Pola Chapelle Sings Italian Folksongs

While singing in clubs and cabaret in Italy, Pola Chapelle travelled round the country and collected songs and fragments of songs from the locals she met, young and old. Having no tape recorder nor recorder of any kind, she jotted down notes and lyrics or learned the songs by singing along.

ListenClick to hear a sample!

In the 60’s there was a growing interest in folk music from other countries. Prestige Records who had made its mark presenting some of the greats of the jazz world, decided to create a label dedicated to international folk music. Pola Chapelle was asked by Kenny Goldstein, a producer at Prestige International, to record an LP of folksongs that would be representative of all the provinces of Italy and in as many dialects. Rooted in her enthusiasm for the music and language of Italy, she accepted the opportunity to express in song some of the love she had for the people and the land.

folksongs_cover.jpg Giardino Raro
La Rosina Bella
Sul Ponte di Bassano
Ritornello delle Lavandaie di Napoli
Sta Notte e’ Bello lo Mare
Inno dei Partigiani
Rondinella Pellegrina
C’ereno Tre Ssorelle
Lu Lupu va Luntanu
Stornelli Toscani
Serenata della Scilla
Il Sole Dietro ai Monti
Canti delle Montagne

The songs on this digitally remastered CD of the original LP have their origin in the cities and towns where she lived or visited. There are 15 tracks in all - songs from Naples, Cosenza, Lazio, Piemonte, Trieste, Tuscany and the hilltowns of the Northeast…

She was fortunate in having a producer like Kenny Goldstein, a man of extensive knowledge in the field of folk music, and in having Rudy Van Gelder as her engineer. All 15 songs were recorded in one session at Van Gelder’s superb recording studio in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Her accompanist, Raphael Boguslav, was another huge asset in the recording of these songs – an extraordinary musician and accompanist.

What They’re Saying


“Listening to POLA CHAPELLE’s singing, one not only hears songs of other countries, but is carried everywhere, into realms of joy and sorrow, of playfulness or intensity. She has the gift of making you partake of the feelings which animate her singing. Her warmth and wit are contagious. Her voice has a music of its own, composed by her personality. It does not belong to folklore alone; it is universal, and in turn it makes the universal intimate, familiar. She has a rich scale of moods, and gives fully of a world which belongs to her, and you share in it. It is not a voice which sings alone; it lures you to sing along with her. It is a lyrical and dramatic experience. It has its own personal richness, its own earthy poetry, its own sparkle. There are many singers, but rare are the ones who make you feel as if you had sung yourself with absolute beauty and freedom to celebrate the joie de vivre.

“This album contains the voice of Italy, the voice of woman, mischievousness, humor, impertinence, provocation, flirtation, consolation, love, prayer, fear, poetry, passion, charm.”


“This anthology of Italian songs by Pola Chapelle is a particularly delightful discovery. She sings with clarity, supple dynamics, and an ability to personalize a melodic line without a whit of distortion. Her rich, strong voice is multicolored; she has unique rhythmic plasticity for a singer in this tradition. The songs vary from a stark, though tender, lullaby from Sardinia, to a Thirteenth Century street cry of the Neapolitan washerwomen.”

From THE AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE by Henrietta Yurchenko:

“This collection is a rare sampling of enchanting songs. Pola Chapelle, a young Italian café singer, performs them as if they were her very own. This identification comes from the fact that she learned them not from books or other second-hand sources, but from Italian singers both here and abroad. Since good will and love alone do not make for good performance, it is a pleasure to report that she has a lovely, warm-toned voice and natural lyricism. The Italian peasant often sings with a clear, unwavering tone, but Miss Chapelle has adapted the songs to her own style and soft voice without violating the original. Guitar accompaniments do not intrude excessively.

“The songs, ranging from medieval times to the present, come from many parts of the country ­ Piedmont, Naples, Tuscany, Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia. The collection is studded with musical gems but a few stand out above the rest. The Ritornello delle Lavandaie di Napoli (Refrain of the Washerwomen of Naples), sung without accompaniment, is a series of street cries of the 13th century. The Sardinian lullaby, Antoneddu has a strange, strong melody. The text, in the form of a dialogue between mother and baby, speaks of the mother’s fear that he will go off to the hills and become a bandit and be killed. The tiny infant undoubtedly didn’t understand a word; at least let’s hope so. Curious how mothers all over the world sing lullabies about the most frightening subjects.

“The notes say this of Miss Chapelle: ‘It is not a voice which sings alone; it lures you to sing along with her.’ I quite agree.” H.Y.


“This is a switch from the usual run of Italo-slanted songalogs which generally accent the popular tunes, of the order of O Sole Mio and Sorrento. In this set Pola Chapelle delivers a program of traditional folk tunes from various Italian provinces. It’s a collection of varied color and moods, all executed in sensitive style by Miss Chapelle with simple guitar backing.”

From IL MATTINO by Aldo Bovio:

A Neapolitan music critic and son of the great Neapolitan lyricist, Libero Bovio, wrote of her singing: “Among the most passionate interpreters of Italian songs is Pola Chapelle — in whose veins there is all the fire of Vesuvius.”


Available on CD $16.00

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