Article MT077

Eva Tagliani : la voce delle mascherate

ACB/CD12 booklet translation



[Introductions] [Eva Tagliani] [The record] [The Song Texts]

This is not a faithful, word by word translation of the booklet that accompanies 'la voce delle mascherate', no more is it a critical analysis of the same; I hope it will be a fairly close translation rendered into simple English, with some 'interpretation' and, I must admit, a little criticism finding its way in.

This lovely CD is now available for sale, price £12.00, from our Records page.

Danny Stradling


Introductory pieces - by the Mayor of the Comune of Brallo di Pregola

Cover picture Our lands are rich with stories, proverbs, legends, and songs; a cultural heritage that we risk losing as the elderly guardians inevitably die out.  And yet the voice of one woman has kept alive the story and identity of one community, has conserved it and, through its songs, made the most of its history.  The story of Eva Tagliani of Colleri, is similar to that of other women born in small mountain communities in the first years of the 20th century; a simple life dedicated to the family, hard peasant labour, and the experience of the paddy fields.

Like many people in our comune, both women and men, Eva always sang: in the mascherate of Carnevale (Shrove Tuesday); in the house; church and paddyfield.  Eva had an exceptional capacity to remember her oldest repertoire until the final years of her life, an extraordinary heritage of songs that, thanks to the work done by Aurelio Citelli and Giuliano Grasso in the Eighties, was documented and saved from certain disappearance.  It is a portion of this work that is presented on this CD.

I am therefore happy to present this work which constitutes such a worthy testimony to the riches of our culture, and a sign of our effort to keep alive the identity of this country.

Eva Tagliani (1907-1989), had a rich vocal heritage of narrative songs, social songs, folk songs of the rice fields, ritual pieces and lullabies; one of the oldest song 'corpuses' documented in Lombardy.

Osvaldo Ravetta

... and by the collectors/producers

This disc, a selection of the songs Eva recorded during long recording sessions at her house between '83 and '87, is to be not only a fitting homage to the memory of an extraordinary interpreter, but a concrete contribution to the remains of the precious treasury of the oral culture of the Oltrepo country.

Thanks to Raffaella Piazzardi, Bruno Tagliani and Fabio Zanforlin who supported this project, and to Elena Bergomi for the revision of the transcripts.  Particular thanks to Giovanni, Iride, Aduana, Teresa and Lucia Tagliani, Enrica Pasquetta "Richetta", and in memory of Margherita Tagliani "Batina".

Aurelio Citelli, Giuliano Grasso


Eva Tagliani - the voice of the mascherate

The mountain country - land of voices, land of tradition

In the area of Brallo, in that strip of Lombardy between Emilia and Piemonte, situated in the most mountainous part of the Appennines, there existed until recent times an interesting vocal heritage; fruit of a certain society that lived in different times and had different ways. 

This is a land of transit, paths and mule tracks that cross and connect the plain to the sea, whilst at the same time the land falls back to the interior.  The Oltrepo Mountain was always a place of meeting and assimilation of different cultures, whilst still remining a strongly conservative area.  This is poor land, tied to a subsistence economy, which in past centuries has known the effects of emigration, first to America, then to the rice areas where men and women have lent their arms for entire seasons and finally, at the end of the Seventies, to the cities of the plain; an interminable exodus that has deprived the mountains of the best part of the young population.

Yet it is here that researchers have found some of the most interesting styles and repertoires of song heard in Northern Italy: polyvocal Appennine songs called d'osteria or fermo, the repertoire of narrative songs tied to mascherate (resembling Mumming Plays) and other performance, songs from the ricefields, imported from the Padana plain, the forms of which have been contaminated by the Genovese trallalero.  Male and female repertoires, not always rigidly distinct and usually polyvocal, were influenced and transformed as they met other forms and styles.  This great variety was still in use until the Fifties and Sixties, for special ritual occasions (weddings, carnevali, springtime mumming, religious and secular feasts and festivals).  Sadly, in recent decades these forms of song have been gradually abandoned and by now - with the exception of choral d'osteria songs - almost disappeared.

