Mario Lanza first recorded the Neapolitan song 'Fenesta Che Lucive ("The Window That Used to Shine") for his weekly U.S. radio show on March 28, 1952. The conductor was Constantine Callinicos. This recording was first commercially released on the 2009 Sony CD Serenade: A Mario Lanza Songbook.
About the song: The oldest of the Neapolitan songs that Lanza recorded, "Fenesta Che Lucive" is sometimes attributed to the early nineteenth-century composer Vincenzo Bellini (1801-1835), presumably, Armando Cesari writes, "because it recalls a passage in [his 1831 opera] La Sonnambula." However, it was composer Guglielmo Cottrau (1797-1847), father of the better known Teodoro (composer of "Santa Lucia"), who first published the melody in 1842, with lyrics by the poet Mariano Paolella subsequently appearing in an 1854 publication. The song was apparently inspired by a mid-seventeenth-century Sicilian folk song concerning the murder of a young baroness and her lover by the former's own father and husband.
Note: There are at least four known verses to this song. Lanza sings a different second verse in each instance (see below), though, curiously, neither of them is the one recorded by Caruso, whose rendition the younger tenor must have played on numerous occasions.
#33 Fenesta Che Lucive (RCA, 1958)
Mario Lanza re-recorded Fenesta Che Lucive in Rome in December 1958 for his only all-Neapolitan concept album, Mario! (best heard on the 2006 Super Audio CD Mario! Lanza At His Best). The conductor was Franco Ferrara of Rome's Academy of Santa Cecilia, and the arranger was Carlo Savina.
A suitably serious Lanza in late 1958, just a few weeks before recording "Fenesta Che Lucive."
After you've listened to Lanza's two recordings of Fenesta Che Lucive, we hope you'll rate each of them in the polls provided here. There is also our forum discussion here.
Fenesta Che Lucive
Fenesta che lucive e mo nun luce... The once-lit window, now dark... sign'è ca nénna mia stace malata... means that my sweetheart is ill... S'affaccia la surella e mme lu dice: Her sister looks out and tells me: Nennélla toja è morta e s'è atterrata... Your sweetheart is dead and buried... Chiagneva sempe ca durmeva sola, She always used to cry that she slept alone, mo dorme co' li muorte accompagnata... Now she sleeps in the company of the dead. Mo dorme co' li muorte accompagnata. Now she sleeps in the company of the dead.
Va' nella cchiesa, e scuopre lu tavuto: Go to the church, and look into her coffin vide nennélla toja comm'è tornata... See how your sweetheart is now... Da chella vocca ca n'ascéano sciure, From the mouth that once came words of love, mo n'esceno li vierme...Oh! che piatate! But now only worms...Oh! What sadness! Si' parrocchiano mio, ábbece cura: Priest: take care of my little one: 'na lampa sempe tienece allummata... always keep a lamp lit by her... 'na lampa sempe tienece allummata. Always keep a lamp lit by her.
Different second verse on Lanza's 1952 version
Ah! nenna mia, sì morta, parvurella! Chill'uocchie chiuse nun l'arape maje! Ma ancora all'uocchie mieje tu para bella Ca sempe t'aggio amata e mmo cchiu' assaje! Potesse a lo mmacaro mori' priesto E m'atterrasse a lato a tte, nennella!
Potesse a lo mmacaro mori' priesto E m'atterrasse a lato a tte, o Cara!
(The essence of this seldom-performed verse is that the singer hopes to die as soon as possible so that he can be buried alongside his beloved.)