Interview: Edda Dell’Orso on Life as a Vocalist in the 1960’s and 1970’s Plus a Look at Some of her Recent Musical Projects
Vocalist Edda Dell Orso, a seminal figure in one of the most creative and successful periods in cinema history, recently discussed some highlights from her career. Her distinct vocals have captivated music and film fans since she first started working with Ennio Morricone in the mid-1960s, the first composer and conductor to use the soprano’s three octave range to create innovative and unforgettable sound effects and songs on soundtracks for films like Sergio Leone’s Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) (1966) and Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Besides Ennio Morricone, Edda Dell’Orso has worked with the crème de la crème of top composers from her native Italy including—to name but a handful: Alessandro Alessandroni, Luis Bacalov, Stelvio Cipriani, Marcello Giombini, Bruno Nicolai, Piero Piccioni, Roberto Pregadio, Armando Trovajoli, Stefano Torossi, and Piero Umiliani. After an active performance career in her native Italy and abroad for several decades, Edda’s live appearances these days consist of occasional charity events, often accompanied by her husband Giacomo Dell’Orso on piano and Piero Montanari on bass.
In 1968, Edda Dell’Orso appeared on a number of film soundtracks including Ennio Morricone’s C’era una volta il West (Once Upon a Time in the West) for Sergio Leone and Diabolik for director Mario Bava. As a member of the I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni choir, she also recorded the soundtrack for Stefano Torossi’s L’età del malessere (The Age of Malaise), a film by Giuliano Biagetti.
“Metti una sera a cena,” a classic track by Ennio Morricone featuring Edda Dell’Orso originally released in 1969, is on YouTube:
6D: What was it like recording so many albums, sometimes in the same week or even on the same day, in this prolific period of Italian cinema?
ED: The typical recording session went like this: a date and time of the recording were fixed, I entered the hall and on the lectern was the musical score, which I was seeing for the first time. At this point, I sang with the orchestra or in “overlap,” that is, the orchestra has already been recorded and I, wearing headphones, added my vocals.
Once the session was finished, I would just write the essential data into my diary: the film’s title, registration date and name of the maestro.6D: Do you recall many details from these days?
ED: During this time, we were busy almost every day, with maestros in each of the recording rooms at the studio, so you can imagine how my memory is today, after so many years. And at that time it was not known even what would be the future of certain kinds of music and movies.
We could only dream there would be reissues and re-releases of the songs we recorded at the time—of course, many times the performers are not even informed about these later releases. For example, you can imagine how much my husband remembers since he recorded as author or orchestrator or just as a conductor over 150 scores!
“Tema” from Ennio Morricone’s 1972 soundtrack I figli chiedono perché, reissued in CD by Italy’s Dagored in 2003, is here:
6D: When did you sing with Frank Sinatra?
ED: It was the early 60s. Giacomo remembers the visit to Rome of Frank Sinatra better than I. It was before the I Canto Moderni choir of Alessandroni existed and I was singing with the vocal group of Franco Potenza.
6D: If pressed for a single choice, what would you say is the favorite song that you’ve recorded?
ED: I have so many favorite songs: one is “In un sogno il sogno (In a Dream, the Dream)” from the movie La donna invisibile (The Invisible Woman) because it is very cerebral music and twisted, like my character.
Ennio Morricone and Edda Dell’Orso’s “In un sogno il sogno” is on YouTube:
Among the many artists Edda Del’Orso has worked with is I Marc 4. “On The Train,” composed by Antonello Vannucchi, Carlo Pes, Maurizio Majorana, and Roberto Podio, is found on 2010’s The Beat Sound Of The Fabulous I Marc 4, a four-CD set that also includes seven compositions credited to Fotriafa, an alias of Stefano Torossi.
I Marc 4’s “On The Train,” featuring Edda Dell’Orso, also on Bossa Nova For Cocktail Party (1970), is currently found on the SoundCloud sampler located at the bottom of this page.
6D: What drew you to music? Were their any family members that were influential in your musical development, for example, encouraging you to first attend the National Academy of Santa Cecilia in Rome [where she studied voice and piano]?
ED: Although my family did not practice music, my father’s dream was for me to be a pianist.
Thanks to the music, however, I met my husband at the Conservatory. In four years Giacomo and I hope to celebrate our diamond anniversary (60 years of marriage).
In 2011, Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi released Rome, a soundtrack project for a non-existent movie, that took five years to record. It was an opportunity to reunite Alessandro Alessandroni’s Cantori Moderni choir, who had not performed together since the early 1980s. It also was unique because much effort was made to not only use the original players but also the actual analogue recording equipment and musical instruments that were first used in the 1960s and 1970s.
