Forum Home Forum Home > Progressive Music Lounges > Interviews
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - The Enzo Capuano interview - March 2009
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Topic ClosedThe Enzo Capuano interview - March 2009

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
Finnforest View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: February 03 2007
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 15566
Direct Link To This Post Topic: The Enzo Capuano interview - March 2009
    Posted: March 03 2009 at 19:24
Enzo Capuano by Jim Russell (Finnforest), translation by Raffaella Berry(Raff) 

Enzo Capuano was added to ProgArchives as a result of an album made in the mid 1970s, yet this was only a small piece of his life puzzle.  He has released an RPI album, true, but his experiences cover everything from working in Chemistry to being a comedian, from being a writer to his current career as a world famous Opera singer.  What struck me most in meeting Enzo online is the obvious zest that he has for life.

In this interview he shares with me his story, his experiences in the classic '70s RPI scene, and his reaction to being hunted down by a ravenous fan of Italian progressive music who was curious about his album.  It is an honor for me to present Mr. Enzo Capuano...




Tell us a little about your early life and how you came to be involved in music.

Enzo: Though my family was anything but affluent, in our home we always had a radio, a turntable, and, when it became possible to get one, a TV. This allowed me to listen to music right from an early age and for many hours a day. My mother used the radio almost for therapeutic purposes, and,  whenever she wanted to listen to something in particular, she chose one of her 78 rpm records and played it loud, singing along to it. It made her happy and her happiness was contagious. I can say that I had been listening to music for ten years before I was struck by the possibility of reproducing easy melodies on a children's xylophone by simply using the natural scale...  A B C D E F G A B C D E F G! On those thirteen tiny pieces of metal I listened to familiar melodies, which, however, were produced (often in the wrong way) by myself. A few years later I discovered the harmonium and later yet, the piano.


 

Tell us in general about your involvement with the Italian progressive rock scene of the ‘70s.  What other bands/musicians from that period did you interact with?

Enzo: During those years, though the word 'rock' was of course familiar, I had no idea I was actually playing progressive rock. Such distinctions can only be made after some time, when the genres have already established themselves. What I was sure about, though, was that my own way of bringing to life the musical stories I had in mind was modern, somehow new, even avant-garde for its times (at least as regards rock music). My ideas were automatically translated into soundtracks for extremely well-detailed movies, which however only existed in my mind. When after a few years Brian Eno's Music for Movies album was released, I even felt somewhat robbed of my musical ideas. On the other hand, those ideas were evidently around...
I have listened to a huge number of bands, though some - such as The Doors, Pink Floyd, Vanilla Fudge, ELP and other Italian bands and artists - have left their mark more than others. Anyway, my answer would be incomplete if I didn't mention that my musical background was made of a very eclectic range of listening experiences - songs from Italy, France, Greece, classical music, opera, jazz, church music, symphonic music, the San Remo Festival, the Naples Song Festival...
 



What ‘70s Italian bands do you think best captured the spirit of the “Italian Prog” scene?

Enzo: The Seventies were a wonderful time for the widespread research activity that involved so many musicians. In Italy there were many exceptionally good bands, such as PFM, Banco, Duello Madre, Area, Stormy Six, just to mention a few.


 

You worked with your keyboardist Mario Panseri on his album “Adolescenza.”  That’s a hard to find album that I’ve not heard unfortunately.  Tell us a little about this album and about working with Mario.  Also, can you tell us how Mario passed away at such a young age.

Enzo: I am really amazed by your knowledge of Italian music. What can I say? Mario was a true musician, with a solid background, as there were all too few among the singer-songwriters of that time. Most of them, including myself, were self-taught, little more than strummers, with very little formal training.... On the other hand, he had a diploma, was an excellent keyboardist, arranger, and coach at the Genoa Opera House. He was someone who experienced music and life in the same, highly sensitive way, somehow prone to depression, which led him to compose pieces full of sadness and loneliness, but also of unmatched beauty. Adolescenza is one of my favourite albums of all times, because it told a story - a movie called adolescence. Even its cover reminds you of a movie poster. While listening to it you could feel that sense of bewilderment you experience in the presence of sensations whose origin is unknown, when you are completely at the mercy of an effect without understanding its cause, when you are happy about a trifle, and the slightest thing scares you....
It was while working with him that I decided, in spite of being unable to write down even a note of my compositions, to enroll at the Conservatory in order to learn how to read and write music. When I heard of Mario's death I was deeply upset. I didn't want to know 'why' and 'how' he had died. Anyway, I am quite sure that as troubled as he was, the indifference of society, at the time so steeped in politics and only interested in a few trendy topics,  contributed to his passing... That world was unable to see the real talent behind his music.




