Arts & Culture

La Prima Cantata, Songs by Rosaria – My Corner of Boston

“Songs by Rosaria” is the fifth in a series of 1990 skits from “My Corner of Boston” performed at the North End Union, produced by resident Rosaria DiFinzio. See all the scenes here.

This skit has Rosaria singing in French and Italian and I think she does a fantastic job. She is accompanied by the great Sal Marino playing his accordion.

After graduating from college Rosaria lived in France and Spain. She was a street singer in the Quartier Latin and sang Edith Piaf songs on the Boulevard san Germaine to the delight of the Parisians.

Music was an integral part of Italian/American life. I remember walking down Prince Street on Saturday afternoons listening to opera coming from the open windows where residents were listening to broadcasts from the Met.

There was a store on Hanover Street, where Fiore’s restaurant is now, called the Tosi Music Company. It was owned by the Tosi brothers, two middle-aged men who had those pencil thin mustaches which were popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. They had an unusual arrangement in than half the store sold musical instruments, sheet music and records while the other half sold guns, mainly Beretta pistols but shotguns and high-powered rifles as well. I was always fascinated by that store and loved looking in the windows where they had guns and hunting knives on the left and accordions and saxophones on the right.

That juxtaposition of music and violence is so characteristic of the Southern Italian mentality. Just think of Bel Canto opera where amidst gorgeous music everybody gets strangled. In the final scene of The Godfather, Michael Corleone is at a performance of Cavalleria Rusticana. While Mascagni’s marvelous music is reaching a crescendo his operatives are brutally assassinating his enemies leaving Michael as the sole head of the family. Great music, great theatre and great violence. Bravo.

If you missed the previous sketches from Rosaria’s My Corner of Bostonsee all the scenes here.

Nicholas Dello Russo is a lifelong North Ender and columnist. Often using vintage photographs, Nick tells the stories of growing up in the North End along with its culture and traditions. It was a time when the apartments were so small that residents were always on the streets enjoying “Life on the Corner.” Read more of Nick’s columns.