Early 1800s in Pre-unification Italy: there is no country but only a quilt of city-state patches held together, not by culture, language, or national identify, but only by borders. The majority in the south live under the reign of the Spanish Bourbon aristocracy: land owners who work men, women, and children to exhaustion. With no way to advance their way out of this reality, they resign themselves to the futility of their lot, while burying centuries of pain ingested from the indignities and injustices of feudalism. In midst of all this hardship, life goes on – in all its simple, modest, and poetic beauty.

Romina (voice), Lucas Harris (1831 Guadagnini guitar).

Lillallera, Marietta in bianco stasera  /  Lillalera, Marietta in white, tonight
Fiocco nero, tralallero  / Black bow, trallalero
Piccola sposa in canottiera   /  little bride in an undershirt
in primavera  /in springtime
lillallero, lillallera. /  lillalero, lillalera.

Lillarone, nella brezza sua canzone  /  Lillarone, her song is on the breeze
Pane e vino, il pastore  /  Bread and wine, the shepherd
Mare e sale, il pescatore /  Sea and salt, the fisherman
per il Re minor  /  and for the little king
Lillalero, lillarone  /  Lillalero, Lillarone.

Lilleranno, le Madonne mormorando  /  Lilleranno, the Madonnas murmer
su un letto di fieno e lino  /  on a bed of straw and lines,
aria di montagna e rosmarino /  on a bed of straw and linen
rose e zafferano,   / roses and saffron,
lilleranno, lilleranno.     /  lillalero, lillalera.  

Lillarino, cielo, e roccia Appennino  /  Lillarino, sky, and Appenino mountain rock
acqua santa e magìa  /  holy water and magic
contadino e carrettino,  /  land worker and hand-cart
ecce homo3 e destino,  /  here is man and destiny
lillalero, lillarino  /  lillalero, lillarino

Lillalera, LillalilliLillalera, Lillalilli,
Ninnnana e Amarilli,  /  Lullaby and Amarillis
fame, fuoco, frate e figli  /  hunger, fire, siblings, and children
varicella e morbillo  /  chicken pox and measles
peste, pioggia e parassiti  /  plagues, rain and parasites
fazzoletti e campanelli  /  handkerchiefs and church bells
angioletti e uccelli  /  little angels and birds
ciaramella e tarantella,  /  chaums and tarantella
saltarello e balzello  /  saltarello and balzello
stalle, strilli, e stornelli  /  stables, screams and stornelli
Canta il campo con un coro di grilli  /  The fields sing with a chorus of grasshoppers
lillalera, lillarilli  /  lillalera, lillarilli.

Words and music by Romina Di Gasbarro © 2018 Romina Di Gasbarro (SOCAN)

Villanella: Music written in the style of the rustic, Italian strophic folk song. A villanelle is comprised of two refrains that alternate with two lines of text in between each refrain, save the verse following the first refrain and the last two lines where the first refrain is immediately followed by the second. Text references the Abruzzese agrarian culture, rural feudalism.
1Re minor” meaning “little” king or a “king of lesser importance” or key of D minor.
2“Ecce Homo (Latin) “Behold the man” said by Pontius Pilate to a riled crowd as he presents a beaten and degraded Christ. John 19:5
3 “saltarello”: a folk dance and kind of folk music from the Abruzzo region.
4 “stornello”: a strophic folk song with very florid singing style using improvised texts sung over a very simple accompaniment.