Tag Archives: Italian music

The San Remo Music Festival
by Mario Fusco

Serena Italiana CD

Serenata Italiana

The most important musical exhibition in Italy is the San Remo Music Festival, known to Italians simply as “il festival”. This is a yearly event in which previously unreleased songs compete. It was launched in the pre-television days of 1951, and has been held without interruptions since that time. Today, of course, it is a major event on RAI1.

San Remo is a little town on the Italian Riviera (Riviera di Ponente), not far from the French border. It is renowned for its flower industry and is a sought-after tourist destination. Notable people from Alfred Nobel to Italo Calvino to well-known members of European nobility have vacationed in San Remo.

Passione

Toto'

Toto’

I am obliged to comment on Passione, the film by John Turturro about Naples and Neapolitan songs.  Too many people have mentioned it to me; it cannot go unheeded on this blog.  So, as a native son, what do I think of it?

First off let me be clear about the fact that I have NOT seen the film.  I have only watched some excerpts on youTube, a total of a couple of songs.  My comments therefore are limited to this thin sample and not to the work as a whole.  I suppose that I will see it sometime soon, and I may write a full review then.  But these are the impressions that I gleaned from my experience so far.

Neapolitan songs, the BEST Neapolitan songs (for the poor ones are legion!), are distinguished by a particular pathos, a peculiar blend of fatalism, vivacity, passion, and strength.  They are vigorous without being violent, they are passionate without being sentimental, they are universal without being abstract.  Successful interpreters, Murolo, Carosone, Rondinella, Arbore… have all been able to project this complex pathos, albeit through their different individual styles.  They have all been able to reach beyond the facile impulse of a superficial emotion to the deeper recesses of the souls of the listener, and all this is what has made the Neapolitan song famous all over the world.