Aggiungi un Posto a Tavola – An Italian Musical

I’m a huge fan of musical theater, grew up singing along with The Music Man, Camelot and Oliver. The first show I saw on stage was You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, in what must have been a local or travelling production, in San Francisco, when we were on home leave in 1969. I knew all these shows by heart, and by now know (and have seen) many more – most recently, Spamalot.

Italy, of course, famously has opera, and, to a lesser extent operetta, but not much tradition of modern musical theater as we know it in the US and UK. Of the few musicals produced in Italy, most are translations of English-language standards. (We saw a very good production of Grease years ago, which I enjoyed, but found the translation inadequate and distracting.) But there are a few native Italian musicals, of which the most famous is Aggiungi un Posto a Tavola (“Add Another Place at the Table”), a fable set in a mountain village somewhere in Italy, whose parish priest suddenly starts hearing the voice of God… and I’ll explain the story as I (gradually) translate the songs.

Enrico and I saw it in Spanish in Madrid (also years ago), which was a little weird as some of the Italian puns didn’t work in Spanish (though they might have added Spanish puns that I didn’t get). It has been produced in English, but never really took off, it seems, which is a pity – it’s a great show and well deserves to be better known.

Since I first wrote this piece, one or two different productions have made their way onto DVDs, sold as extras with newspapers. You might be able to pick up copies on eBay.it.

Here is a translation of the opening (and closing) song. The others that I’ve translated so far are listed below. Videos of most of the show’s musical numbers, many from the original productions starrring Johnny Dorelli, are currently (Mar, 2009) available on YouTube. There are also YouTube clips from many regional/amateur productions all over Italy.

Artisti Vari - Le Pi˘ Belle Canzoni Di Garinei & Giovannini - Aggiungi un Posto a Tavola
ritornello: refrain:
Aggiungi un posto a tavola Add another place at the table
che c’è un amico in più [because] there’s a friend more
se sposti un po’ la seggiola If you move your chair just a little
stai comodo anche tu, You’ll be comfortable, too
gli amici a questo servono Friends serve [this purpose]:
a stare in compagnia, To be together [in company]
sorridi al nuovo ospite Smile at the new guest
non farlo andare via Don’t send him away
dividi il companatico* Share your [food]
raddoppia l’allegria. Redouble your happiness.
La porta è sempre aperta The door is always open
la luce sempre accesa. The light is always on
Il fuoco è sempre vivo The fire is always lit
la mano sempre tesa. The hand is always outstretched [in welcome]
E se qualcuno arriva And if someone arrives
non chiedergli: chi sei? don’t ask him: who are you?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no
E se qualcuno arriva And if someone arrives
non chiedergli: che vuoi? Don’t ask him: what do you want?
Ma corri verso lui But run towards him
con la tua mano tesa. With your hand outstretched
e corri verso lui Run towards him
spalancagli un sorriso Flinging wide a smile
e grida: “Evviva, evviva!** And shout “Hooray!”
Evviva, evviva, evviva, evviva, evviva…
(ritornello) (refrain)
e così, e così, e così, e così così sia… And so, so, so… so be it!
* Companatico – literally “what you eat/have with your bread” ** Evviva – “long live!” or “up with!” or “hurray for!” – is often abbreviated VV (when written by hand, the two Vs overlap, forming a sort of W). Therefore the opposite (abbasso – down with) is sometimes written ^^.

List of songs in the show:

1. Aggiungi Un Posto A Tavola

2. Peccato Che Sia Peccato

3. Sono Calmo

4. Concerto Per Prete E Campane

5. Buttalo Via

6. Notte Per Non Dormire

7. Consolazione

8. Notte Per Non Dormire 2

9. L’amore Secondo Me

10. Una Formica e’ Solo Una Formica

11. Ballata Di San Crispino

12. Peccato Che Sia Peccato

13. Clementina

14. Ti Voglio

15. Quando L’Arca Si Fermera

16. L’amore Secondo Me

17. Aggiungi Un Posto A Tavola

5 thoughts on “Aggiungi un Posto a Tavola – An Italian Musical

  1. David Forrest

    I am interested in your comments posted March 7th, 2007, regarding the availability of DVDs of ‘Aggiungi un posto a tavola’. You say they were issued with certain newspapers. Could you please tell me more about this? Were these DVDs free or were they sold?

    As the author of the original book on which this musical is based it has never been mentioned to me that DVDs of it are available. I would rather like one myself!

    Many thanks,

    David Forrest

  2. ignacio

    Mr.Forrest: I´m from Argentina and saw the musical based on your novel ,when it was performed in Buenos Aires.I was a child then,back in 1985 but was stunned by the plot and songs.I studied film adaptations when I graduated from high school and ever since looked forward to turning the play into a movie.I found the soundtrack in spanish,portugese and italian of course.But I could only find one song in the net of the english translation.It was “Pity”,sung by a girl Janet Mahoney.Is that right?I am really intrigued on how you managed to find english words for the ants song and “Notte da non dormire”.Would love to read the original novel as well. BEST REGARDS.Ignacio Martinez

  3. Deirdre Straughan Post author

    No meaning at all. It’s an artifact of my recent move to new hosting – something happened when I exported the MySQL database of my WordPress blog. It’s weird because they don’t replace any other character, and they occur very inconsistently. I’m cleaning them up, slowly…

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