Caruso (song)

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"Caruso" is a song written by Italian singer-songwriter Lucio Dalla in 1986. It is dedicated to Enrico Caruso, an Italian tenor. Following Lucio Dalla's death, the song entered the Italian Singles Chart, peaking at number two for two consecutive weeks.[1] The single was also certified platinum by the Federation of the Italian Music Industry.[2]

Unclear meaning of the song[edit]

Controversially, the song simply tells about the pain and longings of a man who is about to die while he is looking into the eyes of a girl who was very dear to him.

This song is most probably a way of romanticizing Enrico Caruso's last days in Sorrento and Naples. Enrico Caruso, a great legend of the Italian Opera was one of the greatest and most sought-after singers during the late 19th and early 20th century. He lived a very difficult and rather unhappy life having had many challenges and problems with Italian opera houses, but gained more fame and success in the United States.

He was born to a very poor family in Naples. He was often involved with women and had several love affairs with prominent married women in the performing arts. These love affairs often ended badly. With Ada Giachetti (his most passionate and longest love affair) who was already married, he had two sons, but in the end she left him for their chauffeur. Then he met and wed a woman 20 years his junior, Dorothy Park Benjamin, just a few years before he died, whom Lucio Dalla describes in this song "Caruso". With her he had a daughter named Gloria.

Guardò negli occhi la ragazza quegli occhi verdi come il mare
Poi all'improvviso uscì una lacrima e lui credette di affogare
Te voglio bene assaje ma tanto tanto bene sai

It is said that people thought that Caruso was not really in love with Dorothy Benjamin. Later Caruso admitted that he married her: "Because I want somebody who is completely my own." Sorrento is a coastal city not far from Naples. In the song it says "Surriento", in the Neapolitan dialect meaning Sorrento. It's where he spent many days in convalescence before he finally died at Vesuvio Hotel in Naples. The music and words of the refrain

Te voglio bene assaje
ma tanto tanto bene sai
è una catena ormai.
che scioglie il sangue dint'e vene sai...

are not original but are part of a napolitan song, titled "Dicitencello vuje", published in 1930 by Rodolfo Falvo (music) and Enzo Fusco (text) written according to the best tradition of napolitan "romances" with a strong operatic style.

What is not clear is whether Caruso is talking to his daughter or to his wife while he sings, "Ti voglio bene assaje ma tanto bene sai", in the song. In Italian one can say "Ti voglio bene" to any family member or close friend. The phrase is rarely used toward one's romantic love. The exact words of the song are: "Te voglio bene assaje, ma tanto tanto bene sai" and are, in Neapolitan dialect, meaning: I love you very much. Very very much, you know." Followed by the lines: "We've formed a (chain) bond by now, that thaws the blood in my veins, you know". "Ragazza" is also used to reference a young lady, rather than one of Dorothy's age or relation to Caruso; therefore, it is safe to assume that the song is addressed toward Gloria.

Lucio Dalla's official video of the song was filmed at the Vesuvio Hotel where Enrico Caruso died.

Cover versions[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (1990–2012)Peak
position
France (SNEP)[6]38
Italy (FIMI)[7]2
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[8]68
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[9]30
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[10]16

References[edit]

External links[edit]