Sunday, February 5, 2017

Born Today February 5: Giovanni Capurro


Italian poet, playwright, and lyricist Giovanni Capurro was born on this day in Naples, Italy.  Though he primarily made his living writing plays, he is most famous for providing the lyrics to "O Sole mio"--which he wrote with singer/composer Eduardo Di Capua.  For thirty years, he worked at the newspaper Rome in various capacities: reporter, drama critic and, later on, in the administrative department.  Quite the character, Capurro loved the lounge scene; he frequented many late night establishments where he would sing and play piano, and on occasion, perform comical imitations of people.  In movie terms, the song was featured in 4 films in the late 1920's; the first being the only silent of the lot.  The music for "O Sole mio" was used in the all silent Italian documentary short When Naples Sings (1926) (Napoli che canta).  The first time the full song was used in a full sound production came the following year, with the Warner Bros. short A Program Of Concert Favorites, presented in Vitaphone mono.  The song, of course, would go on to be world famous with many Italian opera singers belting it out through the decades.  The most recent use of it in film/television medium came just last month in an episode of an Italian talk show. There is some confusion has to where Capurro died, many sources say his native Naples, others cite Mexico City.  The date of his death is not in question however: 18 January 1920.  He was just shy of his 61st. birthday.

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