It is obvious that, among environmental factors (with the
exception of a human relations) the strongest influence on our moods
is made by the sun and music. Often this influence on our moods is
made by subconscious, when the sun (coming from clouds), or a
melody, appear at the most difficult moments, and suddenly they can
fill us with optimism and the joy of life.
It happened, that for me these two drugs: the sun and music,
became unified into one symbol: a wonderful Italian song SOLE Mio.
That song has won my heart since my childhood. In my native
city Odessa, residents are often compared with Italians, because of
their appearance, temperament and style of relations. That song, as
well as other Italian songs, was very popular in Odessa especially
during post-war years. In spite of a poor life, miserable housing,
and grief because of losses during the war of near relations and
friends, those songs turned hearts toward the beauty of the sea, the
warmth of the sun, the happiness of love and have remained forever
- as reliable protection from despondency and sadness.
-The Fate decided nearly few years ago I should find myself
in St. Louis, USA, where everything was new and very different from
what I was used to in Russia. Loneliness and nostalgia were typical state of my soul during that time. One spring night, my husband and
I were returning home from some business, and suddenly we discovered
a place previously unknown to us and unusual for an American city.
It is like a small piece of Europe, filled with peoples walking,
- with windows of small shops, and sounds from local restaurants. On
the top of the tallest gold color building is a sign +ACI-West Port
. Walking along of the one of the buildings I started to feel
a state of emotional comfort and bliss, without recognizing what was - happening.
When, in a moment, I did realize Italian music was playing
somewhere inside, I understood the reason for my feeling. We went
- Into the hall of the cozy piano bar, without reading its name. There
at the corner furnished by musical instrument on a tall chair, was a
performer of Italian songs. He sang accompanied by a mandolin and by
the pianist, who was beside him. The songs continued one after another. And when I heard Sole Mio I imagined that I felt the great and mysterious Causation
- of Times, everything of those what was molded me, educating and
determining the meaning of life. It felt like all the people who
were with me in my childhood and youth: my parents, teachers and
friends had come to me in the image of this song, and would never
let me feel loneliness and homesickness again. Upon leaving the restaurant, we had a feelings in this city we was acquired friends in the shape of those songs. We learned later that the performer of the songs, Italian Nino - is a very talented person. He is not only an excellent singer and musician, but also an artist, who has studied art in Europe. All the halls of the restaurant, (which belongs to him and named by his name),are decorated by
pictures painted by his hand. There is always very warm and comfortable atmosphere, which, I think, is defined by very emotional
Italian music. Since then, whenever anybody visits us from former
Soviet Union, or when we just need to improve our mood, we go to
Nino's to listen O Sole Mio.
-May be I would never have thought about that-when I'd heard
that song the first time- if I had not read the remarkable essay by
my fellow-townsman Alex Borisov, which was published in the almanac
Panorama (Los Angeles, CA .
In the essay, the author describes the pages of life of one of representative of the generation, whose childhood and youth were spent during the years w- after the war. Then in Odessa, as well as everywhere else war has passed, there were many children and youths who lost their parents
and became homeless. They were trying to make money for survival in
different ways: little thefts, begging, playing cards, performing on the streets. Alex Borisov in his essay tells about one such boy, who
was notable because of his remarkable beauty and excellent voice.
- He was going along the streets and neighborhoods, performing Italian
songs popular in Odessa. Because of that, peoples called him +ACI-Caruso.
Borisov describes his meetings with "Caruso"+,when he was young,
- when he became a professional singer performing in different cities
of the USSR and when the fate of immigration brought them together in Italy.
- The essay was published shortly after my visit Paris, and
Inspired the exciting memory about one evening there, which by the
essay has afforded a special meaning. That evening in Paris happened at the beginning of May, when the World was celebrating the 50 years of Victory over fascism. Huge crowds of people and a touching ceremony dedicated to that date,
were held by the Triumph Arch, recalling a lot of sharp nostalgic
memories related to my post-war childhood. My husband and I were
- going back to our hotel when evening began, and we wanted to switch
on the TV to watch the news from Russia ,which certainly would have
an information about Victory Celebration. But on the corner of the building which was located across the street from our hotel, we saw the bright red neon sign-RASPOUTINE. At any other time, I would not pay attention to that, but now in Paris, when all my soul was filled by the anguish for something that was
- lost forever, it was almost mystification to see +ACI-our- Russian word.
- We crossed the doorstep and behind the door we found the luxurious
interior of the restaurant, decorated with various Russian traditional symbols. The handsome, aristocratic-looking senior man in a black suit and a snow-white shirt welcomed us in excellent Russian and invited us into the dining hall, where the musicians in traditional Russian clothes were ready for the coming performance.
Just a few tables were occupied and we chose the most convenient
table for observation show. Since we already had dinner before, we were
looking forward to having a light dessert with coffee, just to have
an excuse to sit in the hall.
The musicians started to play and soon the singers and dancers showed up. Almost of them had beautiful faces, but one singer attracted our attention at once. Thick hair touched with grey and a languorous tired look brought special emotionalism to the beauty man's image. It seemed he collected the best features of the representatives of all the Southern nations.
I know this man, but I didn't remember from where,- my husband suddenly said, attentively looking at the face of the singer.-It also seemed to me I saw him once, and his image suddenly was connected in my mind with a white ship, blue sea, but I could not - remember anything concrete.
-Are you Odessian? asked my husband with care, when the
musicians was close to the by our table, during a pause in the
The singer already started to sing and playfully smiled
with his eyes, expressing by this his positive answer. We stayed until the end of the long concert, and going up the street we bumped into the singer, who was walking along the outside of the restaurant, possibly waiting for us. His eyes lit by a dim lamp in the dark street, looked even more beautiful.
-Where do I know you from?-, my husband asked the singer.
-Many people known me in Odessa. I am that same - Caruso...-- answered he.
We were walking on Parisian street for a long time together with our new-old friend, talking about nothing, because for us it was not so important the content of conversation. More important was the filling we are children from one mother Odessa, which gives us energy - from the Sea, openness from Prairie, warmth from Sun, emotionalism from it's street's music. At some moment it seemed to me I lost the feeling of space and it looked like the cobblestone pavement of the Parisian street merged with a similar odessian street, where the sound of the beautiful song +ACI-O, Sole Mio- was playing.
Letter, reading the essay by Alex Borisov, I tried to remember, where and by whom I heard that song first time. Maybe by Caruso, recorded on a disk- the real Great Caruso-, or, by as - Alex Borisov described him, a thin boy, with black curly hair, and - huge, like- an- olives, eyes.Boys who was looking like a Gypsy or an - Italian from an Odessian street, where nobody did not known his real
- name, since everybody called him Caruso because of his voice, which
- face so evidently looked from the face of the grey haired handsome
man, with whom the May night brought us together.
Maybe it is not so important as that fact that song came
into my life and always helps me. And I am very thankful to the
Great Caruso, to the black-eyed boy, to Nino and to all, who, in
spite of all fashions, keep allegiance to the tradition's wonderful
songs, being born in wonderful Italy, washed by the sea and warmed
- my the sun like my native city Odessa. Those wonderful melodies warm the soul, save the memory, and in spite of all that disconnect our World, make it unified and understandable in all languages.