Aug 8, 2013

Joao Bosco, Chaplin, and Puccini

The other day, Patricia was listening to Puccini's "Tosca," and noticed how much this piece ("Ah, quegli occhi!") sounded like Charlie Chaplin's "Smile." Check it out for yourself. Here's Placido Domingo singing Puccini, and Nat King Cole singing Chaplin:

Here's an interesting excerpt from a Chaplin biography quoting David Raksin about working on music with Chaplin, referencing Puccini.

There's that old saying: "If you're going to steal, steal from the best."

And here's the Wikipedia entry for "Smile," with lots of interesting info. For example, although the melody is from the music to Chaplin's movie "Modern Times" (1936), Nat Cole was the first to record "Smile" as a song (1954). There's nothing in this article as yet about "Ah, quegli occhi!"

But now check out this one - Joao Bosco's "O Bebado e o Equilibrista" ("The Drunk and the Tightrope Walker"). It's a tribute to Chaplin, and a poetic commentary on the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil at the time it was written. Bosco uses "Smile" as the intro to "O Bebado," then reworks it into a great samba (I also pick up a bit of "La Vie en Rose" and "Aquarela do Brasil" in there):


Anonymous said...

to be honest I dont consider this steal , is just one very short part of melody that sounds similar. Happens all the time even among great classic composers.

Peter Spitzer said...

True, coincidences do happen, but in this case according to composer David Raksin (who worked with Chaplin), Chaplin was specifically going for what he called "One of those 'Puccini' melodies." See the link above to the Chaplin biography with the Raksin quote - link is right below the Nat Cole video.

Peter Spitzer said...

But if you are referencing Bosco and "La Vie En Rose" or "Aquarela," then sure, very possibly a coincidence.

Hiran said...

Peter, I found your blog post very useful in my research into 'Smile'. Particularly the mention of David Raskin which led me to his autobiography. I'm writing a Vlog about a curious thing and a commonality in 'Smile', 'Imagine' and 'Jesus Christ Superstar'.