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Southern Italian Piano Project 

With Alexis Zingale

The Southern Italian Piano Project rediscovers and performs underrepresented piano music of southern Italy from the Baroque era to the current day.

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Francesco Cilea – Suite Antica, Op. 42: III. Capriccio

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Our Story

From an American perspective: 87% of Italian-Americans are of southern Italian origin, from the enormous wave of immigration triggered by the Risorgimento. Yet in the culture of Italian-Americans, classical music of the south has not become part of the fabric of heritage. From a broader perspective: The neglect of composers from southern Italy had much to do with history; the Italian South continues to be impacted negatively by the Risorgimento. The Southern Italian Piano Project seeks to change the narrative and ensure that the lesser-known composers from the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, both before and after the Risorgimento, attract the attention and respect given other composers in the canon of classical music.

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Our Vision & Mission

The vision of the Southern Italian Piano Project is to expand the canon of western classical music to include unfairly underrepresented composers from the south of Italy.

The Southern Italian Piano Project’s mission is to bring underrepresented music of southern Italian composers to live performance via researching and performing programs for a variety of audiences, and to continue to research piano repertoire and pianistic traditions of southern Italy.

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Upcoming Events




Saturday, March 18, 2023, 7:00pm, Spaghetti Supper Concert Series at Long Hill United Methodist Church, 6358 Main Street, Trumbull, CT 06611. Free (donations to Long Hill UMC concert series gladly accepted). Abridged version of full program with discussion of the repertoire presented.




Wednesday, April 5, 2023, 7:30pm, Garner Hall at Southern Connecticut State University, 501 Crescent St., New Haven, CT 06515. Free. This performance is made possible with support from the Stutzman Family Foundation.




Friday, April 14, 2023, 7:30pm, Marian Chapel at Marywood University,  2300 Adams Ave., Scranton, PA 18509. Free. 




Friday, April 21, 2023, 7:00pm, Teaching Artist Concert at Neighborhood Music School, 100 Audubon St., New Haven, CT 06510. Free. With Larry Zukof and Roz Morley, featuring a program of all Italian music. At all times, masks must be worn by audience members attending NMS performances and large events.


Past Events




Friday, May 20, 2022, 8:00pm, Mary Flagler Cary Hall at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 450 W 37th St., New York, NY – $25 via Eventbrite online only, no tickets at the door – Tickets Available Now




Sunday, May 15, 2022, 2:00pm, Littlefield Recital Hall at the University of Bridgeport/Paier College of Art, 84 Iranistan Ave., Bridgeport, CT – tickets available at the door – $20 adults, $10 seniors, free with UB/Paier/Goodwin ID, or purchase tickets for $20 online on Eventbrite – Tickets Available Now




Friday, May 6, 2022, 7:30pm, Branford Evangelical Free Church, 231 Leetes Island Road, Branford, CT – tickets available at the door – $20 adults, $10 seniors/students, or purchase tickets for $20 online on Eventbrite. – Tickets Available Now

This music is MUCH needed! I’m so delighted to finally be exposed to it by such an immensely talented artist. I hope others get the chance to experience these masterpieces!

- Andrew Potter, operatic basso

Our Donors, Partners & Sponsors

Donors to the Southern Italian Piano Project

I can’t begin to express my immense gratitude to all the donors to the Southern Italian Piano Project, all of whom believed in me, and wanted to see my dream into reality. I’d especially like to thank the Stutzman Family Foundation for their generous support for the recital at Southern Connecticut State University.

Fortissimo –

Matthew Collins     Jun Korenaga   The Stutzman Family Foundation

Forte –

Jerry Boryca    Istvan Peter B’Racz    Michael Buschauer    Theresa Calejesan    Michael Cocchi    Karl Clodfelter    Sirena Huang    Cidalia Kettles

Sandra Koorejian    Helen Ma    Mark Rike    Charles Sant’Elia    Darwin Shen    Jack W. Wagner    Michelle Zingale    Absent Friends

Mezzo-Forte –

Nancy Alexander    Rebecca Barko    Mary Clark    Mary Alice Dutkanicz    William Hunter    Richard Highfield    Judith S. Loukides

Gretchen Pritchard    Kerry Pyo    Brian Robinson    Jo Sem    Elaine Silbereis    David Simcik