“Storia mai scritta” is a fascinating album, a real gem.  Tell us how it came to be made, any memories you have about the recording process.
 
Enzo: More than a gem, Storia mai scritta is a suite. The idea for it  came very easily to me: one evening I saw two young people in a pizzeria, and watched them while they were holding hands... It was clear that pizzeria was their habitual haunt, the home they were dreaming of, their nest of intimacy. She was already the mother of his children... He already felt responsible for the family they were dreaming of starting together... When I went back to the pizzeria, a few days later, I found it closed.... A notice on the door warned it had closed down for good, and that in the same premises a branch of a well-known bank would open. Through the shutters I could see the place where the two lovers had met, and then I started to think with their own minds, to imagine all they would have heard, said, decided... Perhaps that closure was the beginning of a new course for them... For me, it was the start of a new, lengthy song whose title was originally to be "La pizzeria". However, as I was developing that theme, the music became more and more narrative in nature, and the words slowly left their place to the melodies and blocks of rhythms and harmonies which make up the structure of Storia mai scritta... a story never written down in words, but rather through the atmospheres that only music can create.
The album was recorded in five days, a real record, thanks to the dedication and skill of the musicians involved: Mario and Giovanni recorded their parts on the double-track recording of my 12-string guitar, and very often the first take was successful. The music was wonderfully transcribed for the SIAE (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers) by Virgilio Savona, an excellent musician and arranger, well-known as a member of the unforgettable Quartetto Cetra.




The music of “Storia” is not only very beautiful and moving, but shows a real sense of freedom and willingness to break from the more conventional approach of loud electric guitars and bombastic Hammond.  Your album creates it own sound by blending acoustic guitars with interesting synths and very few vocals.  How did you decide on that sound?  And how much input did you allow Mario and Giovanni?


Enzo: Thank you! My way of playing the 12-string guitar already contained a sort of outline of the accompaniment and of the dynamic enhancements... even of the phrasing and of the instruments to be used. The recording was done in the cheapest possible way. Besides the piano, we had a synthesiser and a drum kit, as well as a classican guitar and a Hammond organ. The mixing took two days... and the album was ready to be served!




What were you trying to say on the album?  For those who don’t understand the Italian vocals, what was the essence of the concepts?

Enzo: The lyrics are a summary written by my producer , who thought an album without any words would be a real hard sell... I disagreed with that, since I've always believed in the absolute power of music, and I would have used simpler words anyway. However, he was so keen on that...!


 

Looking back all these years later, what does Storia mean to you now?  What personal feelings do you have for that album?

 
Enzo: This album means a lot to me. First of all, it marks my shift from the song form (that is, the union of lyrics and music) to composing music which, almost on its own, describes what I have in mind. I find that Storia mai scritta is still very relevant as regards its concepts. A few of the instruments used may sound dated, but, if it were to be rearranged to be performed by an orchestra, it could very well become a timeless classic.




Did you perform live any of the Storia material back then?


Enzo: Yes, of course, during the concerts I played at the time. The audience thought I was playing over a pre-recorded track, since in my arpeggios there were both melody and accompaniment - a playing style I had heard in Greek music played live, and that I adopted immediately.
   



After that period, I know you worked in film soundtracks, studied music and singing at University, and even had a career in Chemistry.  Give us an outline of this period and how it led you back into music as an Opera singer.
   
