Vincenzo Russo and "Io te vurria vasà!"

by Roberta Ibello

Vincenzo Russo and "I 'te vurria vasà!"


Most love stories start just like that, with a simple kiss.
Yet such a spontaneous desire, like kissing the woman you love, can become a torment if this love is unable to feed on anything other than fantasy.
This is the story of Vincenzo Russo, a Neapolitan poet whose despair and inspiration have the same name, that of Enrichetta Marchese.

We are in 1900, Vincenzo is a young boy of humble origins, whose uncertain health does not allow him to pursue his studies regularly. Despite his family circumstances prompting him to use his hands as a worker rather than the pen as a poet, soon the artistic impulses in him will be more and more pressing.
And it is a love, as often happens, that drives his passion for words and music.
Vincenzo Russo is a lover, like many others. And like so many, it thrives on expectations and hopes. Her love for Enrichetta Marchese, daughter of a rich jeweler, is strongly opposed by her family. And if this feeling that fails to make its way into real life, it becomes the main subject of a continuous dream.

From a dream was born one of the most beautiful songs that Vincenzo Russo gave to Naples: "I 'te vurria vasà".

                                     "Ah! What a beautiful fresh air ...
                                       Ch'addore 'and hollyhock ...
                                      And you durmenno staje

                                    'ncopp'a sti ffronne' and pink! "

We are in a wonderful garden, everywhere you can breathe the scent of hollyhock. An impossible love takes shape in that perfect locus amoenus.
The two lovers are portrayed in a moment of deep tenderness and intimacy: the poet watches over the woman during her peaceful sleep.
Yet something torments him. The young man is torn between the desire to finally give her a kiss and the desire to preserve the enchantment that that dream had created.kiss

                                                        I 'te vurría vasá ...
                                                       ma 'o core nun mmo says
                                                        'and you scetá ...
But the dreams end, and as dawn breaks, millions of lovers are forced to separate. Vincenzo's remained a kiss never given. Until his death he continued to love her and to dedicate verses to her with music.
In fact, it is said that even his latest composition "L'urdema my song" was written after having seen from the window, the church decorated for a wedding. Russo imagined that his sweet beloved was there dressed in white.
The author died, without ever having realized his dream, at the age of 28 due to tuberculosis.
Fortunately, his words still survive, and this wonderful song. The success of "I 'te vurria vasà" is undoubtedly also linked to friendship with Eduardo Di Capua(famous author of 'O sole mio) who set the verses to music.

Photograph by Federico Quagliuolo.

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