Piano –

Sundari Birdsall    Jeff D’Amelia    David Delucia    Paul DiMauro    Maliya Ellis    Carolyn Ferry    Tim Gara    Marie Glennon

Sheila Fleming Greenhouse    Carla Guerriero    Emilie Hannon    Silvio Interlandi    Brian Joy    Sergey Kochergan    Ravenna Michalsen

Alejandra Navarro    Mitchell Nelson    Laura Nerenberg    Warren Shapiro    Stephanie Tudino    Justin Vendette

Alexander Vlassenkov    The Creative Fund by BackerKit



We can’t do this without the incredible help of our donors and sponsors. If our project speaks to you and you would be willing to consider supporting the Southern Italian Piano Project, click the button below and you’ll be taken to our Kickstarter campaign. Thank you in advance for being a part of making this project possible!

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Program Notes

Program notes for March & April 2023

Toccata (Allegro e fuga) in a minor Alessandro Scarlatti (1660 – 1725) 

Pietro Alessandro Gaspare Scarlatti is considered the father of the Neapolitan school of 18th century opera.  Born in Palermo on May 2, 1660, he was the second of eight children, five of whom became noted musicians.  At the age of twelve, he and two of his sisters were sent to Rome for study. While the Palermo conservatory had been founded in 1618, it did not offer instruction until very late in the century; Rome offered more  opportunities at that time. Turmoil and famine may have played a part as well, but it was very common at that  time to place children in situations in which their talents could be developed appropriately. It is not known for  certain who he studied with in Rome. In 1678 he married Antonia Anzalone, and of their ten children, five survived to maturity.  

His first opera, Gli Equivoci nel Sembiante, was first performed in Rome in 1679, and went on to further  performances in Bologna, Naples, Monte Filottrano, Linz, and later, Ravenna and Palermo. Exiled Queen  Christina of Sweden was his first patron, and he served as her maestro di cappella until he left Rome in 1684.  While he remained in Rome, Cardinals Pietro Ottoboni and Benedetto Pamphili were among his protectors  and sponsors; Pope Innocent XI discouraged public spectacle and in 1688, even reiterated a decree banning  women from singing on public stages or in opera houses.  

The Marquis del Carpio, the Spanish ambassador to Vatican, became the Viceroy of Naples in 1683; it is likely  that the Duke of Maddaloni encouraged him to invite Alessandro to be maestro di cappella. While not all of  the reasons are entirely clear as to why Scarlatti left Rome to take the post in Naples, it seems the alleged  marriage of one of his sisters to an ecclesiastic brought his family into disfavor with the Pope, and thus leaving  Rome was the best option for them to continue to work.  

Yet immediately, another scandal unfolded in Naples. Scarlatti received his appointment from the Viceroy in  February, 1684, on the death of P.A. Ziani, and his brother Francesco Scarlatti was named first violinist of the  vice-regal chapel simultaneously. Provenzale, head of the chapel since 1680, had expected to succeed Ziani,  and he and six singers resigned upon Scarlatti’s appointment. Another Scarlatti sister, the singer and opera  troupe member Melchiorra Brigida Scarlatti, allegedly had secured the appointments via her intrigues with the  Viceroy’s Secretary of Justice de Leone and two court officials. The officials were discharged, Melchiorra was  sent to a convent, and the three of them were referred to as “putane commedianti” (“opera troupe whores”) by  the Viceroy. The Scarlatti brothers retained their jobs.  

In the 1680s, Naples was not yet the famous musical center it would become. Opera had begun in Naples in  1650 with a visiting troupe. Although the initial repertoire was mostly Venetian, original operas by Neapolitan  composers—including Provenzale— were included. Over the next two decades more than half of the new operas in Naples were by Alessandro Scarlatti.  

The principal patrons of opera were the viceroys, and they took interest as well in the public theaters; the chief  theater was S. Bartolomeo, which had a permanent company of nine singers, five instrumentalists, a copyist, and Scarlatti as director.  