Enzo: I would need a whole lot of time for that, so I’ll try to make it short and sweet. I studied Chemistry (at the same time I played in two bands, I Giaguari  at 17 and The Tramps at 21). Then came the recording of Storia mai scritta, my enrolment at the Conservatory (all the while teaching chemistry in a specialised high school… This time chemistry was financing my musical studies), my diplomas in electronic music and opera singing. I also participated in many TV programmes, as a comedian and writer of texts, and in movies for the Italian and Swiss TV. After the Conservatory, I studied with my only “maestro”, soprano Maria Luisa Cioni. Then I started my current career as an opera singer (lyric bass-baritone).


 

We are a Progressive Rock site and I admit to knowing relatively little about Opera.  But I sense that the history of Opera in Italy permeates the progressive scene as you will often hear Italian rock vocalist sounding influenced by Opera.  Do you think Italian pop/rock vocalists are influenced by Opera?
 
Enzo: In Italy, opera is ‘in the air’, like the David of Donatello, the many Roman ruins, the many churches and Renaissance masterpieces we have everywhere: I think everyone, sooner or later, comes in contact with opera…. My father was an opera fan, though unfortunately not of other musical genres, and often listened to arias. I’ve certainly been influenced by all classical music, therefore by opera too. However, when I was young, I had especially been impressed by the harmonic anarchy of bands such as The Doors.

 (Enzo at left)



You have other music on you website like the Seasons suite that sounds more in the new age realm, or perhaps pastoral contemporary music.  Tell us about these newer compositions and what your vision is for them.

   
Enzo: The music you can find on my website is only a small part of what I have been writing over the years. I am often unable to record them in their final version, because my urge to compose is faster and more prolific than the sacrifice involved in setting down to record (either in a studio or at home, in my modest home studio). The origin of the compositions present on my website is described in the ‘Music’ section, which you are all invited to visit.


 

On the site they are married with beautiful photography.  Your photos?

Enzo: Some of them are.  The others ,which they lend themselves perfectly to a visual description of what I say in my few songs, and describe in my music, were found on the Internet.


 

What plans do you have for the future?

Enzo: Very frequently, as a joke, I say that I don’t know yet what I am going to do when I grow up. After all, my limits are imposed by nature and by the financial difficulties that people like me, in wanting to live ‘free’, encounter all too often, so that after a while they get used to dealing with them. I’d like to write movie soundtracks, continue with opera singing (both as a singer and as a teacher), and finally devote some more time to painting and sculpture.
 



What rock musicians, past or present, do you enjoy listening to?

Enzo: I listen to a lot of music, to the sounds and rhythms of everyday life… The names of the rock bands (and not necessarily rock) that I have listened to, or still listen to, are known to everybody… Besides them, there are the sounds of nature, which must be found and recognized.

 


Are you surprised that a new generation of Prog fans are discovering the ‘70s Italian scene, and bugging you with questions about an album you made 33 years ago?

Enzo: Oh, yes, I am surprised, and also very happy about it. Many DJs all over the world have been airing my music.. It is a recognition that is coming after so many years, since at the time not even my agent judged my work so deserving of attention. Advice for young people? You need passion almost as much as talent. It’s never too late, as proven both by my career as an opera singer started at 40 years of age, and by the recognition granted to Storia mai scritta 30 years after its release.
   
 


Any other thoughts for the readers?


Enzo: A question I often get asked is, “How can a chemist live together with opera, music, comedy, guitar, synthesizer…?” No problem at all: they all live together in harmony because, behind all that, there is me as a ‘human being’. I would really like to thank you ALL…

Thanks, Jim, for having ‘discovered’ me and having done so much for the knowledge and appreciation of that music to which I have given my modest contribution. Music is my life. I have been lucky, and would like for everyone to get part of this wonderful luck as a gift. Thanks again!  Enzo.



[Interview by Jim Russell, 3 March 2009.  The biggest thanks possible to my dear friend Raffaella Berry for translating this interview for our English audience.  Your rock Raff]


For information on Enzo's music, prog and opera, click here:
http://www.enzocapuano.it/


Edited by Finnforest - March 05 2009 at 14:32
Back to Top
micky View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: October 02 2005
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 40789
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 03 2009 at 19:37
ooohhh.. checking this out... a lot of love.. .time and labor went into making this happen.  Thanks Jim!  You are ace!!!! Clap
I find your lack of Bassoon disturbing.....
Back to Top
micky View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: October 02 2005
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 40789
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 03 2009 at 19:41
wow Jim....   wow...  that was a great interview.. and damn interesting to read

ClapClap
I find your lack of Bassoon disturbing.....
Back to Top
Finnforest View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: February 03 2007
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 15566
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 03 2009 at 21:36
Grazie Mick....I had help from a great teammate on it!!Smile
Back to Top
Todd View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Rock Progressivo Italiano!

