“When I sing, I close my eyes and pretend that I am alone”

Venice (Campo San Rocco) – He could be facing thousands of people or no one at all. Even today, when he sings for transfixed tourists, it’s as if it were the first the time: he thinks that he is completely alone. Giuseppe Corsi has been singing in the street for 20 years, but he still remembers the feelings of panic, fear and embarrassment that he had when he began.

He can’t say where he was in Venice or what he sang. “My legs were trembling. I didn’t know where to begin.” But the first coin left by a tourist as a sign of appreciation broke the tension. “I was singing well, even if I didn’t realize it.”

That’s how Giuseppe Corsi began his life as a street tenor in Venice and that’s how it continues today, singing for a crowd of people whom he doesn’t know but who listen and applaud. Every week, Giuseppe takes the train from Verona and arrives in Venice with his hat and his bow tie to sing in Campo San Rocco.

He brings a guitar, a music stand and a stereo for the musical backup that he uses when he is not singing a cappella. Every day, from one day to another, Giuseppe closes his eyes, conjures up his voice and pretends that he is alone with his Neapolitan songs like “Parlami d’amore, Mariù”, “Rondine al nido” and “Non ti scordar di me”. When he sings, Giuseppe says, “I forget my worries. The street gives me a feeling of freedom.”

At the end of every song, some people stop to shake his hand. “I’ve been singing since I was small, but my profession was working on the railroad,” says the tenor of the streets. “When I took my retirement, I decided from one day to the next to sing on the street. I don’t know why.”

Before beginning to sing on the calli of Venice, Giuseppe brought the Filippo Neri association’s boys’ choir to the city’s Opera in Arena. He staged the choir called “La Ferrata” with his former work colleagues from the railroad, and, after having written the Railroad Hymn, he also composed a musical score for divers who explore and work in the lagoon.

Besides getting up every morning to do his yoga, sing in Venice and gladden the days of his friends in the city’s collective garden allotments, Giuseppe is, in fact, an impressive explorer himself.

WORDS & VIDEO Silvia Zanardi