Aurelio Citelli


The meeting with Eva Tagliani

In the summer of 1983 during an intense recording fieldtrip in Lombardy and the Lombard and Emilian Appennines, Giuliano Grasso and I met Eva Tagliani, the last great interpreter of narrative songs of the mountain region.  Eva had been 'discovered' by Bruno Pianta some years before.  We arrived at her house on 9 August and she agreed we would record her the following day.  The next day Eva sang and talked and we were immediately impressed by the woman herself.  That 76 year old countrywoman, thin, with a sad face marked with age and fatigue, continued to live without the trappings or 'advantages' of modernity.  Thus she still maintained the notably archaic style and exceptional knowledge of the models of the tradition, and preserved a repertoire of songs extraordinary for the integrity of the texts, some of them very similar to those gathered in the18th century,

It is difficult to be in front of a microphone for the first time, to retain your naturalness and honesty, while remaining aware of the personality of the song's protagonist.  But Eva was not only a very fine singer, she was also an excellent interpreter, and from years of performance had the art of the theatre in her blood.  She was not intimidated, and nothing altered the assurance of her performance.

After that first meeting (when she sang the versions of Draghino, Cecilia and Teresina e Eugenio, that are on this record), others followed finishing in 1987, two years before her death.  We developed a useful working relationship that, with time, became also complicity and affection.  Comfortable with our interest in 'your songs' Eva quickly took off the clothes of the 'personality'.  Never that of the singer.

The family, the rice, the mascherate

Eva Tagliani was born in 1907 in Feligara, area of the comune of Brallo di Pregola, from a peasant family.  She was the last - together with her twin Iolanda - of 10 children.  She wouldn't ever know her mother who died during their birth.  She went to school until the third class and even as a small child she had worked on the land.  "I always worked in the country, I am a countrywoman.  One cultivated the wheat, the meliga(?), potatoes.  One sowed and one harvested.  We worked all day because it was our food, we never had a day off". At 14 Eva had her first season in the ricefields, at Confienza (PV), in the Vercellese, in the Novarese, in the Milanese.  She went 'to the ricefields' for nine years until she got married.  "We went down for forty days.  We worked 8 hours, then sometimes we even had to work more hours.  He was a hard master, always bad-tempered, every day, if we stood up woe betide us, the boss would give us, eh..  it gave you a bad back.  The first year I took l.329 home, I always had it in mind ...  I was 14yrs old.  Then with L.300 we went on for a year.  At the ricework we always sang, we sang to pass the time."

Contravening the tradition which rigorously excluded the women from the carnevale (and not only in the Brallo area), Eva, now 15, and the other girls of Feligara took part in the carnevale mascherate - street performing in which 'the facts' of the narrative songs are dramatised - until then a male prerogative.  A true example of early female emancipation if one thinks of the backward socio-cultural conditions of peasant life of the time.  In the space of a few years the girls monopolised the mascherate, assuming the parts of the principal protagonists, and relegating the men to a secondary role.

Eva took part in the dramatisation of Fernanda and Bortolino, Pierina, and was the protagonist of L'ui bella, a piece that she had learned from a Piemontese woman in the ricefields, and took back to Colleri.

"L'ui bella was made by the mascherata.  "Baini" (cousin Margherita Tagliani of Feligara) was the husband, I the wife.  We made it in the country, we went to look for eggs for the carnevale.  We dressed as maschere, we sang the story.  We had the little girls behind, there were the soldiers ...  three young men, there were the musicians.  Then there was another that was the son of the king, dressed as a man.  We went down there to the square, we sang it to the priest.  Oh how we laughed when we said "you think that (he) is someone else" of the husband and the sons..."

