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Thread: CD review - Malèna - Roberto Alagna sings Sicilian and Neapolitan songs

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    CD review - Malèna - Roberto Alagna sings Sicilian and Neapolitan songs

    The fabulous operatic tenor Roberto Alagna recently released a new album with Deutsche Grammophon: Malèna, made of seventeen new and old Sicilian and Neapolitan songs, seven of which were composed by the tenor's brothers Frederico and David Alagna. He sings accompanied by the London Orchestra, Yvan Cassar (conductor) and Avi Avital.

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    It is available on Amazon for about $17 for the CD or $11.50 for the mp3 download, a must-buy! (Click [here])

    The title song has lyrics by Roberto Alagna himself, in his mother tongue Sicilian (the dialect of Italian spoken in Sicily, the land of both his parents), and was composed when his wife, soprano Aleksandra Kurzak, was pregnant of their daughter Malèna. In an exclusive interview with us (read it [here]), Roberto explained that when his brothers sent him a love song, he observed that he was hearing different words that would fit the music better. His brothers then encouraged him to write the lyrics he was thinking of, and voilà, he put in words his feelings for the future daughter, and now that the girl is already with them, he says that he is amazed to see how well she fits his description of her in the lyrics, while she was still in her mother's belly. It's a lovely song and it opens the album. Listen to it here:

    Here are the touching lyrics, translated into English:

    Little girl, I’m waiting for you...
    Little girl, I’m hoping for you…
    You have already taken hold of my life!
    My days and my nights - little love -
    I spend them with you,
    And I apprehend this new felicity!
    Little girl, you are beautiful,
    Little girl, you are holy,
    And you have already stolen my heart!
    And a fire of love sets me ablaze
    When I think of you
    and again see myself as a papa!
    When Mummy and I embrace,
    - Malèna, little Malèna -
    ... I hear you sigh...
    My tiny one, gradually
    You appear in this life
    Like an angel dressed in sunshine!
    - Little breath, soft and scented…
    Cute almond-shaped eyes -
    ...With the day you are being born!
    Very gently, a tear flows in my heart…
    This new bother no longer leaves me:
    One fine day, far, far off,
    Malèna ... twenty ... you’ll be twenty!
    I open my eyes and find
    myself even older…
    - Malèna, little Malèna -
    And you call me: “ Papa! ”…

    After we hear the melancholic short song by Pisano "Se parla 'e Napule," and the lively, joyful, dance-able, popular song "Marechiare" by di Giacomo, the next extraordinary track is the extremely beautiful, poignant, melodious "Core 'ngrato" (Ungrateful Heart) by Cordiferro, one of the best songs of the entire album.

    Subsequently we get a delicate, elegant rendition of the famous "Torna a Surriento" (by de Curtis) on track 5. We are used to Pavarotti's version, but Roberto's is a must-listen to, with his softer, less shouty delivery. Wow! If not for all the other phenomenal tracks, this one in itself would justify the purchase of this album.

    Let's dance again, folks. We get on track 6 another one of those fabulous very Italianate invitations to drinking the local wine in a big Sunday lunch with the whole extended family, and being merry: "Come facette Mametta" (by Capaldo).

    What follows is a celebration of Sicily, also very compelling: "Etna (Sicilia focu e sangu)" by Frederico Alagna. It is majestic; reminds us a bit of "Granada" showing that across the Mediterranean Sea we find the same kind of soul.

    Again by Federico Alagna is track 8, a poignant song about wounded love, "Amuri feritu," allowing Roberto to act with his voice as if in tears. Very beautiful, and again, one of the best tracks.

    Frederico treats us once more to one of his melodious compositions, "Scetate," a slow and thoughtful song that evokes cherished memories. Sublime! Should we say that this is one of the best tracks, too? It seems like they all are! This album has one good hit after the other!

    Now Frederico, after the previous mournful songs, tries his hand at the ones we are calling dance-able: "Napolitanella" in the Tarantella style. Very nice! (We are at track 10 by now). The contemporary live composer proves that he can do traditional Neapolitan songs just like the old masters!

    Listeners: I know you've been waiting for "'O sole mio" by Capurro - you got it; it's track 11, but be prepared for a big surprise! Roberto's rendition of it is very original and extremely beautiful, with changed phrasing, and again very delicate and intimate. Another must-listen to, and another justification for the purchase! Oh my God, this is too beautiful!

    Track 12 brings us another very well-known song, "Funiculì funiculà" by Denza. This one is rather sung the way we're used to, with a few variations.

    Track 13 has a love song by Frederico Alagna, "Tu si da mia" - it plays like a serenade with guitar accompaniment, and once more, it is very beautiful. Frederico Alagna is a great composer!

    "I' te vurria vasà" by di Russo is next, a 4-minute, grandiose and lachrymose (in the good sense) song that is sure to please.

    We get to track 15. I'm starting to get sad because the album is coming to an end. Of course I'll be able to listen to it again and again but I'm enjoying the surprises. Frederico Alagna does the Tarantella thing again: "Sicilianedda (Tarantella prisintusa)" - and it is great.

    The traditional song "I te voglio bene assaje" is another serenade that Roberto sings piano, piano at times, then forte again, to very beautiful effect.

    Alas, the last one is in: track 17 is by David Alagna (the excellent composer of the opera Le Dernier Jour d'Un Condamné"), and it is called "Libertà" - it appropriately closes the album, given that it is also one of the best tracks with a melodious arc.

    This album is very pleasant and exquisite. Roberto is in great voice throughout the 17 songs. It is personal and intimate, and very unique. Unlike other singers who tried this repertory, Roberto's successful attempt comes from his heart and soul and roots, and it shows. I wholeheartedly recommend it and give it an A++ rating.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); January 29th, 2018 at 03:27 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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