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Carlo BUTI, tenor (1902-1963) - Bella ragazza - The Golden Voice of Italian Song
TRADITIONAL Bella ragazza dalle trecce bionde
ANCILLOTTI Sul Lungarno (Storneflata florentina)
Ernesto DE CURTIS (1875-1937) O balcone ‘e Napule Sorrento
DI LAZZARO Crioca, Cariocaa
ZAGARI Resta con me
Ernesto TAGLIAFERRI (1889-1937) Fantasia d' 'e vase
CRAM Due chitarre
GIANCOLA Mattinatella
Giuseppe CIOFFI Dove sta Zaza? Tutt’ ‘c sere Io pe’ te moro!
Cesare BIXIO Chitarrata a chi sente (From the film La Bisbelica Domata)
Alberto BARBERIS Piedigrotta, Munasterio 'e Santa Chiara
GOMEZ Verde luna (From the film Sangue e Arena)
CESARINI Ponti sull'Arno
OLIVARES Malinconia di Capri
Carlo BUTI Ritorna amor
LOUIGUY La vita e rosa (La vie en rose)
Carlo Buti (tenor)
All tracks recorded in Milan, 1934-1945. Various orchestras and conductors
NAXOS Nostalgia 8.120596 [63.22]

From well before the turn of the century to the onset of World War 2, it seemed that Italy had a secret manufacturing facility for tenors. Caruso and Gigli from Naples, Pertile and Martinelli from Montagnana and a few others serviced the tenor requirements of the world’s opera houses. It seemed that an opera house intendant had only to send an agent to listen to a few waiters in trattoria in Naples to come up with a lyric tenor. After all, that myriad of minor Neapolitan composers, few who seemed to have a forename, must have been churning out songs for someone to sing. There was an element of truth in this fable. Whilst Gigli and Caruso, through luck and graft made it to the top of the operatic tree, others were content to enjoy a less hectic life in the shade. One such was Carlo Buti. As Peter Dempsey recounts in a brief leaflet note Carlo Buti was born near Florence and followed the local custom of serenading the girls of less vocally gifted friends. Gigli renowned for that skill admired his honeyed mezza voce. He had taken some vocal lessons from Frazzi, teacher of the renowned baritone Gino Bechi. However, his orientation was more populist than operatic, coming to his own next to a microphone. He made his first career as a variety artist singing unaccompanied in a troubadour style. A quick learner he featured many new songs on a radio programme through which his popularity exploded. Buti recorded first for Edison and then, in 1934, for Columbia. He toured the U.S. to acclaim, his reputation having gone ahead of him. There he was dubbed ‘The Golden Voice of Italy’. He made films and in 1948 appeared at Carnegie Hall. Buti’s easy-going style was eventually eclipsed by the advent of Rock and Roll. After his final recordings in 1955 he drifted into retirement and died seven years later at 61.

This CD presents the populist Carlo Buti singing the stock songs of Italy and Naples. The orchestrations tend to be lush (tr. 1) with the singer’s voice placed well forward. Buti gives some indications of potential vocal virility with a touch of metal in the voice (tr. 3). Whilst the introduction of De Curtis’s Sorrento (tr. 4) is initially sung on the breath and well phrased, here as elsewhere, one questions where honeyed head tone passes into a croon. The whole is undemanding and easy on the ear. The earlier recordings sound dated with the later ones (trs. 13-19) having more presence.

In today’s operatic world, with Italy having to import its tenors from Spain and Latin America and the easy listening of Nat Cole and Bing somewhat passé, Carlo Buti might have been pressed into service as a tenore di grazia in the country’s provincial houses. However taken on the basis of what he was in fact, an accomplished tuneful singing entertainer, this CD presents him and his style with accomplishment.

Robert J Farr

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