Fiorella Mannoia: Quello Che Le Donne Non Dicono

What women don’t say. Quite a lot, as we all know.

This song, written in 1987 by Enrico Ruggeri and Luigi Schiavone, was Italian pop singer Fiorella Mannoia’s first hit. And it remains her signature song.  Mannoia, who gave her first NYC concert, at Town Hall, February 23, 2018, is widely known and adored in Italy. Despite listening to quite a lot of Italian pop music, mostly as a way to improve my Italian, I’d never known about her until Joyce, an Italian classmate, used her presentation time to describe the concert at Town Hall and to introduce us to this song.

I was immediately intrigued by the title and by the lyrics. A very short and loose summary in English would go something like this: We women look back at our love letters, at our fantasies, we remember our girlhood yearnings, and we compare them to our adult lives, slipping by so quickly, and not quite what we had hoped for. But we stick around, we don’t change like the wind, despite the sleepless nights and the things we do not say. So bring us roses, and we will say yes, again and again.

The original lyric contained a line that went like this: “and if we are confused, it’s only because we want to understand those who can’t manage to talk to us.”  At some point in the last 30 years, Fiorella changed the verb she sings here. Instead of confondere, to be confused, she now uses trasformare, to change, transform. And she uses it in the reflexive form, so the lyric is now: “and if we change ourselves a bit, it’s only because…”  The singer is no longer muddled up, she’s choosing to change her mind, choosing to stay. What a difference a word makes.

I love this 2005 live version for a couple of reasons – the way the audience knows all the words, and especially Fiorella’s final shrug of resignation when she gives in to the final “sì”. Yes.



MJ TerritoComment