that
come to mind at the moment. Perhaps you can hear this in other songs?

When I wrote about Mario riding a horse, I didn't mean rushing at full
gallop across an open field, but rather, doing an exercise in the
paddock. He doesn't race through the song, but he's manifesting a
determination - perhaps trying to teach the horse a new trick or
maneuver and the horse isn't sure he wants to learn it! There is a
small struggle going on, and Mario's reading of Senza reminds me of
that idea. The song requires more of a patient delivery, but Mario
isn't ready to address it that way. I don't know where I get these
ideas - just my brain works its own way...

Thanks, I'm past the worst of my malady. I don't often get sick, but
am used to taking care of others (as a mother and grandmother, I get
lots of practice). I was feeling a little sorry for myself as it is
nice to be pampered once in a great while...

Ciao da Muriella !!!

am...@ruc.dk

unread,
Nov 16, 2007, 1:23:38 PM11/16/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
Hi Muriel.
Yes, those 'h' lines you mentioned I know very well - good examples.
About the horse analogy: I'm sorry, I got the wrong picture! Now, I
see what you meant.
I am glad to hear you are feeling better. Take good care of
yourself. :-)

Ann-Mai
> > - Show quoted text -- Skjul tekst i anførselstegn -

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 17, 2007, 7:51:12 PM11/17/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Muriella: I loved your detailed post on Senza Nisciuno. Yes, I
agree about Mario getting tangled up with "malasciorte" on the second
verse of the Coke version, as well as some of his other theatrics :-)
Great analogy about him riding a horse without a saddle!

I was interested that you thought he sounded tired on the first "Che
malasciorte ahime". I don't really hear that. To my ears, he's more
*subdued* here than he is the second time he sings this line, but I
think this was deliberate: my hunch is that he decided to save his
vocal fireworks for the second half of the song so that it doesn't
peak too early. After all, the first half is sung more in sorrow than
in bitterness, so it seems right to me that "che malasciorte" should
stand out more in the second (and angrier) half. Of course, I could be
wrong! But either way, the second "che malasciorte" - as you and Joel
have both mentioned - is brilliant.

As for his "heh" between "tu morta si" and "pe' me", yes, I've always
noticed that. The one that tickles me the most is his
"Romance...h'Romance" on the song of the same name. Inimitable!

Armando

unread,
Nov 17, 2007, 8:37:06 PM11/17/07
to Mario Lanza, tenor
It's no contest between the 1952 and 1959 Senza Nisciuno. The latter
is vastly superior in every way. As Derek pointed out, there's a
slight unsteadiness at the end, on 'tu morta si pe me,' but it's
inconsequential in the context of the total performance which,
musically, is light years ahead of the uneven, undisciplined, earlier
effort.

Caruso's version is fine, although I don't really care for the
interpolated high notes, which I assume are not in the score (I don't
have the music) as no-one else sings them.



On Nov 18, 11:51 am, "Derek McGovern" <derek.mcgov...@gmail.com>
wrote:

Derek McGovern

unread,
Nov 18, 2007, 7:57:54 PM11/18/07
to mario...@googlegroups.com
Hi Armando: Speaking of interpolated high notes on Neapolitan songs,
do you know if the high A (?) on "Voglio a te" in the chorus of Tu Ca
Nun Chiagne is meant to be taken after each verse or only at the end?
I notice that both Caruso and Lanza (though only on his Coke Show
version) do the former. But to me, it makes much more sense to save
the note until the end.

Armando

unread,
Nov 19, 2007, 6:40:58 PM11/19/07