Scarlatti himself certainly had his own internal drive, but the expectations of his position were immense, and  by the late 1690s, it must have been overwhelming. He was expected to produce at least two or three new operas each year—composed, rehearsed and conducted—in addition to constant demands for oratorios,  cantatas, and serenatas. Yet the viceroys were frequently in arrears on his salary, and personal letters indicate  this put immense strain on him in supporting his family. Additionally, Scarlatti was frustrated by the frivolous  musical taste of the Neapolitans; every serious opera still had to have comic scenes added. Ultimately, the War  of the Spanish Succession undermined the status of the nobility at Naples, and his position became precarious.  He obtained a four-month leave of absence and left for Florence with his son Domenico in June 1702, with the  intent both of seeking a new employer and of enhancing the education of his son.  

While he hoped for an appointment to the court of Ferdinando de’ Medici (who, incidentally, employed  Bartolomeo Cristofori, inventor of the piano), no offer was forthcoming, so Scarlatti returned to the service of  Cardinal Ottoboni in Rome. Six years later, he returned to Naples to his prior position, serving Cardinal  Grimaldi, Austrian Viceroy of Naples, but the continued rise of comic opera in Naples frustrated him and did not suit his compositional style. Much of his instrumental music, including the keyboard works, dates from  this period—ultimately, the first time he had had time to write any. In 1718 he went back to Rome yet again,  but his works were not greeted with acclaim. Four years later he retired in Naples, dying there in 1725.  

Sonata in d minor, L. 413, K. 9  Sonata in b minor, L. 449, K. 27  

Domenico Scarlatti (1685 – 1757) 

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was born in Naples in 1685 while his father Alessandro worked for the Viceroy.  There is no documentation of his teachers, although it can be surmised that being raised in a musical family  certainly assisted his development. In 1701 he was appointed organist and composer of the royal chapel of  Naples, while his father was maestro, but by 1702 he left for Florence with his father. There is no way of  knowing if he met Bartolomeo Christofori in the court of Ferdinando de’ Medici, but it is quite possible he  might have; at this point Christofori was already experimenting with the hammer action of the gravicembalo col  piano e forte (“harpsichord with soft and loud”). But Domenico returned to his post in Naples before his leave  of absence expired.  

On his return, he wrote music for operas in addition to his post. But in 1704, his domineering father ordered  him on a tour with the castrato Nicolò Grimaldi through Rome and Florence to Venice. His father’s  recommendation letter to de’ Medici said:  

I have forcibly removed him from Naples where, though there was scope for his talent, it was not  the kind of talent for such a place. I am removing him from Rome as well, because Rome has no  shelter for music, which lives here as a beggar. This son of mine is an eagle whose wings are  grown; he must not remain idle in the nest, and I must not hinder his flight. Since the virtuoso  Nicolino of Naples is passing through here on the way to Venice, I thought fit to send Domenico  with him, escorted only by his own ability. He has advanced much since he was able to be,  together with me, in a position to enjoy the honor of serving Your Highness personally, three years  ago. He sets forth to meet whatever opportunity may present itself for him to make himself  known–opportunity for which one waits in vain in Rome today.  

While Domenico spent four years in Venice, nothing is known of his time there.  

In 1709, he entered the service of exiled Polish queen Maria Casimira in Rome—a court which had papal  consent for “decent comedies.” Cardinal Ottoboni presented weekly chamber music recitals—the Academie  Poetico-musicali—and through this Domenico met important musicians like Corelli, Handel, and the English  composer Thomas Roseingrave, who became the key distributor of Domenico Scarlatti’s works in Britain.  

In 1714, after Maria Casimira left Rome, Domenico was appointed maestro di cappella for the Portuguese ambassador to the Vatican Marquis de Fontes. But his father continued to interfere with his life, even after he  declared legal independence in 1717.  

