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O sole mio

History

“O Sole Mio” is a popular Neapolitan song that has become an iconic representation of Italian culture.

In April 1898, in a place far from Naples, the city of Odessa, in Ukraine, Eduardo Di Capua found the inspiration to compose the notes of the masterpiece, sitting at his piano and inspired by the emotions aroused by the observation of the sun which rose from the window to the Black Sea.

Giovanni Capurro, journalist and editor of the cultural pages of the Rome of Naples newspaper, in 1898 wrote the verses of the song, entrusting the musical composition to Eduardo Di Capua.

At that time Di Capua was in Odessa, in the Russian Empire, with his father, a violinist in an orchestra. The music seems to have been inspired by a splendid sunrise over the Black Sea but, above all, by the  italian  noblewoman Anna Maria Vignati-Mazza, known as “Nina”, wife of Senator Giorgio Arcoleo and winner in Naples of the city’s first beauty contest .

Versions

The greatest interpretation probably remains that of Enrico Caruso who, in 1920, recorded it on a 78 rpm.

Since then, many have tried their hand at the Neapolitan song, all the great voice of the past , from Beniamino Gigli to Mario Del Monaco, and also the rockstar Elvis Presley, with the title of “It’s Now or Never”, derived from a previous recording by the actor and singer Tony Martin.  Presley’s record, released in September 1960, sold 10 millions copies. It has also been featured in various movies, such as the 1955 film “It’s Always Fair Weather” and the 1993 film “Philadelphia.”

Mentions

The Financial Times, the most famous Anglo-Saxon newspaper in the world, recently published an article entirely dedicated to “‘O Sole mio” on its website. The newspaper traces the story of the song from 1898, the year in which it was composed by Eduardo Capua, to today, showing how it is, in fact, the most sung song in the history of music. In fact, in 1915, a year before Caruso recorded it, there was already an English translation by Charles W Harrison, a famous tenor. Proust mentioned it in one of the volumes of “In Search of Lost Time”.

link https://www.ft.com/content/7c9e7874-1bad-11e7-a266-12672483791a

NEAPOLITAN TEXT

Che bella cosa na jurnata ‘e sole,
n’aria serena doppo na tempesta!
Pe’ ll’aria fresca pare gia’ na festa
Che bella cosa na jurnata ‘e sole.

Ma n’atu sole
cchiu’ bello, oi ne’.
‘O sole mio
sta ‘nfronte a te!
‘O sole, ‘o sole mio
sta ‘nfronte a te,
sta ‘nfronte a te!

Lùcene ‘e llastre d”a fenesta toia;
‘na lavannara canta e se ne vanta
e pe’ tramente torce, spanne e canta
lùcene ‘e llastre d’a fenesta toia.
 
Ma n’atu sole
cchiu’ bello, oi ne’.
‘O sole mio
sta ‘nfronte a te!

Quanno fa notte e ‘o sole se ne scenne,
me vene quase ‘na malincunia;
sotto ‘a fenesta toia restarria
quanno fa notte e ‘o sole se ne scenne.
 
Ma n’atu sole
cchiu’ bello, oi ne’.
‘O sole mio
sta ‘nfronte a te!

ENGLISH TEXT

What a beautiful thing
is a sunny day!
The air is serene
after a storm,
The air is so fresh
that it already feels like a celebration.
What a beautiful thing
is a sunny day!

But another sun
that’s brighter still,
It’s my own sun
that’s upon your face!
The sun, my own sun,
It’s upon your face!
It’s upon your face!

The glasses of your window
are shining;
A laundress
is vainly singing…
While she’s wringing,
stretching and singing.
The glasses of your window
are shining.

When night comes
and the sun has gone down,
I almost start
feeling melancholy;
I’d stay
below your window
When night comes
and the sun has gone down.

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