Turi, Turi, Turi
Caruso, the boy, eats a blood orange sorbet outside the café Risorgimento. They call this dessert the “frozen sunset” –a dish of scarlet juice and ice, misted with lemon. All morning he’s been singing love songs to the fiancée of a very rotund man from Caserta. “Only a boy can carry my heart,” says the fat man to his beloved. “Boys are still sweet as the baby Jesus!” Then he clapped his hands the way impresarios do: a fleshy sound of exaggeration.
The girl seemed embarrassed. This was a street urchin, a boy in a dirty shirt. A child hired to sing love songs! This thing is a joke! But there on the via Carraciola in the din of carts and boats and street hustlers the boy sang Bellini’s Ma rendi pur contento his black eyes shining with joy and concentration so that passersby stood still. Two men, twin brothers from Rome stopped eating their sugared almonds. There in the heat of the day in that unforeseen place was a prodigy. What could surpass the unassuming purity of such a child’s voice?
The boy sings as if the edge of his heart is catching flame.
The fat man from Caserta is delighted and bobs his head like a pheasant, struts, ruffles his feathers. His fiancée,
Elena Bianchini-Cappelli tips her head in wonder, her features softening, a portrait reversing to a sketch. Her enormous hat with its absurd ribbons cannot hide the smile.
Now the boy sings Bella Nice, che d’amore, his hands stretched out, palms up, without irony. Could anything be this sweet again? Vin santo and peaches? Cloves in the boiled sugar?
The boy and the hot Neapolitan day are working together, visioning ice, ice on the fat lip of a hungry lover. There are these oddities to Naples, street boys and libidinous passions and simple coins.