Normally the girls participate in the mascherate until they marry.  Then the younger ones take over and dramatise additional narratives.  Iride, Eva's daughter remembers "I started to do the mascherate at 15 or 16.  Then at 20 I got married and didn't go anymore.  During the last war we still went, then that was that, we didn't do any more.  Maybe the last we did was in '50 or '51.  We didn't do the same mascherate as my mother.  We made others: Ferruccio, Un di Antonio.  We wanted to do Isabella but instead we started going out (dating); we tried to do it but we didn't manage it.  Oh, there needed to be an organiser...  We spent the winter, before Christmas, indoors.  We were in our twenties (OR there were twenty or so of us).  There were those that were the protagonists, there was the chorus.  All with costumes, everyone put on what there was in those times.  They were the Feligara team, of Colleri.  Also those of Bocco and Corbesassi, but rarely As soon as they arrive in the country they play the horn...  the shell...  the people recalled, they shouted "The maschiri have come!".  They came to all the villages around here.  Further, if they were near, in one day they could do three or four villages.  They left at 9 or 10 in the morning and came back in the evening."

In 1930 Eva married Angelo Tagliani 'Giulitti' (1901-1969), countryman and well known local piffero player, son of the Colleri innkeeper.  Eva and Giulitti had five children: Giovanni (1931), Iride (1933), Aduana (1935), Lucia (1938) and Teresa (1941).

Giulitti, a small man, quick and careful ("he never overlooked anything"), worked in the country, working with wood and in summer cutting the wheat on the hill.  He chose also an intense activity like the piffero playing, from time to time accompanying, various accordeonists (Severino Malaspina 'Severin', Dante Tagliani, both from Feligari, the 'forest' of Colleri, 'Giovanni' di Santa Margherita and 'Burtumlein' di Corbesassi).  Eva recalled: "Oh those times there, he didn't earn anything! There was misery there, I had many babies.  He made forty, fifty lire at carnevale at Bobbio - every Sunday he went to Bobbio to play."

Giulitti played at weddings, carnevale, religious festivals, accompanying the singers of Santa Croce, in May, and the song Sleep, Sleep in the church, during the Christmas novena.  Like other piffero players, as well as playing, singing and often playing in performances of the Draghino, a yearning lament that, in particular, the women loved to hear sung.  In Eva's family one always sang: both parents sang the songs and together taught them to the children.  Iride also remembers: "Eva learned the Draghino from her father, who had heard it through the Genovese.  They sang it together, at home.  We also learned it."

On summer evenings, on feast days and during the days of Christmas novena, Eva and Giulitti's house became the place in which the best singers of Colleri met, particularly the women.  They performed narrative songs and songs (strofette) learned during the rice times, and the 'facts' sung from the story-songs that they perform at the market of Varzi.  The children prefer to sing the more modern songs together in chorus, but Eva prefers the solo performance of the 'ancient' songs and by now she is the only one who knows texts, the melodies and the styles of execution.

The songs, the voice, the memory

Eva Tagliani has retained many of the songs that she learned from her family, from her home town of Feligara, and from 'the world'.  She sang them alone, straight through, sitting with her arm on the table, holding her bent head.  Her expression was almost always melancholy, as though she had entered into the tragic story that she sang.  She knew she was the only one on the Brallo mountains to possess this heritage, and she was proud of it.  The first time that we met her, she said with some satisfaction, "My songs are all very old.  No-one knows them, only I know them and that's that.  The others know some of the words and then ..."

She often sang at home even in the last years of life.  Iride recalled, "My mother never sang in company [in a group], she didn't like to.  Yes, sometimes she sang, but always with her voice in the lead.  She always sang alone at home, she still does.  She always sang her songs, those done here.  She knew lots of them.  Even when I went to see her, she said to me: "Oh I wasn't very well ...  I was too ill".  Then I left the house, and if I waited a little I would hear her singing.  She always sang."

More than once I dropped in at her house to say hello and hardly had we sat down to drink a coffee than she would ask, a little amazed: "The recorder, haven't you brought it?"  Her favourite pastime was to sing, it was her life.  She possessed an excellent memory, not only for the texts of the songs.  She remembered in a meticulous manner all the pieces that she had sung to us (including those from a year before) and she got angry when we made the mistake of asking for songs that we had already heard.