The “Theme of ‘Rome'” by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi featuring Edda Dell’Orso on vocals is here:
6D: You sang on my absolute favorite faux soundtrack of recent years, Rome (2011) by Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi. Was that special?
ED: We just enjoyed being together after a long time but nothing more, to be honest.
6D: Your name is listed for Luis Bacalov’s “Lo chiamavano King (His Name Is King),” on my copies of the CD and LP for Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 film Django Unchained. Yet…
ED: I finally managed to listen to the song because I did not know the exact title, “His Name Is King,” and I can guarantee that I’m not the one that sings it. Do you think even Bacalov was informed?! I spoke with him last summer.
6D: Are you and your husband still involved with running a gospel group?
ED: Giacomo left the direction of the gospel choir because it was too tiring and difficult to participate in concerts. But we have not stopped recording as he is preparing two albums, one of children’s songs and the other music for TV.
Edda Dell’Orso and Stefano Torossi on Compact Disc
In addition to solo albums and numerous appearances on soundtracks–including with Ennio Morricone for Giuseppe Tomatore’s 2013 film La migliore offerta (The Best Offer) starring Geoffrey Rush, Edda Dell’Orso’s music is featured on several compilations released in CD format that also feature Stefano Torossi.
Al cinema con Edda Dell’Orso, released by Italy’s Hexacord Records in 2002, includes a pair of songs with Stefano Torossi. The first, “L’età del malessere (Main Theme),” was recorded when Dell’Orso was part of the I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni choir. The Hexacord compilation also adds the previously unreleased track, “L’età del malessere (Edda’s Solo Voice At ’68 Rec. Session).” This track was subsequently added as a bonus track on the soundtrack for Stefano Torossi’s L’età del malessere (The Age of Malaise) reissued in CD by Verita Note in 2010.
A video for Stefano Torossi’s “L’età del malessere (Main Theme),” with Edda Dell’Orso on vocals, was recently uploaded to YouTube:
C’est merveilleux, released on France’s Luxophonic label in 2007 and reissued in 2012, is another compilation showcasing the music of Edda Dell’Orso and Stefano Torossi. The CD includes Edda Dell’Orso’s “Seli” and “Capriccio,” the latter with Piero Piccioni from the 1969 soundtrack for Scacco alla regina–reissued in 2008 by Cinevox. It also has Stefano Torossi’s “Flying High,” a track that first appeared on Jay Richford and Gary Stevan’s Feelings LP in 1974, composed by Sandro Brugnolini, Giancarlo Gazzani, Puccio Roelens, and Stefano Torossi.“Capriccio” and “Flying High” are located at MySpace.com. Click the album to access the site. Piero Piccioni and Edda Dell’Orso’s “Capriccio” is also on YouTube:
Two additional compilations of note featuring tracks from both Edda Dell’Orso and Stefano Torossi both came out in 2001, Metti una bossa a cena 2 on Schema Records and Masoch Club Entertainment: 18 Groovy Gems Of Italian Easy Listening From The Late 60’s And Early 70’s on Plastic Records.
Metti una bossa a cena 2 includes Bruno Nicolai and Edda Dell’Orso’s “Allora, il treno” (the title piece Nicolai wrote for a Ministry of Transport promotional film by director Emilio Marsili in 1975) and Stefano Torossi’s rare track “Per lei (1 vers.)” (from 1971’s impossible-to-find Qualche tema lungo LP).
Nicolai and Dell’Orso’s “Allora, il treno,” which also features Giorgio Carnini on synthesizer, Franco De Gemini on harmonica, and Franco Tamponi on violin, is here:
A second Plastic compilation, Masoch Club Entertainment has another rare Torossi composition, “Vela,” and two tracks by Bruno Battisti D’Amario and Edda Dell’Orso, “Show Samba” and “Playa sin sol.”
“Playa sin sol” originally appeared on Bruno Battisti D’Amario’s Samba para ti album, released by Vedette in 1974.
Bruno Battisti D’Amario’s “Playa sin sol,” featuring Edda Dell’Orso on vocals, is on YouTube:
Edda Dell’Orso Solo: Overview of Available CD and Download Albums
A the time of this publication at the beginning of June 2014, Voice and Dream Within a Dream: The Incredible Voice Of Edda Dell’Orso are the only recent Edda Dell’Orso solo compilation consistently available in CD format, new and used. Reasonably priced copies of the Voice collection from Italy’s Bella Casa label released in 2007, which includes 21 tracks, can be found at Amazon USA, Discogs, and many retailers specializing in soundtracks.
Dream Within a Dream: The Incredible Voice Of Edda Dell’Orso, from the United Kingdom’s El record label, was released in 2005 and is usually in stock at Discogs, Amazon, and similar music outlets.
