- Composed by Ennio Morricone
- Image Music / 2001 / 64:10
Nanà is the ninth novel in Emile Zola’s modest twenty-volume Les Rougon-Macquart series. From what I can gather (which isn’t a great deal), this 1999 tv movie is not actually an adaptation of it but rather a true retelling by the lady at the heart of the novel of her life (which she claims was altered significantly by Zola). Since the novel is a work of fiction, something seems a bit odd about that, but you try finding information out about obscure Italian tv movies and see if you do any better than me.
Ennio Morricone had actually scored a 1982 film adaptation of the novel (a score I haven’t heard) and returned to similar territory for this film, directed by his great friend and frequent collaborator Alberto Negrin. His incredibly lush, romantic score is a real treat.
Prime amongst the treats is the main theme, “Dellera Nanà”, which seems to be named for the actress playing the lead role (Francesca Dellera) and the name of the character she plays. (Imagine if all film themes were named like that – you’d end up with “O’Toole Lawrence” and “Sellers Clouseau” and “Hamill Skywalker” and… perhaps I should stop.) It’s a ravishing, gorgeous piece, a stunner which gets numerous lengthy variations on the album – my favourite being the predictable (uncredited) wordless soprano arrangement but the pieces showcasing Gildà Butta’s piano and Antonio Salvatore’s violin are also wonderful. A secondary theme, “Canzone dei sensi”, is a particularly opulent waltz, again a delight. No fewer than 38 of the album’s 64 minutes are taken up with variants on those two themes, but frankly they’re so attractive that’s not really a problem. There’s one other piece that really stands out – the utterly delightful classical pastiche “Prova teatrale”, a flowery and witty little piece for pizzicato strings and playful winds. Much of the remainder is of a more suspenseful nature, some of which is impressive and perfectly listenable (I love the stylish “Grottesco e drammatico”) but some is rather trying on the ears, and brings the album as a whole down a peg or two as a listening experience. Still, that doesn’t take away from the very high quality of the large majority of it and this album is certainly one that should have strong appeal to fans of Morricone’s romantic side.