THE CONCLUDING SPEECH OF GIANNI RAVIELE DURING THE PRESENTATION OF THE BIOGRAPHICAL NOVEL BY RAFFAELE LAURO, “CARUSO THE SONG - LUCIO DALLA AND SORRENTO” AT SAN MARTINO VALLE CAUDINA ON 7TH AUGUST 2015

08-08-2015

Dear Mr. Mayor, dear councillors, dear Councillor for Culture, dear President of the Pro Loco, dear Mr. Prefect, Senator, a long speech or a short speech? The great English writer, George Bernard Shaw, was asked by the present during a ceremony, a bit like me this evening (and George Bernard Shaw was a miser, a miser of words, a miser of contacts, he dodged the public and did not have many relations): “Give us a short speech”. George Bernard Shaw was taken aback, then the audience requested: “While you're there, give us a long speech”. George Bernard Shaw replied: “Many thanks!”. Astonished yet again, the audience responded: “Then give us a short speech”. And George Bernard Shaw concluded: “Thanks!” Thank you for everything you've said about me so far, but I'm still present here, I have my work, my interests, my affections. We are not talking this evening about the one that's missing, but we are talking about someone who is still alive, and this is Lucio Dalla. Lucio Dalla is still with us, he has never abandoned us. Senator Lauro, I have read your book with interest. In truth, I was surprised with the infinite number of pages, five hundred, then as always a very kind dedication, and then little by little, I started reading and got involved in the angles of the book, and then I asked myself the first question: “Is the title of the novel centred?”. I had a think for a while, and then I said to myself: “I probably would have added romance, a great romance, rather than a novel.” Mind you, there is everything a novel should contain; a protagonist, Dalla; there are the extras, there's us, the Sammartinesi, the old friends, friends from Sorrento and Manfredonia. But why a romance? Because, first of all, it is a book accomplished stylistically; in addition, suffused poetically and finally fantastically carried out. These are the characteristics of this beautiful book by Senator Lauro! And then, I asked myself: “How come San Martino Valle Caudina is associated with Sorrento? Sorrento is an international centre, we all know it, it is a beautiful life, it is the sun, the sea, about which so much was said a little while ago, together with a rustic country like ours, away from the big world, placed at the feet of a mountain. Why pair up Sorrento with San Martino Valle Caudina? Why did Dalla love Sorrento so much, to make it the true corner of his soul, and why did he also love this little village unknown to geographic maps? This reply reveals the “Mistery of Dalla”! Because Dalla had the Panic sense of life. And what does it mean – Panic sense of life? He loved nature, he loved things, he had a fantastic curiosity, a morbid genius. It was pretty much something, which showed very little evidence in other people, in other colleagues, in other competitors. Further on, I asked myself: “As we have established two reference points, Sorrento and San Martino, what's the other point of contiguity between the two?” The other point of contiguity was the continuity of Dalla's love. Dalla had never broken any bridges, neither with Sorrento, nor with San Martino. In every period, at all times of the year or seasons, Dalla was always there and I remember him here. The inhabitants of San Martino remember him wandering along our streets, looking at an exhibition of nativity scenes, we had set up and, and for each of the cribs, which we imagined came from the most distant countries of the world, from Asia, Africa, he had a joke, a motto, a one-liner. The last element that struck me was that in San Martino, just like in Sorrento, Dalla never had fans. Morandi, De Gregori, Zucchero, they had fans. Dalla was Lucio, he didn't have fans, he had only friends. We, dear Senator, have met Dalla when he was a hairy stranger, a half-ape, walking with a clarinet in is hand, who would lie down on chairs or on the sofa, sprawled, uneducated. Our first relationship was based on spying on each other to find out who we were. And he, undaunted, continued to play with his clarinet, a true clarinet, not the one of Arbore, so to speak, an authentic American clarinet. And all of us, on the other hand, look at him to see how far this marmot wanted to push it. So he held a concert in San Martino, which was not a great thing, except for a group of young people, who already