'O sole mio

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"'O sole mio"
First edition sheet music cover[1]
Composer(s)Eduardo di Capua
Alfredo Mazzucchi
Lyricist(s)Giovanni Capurro

"'O sole mio" (Neapolitan pronunciation: [o ˈsoːlə ˈmiːə]) is a well-known Neapolitan song written in 1898. Its Neapolitan language lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua (1865–1917) and Alfredo Mazzucchi (1878–1972).[2] The title translates literally as "my sun" or "my sunshine".[3] The lyrics have been translated to other languages.


Neapolitan lyrics[4][5][6][7] English translation[8][9]  

Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole,
n'aria serena doppo na tempesta!
Pe' ll'aria fresca pare già na festa...
Che bella cosa na jurnata 'e sole.

Ma n'atu sole cchiù bello, oi ne',[10]
  'o sole mio sta nfronte a te!
  'o sole, 'o sole mio
  sta nfronte a te, sta nfronte a te!

Lùceno 'e llastre d''a fenesta toia;
'na lavannara canta e se ne vanta
e pe' tramente torce, spanne e canta,
lùceno 'e llastre d''a fenesta toia.


Quanno fa notte e 'o sole se ne scenne,
me vene quasi 'na malincunia;
sotto 'a fenesta toia restarria
quanno fa notte e 'o sole se ne scenne.


What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!
The air is serene after a storm,
The air is so fresh that it already feels like a celebration.
What a beautiful thing is a sunny day!

  But another sun, even more beauteous, oh my sweetheart,[10]
  My own sun, shines from your face!
  This sun, my own sun,
  Shines from your face; It shines from your face!

Your window panes shine;
A laundress is singing and boasting about it;
And while she's wringing the clothes, hanging them up to dry, and singing,
Your window panes shine.

When night comes and the sun has gone down,
I almost start feeling melancholy;
I'd stay below your window
When night comes and the sun has gone down.


Jānis Vītiņš

"'O sole mio" has been performed and covered by many artists, including Enrico Caruso, Rosa Ponselle and her sister Carmella, Andrea Bocelli,[11] Beniamino Gigli, Richard Tucker[12] and Mario Lanza. Sergio Franchi recorded this song on his 1962 RCA Victor Red Seal debut album Romantic Italian Songs.[13] Luciano Pavarotti won the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Classical Vocal Performance for his rendition of "'O sole mio".

Authorship and copyright[edit]

For nearly 75 years after its publication, the music of 'O sole mio had generally been attributed to Eduardo di Capua alone. According to the traditional account, di Capua had composed it in April 1898 in Odessa, while touring with his father's band.[14] It has turned out, however, that the melody was an elaboration of one of 23 which di Capua had bought from another musician, Alfredo Mazzucchi, in the preceding year.

In November 1972, shortly after her father's death, Mazzucchi's daughter lodged a declaration with Italy's Office of Literary, Artistic and Scientific Property, which sought to have her father recognised as a co-composer of 18 of di Capua's songs, including 'O sole mio. In October 2002, Maria Alvau, a judge in Turin, upheld the declaration, ruling that Mazzucchi had indeed been a legitimate co-composer of the 18 songs, because they included melodies he had composed and then sold to di Capua in June 1897, with a written authorisation for the latter to make free use of them.[2][15][16][17] At the time of the decision, therefore, the melody of 'O sole mio had not yet—as had been widely supposed—entered into the public domain in any country that was a party to the Berne Convention during the relevant period. In most countries where copyright in a work lasts for 70 years after any of its authors' deaths, the melody will remain under copyright until 2042.

English versions[edit]

In 1915, Charles W. Harrison recorded the first English translation of "'O sole mio". In 1921, William E. Booth-Clibborn wrote lyrics for a hymn using the music, entitled "Down from His Glory."[18]

In 1949 U.S. singer Tony Martin recorded "There's No Tomorrow" with lyrics by Al Hoffman, Leo Corday, and Leon Carr, which used the melody of "'O sole mio". About ten years later, while stationed in Germany with the U.S. Army, Elvis Presley heard the recording and put to tape a private version of the song. Upon his discharge, he requested that new lyrics be written especially for him, a job that was undertaken by the songwriting duo of Aaron Schroeder and Wally Gold, with a demo by David Hill. The rewritten version was entitled "It's Now or Never" and was a worldwide hit for Presley. When performing it in concert in the mid-1970s, Elvis would explain the origin of "It's Now Or Never" and have singer Sherrill Nielsen perform a few lines of the original Neapolitan version before commencing with his version.

Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961). Actor John Schneider also had a hit with it in 1981. It was on the Billboard Pop charts at number 14 and the Country charts at number 4.

In popular culture[edit]

  • At the opening ceremony of the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, "'O sole mio" was played in place of the Italian national anthem, whose sheet music had not been delivered to the band.[19]
  • A series of television commercials for Cornetto ice cream, broadcast regularly in Britain during the 1980s, used a jingle ("Just One Cornetto ...") set to the melody of "'O sole mio". The jingle was widely reported as having been performed by Renato Pagliari,[20][21][22] but after Pagliari's death in 2009, his son denied this.[18]


  1. ^ Del Bosco (2006, Caption to plate 1, facing p. 112).
  2. ^ a b Del Bosco (2006, pp. 54–57, 115–18).
  3. ^ How To Pronounce "'O sole mio"
  4. ^ de Fabio, Umberto, "'O sole mio", Napoletanita, retrieved 12 January 2018
  5. ^ Scores at the International Music Score Library Project (IMSLP) and Art Song Central websites:
  6. ^ Del Bosco (2006, p. 17)
  7. ^ Matthews, Jeff, "Texts & Audio to Neapolitan Songs", Naples: Life, Death & Miracles, retrieved 10 January 2018
  8. ^ Capurro et al. (1904, online copy); Capurro et al. (1918, online copy) Capurro et al. (1909, online copy). The English lyrics found in these scores are not literal translations. Their meanings sometimes stray quite far from that of the original Neapolitan.
  9. ^ Del Bosco (2006, pp. 119, 120, 124–26). Pages 119 and 120 contain a literal translation into standard Italian, and Capurro's own rendering into a non-literal poetic version in that language, respectively. Pages 124 to 126 contain three non-literal versions of lyrics in English.
  10. ^ a b Literally, "Oh baby (girl)", but commonly used, as here, by a suitor as a term of endearment when addressing his sweetheart, the term "ne'" being a contraction of "nenna", and meaning "baby girl", or "young girl" (Del Bosco 2006, p. 103). The widely circulated rendering of this as "non c'è" in Italian (i.e. "there is not" in English) is an error (Del Bosco 2006, pp. 101–2).
  11. ^ Phillips-Matz, Mary Jane (1997). Rosa Ponselle: American Diva. University Press of New England. p. 107. ISBN 9781555533175.
  12. ^ Audio recording: Songs From Sunny Italy: Richard Tucker and Alfredo Antonini performing "O Sole Mio" in 1950 on Archive.org
  13. ^ "Sergio Franchi – Romantic Italian Songs", Discogs, retrieved 12 January 2018
  14. ^ Del Bosco (2006, pp. 20, 42, 43).
  15. ^ A declaration to that effect, signed by Mazzucchi, and dated 6 June 1897, was tendered as evidence in the case (Del Bosco 2006, p. 116).
  16. ^ Tricomi, Antonio (9 October 2002), "'O Sole mio spunta un giallo" ['O Sole Mio produces a thriller], La Repubblica (in Italian)
  17. ^ D'Errico, Enzo (9 October 2002), "Il grande affare di "'O sole mio"" [The vast affair of 'O Sole Mio], Corriere della Sera (in Italian), p. 38, archived from the original on 8 July 2012
  18. ^ a b McCann, Ian (10 April 2017). "O sole mio: from Neapolitan ballad to football chant, via Elvis". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 14 January 2018.(subscription required)
  19. ^ Del Bosco (2006, pp. 6, 23).
  20. ^ Sweeting, Adam (6 August 2009). "Renato Pagliari". The Guardian. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  21. ^ Clayson, Alan (25 August 2009). "Renato Pagliari: Singer who had a No 1 record across Europe alongside Renée". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 May 2022. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  22. ^ Gray, Sadie (6 August 2009). "Renato Pagliari, voice behind Just One Cornetto advert, dies". The Times. Retrieved 16 January 2018.


  • Del Bosco, Paquito (2006), 'O sole mio – Storia della canzone più famosa del mondo ['O Sole Mio – History of the most famous song in the world] (in Italian), Rome: Donzelli Editore [it]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]