A Neapolitan emigrant’s nostalgic song: “L’Addio a Napoli”

L’Addio a Napoli” (Teodoro Cottrau, composer)

In my book “Love Songs in Spanish for Enjoyment and Learning” I placed most of the tangos at the end of the book and at the very end of the book I included a song in Italian, “L’Addio a Napoli.”

This might seem a strange thing to do but here’s what I was thinking: the dominant theme of many Argentine tangos is nostalgia and Italians were the main national group who emigrated to Argentina in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these Italians sailed from ports like Naples, Genoa and Palermo. Although many of them were seeking better living conditions it was still with great sorrow that they left their beautiful, beloved Italy. I think they took their nostalgia with them and even after they settled in Argentina it remained a deep, familiar emotion, one that would find expression in many a tango, not just in their generation, but in the generations that followed.

Here are the words with an English transla­tion. Google “Youtube and L’Addio a Napoli sung by Caruso.”

1. Addio, mia bella Napoli!

   Farewell, my beautiful Naples!

2. Addio! Addio!

    Farewell! Farewell!

3. La tua suave imagine,

      Your lovely image,

4. chi mai, chi mai scordar potrà?

    Who will ever be able to forget it?

5. Del ciel l’azzuro fulgido,

   The dazzling blue of the sky

6. la placida marina,

    The calm marina,

7. Qual core non innebria

   What heart does not exult

8. non bea, non bea di voluttà?

    And doesn’t bask, bask in sensual pleasure?

 (5-8:  What heart does not exult in the dazzling blue of the sky and the calm marina and bask in sensual pleasure?)

9. Il ciel, la terra e l’aura

    The sky, the land and the breeze

10. favellano d’amore.

      Tell of love.

11. E solo nel mio dolore

     And alone in my grief

12. del porto io sognerò. Io ti sognerò.

       I will dream of the port. I will dream of you.

13. Addio, mia bella Napoli!

      Farewell, my beautiful Naples!

14. Addio, addio.

      Farewell! Farewell!

15. Addio, care memorie

      Farewell, dear memories

16. del tempo che passò.

     Of the time which has passed.

17. Tutt’altro ciel mi chiama

      A completely different sky calls for me

18. Addio! addio!

      Farewell! Farewell!

19. Ma questo cor ti brama.

        But this heart longs for you

20. Il cor, il cor ti lascerò!

      This heart, this heart I will leave with you!

21. Di baci e d’armonia

      Of kisses and harmony

22. è la tua riviera.

      Is your coast.

23. O magica sirena,

      Oh magic Siren,

24. fedel, fedel a te sarò!

      Faithful, faithful to you I will be!

25 Al mio pensier più tenero

     Upon my most tender thought

26 ritornano gli istanti,

     (certain)  moments return,

27 le gioie e le memorie

      Joys and memories

28 dei miei felici dì. i miei felici dì

      Of my happy days, my happy days.

(Repeat) lines 13-16 twice.

If you enjoyed listening to Addio a Napoli you will find more of the same in my book, “Operatic Italian”.  Chapter twenty deals with operatic aspects of canzoni.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s