knew him or foresaw the great history of Dalla. Then, our relationship was strengthened in Rome, thanks to three people that I would like to mention to you, and that I'm mentioning to Senator Lauro to keep in mind. One of them is already mentioned thoroughly in the book: Lorenzo Cremonini, a person of unique kindness, a manager of top quality, a man who told me one evening: “If you need money for the concert of Dalla, why dont you ask me, you will give them back to me when you have it.” The second person is Michele Mondella: I would like to highlight him, because it is the man who, with the RCA, has created Morandi, and has created Dalla. A manager whom I called the carpet merchant, because as soon as he arrived in the office, he would put his hands on his head and say: “This is the first record of Lucio, it is a masterpiece, you have to give it immediately to RAI”. The third one is that Big Belly, Vincenzo Mollica, who “married” Dalla. The diversity of Dalla was completed probably with Mollica. It was not an easy time, even for Mr. Lucio with his clarinet, there was Morandi, gentle tones and beautiful honest voice, there was the political De Gregori, there was the poet De Andrè, there was Professor Battiato, there was "Canna" - the nickname of Antonello Venditti. It was a beautiful group of people, with whom Lucio had to compete. But he was happy to take on this challenge, because he was conscious of his resources, of the blessed piano, and of the clarinet, from which every time he played, he could pour down waterfalls of notes. Him, who didn't have a clue about notes, because Dalla knew neither a word of English, nor a single musical note. Now that I've said this, you can judge for yourself what an extraordinary character we got to find among us! I will not waste any more time, well, I will tell you only one thing, which I care about: it is the value of “Caruso”. “Caruso” remains and will remain in the history of world pop music forever. It is a fact. If you listen to “Volare”, you have experienced the perception of a masterpiece, but if you listen to “Caruso” you have the impression of eternity. “Caruso” is more than a performed piece, not saying the most sung, the most performed piece in the world, and I have told Rete 6 just recently my interpretation of it, when Dalla said to me that night: “I will play a new song for you!” I felt a strange mixture, a blend between Naples and the opera, because it is obvious that Naples jumps immediately to your ears, you cannot help it, the “Dicitencello vuje” comes at you straight away. And now an extraordinary image, which tells us how this song is primal, a song of Impressionism. When he says in the beginning, we all remember those verses, “Here, where the sea sparkles and the strong wind blows”. This is a work of Monet, an Impressionist work, a work that cannot be compared to any other. Then I said to myself: “Lucio managed to blend a genre, the great tradition of the Neapolitan song, which never dies, with another genre that never dies, namely the lyric.” Dalla fused these two genres and made them into a masterpiece in form of “Caruso”. So, in conclusion, dear friends of the Pro Loco of the past, who have helped, humble as always, in historicizing a few initiatives for this village, we must be the last peak of effort which unfortunately ended badly twenty years ago. Then I, dear Senator, dear Prefect, dear Mayor and dear Councillor for Culture, on behalf of the group, which has carried the name of San Martino beyond the borders of this town, with a positive image, on behalf of that group, as I feel my strength to weaken now at the age of eighty-four, make this proposal. That, in the area of the stage space in San Martino Valle Caudina, a stela or a portrait of Lucio Dalla is placed, with a very simple inscription: “Here, on the evening of 19th August 1986 for the first time in public Lucio Dalla sang Caruso”. This is not to remind all the great scholars, like Senator Lauro, what happened in San Martino Valle Caudina, because this book is full of such research - as much as it is full of pages produced in sweat! - but only for yet another reason. Because Lucio Dalla belongs to us, Lucio Dalla is ours, he belongs to San Martino Valle Caudina, just like he belongs to Sorrento, and we want the hours and days of our small town to be marked poetically by this indelible memory. Today, tomorrow and in days to come! Forever! Thank you!

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