Proud of her countrywoman's status, jealous of her independence, frank to the point of being a little difficult at times, Eva possessed great intuition and was hospitable and generous in the way of the people of these mountains.  Serious and reserved, at times she was miserly with words, but never with courteous gestures, nor revealing looks.

On later visits her health was quite fragile, and often her mind ran to melancholy thoughts, as she felt the weight of her years.  She remained a simple woman with little appreciation of the frenzy of the modern world and the new ways.  But she never lost the curiosity, the thirst for understanding, and above all the need to sing.  Listening to her voice again today touches the same emotions as ever.  It brings back the image of a woman of kind spirit, rich in humanity and old knowledge.  And the mind runs to that girl of fifteen who went to the carnevale mascherate"The maschiri are coming!"

Maybe, on the Brallo mountains, on carnevale days, you still hear a voice that sings.  It is the voice of Eva, the voice of the mascherate.

Aurelio Citelli

Historical songs, performed ballads
The narrative repertoire of Eva Tagliani

Even from the first recording session with Eva Tagliani we realised that we were in the presence of an important figure.  She wasn't one of those many interpreters found participating only on the margins of the community, she was rather the conscious depository of the tradition of a wide historical and geographical radius, one of those rare people who holds the keys of popular culture, and preserves them with a deep understanding of her charge.

The style and the repertoire

Eva Tagliani possessed a vast repertoire, but what was surprising was the highly selective filter that she practised, whether in respect of the text or the manner of execution.  In other words, even singing with her children or with her friends, she preferred to sing only a rather restricted group of long songs of intense narrative character, often underlined by minor key tunes, whether very old or more recent, in which the course of the action takes on dramatic development.

[At this point Grasso launches into several hundred words regarding the style in which Eva Tagliani sang, along the lines of:

'...  transverse dictated from evident characteristics aesthetic-functional it was like a minor valuation of the lyrical-monostrophical songs, and also a veiled disinterest for the narrative polyvocal songs...'
or '...in which the pure vocal action remains only subsidiary to the importance assumed instead by verbal communication...'
or even 'The strophic system was in fact often constituted from only 4 [emistichi] according to the AB/AB, AB/CD, AA/BC or AA/BB models.  In the case of the [incipit], that often happens with rising feeling, the decorative group often precedes the note of attack to assume its shape then as the carriage of the passage to the first note of reference, that normally coincides with the tonic but that is also able to be the dominant'.
For such an apparently laid-back people, the Italians do take their leisure pursuits very much more seriously than we Brits; I recommend ploughing through a tabloid report on a high profile football match for the ultimate in bewildered stupefaction.  This pseudo-intellectual bullshit is not only essential for any project which hopes for official funding, it is equally essential for the artists and the audience to feel they have not been short-changed.  However, I could not bring myself to translate this entire section - my life is too short and my dictionary too small !!!  For those of you who feel you are at a loss without this extra depth of understanding, I respectfully direct you to the section Lo stile e il repertorio pp.6-7 of the booklet.]

The Mascherate

The most singular characteristic of Eva Tagliani's repertoire was from the drama, the mascherate, which was extant until the second world war, and occasionally performed the early Fifties.  These were the carnival 'shows' typical of the Brallo region, in particular the villages of Colleri and Feligara, and their main purpose was alms collection.  This was true street theatre, the most enthralling ballads with bloody and dramatic conclusions (Ratto al ballo, Cecilia) and, more recently, numerous narative songs with the same characteristics.  They were staged by a little company of young people who sang the text, representing various characters, also miming the most significant situations.  The short length of a narrative song, composed of numerous movements, is perfectly adapted to the action of this narrow, moving stage; in the course of a day, these 'plays' need to be repeated as many times as possible to maximise the profit of the collection.  While, by custom, they were once carried out only by the men, after the first world war the ritual was spread to the women, allowing such as Eva Tagliani, recognised from girlhood for her vocal talent, to take the part of the lead voice in diverse mascherate, in particular L'ui bella and Fernanda e Bortolino.

