Canzone Napoletana

Canzone napoletana (pronounced [kanˈtsoːne napoleˈtaːna]), sometimes referred to as Neapolitan song, is a generic term for a traditional form of music sung in the Neapolitan language, ordinarily for the male voice singing solo, although well represented by female soloists as well, and expressed in familiar genres such as the lover's complaint or the serenade. It consists of a large body of composed popular music—such songs as 'O Sole mio; Torna a Surriento; Funiculì, Funiculà; Santa Lucia and others.

The Neapolitan song became a formal institution in the 1830s due to an annual song-writing competition for the Festival of Piedigrotta, dedicated to the Madonna of Piedigrotta, a well-known church in the Mergellina area of Naples. The winner of the first festival was a song entitled Te voglio bene assaie; it is traditionally attributed to the prominent opera composer Gaetano Donizetti, although an article published in 1984 by Marcello Sorce Keller shows there is no historical evidence in support of the attribution.[1] The festival ran regularly until 1950, when it was abandoned. A subsequent Festival of Neapolitan Song on Italian state radio enjoyed some success in the 1950s but was eventually abandoned as well.

The period since 1950 has produced such songs as Malafemmena by Totò, Maruzzella by Renato Carosone, Indifferentemente by Mario Trevi and Carmela by Sergio Bruni. Although separated by some decades from the earlier classics of this genre, they have now become Neapolitan "classics" in their own right.


Many of the Neapolitan songs are world-famous because they were taken abroad by emigrants from Naples and southern Italy roughly between 1880 and 1920. The music was also popularized abroad by performers such as Enrico Caruso, who took to singing the popular music of his native city as encores at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in the early 1900s. Caruso is therefore responsible for the fact that operatic tenors since then have been required to know these songs. This has led to such recent phenomena as The Three Tenors - three opera singers performing, at least in part, popular songs from Naples. Although the music is sung by many non-Neapolitan singers, it is difficult to sing correctly without knowledge of the Neapolitan dialect, which is crucial in obtaining the correct inflection. Plácido Domingo, has recorded a full CD Italia ti amo of traditional and some more modern Neapolitan and Italian songs. Luciano Pavarotti recorded three albums of Neapolitan and Italian songs: The Best: Disc 2, (2005), Pavarotti Songbook, (1991), and Romantica, (2002). Mario Lanza recorded an acclaimed selection of 12 Neapolitan songs on his 1959 album, Mario! Lanza At His Best. Opera/Pop crossover tenor, Sergio Franchi recorded his very popular Billboard Top 25 RCA debut album, Romantic Italian Songs in 1962,[2] and continued to record Neapolitan songs on most of his albums throughout his career.[3] Andrea Bocelli recorded an album in 2009 dedicated to the style, entitled Incanto.

The most important native Neapolitan performers of Neapolitan songs in the last few decades include Bruno Venturinni, Roberto Murolo, Mario Trevi, Mario Abbate, Mario Merola, Giulietta Sacco, Franco Ricci and Sergio Bruni, Renato Carosone, and Mario Maglione. Murolo is known not only as a singer, but as a composer, scholar and collector of the music; his collection of twelve LPs, released in the 1960s, is an annotated compendium of Neapolitan song dating back to the twelfth century. Representatives of different veins, but nevertheless leading the continuing tradition of song in Neapolitan are the jazz-rock singer-songwriter Pino Daniele and the folkloric group Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare.[4]

An important factor in defining what makes a Neapolitan song is the matter of language. All these songs are written and performed in the Neapolitan language (Napolitano). The matter of dialect has not prevented a few non-Neapolitans from writing dialect versions of Neapolitan songs. The most famous example of this is 'A vucchella by Gabriele D'Annunzio.

List of songs

Noted figures

Recording artists


See also


  1. Sorce Keller, Marcello (1984). "Io te voglio bene assaje: A Famous Neapolitan Song Traditionally Attributed to Gaetano Donizetti". The Music Review. XLV (3-4): 251–264.
  2. Sergio franchi
  3. Sergio Franchi
  4. it:Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare

External links

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