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|Origin||Netherlands, Hungary, Italy|
|Genres||Swing, Jazz, traditional pop, easy listening|
|Labels||Parlophon, Cetra Records|
The Trio Lescano was a female vocal group singing in Italian from 1936 to 1943. The members of the group were three Hungarian-Dutch sisters, Alessandra Lescano (Alexandrina Eveline, 1910–1987), Giuditta Lescano (Judik, 1913–1976) and "Caterinetta" Lescano (Catherine Matje Leschan, 1919–1965). Caterinetta left the group in 1946 and the Italian singer Maria Bria (1925-alive) took her place. The sister’s surname Leschan was italianized into Lescano.
The three Leschan sisters were the daughters of Alexander Leschan, a Hungarian acrobat born in 1877 in Budapest, and Eva de Leeuwe, a Dutch Jewish operetta singer born in Amsterdam in 1892. In the Netherlands, where they were born and raised, they worked as circus acrobats. Though they were born in the Netherlands and Dutch native speakers, the three sisters were Hungarian citizens until they acquired the Italian citizenship.
Consequently, to an accident, the father became disabled and the mother, a vaudevillian, decided to form an acrobatic dance group: however, only the elder sisters Alexandrina and Judik joined in under the management of Enrico Portino. They formed the Sunday Sisters and performed in Europe, Syria and Lebanon; Catharina was too young and stayed in a boarding school in Amsterdam.
In 1935 they got to Turin where maestro Carlo Prato, the artistic director of the local EIAR, noted them and decided to raise them as a vocal trio devoted to harmonic singing. Their first reference group was the American Boswell Sisters.
The three sisters signed with Parlophon, a record label at the time distributed by Cetra. Their name was “Trio Vocale Sorelle Lescano” (Lescano Sisters vocal trio) (shortened as Trio Lescano), their names were italianized and their first song, Guarany Guaranà, was recorded on February 22, 1936, with the EIAR orchestra directed by Cinico Angelini, and it was published in March.
The years between 1937 and 1941 were fundamental for them: they joined the Orchestra Cetra as singers, directed by Pippo Barzizza. This event gave them a sudden and extraordinary popularity and they were chosen to open the experimental broadcasting of the “radiovision”, the future Italian television. In 1940 performed a musical number (Oh! Ma-ma!) in a film directed by Giacomo Gentilomo and dedicated to EIAR, Ecco la radio! They recorded a great number of songs under the direction of Pippo Barzizza. On March 30th, 1942, on a proposal from Benito Mussolini, Vittorio Emanuele III granted them Italian citizenship. The news - though the war was worrying population very much – reached a large audience on daily newspaper that proposed definitions for them as “The three Graces of the microphone”, “the phenomenon of the century”, “The sisters who fulfill the mystery of holy Trinity”, as the Sorelle Marinetti reported in their show Non ce ne importa niente . In 1943 they performed the revue Sognamo insieme by Nelli and Mangini, with Wanda Osiris (in that time "Vanda Osiri"),Carlo Dapporto, Letizia Gissi, Nino Gallizio and Gianna Giuffré, with original musical compositions by Giuseppe Anepeta, coreographies by Vera Petri directed by Mangini himself. During their career, they often sang together with famous singers as Ernesto Bonino (La famiglia canterina by Bixio and Cherubini), Enzo Aita (Ma le gambe, by Bracchi and D'Anzi), Maria Jottini (Maramao perché sei morto? by Consiglio e Panzeri),Oscar Carboni (Firenze sogna, by Cesare Cesarini, Ti pi tin and Lungo il margine del fiume) and Silvana Fioresi (Pippo non lo sa by Kramer and Il pinguino innamorato by Casiroli, Consiglio and Rastelli). They had however a very rich repertoire of their own, particularly swing songs such as Tulipan (cover of the song Tulip Time sung by the famous American Andrews Sisters, music by Maria Grever and Italian lyrics by Riccardo Morbelli). Tre Trio style was characterized by refined vocal virtuosity on swing and jazz harmonization. As radio stars, they were so popular as to be invited to court by Prince Umberto di Savoia. At a party, even Benito Mussolini showed his admiration for them
Rumors of their arrest in 1942
In a 1985 interview, Alexandra Leschan claimed she had been arrested by Fascist police after a concert at the Teatro Grattacielo in Genoa. She reported that her sisters and she were taken to the Marassi jail on a charge of espionage. She blamed upon the Codevilla sisters, members of the Trio Capinere who envied their popularity. Alexandra also reported that her sisters and she were obliged to translate interrogations of the partisan prisoners because of their familiarity with German language. Twenty-five years later, a research published by Virgilio Zanolla contradicted what reported by Alexandra. Zanolla, after cross-checking Alexandra’s 1985 statements and Genoa chronicles of the time, maintained that the Lescano sisters were never arrested in the considered period, neither after nor later. In fact, in November 1942, the Trio gave several successful concerts during a two-week period. Zanolla himself assumed that Alexandra came up with the story forty-years later in order to erase any rumor that they were compromised with Fascism. The assumption was confirmed by Mrs Maria Rosaria Epicureo that claimed that the Lescano sisters overstated their summons at the police station.
End of the trio
After the war, in June 1946, Catharina left the Trio, officially to get married. In fact, her resignment was due to economic disputes with her sisters and mother. The twenty-one year old singer Maria Bria took Catharina’s place. After a two-year Italian concert tour, she left for South America with Sandra and Giuditta on a traveling show. They remained together till 1950, when the trio broke up because Maria Bria left the group. The Trio’s fans never realized that Catharina had been replaced, and Maria never received any payment for her job. In 1950, because of her economic situation, Maria Bria left the Trio and the two Leschan sisters were no longer able to go on singing. Once back to Italy, Maria Bria was employed at Turin Municipality and she retired in 1977. Only in that year the general public knew about the 1946 replacement thanks to Paolo Limiti who invited Maria Bria to the TV show Ci vediamo su RAI 1 to tell her story with the Trio. However, in a 2010 interview Maria Bria reported that the Trio broke up when Judik left after her marriage. The two sisters Alexandra and Judik stayed in Caracas, South America. In 1955 the youngest sister Catharina left Italy and Turin to join them. Catharina was the first one who died at the age of 46 on October 3, 1965, because of a cancer. Alexandra, the eldest, went back to Italy and died in Fidenza in 1987. At the time, nothing was known about the third sister, who had presumably died in Venezuela in the Seventies, though there are news on the Internet that she died in 2007. In the years 2010-2011, even the Italian TV show Chi l'ha visto? investigated on the possible time and place of her death. A 2013 resolution of Turin Municipality concerning the plaque laying ceremony at the place where the Trio had lived in Turin, reports 1976 as the year of Judik’s death.
- "la,gelosia,non,è,più,di,moda,trio,lescano,interpreti,singers". www.galleriadellacanzone.it. Retrieved 2016-06-12.
- "Documento del Comune di Torino" (PDF). www.comune.torino.it.