The importance of the carnival mascherate had long been recognised.  Evidence of a folklore study for the Dept. of Elona, promoted by Napoleon in 1811, and comprising the territory of Pavia, found that: "... in the carnival and on the last days of the same, some dressed as maschere ... and [in] these clothes, in a group go at nights into the stables and the houses and do the plays."  Also in the Archive for the Study of the Popular Traditions of the 1900s we can read a testimony of Enrico Filippini regarding the Pavese: "...this for the most part consists of the performance of one popular play, and for the bizarre costumes that the participants wear and take the name of mascherata... that takes place on the evening of Fat Saturday (before Martedi Grasso)."

The same practices were confirmed in research carried out in the same period, in the Hills of Oltrepo, by the folklorist Alessandro Maragliano, whose results only came to light in the Seventies.

In some cases the titles of the short popular dramas like Guerin Meschino, I reali di Francia, Il Re Gugliondo or Pia de' Tolomei suggest a relationship with the more noted tradition of popular theatre of the Maggi of the Tuscan-Emiliano Appennines that were spread as far as the Parmense Mountain, until the early 1900s.  From this movement it is possible to hypothesise an earlier, more ancient spread as far as the Piacentino/Piavese territory.

Of course, the dramatisation of ballads also needed to be practised, and in an area probably larger than the zone of Brallo, to account for the existence of apparently indigenous ballads in the neighbouring zones of Val Tidone and of the Val Trebbia (PC) into this century.  Among these was recorded the ballad of Santa Caterina, who was martyred, which within a few decades became sung and dramatised on the 25 November in the Piazza di Niviano by young people in costume.

So the mascherate, a particular way of merging stage action and narrative song, became charactistic of this stretch of the Appennines (though similar rituals are found sporadically in Canavese and in Central Italy).  Also, in the piffero tradition the ritual song of the Sposina anticipated a kind of dramatisation; thus the song San Giusep l'era parti, which relates to the Christmas performance Pastor Gelando, was collected in the same area, just a few kms from Brallo.

The record

[Unlike the song notes on most records from English speaking countries, Giuliano Grasso's are concerned mainly with style rather than story or history , and as with the above section, 'Style and Repertoire', I have chosen to leave those details to the more diligent Italophiles]

On the record, there are five pieces which remain particularly in the oral memory as a record of the mascherate, in which Eva Tagliani took the role of the protagonist.  Of these, two clearly belong to the more archaic narrative repertoire and correspond nearly to much earlier pieces.

L'ui bella (abduction at the dance) - was also collected from the Maragliano at the start of the century.

Cecilia - a very old dramatic ballad, with a richer finale than those collected from Nigra and with an interesting melody, constructed in the doric mode.

Mamma perche piangi - learned from Angelo, a postcard and leaflet seller ("...  he sang all the night and made the women that had a son at the battlefront cry ...  he came always in my house because he liked one of my sisters.")

Fernanda e Bortolino and Teresina e Eugenio - are fragments of ballads .......  The minor mode of these three pieces gives a clear flavour late eighteenhundreds.

Of the other pieces, Si l'era un giovane di Milane (the false nun) is one of the few stories that finish with a positive epilogue that foretells the tragic character of the teller; this ballad was never dramatised in the mascherate.  This ballad, with identical melody and analogous text, was also collected in the Piacentino.

Monte Nero - is a well-known song of the first world war.  It was written by soldier Domenico Borella, after the tragic battle of Carso that happened in June 1915.  It uses the melody of pre-existing songs of prison and the underworld (Gino Negri, the Moor of the Vedra).  This version is distinguished by its strong antimilitarist character and it was sung only after some resistence ("... I don't know if I can sing it...  I don't want to go to prison").  It was prohibited by the authorities during the first world war and later, during Fascism.

In view of their importance and textual integrity, we have included La Santa Croce and Draghino, which we published more than 13 years ago, together with two other songs from the repertoire of her childhood (Ninna nanna and Richeta Richettina).

La Santa Croce - is a song of spring alms collection, taken from the male repertoire.  A call and response song that, until twenty years ago, was perfomed at Colleri on the nights of 2/3 May, St Croce Day, by two teams of singers - at times accompanied by the playing of piffero and melodeon.

