Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Italian Folk SongsReleased: 1850
Although "Santa Lucia" is an Italian song, it is well known in the English speaking world, including at times as part of the school curriculum; it has even been recorded - in Italian - by no lesser figure than Elvis Presley, who performed it with acoustic guitar accompaniment in the film Viva Las Vegas. A more forceful rendition was made by the great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso.
Technically "Santa Lucia" is a Canzone Napoletana (Neopolitan song), ie it heralds from Naples, and was originally in the Neopolitan dialect; written in 3/4 time, it is said to be the first Neopolitan song to be given Italian lyrics.
One of the many English translations, "Here In The Twilight", is by the American lyricist Howard Johnson (1887-1941) and is copyright by EMI Robbins 1932 (renewed 1960). There are translations in other languages, including Thai. Scandinavian translations refer to Saint Lucy and the winter-light festival. Saint Lucy 283-304AD was a martyr who is also known as Santa Lucia, but the Santa Lucia alluded to in the original song is actually a boat!
Although like most folk songs, the author or authors of "Santa Lucia" is lost to antiquity, it is sometimes credited to Teodoro Cottrau (1827–1879), who appears to have been the first person to transcribe it.