In 1719, Domenico left for Portugal to become mestre of the patriarchal chapel of Lisbon, but details are sparse,  as the earthquake of 1755 destroyed all records. Very significantly, one of his duties there was to instruct King  John V’s daughter Maria Barbara in harpsichord. Ultimately, on her marriage to Spanish Prince Fernando in  1728, he followed, and spent the rest of his life in her court. His relationship with her—and her many fine  keyboard instruments—led to his composition of 555 keyboard sonatas, all single-movement works, many of  which may have been designed for a specific instrument in her collection. The first thirty of these were  published in Britain during his lifetime, as Essercizi per gravicembalo (“Exercises for the harpsichord”), thanks to  his friend Roseingrave, and the volume is inscribed:  

Reader, do not expect, whether you are a dilettante or a professor, to find in these compositions  any profound intention, but rather an ingenious banter in the art to exercise you in rigorous play of  the harpsichord. No point of view or ambition guided me, but obedience brought me to publish it.  Perhaps they will be agreeable to you, and I will more willingly then obey your other orders to  please you with an easier and more varied style. Therefore do not show yourself more judge than  critic, and you will thereby grow your own pleasure. To specify hand position I have used the  letter D to indicate the right hand, and the letter M the left hand. Live happily.

Sonata in Bb major, C. 60  Sonata in d minor, C. 79  Sonata in Bb major, C. 27  

Domenico Cimarosa (1749 – 1801) 

Domenico Cimarosa was born in Aversa in 1749. His father, a stonemason in the construction of Capodimonte  Palace, was killed in a fall during its construction when Domenico was seven years old. His widowed mother  became a laundress at the monastery of the church of Saint Severo dei Padri Conventuali, and the boy was  able to enter the school of the church, where he studied with the church organist. He was admitted to the  conservatory of S. Maria di Loreto at the age of eleven or twelve, and studied keyboard, voice, and violin. But  he excelled in composition and presented his first opera in 1772. He was not well appreciated in Naples until  Paisiello and Piccinni left the city. But by the 1780s, he was well established as a premier opera composer. By  1777, one of his operas was premiered in Rome, and by 1781 his operas were performed in Venice. In 1779 he  was appointed as an organist of the Neapolitan royal chapel.  

In 1787 Catherine the Great invited him to her court, and he remained in St. Petersburg until 1791, and  afterward, worked in Vienna as Kapellmeister for Emperor Leopold II. He remained in Vienna after Leopold’s  death until 1793, at which point he returned to Naples. There, he was appointed first organist of the royal  court.  

In 1799 Naples was occupied by republican forces and established the Parthenopean Republic. Cimarosa  sympathized with the cause and wrote a patriotic hymn performed for a ceremonial burning of the royal flag.  However, King Ferdinando’s troops soon retook the city and Cimarosa found himself in a difficult position.  Despite writing a cantata and multiple other works in praise of Ferdinando, he was jailed for four months, and  only evaded execution by the intercession of influential friends. Upon his release from prison, his health  deteriorated so rapidly that rumors circulated that he had been poisoned by agents of Ferdinando’s Queen,  Maria Carolina; even a medical report published by the government in 1801 certifying that he died of internal  ailments did not entirely settle the matter.  

Cimarosa wrote a number of piano sonatas, more than eighty of which were discovered in manuscript in the  1920s. In the manuscript they appear as single-movement pieces, but it is probable that many of them belong  together as three movement works. The three sonatas in this performance have been grouped together with that effect in mind.  

Sonata No. 5 in G Major, Op. 67 (c. 1912)  Per ricordare ed onorare mia madre  (To remember and honor my mother) 

Alessandro Longo (1864 – 1945) 

Alessandro Longo was born in 1864 in Amantea, in the Cosenza province of Calabria, to the composer Achille  Longo, with whom he studied piano and composition until his entry to the Naples conservatory in 1878. At the  Naples conservatory, he gained diplomas in piano, organ, and composition, and he then taught piano there,  first as a substitute for his teacher Beniamino Cesi, and later as a faculty member himself.  

In 1892, he founded a Domenico Scarlatti association. Ultimately, he published an eleven-volume series of 544  of Scarlatti’s sonatas as well as a book—doing much to reawaken interest in the composer. He composed more  than three hundred works. As well, he was a dedicated teacher, winning many awards for his educational writings and pedagogical works. As a proponent of Italian music, Longo founded the periodical L’arte  pianistica (later renamed Vita musicale italiana), published until 1928. Longo served as the head of the Naples  Conservatory until his death in Naples in 1945.  

