A musical note from mezzo-soprano, Serena Malfi

Names are strange labels – some disappear on the wind, others lodge like shards of sunlight in the memory.  I met such a name, one that lingers, in an apartment in an old palazzo in Naples, Italy.

The apartment belonged to Michael Aspinall, and the name was Serena Malfi.

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Interview: Michael Aspinall – gentleman diva and ‘maestro di canto classico’

Michael Aspinall photographed in Christ Church, Naples Italy in 2016

Michael Aspinall photographed in Christ Church, Naples Italy in 2016

The trouble with being the king of a niche is that however impeccable your talents your kingdom may not be big enough for those outside the niche to notice your crown … which, if the king is a modest man, leaves the rest of us none the wiser … as it were.

I met such a king recently and it took two years to discover who he was.

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The mandolin – her deepest curves belong to Naples, Italy

A look back (first published 3 October 2015): I have heard several mandolin concerts in Naples since I wrote this article – the last time was in Piazza del Plebiscito under a huge sky. It was as right as the stars above.

The Phraser

The deep curves of the bowlback Neapolitan mandolin The deep curves of the bowlback Neapolitan mandolin

It took us a while to find the little workshop and we had to squeeze in when we did – it was Saturday and the only door was open to visitors.

In fact La Bottega del Mandolino was so full of visitors (around a dozen or so), and every shape of mandolin and tool, that there hardly seemed space for Maestro Salvatore Masiello.

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Concert at the Teatro di San Carlo in Naples, Italy

A look back (first published March 17 2015): when this was written the San Carlo was virtually hidden behind scaffolding. I saw the theatre a few days ago and, although still under repair externally, the bandaging is much lighter now.

The Phraser

Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy

The Teatro di San Carlo in Naples is the world’s oldest working theatre and still ranks amongst its most famous opera houses.  I’m no opera expert but if I close my eyes and imagine an opera house I see it with glamour, gold and balconies of red.  The Teatro di San Carlo has all that.

A few weeks ago we were treated to a concert there.  First we had to find the theatre.

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Naples loves music

A look back (first published 10 February 2015)

The Phraser

Buskers in Naples Buskers in Naples

Naples loves to have music – classical music, world music, new music, Neapolitan songs – music from palazzo to piazza, music that breaks your heart and throws you up to the sky all at once.

Take a stroll down Via Toledo any day of the week and the chances are that somebody somewhere will play you a tune and they’ll play it well.

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Carols in a church that has seen it all

A look back (first published on 12 December 2014)

The Phraser

Christ Church in Naples all prepared for its Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols Christ Church in Naples all prepared for its Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols

We could have been in England – the pure voice from the shadows behind us lifted the words into the church, floated them high above the candlelit pews and on towards the altar.

“Once in Royal David’s City …”

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The music wrapped around the roots of Naples, Italy

A busker in Naples, Italy

A busker in Naples, Italy

History makes music … it carves out life’s edges for the musicians to find.

Little wonder then that Naples, full of passion and secrets, is carpeted with song, with great singers and orchestras, and with the drift of the mandolin, of the saxophone and of jazz.

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