Fortunately, fans of Edda Dell’Orso are no longer restricted to vinyl LPs and CDs, especially when a new copy of her 1999 It’s Time To Sing solo album released in 1999 will run $2,339.99 U.S. for a CD! In fact, she has generously uploaded all sixteen tracks from It’s Time To Sing on her MySpace.com site, her only solo album available as an MP3 download from Amazon USA.
Click the album cover above for It’s Time To Sing to access the site, which also has a song apiece with composers Bruno Nicolai and Piero Piccioni.
Apple’s USA iTunes store also has Hexacord’s It’s Time To Sing, in addition to Giacomo Dell’Orso’s Nerone e Poppea, a second Hexacord release from 1999 that features the vocals of Edda Dell’Orso.
Most branches of iTunes also offer several other recent collections including Edda Dell’Orso Sings Ennio Morricone (2007) and Sogni di bambina (A Child’s Dream) (2008), both from GDM Music.
UPDATE: Cinevox Reissues The Crystal Voice: Best Of Edda Dell’Orso in Digital Format
The Crystal Voice: Best of Edda Dell’Orso, a collection of music initially released by Cinevox Records in 2007, has just been reissued in digital format from Amazon USA and iTunes USA. The compilation features twenty-one tracks by Dell’Orso recorded between 1967 and 1982, and in the opinion of this correspondent, is the finest greatest hits collection focusing on the legendary soprano released to date.
Of course, numerous Edda Dell’Orso vocals are found on soundtracks and collections of Ennio Moricone, as well as by Alessandro Alessandroni, Luis Bacalov, Stelvio Cipriani, Bruno Nicolai, Piero Piccioni, Roberto Pregadio, Armando Trovajoli, and Piero Umiliani, to name just a handful of the illustrious composers, arrangers, and conductors she had recorded with. Many of these have now been reissued in CD and digital formats, with more becoming available every day. Quite a few are now available in limited edition vinyl versions, too.
Video Sampler Includes “L’estasi dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold)” Clip
A video LP sampler of sixeen songs by Edda Dell’Orso is on YouTube, beginning with a film clip featuring “L’estasi dell’oro (The Ecstasy of Gold)” from the 1966 Sergio Leone classic Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), arguably the most influential Italian Western ever:
A special thanks to Piero Montanari who shared the following photo of Edda Dell’Orso, Giacomo Dell’Orso, and himself (with the red Fender bass) from a benefit concert about five or six years ago in Genzano di Roma held at a sport stadium called Palacesaroni (Pala is palace and Cesaroni was an important mayor in Genzano).
This was one of a series of performances in which Edda sang the classics made famous with Morricone in Sergio Leone’s movies. Montanari also used to sit in with Edda Dell’Orso in her gospel choir. A closer look at his career and music is HERE.
Three Japan-Only Releases Featuring Edda Dell’Orso
Japanese fans of Edda Dell’Orso are able to purchase at least three CD albums only available in that market including two by soundtrack specialist label Verita Note, Stefano Torossi’s L’età del malessere (1968) (Reissue 2010) and Edda Dell’Orso Sings Ennio Morricone (2007). The former can still be found for a reasonable sum on auctions sites such as eBay and Discogs, however, the latter is anywhere from $150 to 250 U.S., if you can find it.
Another Japanese label, Seven Seas, released a version of Edda Dell’Orso’s It’s Time To Sing with the alternate album cover depicted below.
Although Edda Dell’Orso’s name was mentioned in the liner notes for both the CD and the LP of Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 Django Unchained, she did not appear on the soundtrack yet her music has been used to memorable effect in at least one earlier Tarantino feature: Kill Bill, Vol. 1. The first part of the modern-day epic was released in 2003, and includes Edda Dell’Orso’s uncredited vocal in “The Grand Duel (Parte prima),” a Luis Bacalov composition that was initially used in the 1972 film of the same name, Il grande duello (aka The Big Showdown and Storm Rider)–Tarantino didn’t have enough time to commission an original soundtrack from Ennio Morricone as first planned, so he opted to re-purpose the Luis Bacalov composition.
“The Grand Duel (Parte prima),” a composition by Luis Bacalov featuring Dell’Orso on vocals and Franco De Gemini on harmonica, is on YouTube:
More From Edda Dell’Orso
A recently-compiled selection of music featuring Edda Dell’Orso that is currently found online is here:
An exclusive interview with Oscar Lindok, better known as Giacomo Dell’Orso, that showcases music he arranged, wrote, and conducted with Nico Fidenco, The Fine Machine, The Fast Machine, Oscar Lindok and His Friends, and others, is HERE.