Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Faniculi Fanicula

The lyrics of Faniculi Fanicula, written in the Neapolitan language, are a great guide to life. Freedom can prevail and we can be happy. I grew up in what was then largely an Italian neighborhood, Astoria, Queens (now Greek, Arab and eastern European). I was always bowled over by the Sicilian culture. The street fairs, the zeppolis, the fresh Italian bread from Parisi's, the pizza and Italian ices from Angelo's on Broadway.

Wikipedia writes about the song:

"'Funiculì, Funiculà' is a famous song written by Italian journalist Peppino Turco and set to music by Italian composer Luigi Denza in 1880. It was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius, which was destroyed by the eruption of 1944. It was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel in Castellammare di Stabia and met with huge success. It was presented by Turco and Denza at the Piedigrotta festival during the same year...Six years after Funiculì, Funiculà was composed, German composer Richard Strauss heard the song while on a tour of Italy. Thinking that it was a traditional Italian folk song, he later incorporated it into his Aus Italien symphony. Denza filed a lawsuit against Strauss and eventually won. Strauss was forced to pay him a royalty fee every time the Aus Italien was performed in public."

Notice that the singers are smiling, or suppressing smiles. See if you can stop yourself from crying for joy when you listen to it.

The above rendition by Andrea Bocelli is my favorite. The "traditional English lyrics" on Wikipedia are:

Some think the world is made for fun and frolic,
And so do I! And so do I!
Some think it well to be all melancholic,
To pine and sigh; to pine and sigh;
But I, I love to spend my time in singing,
Some joyous song, some joyous song,
To set the air with music bravely ringing
Is far from wrong! Is far from wrong!
Listen, listen, echoes sound afar!
Listen, listen, echoes sound afar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Echoes sound afar, funiculì, funiculà!

Ah me! 'tis strange that some should take to sighing,
And like it well! And like it well!
For me, I have not thought it worth the trying,
So cannot tell! So cannot tell!
With laugh, with dance and song the day soon passes
Full soon is gone, full soon is gone,
For mirth was made for joyous lads and lasses
To call their own! To call their own!
Listen, listen, hark the soft guitar!
Listen, listen, hark the soft guitar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Hark the soft guitar, funiculì, funiculà!

The below version, with Pavarotti, Aqua and a children's chorus is also very good but slightly marred by the other male singer:

Mario Lanza's take is of course magnificent:

There are many other wonderful versions. Dino Valle's is mindblowing:

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