Draghino - a song unique of its kind, on which we have already written.  An exceptional epic of the legendary piffero player of Val Boreca who lived on horseback from 1700-1800 and died during the 'Five Nights of Milan'.

Of his enterprises, musical and criminal (he was said to have killed, among others, three wives and one piffero player of whom he was jealous), there still remain vast echoes by way of anecdotes, songs and legends.  In one sort of via crucis, the song - maybe composed by Draghino himself - describes his imprisonment in Bobbio prison, from where he will be freed, saved by his ability as a musician.

Of the many versions collected, all fairly fragmentary, this one from Eva Tagliani is extraordinarily complete.  It was taught to her by her husband, Angelo "Giulitti" Tagliani, an able piffero player, well-known in all the areas of the quattro province.

Eva's capacity for superb interpretation of the spirit of the protagonists and the narrative development, as well as consistently faultless rendition of the text is remarkable at the age of 76.  These gifts, now rare, belong to the most expert interpreters of ballads and fables, true specialists in the communication used to entertain a small local public during the long winter evenings.

In our experience, Eva Tagliani cannot be simply considered one of the many narrative singers of Brallo; in the first decades of the century she was one of the most important voices of the mascherate, but her singing skill was not at all a characteristic of her youth.  On the contrary, Eva has consciously, all her life, conserved a whole repertoire of narrative song forgotten (or ignored) by other country singers, performed with a solo voice style that belongs to an old phase of the oral tradition - particularly relevant in an area that is characterised by an interesting polyvocal skill, whether male or female.

For this reason, among others, we believe that it was important to dedicate an entire record to her and to the songs that carry her name.

Giuliano Grasso

The Song Texts

Song texts can be notoriously difficult to interpret, even in one's own language.  Where I have taken liberties, and freely interpreted what is not entirely clear, I have placed square brackets; I have also done this with Italian words for which I can find no translation/equivalent.  Where I met total incomprehensibility, I have resorted to ellipses.  DS

1.  L'ui bella (abduction at the dance) - in dialect with Italian translation - from the ricefields; used in the Mascherate.  29/7/84

The beautiful girl is on the sea
[She] sings so well

play Sound Clip The son of the king sends out soldiers
To see who it is that sings

"[She] sings not for you
And she is already married"

"Married or not married
I want her for my bride"

The son of the king has thrown a ball
For the married women

All the others went to the ball
And the beauty never went

"Oh husband, my dear husband
Let me go to the ball"

"I would let you go to the ball
You are beautiful and they would carry you away"

"I will go and I will come back
And I will be like the others"

"The others will go and will come back
You would not want to come home any more"

"Oh husband, my dear husband
What clothes do I need to put on?"

"You put on the clothes of the [cannellini]
That you will seem like a lady"

And the beauty went to the ball.
The son of the king gave her his hand

They made two or three turns
Then she retires in the room

She said "My dear husband [will grieve]
That I don't go ever to my home."

"Don't think of your dear husband
But think to have another
More handsome, more kind
More noble than the other"

"What will I say to my dear sons
If I never return home?"

"Don't think of your sons
But think to have others
More handsome, and more kind
More noble than the others"

And the lady goes out for a walk
Along the edge of the sea

When she was halfway
She heard a voice calling

"They will be my dear sons
That call to their mama"

"You go home, my dear sons
I am no longer your mama

I give my life to the sea
And my spirit to the sky"

2.  Mamma perche piangi (Mama why do you cry?) - from a street seller/performer.  (29/7/84)

"Mama why do you cry, Oh my adored mother
I see you sad - I need to know why this is"

play Sound Clip "I cry dear son because you are going to be a soldier
You need to abandon me and who knows if you would return"

"You know that I am a conscript and I will part long from you
And [avvellitta] will be the news
Always quickly to stay, always quickly to stay"

"You know that there is a war so you need to go
You could also be dead - Oh, dear son, I won't see you more"

"Oh mama be quiet, be quiet - you know I am not cowardly
Always with my gun, if there is need [I know I won't fail in my duty]"

"If you would know my great sorrow if you die
Come, at the end of your tether, to your mother
I will think of you, I will think of you."

