Funiculì, Funiculà

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"Funiculì, Funiculà"
("Funiculì, Funiculà")
Music by Luigi Denza
Lyrics by Peppino Turco
Published 1880
Language Neapolitan
Performed by Mario Lanza

"Funiculì, Funiculà" is a famous Neapolitan song that was written in 1880, with lyrics by journalist Peppino Turco set to music by composer Luigi Denza. It was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular cable car on Mount Vesuvius. The 1880 cable car was later destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 1944. (Some remains of the top station were still visible in September 2012.) The song was sung for the first time in the Quisisana Hotel in Castellammare di Stabia and met with huge success. It was presented by Turco and Denza at the Piedigrotta festival during the same year. Edward Oxenford, an English songwriter and translator of libretti, published a version which became somewhat traditional in English-speaking countries.

The title itself, "funiculì, funiculà", in Neapolitan, means "funicular up, funicular down".

Classical versions & unintentional plagiarism[edit]

Six years after "Funiculì, Funiculà" was composed, German composer Richard Strauss heard the song while on a tour of Italy. Thinking that it was a traditional Neapolitan folk song, he later incorporated it into his Aus Italien tone poem. Denza filed a lawsuit against Strauss and eventually won. Strauss was forced to pay him a royalty fee.[1] Another who mistook "Funiculì, Funiculà" for a traditional folk song was Russian composer Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov, who used it in his 1907 work, Neapolitanskaya pesenka (Neapolitan Song).[2][3] Modernist composer Arnold Schoenberg set a version for string quartet[4] which was used in an episode of the TV sitcom Seinfeld. Also, the song was used in an episode of Home Improvement. The 1962 Walt Disney TV production Escapade In Florence features a song entitled, "Dream Boy"; this is a lyric written by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman to the melody of "Funiculì, Funiculà".[5] An earlier Disney adaptation was performed in the Mickey and the Beanstalk segment of the 1947 animated feature Fun and Fancy Free in which a starving Goofy, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse fantasize about a sumptuous feast.

Later, the song was performed by many artists including The Grateful Dead, Erna Sack, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Alessandro Safina, Vincent Niclo & Red Army Choir, Andrea Bocelli, Anna German, Luciano Pavarotti, Il Volo, and Larry the Cucumber of VeggieTales (with new lyrics as "Larry's High Silk Hat)" in the episode "Lyle the Kindly Viking" (written by Marc Vulcano).

Original Neapolitan lyrics[edit]

Aissera, oje Nanniné, me ne sagliette,
tu saje addó, tu saje addó
Addó 'stu core 'ngrato cchiù dispietto
farme nun pò! Farme nun pò!
Addó lu fuoco coce, ma se fuje
te lassa sta! Te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te struje
sulo a guardà, sulo a guardà.

Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
Jamme, jamme 'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà!
funiculì, funiculà!
'ncoppa, jamme jà,
funiculì, funiculà!

Né, jamme da la terra a la montagna!
Nu passo nc'è! Nu passo nc'è!
Se vede Francia, Proceta e la Spagna...
Io veco a tte! Io veco a tte!
Tirato co la fune, ditto 'nfatto,
'ncielo se va, 'ncielo se va.
Se va comm' 'a lu viento a l'intrasatto,
guè, saglie, sà!

Jamme, jamme ...

Se n'è sagliuta, oje né, se n'è sagliuta,
la capa già! La capa già!
È gghiuta, po' è turnata, po' è venuta,
sta sempe ccà! Sta sempe ccà!
La capa vota, vota, attuorno, attuorno,
attuorno a tte! Attuorno a tte!
Stu core canta sempe nu taluorno:
Sposamme, oje né! Sposamme, oje né!

Jamme, jamme ...[6]

English translation[edit]

Yesterday evening, O Nannina [nickname for Giovanna], I climbed up,
Do you know where?
To where an ungrateful heart can no longer vex me!
Where a fire is burning, but if you flee
It lets you be.
It doesn't chase you, doesn't melt you, with just one glance!
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Let's go to the top, Funiculì, funiculà!

Let's go from here below up to the mountain, O Nannina, a step away!
You can see France, Procida, and Spain,
And I see you!
You rise, pulled by a cable, quick as a wink
into the sky.
We'll rise up like a whirlwind all of a sudden knows how to do!
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Let's go to the top, Funiculì, funiculà!

My head is spinning, O Nannina, It's gone up there already!
It went there, spun 'round, and then returned:
It's always here!
My head is spinning, spinning,
Encircling you!
This heart of mine is always singing
the same refrain:
"Marry me, O Nannina"!
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Let's go, let's go, let's go to the top,
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Let's go to the top, Funiculì, funiculà![7]

Traditional English lyrics, by Edward Oxenford[edit]

Sheet music version

An English version of the song is subtitled "A Merry Life".[8]

Some think the world is made for fun and frolic,
And so do I! And so do I!
Some think it well to be all melancholic,
To pine and sigh; to pine and sigh;
But I, I love to spend my time in singing,
Some joyous song, some joyous song,
To set the air with music bravely ringing
Is far from wrong! Is far from wrong!
Harken, harken, music sounds a-far!
Harken, harken, with a happy heart!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Joy is everywhere, funiculì, funiculà!

Ah me! 'tis strange that some should take to sighing,
And like it well! And like it well!
For me, I have not thought it worth the trying,
So cannot tell! So cannot tell!
With laugh, with dance and song the day soon passes
Full soon is gone, full soon is gone,
For mirth was made for joyous lads and lasses
To call their own! To call their own!
Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar!
Harken, harken, hark the soft guitar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Hark the soft guitar, funiculì, funiculà![9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Authentic Singing: The history of singing by Edward Foreman,
  2. ^ Nicolas Slonimsky: Russian and Soviet music and composers.
  3. ^ Classical Archives.
  4. ^ Why We Are Still Afraid of Arnold Schoenberg
  5. ^ *Sherman, Robert B. Walt's Time: from before to beyond. Santa Clarita: Camphor Tree Publishers, 1998, pg. 231.
  6. ^ See Russell Watson's Online lyrics
  7. ^ Translated with some help from the Storia di Napoli online dictionary and Russell Watson's Online lyrics
  8. ^ *National Institutes of Health page with traditional English lyrics
  9. ^ Sheet music for Funiculì Funiculà, with loose translation into standard Italian and traditional English version.

External links[edit]