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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 song written by Italian journalist Peppino Turco and set to music by Italian composer Luigi Denza in 1880. It was composed to commemorate the opening of the first funicular on Mount Vesuvius, which was destroyed by the eruption of 1944. It 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.

Contents

Unintentional plagiarism

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 Italian folk song, he later incorporated it into his Aus Italien symphony. Denza filed a lawsuit against Strauss and eventually won. Strauss was forced to pay him a royalty fee every time the Aus Italien was performed in public.

Original Neapolitan lyrics

notes[1] [2]

Aieressera, oì nanninè, me ne sagliette,
tu saie addò tu saie addò
Addò 'stu core 'ngrato cchiù dispietto farme nun pò!
Addò lo fuoco coce, ma si fuie
te lassa sta!
E nun te corre appriesso, nun te struie, 'ncielo a guardà!...
Jammo, jammo 'ncoppa, jammo jà,
funiculì, funiculà!

Nè... jammo da la terra a la montagna! no passo nc'è!
Se vede Francia, Proceta e la Spagna...
Io veco a tte!
Tirato co la fune, ditto 'nfatto,
'ncielo se va..
Se va comm' 'à lu viento a l'intrasatto, guè, saglie sà!
Jammo, jammo 'ncoppa, jammo jà,
funiculì, funiculà!

Se n' 'è sagliuta, oì nè, se n' 'è sagliuta la capa già!
È gghiuta, pò è turnata, pò è venuta...
sta sempe ccà!
La capa vota, vota, attuorno, attuorno,
attuorno a tte!
Sto core canta sempe
nu taluorno
Sposammo, oì nè!
Jammo, jammo 'ncoppa, jammo jà,
funiculì, funiculà!

English translation

Yesterday evening, my love, I went up,
do you know where?
Where this ungrateful heart cannot spite me any more!
Where the fire burns, but if you flee
it lets you be!
And it doesn't chase you, it doesn't burn you, to see the sky!...
Let's go together, let's go there,
funicular downhill, funicular uphill!

Let's go from the ground to the mountain, my love! Without walking!
You can see France, Procida and Spain...
and I see you!
Pulled by a rope, no sooner said than done,
we go to the skies..
We go like the wind all of a sudden, go up, go up!
Let's go together, let's go there,
funicular downhill, funicular uphill!

We've climbed it, my love, we've already climbed to the top!
It has gone, then returned, then come back...
It is still here!
The empty empty summit, around, around,
around you!
This heart still sings
and is not petulant
Let's be married, my love!
Let's go together, let's go there,
funicular downhill, funicular uphill!

With some help from the Storia di Napoli online dictionary [1]

Traditional English lyrics

The English version of the song is subtitled "A Merry Life".[3]

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!
Listen, listen, echoes sound afar!
Listen, listen, echoes sound afar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Echoes sound afar, 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!
Listen, listen, hark the soft guitar!
Listen, listen, hark the soft guitar!
Funiculì, funiculà, funiculì, funiculà!
Hark the soft guitar, funiculì, funiculà!

References in popular culture

  • "Funiculì, Funiculà" without lyrics was played as the theme music of the radio comedy soap opera Lorenzo Jones and his wife Belle which ran from 1937-1955 on various networks.
  • A spoof was once made replacing the traditional lyrics with disparaging lyrics about school food.
  • "Funiculì, Funiculà" was a popular hit song performed by Mario Lanza in the 1950s. The melody is the same as the 1800s version, but the lyrics are in English and also changed to have a different theme, i.e. "Love is everywhere, funiculì, funiculà".
  • The 1947 Disney cartoon "Mickey and the Beanstalk" uses the melody from "Funiculì, Funiculà" when Goofy and Donald Duck sing a song about food, including the words "I wanna eat 'n eat, 'n eat, 'n eat, 'n eat until I die" as the last line of the chorus.
  • In 1974 Japanese anime cartoon "Little Meg Witch Girl/Majokko megu chan" by Toei Animation, Meg, his sister and his brother sing Funiculì Funiculà in Japanese language, when travelling with rack railway in the episode featuring a school mountain picnic.
  • The Gipsy Kings song, "Que Sí, Que No" from their 1997 album Compas, uses the melody of "Funiculì, Funiculà".
  • In the 1983 film Easy Money, Rodney Dangerfield sings "Funiculì, Funiculà" (the English version) at his daughter's backyard wedding reception.
  • In the 1994 film Heavenly Creatures, directed by Peter Jackson, the characters Pauline and Juliet are fans of Mario Lanza. In one scene, Pauline is making love to John the lodger and has a bizarre daydream to escape the moment. "Funiculì, Funiculà" is playing in the background.
  • "Funiculì, Funiculà" can be heard in the "Puppy Love" levels of Earthworm Jim 2, a successful video game first released in 1995.
  • In a two-part "Disneyland" TV movie called Escapade in Florence, Annette Funicello sang a song called "Dream Boy" set to the "Funiculì, Funiculà" tune.
  • Noel Coward's song "In a Bar on the Piccola Marina" includes the lines, "Funiculi, just fancy me, Funicula!" and "Funicula, Funiculi, funic yourself."
  • A version called "City Till I Die (Funiculi Funicula)" by Jon Christos is on an album of Manchester City Football Club songs (2005, Sanctuary Records).
  • Elaine and "The Maestro" sing "Funiculì, Funiculà" while driving in the Maestro's convertible in the 1995 episode of Seinfeld titled "The Maestro".
  • Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead often played the easily recognizable notes to "Funiculì, Funiculà" during equipment problems at their shows beginning sometime in the mid-Seventies. A fine example of the tune can be found at Internet Archive
  • A toy made by Fisher-Price called Pizza Party Elmo played the song used the melody from "Funiculì, Funiculà"[2]
  • A parody of the song entitled "The Telephone of Brazil," in which Placido Flamingo sang of his love for his telephone, appeared on Sesame Street in the 1970s. [4] The opera was performed as part of the "Live from the Nestropolitan Opera" series, hosted by Phil Harmonic.
  • A rendition of the song was performed for The Grape Escape Game by Parker Brothers as a television selling strategy in 1992.
  • A jingle for Doodle Dome in 1992 used the melody of the song.
  • It is sung in Golden Boy (1939) by Lee J. Cobb, a young William Holden (his first role), Barbara Stanwyck, Sam Levene, Beatrice Blinn, & William H. Strauss at around 55 minutes into the film.

References

  1. ^ *Italian Vesuvius website with original Italian lyrics and English translation
  2. ^ Sheet music for Funiculì Funiculà (Italian and English lyrics only.)
  3. ^ *National Institutes of Heath page with traditional English lyrics
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