3.  Fernanda e Bortolino - from the mascherate(29/7/84)

I will sing to you of love and jealousy:
One Fernanda and the other Lucia;
One Fernanda and the other the sister;
One ugly while the other beautiful.
And Fernanda was in love
With dear Bartolino; a rich young man.

Lucia was jealous of such a love
And could not sleep from the passion.
She said "If my sister is married
I will be driven to death from vexation.
I want to cut off that marriage
I do not want my sister to get married"

In America they have a cousin
Called Gino
and the happy family await him
Who returns after ten years.
And Lucia immediately thought
To meet the cousin again.

She secretly wrote a note
Where was written these vile words:
'If you want to see Fernanda, Oh Bortolino,
All the love and the good that you want
[She gives to] another; if you are [moregia] of it
This evening in the garden you would find them'.

Bortolino was humiliated at such words
And he wanted to be avenged on Fernanda.
Late that evening he comes [promunito]
He goes to a place behind a bush
And when he sees Fernanda with the cousin
He takes a revolver and then shouts thus:

"Oh infamous lady, perjurer, you cannot deny
You have betrayed my love with your cousin.
Your sister came to advise me
Now your destiny will be finished"
He grasped the revolver at the heart
And on the unfortunate wretch; two shots - and she vanished.

Fernanda that for earth [egonizzante]
"Oh Bortonlino I swear to you, we are innocent.
My sister is a great rogue
... that giving [impartinente]
Oh Bortolino, you see, was dying
They pardon you, still you need my kiss."

4.  Era un bel giovane di Milan (It was a fine young man of Milan) - not mascherate.  (29/7/84)

It was a fine young man of Milan
He dressed himself as a friar
To go and find a beautiful hostess

play Sound Clip When he [was there and had eaten something]
The friar he began to cry

"O friar, why did you cry?
I cry [because I go at night]
alone in bed to rest"

"Alone on the bed you will not be
I will send my servingmaid"

"I don't want your servingmaid;
I want your daughter,
Because the maid is too small"

"Margaritina, [come] you down from there.
You take a candle
To go to sleep with the friar"

"Papa and Mama [look] well
At two very white hands.
They seem to be the hands of my love.
And two eyes, such beautiful eyes
Seem to be the eyes of my love"

When he had been half the night
The friar spoke of love

"I am not a friar
I am your one-time love
If you would speak you would be dead"

"Madame hostess I am ready, ready
Ready to give the sheet
If you want your daughter to marry
Ready a [fasa] and a [cüna]
If your daughter gets a fortune."

5.  La Santa Croce - used for alms collecting until twenty years ago.  (29/7/84)

S.Croce arrives, the grass with flowers ..........

This is a 'Welcome to the Spring' song, in much the same vein as Sumer is Acumin In.  It is in dialect, and is not translated into Italian - nor, I'm afraid, into English.

6.  Cecilia (in dialect with Italian translation) - very old [first reference 1547].  (10/8/83)

There is poor Cecilia who cries night and day
Her husband is in prison - they want to kill him

And she has made a trip inside the castle
She goes to look for the captain, she meets the colonel.

"Oh buongiorno, signor colonel, I need a favour
My husband is in prison, will you free him?"

"Oh yes, yes, dear Cecilia, a favour I would do for you
As long as you come one night to sleep with me"

"I will ask my husband, yes I will ask him
And if he's happy - or even 50% happy."

"Oh husband, my dear husband, a pardon has arrived for you
if you would be happy I want to free you"

"Tell me, tell me, dear Cecilia - tell me the truth too.
What favour has arrived to free me?"

"I am not telling you a lie, but I tell you the truth.
I must spend one night to sleep with the colonel."