Suite (Vecchio Stile) (Old Style), Op. 42 (1916) Francesco Cilea (1866 – 1950) 

Francesco Cilea was born in Palmi, Calabria in 1866. At the age of nine, his compositions were shown to  Francesco Florimo, composer and librarian of the Naples Conservatory, and he was encouraged to pursue  formal study. Cilea completed his studies at the Naples conservatory in 1889, producing his first opera, Gina,  while still a student, and in 1892, the opera La Tilda, which was not as well received. He was appointed to the  piano faculty of the conservatory in 1894, and then in 1896, moved to the Reale Istituto Musicale in Florence to  teach theory and counterpoint. In 1897, Enrico Caruso performed the premiere of Cilea’s opera L’Arlesiana in Milan, and while the opera as a whole was not much loved, the tenor aria popularized by Caruso remains quite popular. His most popular opera, Adriana Lecouvreur, was premiered in Milan in 1902, and promptly  appeared in all the major opera houses in Europe. His final opera, Gloria, conducted by Toscanini at La Scala,  was dropped after only two performances.  

In 1913 Cilea was appointed director of the Palermo conservatory, and in 1916 became director of the Naples  conservatory, remaining there for 20 years. He grew increasingly deaf and infirm, and retired to his villa in  Varazze, where he died in 1950.  

Preludio (1921)  

Davanti al campanile d’una antica chiesuola montana (In front of the bell tower of an ancient mountain church) 

Mario Pilati (1903 – 1938) 

Mario Pilati was born in Naples in 1903, and showed tremendous early promise as a composer. He entered  the Naples conservatory at only fifteen years old. He moved to Milan in 1925, working for the publishing  house Ricordi as an arranger of vocal scores; additionally, he was a teacher and music critic. He returned to  Naples to teach at the conservatory in 1930, and then taught at the Palermo conservatory beginning in 1933.  He grew increasingly ill and returned to Naples in 1938. At the time of his death in 1938, he had completed  one act of an opera, Piedigrotta, in Neapolitan dialect.  

Sei Piccoli Pezzi (Six Little Pieces) (1954) Eliodoro Sollima (1926 – 2000) 

Eliodoro Sollima was born in Marsala, Sicily in 1926. After initial studies in Marsala and Palermo, he studied  with piano with Guido Agosti in Siene, and later in Arezzo with Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. Michelangeli  selected Sollima to give the Italian premiere of Berg’s Kammerkonzert in 1954. Sollima taught composition at the  Palermo conservatory from 1954 to 1991, and served as director of the conservatory for 16 years. In 1965 he  founded the Trio di Palermo with violinist Salvatore Cicero and cellist Giovanni Perriera. His works include  the radio story Pimpinella, the Trenodia (dedicated to victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre), and the  Divertimento on Sicilian folk songs for piano and orchestra.  

Eliodoro Sollima died in Palermo in 2000, and the concert hall in his birthplace of Marsala is dedicated to his  memory. 

Beri (2002) Giovanni Sollima (b. 1962) 

Giovanni Sollima was born in Palermo, into a musical family, including his father, Eliodoro Sollima, with  whom he studied composition at the Conservatorio di Palermo. He later studied with Antonio Janigro and Milko Kelemen at the Musikhochschule Stuttgart and at the Universität Mozarteum Salzburg.  

As a cellist, teacher, and composer, his musical interests and activities range widely through a variety of  genres, including jazz, rock, and ethnic music of the Mediterranean region, as well as classical concert and  theatre music. He explores different genres using ancient, oriental, electric and inventive instruments, playing  in the Sahara desert, underwater, and with an Ice Cello.  

As a performer, Sollima has collaborated with the American poet and musician Patti Smith, and Yo-Yo Ma’s  Silk Road Project, as well as a multitude of conductors, soloists, orchestras and ensembles including the  Chicago Symphony, Liverpool Philharmonic (Artist in Residence 2015), Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Il Giardino Armonico, Cappella Neapolitana, Accademia Bizantina, Holland Baroque Society, and the Budapest  Festival Orchestra.  

As a composer, his work includes film, theater, and dance music for Peter Greenaway, Marco Tullio Giordana,  Peter Stein, Lasse Gjertsen, Karole Armitage and others. He composed the sound logo for Expo in Milan and  inaugurated the new museum space of Michelangelo’s Pietà Rondanini in 2015.  

His discography begins in 1998 with a CD produced by Philip Glass for Point Music which was followed by eleven albums for Sony, Egea and Decca. 

