Friday, September 2, 2011


I was looking for recordings of one of my favorite Neapolitan songs on Youtube (you can take the girl out of Napoli -- or at least her family -- etc., etc.), and, while I didn't find my favorite version, sung by the great Italian-American soprano Rosa Ponselle, I found some pretty worthy ones. It was a popular song for Italian opera singers in the first half of the twentieth century, but, though these two singers are not operatic, they sing in a truer Neapolitan style, with gorgeous, full-throated sincerity and quasi-Arabic melismas aplenty.  This is a lovely song; enjoy. Carmè is a nickname for the beautiful name Carmela.

Sleep, Carmè!
The loveliest thing in the world is to sleep and dream.
Dream of me;
If I could, I would fly with you to Paradise!

(Incidentally, this is not a folk song, though by now it's thought of as one; it is an art song.  The Neapolitan song repertoire with which we are familiar was conceived as upper-middle-class parlor music, and was first published in in the music journals that were popular in the 1880s and 1890s.  "Carmela" was written by the de Curtis brothers.)

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