Together with Salvatore di Giacomo and Ferdinando Russo, Rocco Galdieri (photo, right) is considered one of those poets who helped revitalize Neapolitan dialect poetry and theater in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote the lyrics of a number of Neapolitan Songs, almost none of which are in the light-hearted tradition of more famous songs such as Funiculì-Funiculà or the sugar-coated Come Back to Sorrento. His forte, if one can use that word, was despair, unrequited love, and loneliness.
He was also a
prolific writer of sketches and is often called the
“father of the rivista” (vaudeville,
approximately) in Italy. He collaborated with Eduardo Scarpetta, with
whom he wrote the play Babilonia for
the 1912-13 season in Naples, a play which later
provided the great Eduardo de
Filippo with his first stage role. Galdieri was
obsessed with the fear of an early death, which
prophecy fulfilled itself at the age of 49.
His son, Michele Galdieri
(1902-1965), was known as playwright, film scriptwriter and lyricist. He
was active between the years 1925-65 and worked with
and wrote for some of the great names in Italian
theater and cinema, including the De Filippo family, Totò,
and Anna Magnani. Like his father, he wrote many rivista sketches. He was the author of
one of the best-known Neapolitan Songs of the post-war
period, "Munasterio 'e Santa Chiara"
(1945) (to music by Alberto Barberis). He also wrote
the original Italian lyrics to Non
Dimenticar (music by Gino Redi), the best-known
English version of which (with lyrics by Shelley
Dobbins) was recorded by Nat King Cole in 1958.