He has taught since 2010 at the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia. In 2012, together with Enrico Melozzi,  he founded 100Cellos. In addition, he has championed the work of the 18th century musician, Giovanni  Battista Costanzi (1704-1778), of whom he has recorded the Sonatas and Symphonies for cello and basso  continuo for the Glossa label.  

“Beri”is Sollima’s own reimagining for solo piano of the aria “Beri” (a.k.a. “Kuminist”) from his opera Ellis  Island, in which the Kurdish immigrant in the airport sings in her native language a song of nostalgia:  

Beri (“Nostalgia”) – Hevi Dilara (e esule curda e responsabile  dell’Ufficio d’Informazione del Kurdistan in Italia)  


Lontana dal mio paese  

Lontano il mio paese da me.  

La distanza e dolore.  

Io conosco il dolore  

ma non posso dirlo con parole.  

Le parole  

Non vivono come l’albero di mille anni  

che ho lasciato.  

Le parole non scorrono  

come scorre e pulsa  

nelle vene del mondo  

il fiume che ho lasciato.  

Le parole non profumano  

Come i fiori piu belli del mondo,  

i fiori che ho lasciato.  

Le parole non possono descrivere  

il paradiso che ho perduto.  

Solo chi ha molto amore puo amare  

Solo chi ha molta nostalgia puo sognare.  

Solo chi ama e sogna liberta puo entrare,  

conoscere il mio paradiso,  

saltare come una gazzella  

libera sui miei monti,  

bagnarsi come pesce  

libero nei miei fiumi,  

volare come falco  

libero sui miei villaggi,  

Sventolare come bandiere di liberta nel mio mattino, cantare come il bilur ai fuochi del Newroz.  

Anche tu, anche lui, lei, loro,  

tutti possono entrare nel mio paradiso  

se sanno far scorrere liberta  

e amore nelle loro vene  

e nelle vene del mondo.  

Notes: bilur: the traditional Kurdish wooden flute  

Beri (“Nostalgia”) – Hevi Dilara (a Kurdish exile and  head of the Office of Information of Kurdistan in Italy)  Translation by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia 

Far from my country  

My country far from me.  

The distance is pain.  

I know the pain  

but I cannot say it with words.  


Don’t live as the thousand year old tree  

that I left.  

Words don’t flow  

as flows and pulses  

in the veins of the world  

the river that I left.  

Words do not smell  

Like the most beautiful flowers in the world,  the flowers that I left.  

Words can not describe  

the paradise that I lost.  

Only he who has much love can love  

Only he who has much nostalgia can dream.  Only he who loves and dreams of freedom can enter,  know my paradise,  

jump like a gazelle  

free on my hills,  

bathe himself like fish  

free in my river,  

fly like a hawk  

free over my villages,  

Flapping like flags of freedom in my morning,  sing like the bilur around the Newroz fires.  You too, he too, she, they,  

all can enter my paradise  

if they know how to make freedom and love flow  in their veins  

and in the veins of the world.  

Newroz: The Kurdish spring equinox festival, akin to Persian Nowroz  

Scherzo, sopra due canzoni napolitane, Op. 154  (Scherzo on two Neapolitan songs) 

Ferdinando Bonamici (1827 – 1905) 

Ferdinando Bonamici was an Italian composer, pianist, and professor, and a lifetime resident of Naples. For  many years, he worked at the Naples conservatory as the director’s secretary and as a professor. He founded  the Circolo Musicale Bonamici with the intent of raising the level of Italian musical culture by organizing  conferences and regular concerts of instrumental music of both Italian composers and the classic Viennese  composers. Additionally, the Circolo Musicale organized the first Italian Music Congress in Naples in September and October, 1864. In addition to piano pieces for beginners, which appeared in several Ricordi  collections, Bonamici composed three operas: Un Matrimonio nella Luna (first performance in 1871 at the Teatro  Mercadante in Naples), Lida Wilson, and Cleopatra.  

Among Bonamici’s musical associates in Naples were the sons of the Franco-Neapolitan composer and music  publisher, Guglielmo Cottrau (1797-1847), whose efforts to collect, arrange, publish and popularize Neapolitan  folk songs were highly influential in the nineteenth-century musical scene. Cottrau’s collection is the source of  the two songs on which Bonamici’s Scherzo is based.  