"You go, you go, my Cecilia, go to your destiny;
That tomorrow morning I will be dead and buried"

And in the morning early Cecilia on the balcony
[Stood] to see her husband that was hanged

"How smart is that colonel; he has betrayed me
He has taken my honour, and the life of my husband"

"Oh no, no Cecilia, I have not betrayed you
Here there are three officials who will wed you, if you want"

"No I don't want any of them, I want my husband.
I will go to the judge, I will go and tell it to him."

"Oh buongiorno signor judge, without these reasons
He has killed my husband.  Give me satisfaction."

"Oh yes, yes Cecilia, I make the law well.
Who has killed your husband; I will punish him well"

7.  Monte Nero - battle of 1915.  (29/7/84)

At sunrise on 24 May commenced the artillery fire
The Third Alpines for the road; Monte Nero to win

Oh, Monte Nero, where are you; Oh traitor of my life;
I left my home, to come to you to conquer.

To conquer Monte Nero; we have lost many comrades;
Oh, in the prime of their 20 years - their lives will not return again.

Oh, Monte Nero where are you, or how many times ... crossed you?
And the snow and ice I believe will kill me.

And from Cadore to the Monte Santo it is all avalanches.
There is all trenches full of blood and all the blood is of youth.

But these cowardly men that have wanted this war;
All we poor are in the war, and they all amuse themselves in the city.

Oh Italy, what do you think? - the shops full of cereal,
But the Italian soldier is dead of hunger.

Oh Italy, what do you think? with your people so ardent
And you have never given them anything - why, now they want to betray you.

8.  Draghino (in dialect - Italian translation) - extraordinarily complete, taught to her by her husband Angelo "Giulitti" Tagliani (10/8/83)

When he left Cicagna, poor Draghino has made a [Bisagna].
You have courage dear Draghino; that this is your destiny.

play Sound Clip When he was at Montebruno, poor Draghino still had none of it.

When he went to go up to Ponte Organasco, poor Draghino dried his forehead.

When he went to go up to Montarsolo, poor Draghino missed his heart.

When he went to go up to Carana, poor Draghino made a plan.

When he was in the town, poor Draghino didn't [leave again].

When he was at the prison door, he drank a glass of good wine
To give him courage to enter the prison.

Oh, to my Milan I would go; I would go with my piffero in my hand
To give cheer to the gentlemen of Milan.

9.  Teresina e Eugenio (10/8/83)

Near Florence there is a [casetina - brothel?] where lived Teresina.
Their parents weren't happy that Teresina and Eugenio were in love.

And Teresina she was nine months; Eugenio from 5 years was [a soldier] under the banner.
She gave light to a baby boy and girl and of the beauty of an angel of paradise.
And she wrote them and she sent them ...  and with regret she [warned] them.

The son you will give him the name Tito and the girl my name, Giuseppina.
Take great care of them in my fidelity; if not give them to a wet nurse.

And Teresina listens to these words; she said "my father, I go to [breast] feed them;
I will give them the milk of my breast, so that I won't forget them.
Sacrificing the children she bred; [Meanwhile] Eugenio in the regiment found another [lover].

"Eugenio if you love me for my millions, I will make you the master of my possessions
Joined [in the bargain] in Marsiglia when we are down there,
I will make you a rich gentleman, you won't be poor again."

And Teresina was sick in bed; all the doctors were sent for.
Her Marsiglia cousin arrived and recounted all to Teresina.
"I give a kiss to two children."  She said "To me, Eugenio, you are a traitor."

And Teresina got up early in the morning; she said "father I am going to work"
And took some money and some money; immediately she went to the station.
She took the through train and went on it; when it reached Marsiglia she immediately got off.

Going on Via Nasionale, she met Eugenio with two young women;
One was in her jewellery; the other stayed in her company.
She pulled out a pen on the heart [she drew a plan?];
Now they are happy to be able to gather together.

"When this thing is announced.
Truly they will condemn me in life.
All the people will be sorry for it,
Of my youth and how I was betrayed.
He made me mother of two lovely children
And married another to be a rich gentleman."

Danny Stradling - 21.7.01

[Introductions] [Eva Tagliani] [The record] [The Song Texts]

Article MT077

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