"Speak Softly Love (Love Theme from The Godfather)" is a song written for The Godfather (1972), the first film in The Godfather trilogy. While its instrumental version is simply known as "The Godfather Love Theme", "Speak Softly Love" is the vocal version. The words are by Larry Kusik but the music itself is by Nino Rota. The signature musical theme that opens the piece closely models a theme that appears early in "Preludio - Povero Ernesto!" in the opera Don Pasquale by Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848). A similar melody also appears in the Overture to "La Forza del Destino" by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901). There are also different sets of lyrics for the song in Italian ("Parla Più Piano"), French ("Parle Plus Bas") and also in Sicilian ("Brucia La Terra"). The Sicilian version is sung by Anthony Corleone (Franc D'Ambrosio) in The Godfather Part III.
Rota had used a more comedic version of the song for the 1958 film Fortunella. When this was discovered, Rota's score for The Godfather was disqualified from consideration at the 1973 Academy Awards; it had been nominated for Best Original Score. However, Rota's score for The Godfather Part II won the 1974 Academy Award for Best Score, despite containing the same piece.
Sergio Franchi recorded the theme song his 1976 DynaHouse album 20 Magnificent Songs. He recorded it as a medley with "I Have But One Heart" on two other 1976 albums. There is also a very rare video of Franchi singing the Medley on YouTube in an unreferenced TV appearance
The song was covered by several Hong Kong singers, Frances Yip (葉麗儀) on her LP album Golden Hits in 1972, Irene Ryder (黎愛蓮) on her LP album Irene in 1973, Juliana Luok (陸小雅) on her LP album Killing Me Softly, and also, by Singaporean singer Ling Ying (林櫻) on her LP album The Best Of Lin Ying & The Prinstar Punchers in 1972.