by Gianluca Isaia
Valentine's Dayby Gianluca Isaia
Here I am, finally, to talk about love. Saint Valentine's Day, February 14, is a worldwide tradition: the celebration of sweethearts. I think it's also the perfect occasion for simply telling people that you care about them, that they're fundamental and irreplaceable and the most important persons in your life. And we mustn't forget the dress code. So, look sharp, dress elegantly, and invite your better half out for a romantic candlelit dinner for two, with flowers. You can wear a formal suit – midnight blue is best – with a tie and white shirt or if you want to surprise her with special effects, you can wear a tux, especially if you organize the dinner at home or in an unexpected, stunning, evocative location. I can assure you that the results will be immediate. Napoli is a "terra de l'ammore", the quintessential land of love: a fact that has been repeated countless times in fabulous songs known around the globe. Like certain ballads from Brazil, these songs are sheer poetry with meaningful, moving words that tell a simple or complex story filled with emotion, romanticism and sentiment.
It is joyous, profound, dazzling love. A little gem from the fifties immediately comes to mind – "Anema e core" by Salve D'Esposito and Tito Manlio – which Roberto Murolo sung in a stupendous heartfelt rendition with Amalia Rodrigues, the queen of the Portuguese fado folk song. Murolo sang another duet with Mia Martini, known for her earthy, smoky voice: "Cu 'mme", written in 1992, one of the most marvelous pieces in the last fifty years, a sort of short story with Mediterranean moods by the brilliant Enzo Gragnaniello.
Love, however, especially in “Napoli”, can also turn into a dark, obsessive, and sometimes tragic and lethal passion, poisoned by jealousy and suspicion. It can possess your dreams and torment you, filling your heart with relentless and hopeless nostalgia, as expressed in two great classics: "Passione" from 1934, with music by Tagliaferri and Valente and lyrics by Libero Bovio, and "Voce 'e notte" from 1904, with music by Edoardo Nicolardi and Ernesto de Curtis. You have your choice of interpreters: Sergio Bruni or Peppino di Capri. For love that breaks and melancholically shatters, transforming into cold annoyance and total indifference, there is the song "Indifferentemente" by Martucci and Mazzucco, which was sung by Mario Abbate at the 11th Festival of Napoli in 1963 and performed over the years by Sergio Bruni, Mina and the Walhalla, a historic Neapolitan rock band of the eighties during the "Vesuwave" period. These epochal songs helped create the legend of Napoli and surrounding areas, where love reigns undisputed, fed by the local tourist industry thanks to the myth of the Neapolitan Latin lover – a rascal, splenetic prince, or fiery Saracen though he may be.
The Neapolitan musical variations on the specific theme, as you may have gathered, can be endless, delving into every possible nuance of that mystery called love that scientists recently wanted to define as a genuine illness that, despite everything, is always a pleasure to catch. I, for example, can't forget my first adolescent crushes that, as usual, occurred in Capri during summer vacation. Back then these infatuations made you agitated: you dreamed about them and only shared these precious secrets with your best friends. The music of my friend Guido Lembo is the customary soundtrack. Many people fell in love with a little help from Guido and his Capri bistrot called "Anema e core”.