March 8th with SEA and YOU. Women singers of classical Neapolitan song

What better way to celebrate March 8th than by recounting the women singers of classical Neapolitan song?

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, SEA and YOU wants to pay tribute to the women of Neapolitan song, both its timeless icons told in great lyrics, and its immortal singers.

March 8th is one of those dates that absolutely cannot divide opinions. A day to reflect on the past and present condition of women. Many rights have been achieved over the years through struggle, but there is still a long way to go, especially regarding prejudices and the terrible issue of femicides.
We have decided to tackle this important day with women singers of classical Neapolitan song and the figure of women in the lyrics of great authors.

Why specifically with Naples do we want to address the topic?

Because we are approaching the Neapolitan stage of the traditional music festival in Europe.
Here for information on the event in Naples.

The women of classical Neapolitan song. Absolute protagonists

It would be impossible to name all the women of classical Neapolitan song simply because… ALMOST ALL OF CLASSICAL NEAPOLITAN SONG SPEAKS OF WOMEN.
The women of classical Neapolitan song are not only the inspiring muses of poets.

From the enchantress to the distrustful one, to the one who causes suffering, women are the cornerstone of almost the entire repertoire of Neapolitan song.

The lyrics of Neapolitan song have reached absolute poetic peaks, reproducing the image of the angelic woman we have known from school with the sweet new style.

These magnificent verses are proof:

“The most beautiful girl in Pusilleco is there.
Who wants to climb to heaven, come and see.”

Poetic verses by Giuseppe Capaldo in his ‘A bella ‘e puselleco where the image of the angelic woman pushes as far as the verses of Guinizzelli and Cavalcanti, and whoever wants to ascend to Heaven can do so, just by looking at the beauty of Posillipo.

Or we can compare a woman to a delicate flower as in Rosa, Rusella by Pasquale Cinquegrana.

Every daughter of Naples is a flower,
and among so many flowers, there is a rose.
And this rose, beautiful and charming,
Rosa, Rusella mine, it’s really you.

In songs like Dicitencello vuje by Enzo Fusco and Te voglio bene assaje by Raffaele Sacco, one can glimpse all the feeling of unrequited love that so much makes the poet suffer.

The pain of a finished love can reach inner torment, as in the famous Malafemmena written by the great Totò.

The icons of the great texts. Lazzarella, Cerasella, Maruzzella, Maria and Carmela

The woman of classical Neapolitan song often has a very specific nickname.
The nickname that the author entrusts to the woman manages to evoke everything that author thinks of the beloved.

And so we have the famous Lazzarella, a song written by Riccardo Pazzaglia and music and sung by Domenico Modugno in the film Lazzarella.
A song that takes up a highly topical theme for the mid-1950s: the liberalization of customs.

But the woman of Neapolitan song can take on different forms, often with endearments.
La Maruzzella, a famous song by Renato Carosone, is a small shell in Neapolitan, but here it is the endearment that the artist uses to refer to his beloved.

We can see the same mechanism in Cerasella, which means little cherry. In the song, the woman assumes various nicknames depending on the sensation she gives: she can give sweetness, and therefore be a cherry, or give bitter emotions, and therefore she can be called lemon.

But the woman of Neapolitan song is not only endearments and nicknames. She takes on shape, appearance, and name.
Maria Mari’ is a song written by Vincenzo Russo for the impossible love he felt for Enrichetta Marchese, daughter of a rich jeweler who hindered the love between the two.
Sung, among others, by Enrico Caruso, Roberto Murolo, Louis Armstrong, and Dean Martin.

One of the most beautiful songs ever bears the name of a woman in the title. It is Carmela by Sergio Bruni. Considered by many the passage from classical Neapolitan song to modern one, Carmela is a track from the album Levate ‘a maschera Pulecenella. The author not only wanted to tell about the hope of a bright future for the woman named Carmela but extended this wish to the city of Naples, without ever revealing its name.

The sciantose. The divas of classical Neapolitan song

Naples, a city of a thousand voices, has seen the flourishing of a unique phenomenon. We speak of sciantose. These charismatic women singers of classical Neapolitan song embodied the soul of the city, with their irresistible charm and powerful voices resonating in narrow alleys and lively squares.
The Sciantose were not just artists but true icons of a lively and enterprising Naples.

With the arrival of café-chantant in Naples, the figure of the chanteuse also arrived, then Neapolitanized into sciantose. With their grace on stage, they conquered the heart of the Neapolitan public, transmitting passion and pride for their culture through every note and movement.

Precisely because of their beauty and grace, today sciantosa has taken on the meaning of a vain woman.
Among the most famous we remember Ada Bruges, who arrived in classical Neapolitan song thanks to M. Ernesto Tagliaferri, who from opera singing directed her towards the stages of classical Neapolitan song, reaching New York. Also very famous was Gilda Mignonette, who passed away too young but had tremendous success in Italy and abroad, both in singing and acting (so much so as to be an artist in Raffaele Viviani’s company).

These women singers of classical Neapolitan song should never be forgotten, unforgettable artists who made the history of Neapolitan song in Italy and the world.
Even today, the memory of the Sciantose resonates in the hearts of those who love Neapolitan music, testifying to the indelible legacy left by these extraordinary women in the cultural panorama of the city of Naples.

The singer of tradition. Concetta Barra

Naples is full of names of great women singers of Neapolitan song. Artists with thrilling voices like Lina Sastri or Grazia Gresi have made history in Neapolitan song.
However, there is one artist unique in her kind. A singer who founded her career on the recovery of texts from the Neapolitan popular tradition.

Concetta Barra was not exactly from Naples. She was from Procida. A small island overlooking the Campi Flegrei of Bacoli and Miseno.
Mother of the great actor and singer Peppe Barra, with whom she formed the artistic duo that gave life to wonderful shows.
Among these shows, La cantata dei pastori stands out, where Concetta Barra plays the great comic role of Sarchiapone.

Together with the Nuova Compagnia di Canto Popolare, in which her son is also included, she is the female singer of classical Neapolitan song who has rediscovered popular tradition.

Ancient songs, often forgotten, but thanks to this extraordinary 360-degree artist, rediscovered and loved.
The women singers of Neapolitan song have been many, each contributing to make the immortal songs of Neapolitan tradition magical.

Happy March 8th today more than ever, waiting to sing together on the stage of the Galleria Toledo theater in Naples on April 26th for the event organized by Napulitanata in collaboration with Ideal Fado and CajaGranada Fundacion for the final appointment of SEA and YOU.

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By Davide Lancia