La Bella Gigogin Posted by Serena on Aug 17, 2011 in Uncategorized
It’s summer, time for open air events once again. A few evenings ago we went to a free concert in Piazza della Repubblica here in Pontremoli to see our favourite choir perform : Il Coro degli Alpini Monte Sillara di Bagnone, whom I wrote about last year in: il coro degli Alpini. At the end of the concert, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Unità d’Italia (Unification of Italy), they sang La Bella Gigogin, a song that I used to love when I was a child. We had it on an old 33rpm LP of Alpini songs which I used to play very often, and this song was one of my favourite tracks.
La Bella Gigogin belongs to the Italian patriotic songs repertoire. It was composed three years before the unification of Italy, in 1858, by Paolo Giorza from Milano. Giorza was inspired by folk songs from northern Italy, especially those from Piemonte and Lombardia. The text of the song, by the well know ‘anon.’, is a collage of folk songs, and is written partly in Italian and partly in the Lombardo-Piemontese dialect. Hidden behind the main theme of the pretty lass (Gigogin, which is a diminutive for the name Teresa in Piemontese) there is a political innuendo: the line “daghela avanti un passo” (or “fai un passo avanti” in Italian, meaning “take a step forward”) is interpreted as an invitation to the Piedmontese king Vittorio Emanuele II di Savoia to attack the Austrians and throw them out of Lombardy.
La Bella Gigogin was officially performed for the first time in public on the 31st of December 1858 at the Teatro Carcano a Milano by the civic band. The song was received with such enthusiasm by the audience that the band had to perform it eight times, and it quickly became very popular with military bands. In fact even the Austrians, not understanding the hidden meaning of the song, began to perform it. Legend has it that on the 4th of June 1859, at the start of la Battaglia di Magenta, during the Italian second war of independence, the Austrians accompanied their attack with the music of la Bella Gigogin, to which their enemies, the French-Piedmontese army, replied by playing the refrain from the same song, “daghela avanti un passo” (take a step forward)!
Listen to La Bella Gigogin performed by the Coro Michele Novaro and read the lyrics at the same time by clicking on this link: La Bella Gigogin
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