More than any other regional repertoire, Neapolitan song defined the Italian popular music tradition. From international celebrities like Enrico Caruso to the most middling small-town vedette, Neapolitan musicians transcended local identity and attracted new audiences by abandoning the operatic tendencies of Italian song, introducing new subjects, and embracing new musical trends like the foxtrot, blues, and tango. In this way, they helped to create one of the first modern examples of a truly transnational musical style. This lively history spans the years from Italian unification to the fascist regime of the early twentieth century to trace the transformation of songs written in regional dialect into a wildly popular art form recognized around the world. As author Simona Frasca shows, the Neapolitan song tradition benefited from serendipitous historical circumstances: although they were forced to join the mass migration of Italians to New York and other American urban centres between 1880 and 1920, Neapolitan musicians managed to maintain strong ties with the art form's origins in Italy. By marrying a strong sense of tradition with an openness to new forms, these musicians helped to present a distinct form of 'Italianness' to the world even as they participated, along with other ethnic groups, to the production of 'American' identity.
"Frasca combines all her talents in this thorough history and criticism of the role the Neapolitan song has played in shaping Italian and American cultures. She has done some great work digging up the facts and stories behind the songs we all know and love. But more than reveal the lives of those who composed, performed, produced and distributed such classics as 'O Sole Mio' and 'Core 'ngrato,' Frasca provides keen interpretations of the music's form and content. Illustrated with period photos, historical portraits, lyrics, playbills and posters, Birds of Passage, brings new insights of the Neapolitan song and will no doubt be the basis for future studies and analyses of this phenomenon." - Fred L. Gardaphe, Distinguished Professor of Italian American Studies, Queens College, CUNY, USA 'In this fascinating study of the transatlantic migration of Neapolitan song moving back and forth between Naples and New York in the early part of the twentieth century we hear histories and cultures sustained in sound. In a Neapolitan voice in lower Manhattan, in a tune sustained in a transatlantic passage, we catch the complex and popular fashioning of modern metropolitan life. Here music transports and translates seemingly separate historical and cultural localities into a shared and richly differentiated soundscape.' - Iain Chambers, Professor of Cultural, Postcolonial, and Mediterranean Studies, University of Naples, 'L'Orientale", Italy, and author of Migrancy, Culture, Identity (1994) and Mediterranean Crossings: The Politics of an Interrupted Modernity (2008)
Series: Italian and Italian American Studies
Number Of Pages: 284
Published: 25th September 2014
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Dimensions (cm): 22.3 x 14.4 x 2.0
Weight (kg): 0.45