The Legacy of the Franco-Neapolitan Cottrau family and Neapolitan Song  Translations and Notes by Cav. Charles Sant’Elia  

Over the centuries Naples enjoyed the status of a European capital, attracting immigrants not only from around  the Italian peninsula, but also from around Europe and the Mediterranean. Among the largest foreign  communities to settle in Naples were the French and the Swiss. Guglielmo Luigi Cottrau was born as  Guillaume-Louis Cottrau on 10 August 1797 in Paris and died on 31 October 1847 in Naples. He was a noted  Franco-Neapolitan composer and music publisher who immigrated to Naples with his father Joseph Cottrau,  who formerly served as Secretary General of the Navy in France, and who served as a field marshal under  Joachim Murat, the interim King of Naples appointed by Napoleon during the French invasion and occupation  of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.  

It should be noted that Joseph Cottrau was also secretary of the Neapolitan Accademia di Belle Arti, a member  the Società Reale di Napoli (La Pontaniana), as well as a member of the Accademia Militare and numerous other  cultural associations in the Two Sicilies. The Cottrau family made its home in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and proudly stayed in Naples during the Bourbon Restoration and ultimately through the Risorgimento and  unification of Italy.  

Guglielmo Luigi Cottrau married Giovanna Cirillo (1804-1854), a Neapolitan from a prominent family of  generals and ministers, and raised their family in Naples. He is most remembered for his collection of  Neapolitan songs drawn from works by various authors as well as from the folk tradition, for which he made  arrangements, and he and his family are credited with popularizing Neapolitan songs abroad. One of his themes was notably taken up by Hungarian composer Franz Liszt for his Tarentelle napolitaine in his Années de  Pèlerinage. Guglielmo Luigi Cottrau’s son was the Neapolitan born composer, lyricist, publisher, journalist and  politician Teodoro Cottrau (Naples 7 December 1827 – Naples 30 March 1879). Teodoro Cottrau is remembered  worldwide for his iconic 1850 song Santa Lucia, based on Neapolitan popular lyrics. Gugliemo’s son Felice  Cottrau (Naples 15 October 1829 –Naples 1887) was an active poet and painter who was well regarded in  Parisian and Neapolitan society and who lived in London and Paris for many years. Guglielmo’s son Arturo  (Naples 3 October 1839- Naples 23 May 1898) was a noted engineer, industrialist and politician well regarded in  his time for his train bridges and other large iron projects throughout Italy and the Russian Empire. The  Cottraus’ uncle Pierre Felix Cottrau (1799-1852) was a well-known painter who in his own day had his paintings  La Grotta di Pozzuoli and La Pesca di Notte al Castel dell’Ovo hung in the Capodimonte Palace, the latter painting having been shown at the First Bourbon Exhibition of 1826.  

Much of what audiences are familiar with as the great Neapolitan repertoire consists of the ancient songs  collected by Gugliemo Cottrau and his sons from the musical heritage of Naples ranging from the 17th to 19th  centuries. Many of these songs have been recorded by the great singers, and in 2007 the Neapolitan singer  Gianni Lamagna in fact recorded an album entitled, I Cottrau a Napoli featuring 18 songs as an homage to the  loving work the family did in preserving Naples’ musical patrimony.  

The following Neapolitan song lyrics, in literary Neapolitan, are taken from the 1865 edition of Cottrau’s  Passatempi Musicali, published by the Regio Stabilimento di Teodoro Cottrau, which was located at n. 49 Largo  di Palazzo in Naples, and feature a theme prominent in Neapolitan poetry and song, namely the image of the  beloved’s window and musing on love past or unrequieted. La Gelosia Nova and Fenesta Ca Lucive have parallels  in other regions of Southern Italy and scholarship shows that they circulated in Naples going back over the last  three centuries. The Passatempi Musicali also includes scores and lyrics inspired by the regions and cities of Sicily  and Southern Italy, and other iconic Neapolitan songs such as Lo Guarracino and Io Te Voglio Bene Assaje popular  from Bourbon times up until today.

Fenesta Co Sta Nova Gelosia (La Nova Gelosia)  

Fenesta co sta nova gelosia  

tutta lucente  

de centrelle d’oro  

tu m’annascunne  

Nennella bella mia  

lassamella vedè  

sinò mo moro. 