Joined: December 19 2007
Location: California
Status: Offline
Points: 3029
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2009 at 14:46
Jim, that was a wonderful interview!  What an interesting and gracious man--and what an interesting, beautiful album is his "Storia."  Another that deserves far more attention--hopefully this interview will help that along!
Back to Top
Queen By-Tor View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: September 13 2006
Location: Xanadu
Status: Offline
Points: 16109
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2009 at 14:48
Nice one Jim! It's a shame that I know nothing about the RPI scene to really appreciate it Embarrassed
Back to Top
Mandrakeroot View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member

Italian Prog Specialist

Joined: March 01 2006
Location: San Foca, Friûl
Status: Offline
Points: 5851
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2009 at 15:37
Great review!!!
Back to Top
jimmy_row View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member


Joined: July 11 2007
Location: Hibernation
Status: Offline
Points: 2601
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 04 2009 at 23:46
Awesome.  It's always nice to get a closer look at the person behind the music. 
 
Round of applause to Enzo for giving us a lookClapClap And to Jim for his hard workClapClap 
 
I have Enzo's album, and I can back up what has been said - it is a very heartfelt, enjoyable listen - recommended.  I wouldn't have found it if not for our pal Jim.
Signature Writers Guild on strike
Back to Top
Raff View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

Joined: July 29 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA
Status: Offline
Points: 22569
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2009 at 06:01
Originally posted by jimmy_row jimmy_row wrote:

Awesome.  It's always nice to get a closer look at the person behind the music. 
 
Round of applause to Enzo for giving us a lookClapClap And to Jim for his hard workClapClap 
 


And to me for the translationCryWinkLOL...
Back to Top
Finnforest View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: February 03 2007
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 15566
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2009 at 06:22
That's right.  Raffa saved my ass on this one.  Enzo sent the interview in Italian, so my choices were to use one of those awful translation programs, or seek assistance.   She did an awesome job capturing his enthusiasm and humanity, whereas the auto-programs can sound cold and disjointed. 

Cheers RaffClap
Back to Top
Raff View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

Joined: July 29 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA
Status: Offline
Points: 22569
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2009 at 06:25
Jim, they're much more than cold and disjointed, they're in many cases just plain wrong... I've seen stuff that had me crack up, though it wasn't intended to be comicalLOL. They don't recognise context, which is the most important thing for a successful translation, and they end up mistranslating words with the most hilarious effect.
Back to Top
jimmy_row View Drop Down
Forum Senior Member
Forum Senior Member


Joined: July 11 2007
Location: Hibernation
Status: Offline
Points: 2601
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2009 at 14:17
I missed that note at the end in my haste...sorry Raff.  Come to think of it, that just shows how good the translation is; didn't even notice.  Extra clappies since I missed itClapClapClapClap
Signature Writers Guild on strike
Back to Top
Raff View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

Joined: July 29 2005
Location: Alexandria, VA
Status: Offline
Points: 22569
Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 05 2009 at 14:20
That is a much appreciated compliment, Ryan.. Thank you so very much!Wink
Back to Top
docsolar View Drop Down
Forum Groupie
Forum Groupie


Joined: January 07 2007
Status: Offline
Points: 73
Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 27 2009 at 15:21
Nice interview...

He shares my last name. I wonder if we're related.....prog is in my veins, I 'spose...
Back to Top
Finnforest View Drop Down
Special Collaborator
Special Collaborator
Avatar
Honorary Collaborator

Joined: February 03 2007
Location: .
Status: Offline
Points: 15566
Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 28 2009 at 21:36
Thanks Doc.  It was wonderful to "talk" with him for this.  
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.01
Copyright ©2001-2014 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.313 seconds.