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.
List of songs in the show:
1. Aggiungi Un Posto A Tavola
3. Sono Calmo
5. Buttalo Via
14. Ti Voglio
16. L’amore Secondo Me
17. Aggiungi Un Posto A Tavola