Comm’a ‘nciarmato non pozzo partire  

Da chisto loco addò squagliano l’ore,  

Sempe speranno vederte arapire,  

Fenesta cana ca non siente ammore.  

Fenesta co sta nova gelosia  

tutta lucente  

de centrelle d’oro  

tu m’annascunne  

Nennella bella mia  

lassamella vedè  

sinò mo moro.  

Vaco a la chiesia e non pozzo trasire  

Me piglio l’acqua santa ed esco fora;  

Vaco a lu lietto e non pozzo dormire,  

M’aje fatto la fattura e buò ch’ io mora. 

Fenesta Ca Lucive e Mo Non Luce  

Fenesta ca lucive  

e mo nun luce  

sign’è ca Nenna mia  

stace ammalata.  

S’affaccia la sorella  

e mme lo dice:  

“Nennella toja è morta  

e s’è atterrata”.  

Chiagneva sempe ca  

dormeva sola,  

mo dorme co li muorte  


Ah mo dorme co li muorte  


Va alla chiesa e scuopre lo tavuto,  

vide nennella toja comm’è turnata.  

Da chella vocca che n’ascéano sciure  

mo’ n’ésceno li vierme, oh che pietate!  

Zi’ Parrocchiano mio, àbbice cura,  

Ah ‘na lampa sempe tiénece allummata.  

Addio fenesta restate ‘nzerrata  

ca Nenna mia mo nun se pò affacciare;  io cchiù nun passarraggio  

pe ‘sta strata: vaco a lo camposanto a passiare!  ‘Nzino a lo juorno ca la morte ‘ngrata  

mme face Nenna mia ire a trovare! 


Window With these New Blinds (The New Blinds)1 

Window with these new blinds  

all shining  

with golden tacks  

you hide from me  

my beautiful little girl  

let me see her  

otherwise I’ll die.  

Like a bewitched man I can’t leave  

From this place where the hours melt away,  Always hoping to see you open,  

You wretched window that doesn’t feel love.  

Window with these new blinds  

all shining  

with golden tacks  

you hide from me  

my beautiful little girl  

let me see her  

otherwise I’ll die.  

I go to the church and can’t enter  

I grab the holy water and step out;  

I go to bed and can’t sleep,  

You’ve cursed me and want me to die.  

Window that Used to Shine and Now Shines No More  

Window that used to shine  

and now shines no more  

it is a sign that my Girl  

is ill.  

Her sister faces out  

and tells me:  

“Your girl is dead  

and has been buried”.  

She was always crying  

for she was sleeping alone,  

now she sleeps accompanied  

by the dead.  

Ah now she sleeps accompanied  

by the dead.  

Go to the church and open her coffin,  

See your girl how she has become.  

From that mouth where flowers came forth  Now come worms, ah such a pity!  

My dear priest,2 care for her,  

Ah always keep a lantern lit for her.  

Farewell window remain closed,  

for my Girl cannot look out;  

I shall no longer pass  

down this street: I go to the cemetery to stroll!  Until the day that ungrateful death  

lets me go find my Girl!  

1 Gelosia is Neapolitan for “blinds;”similar to the French jalousie, it forms a play on words, as it also means “jealousy”.  2 Zi’ Parrocchiano, literally, “Uncle Parish Priest”, an affectionate and respectful way of referring to a priest. 

Essential Bibliography  

John Denison Champlin and William Foster Apthorp, Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Vol. 1, New York, Charles  Scribner’s Sons, 1888  

Domenico Comparetti and Alessandro D’Ancona, Canti del popolo italiano, Canti delle province meridionali, Vol. III,  Turin, Ermanno Loescher, 1872  

Gugliemo Cottrau, Passatempi musicali, Naples, Regio Stabilimento Musicale di Teodoro Cottrau,1865  Pasquale Scialò and Francesca Seller, Passatempi musicali: Guillaume Cottrau e la canzone napoletana del primo ‘800, Naples, Guida 2013  

Various, Felice Cottrau 1829-1887 Ricordo Affettuoso in ricorrenza del 3º anniversario della sua morte , Naples, Tipi  Ferrante, 1890