The Italian Almanac

Apicella and Berlusconi

No Time for Singing

A CD of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi singing Neapolitan love songs may not come out in time for Christmas unless he takes a break from politics to focus on his musical career, his song-writing partner warned. Neapolitan folk musician Mariano Apicella said he and Berlusconi were currently working on their fourth CD together, but bemoaned the premier's work commitments. ''The disc is still up in the air. The premier told me yesterday that he's having trouble finding the time to finish it with me''.

''The problem is that even when he's (at his holiday villa) in Sardinia he's always working because he receives an average of 40-50 telephone calls a day. If only he had time ,'' he added. Apicella, who accompanies Berlusconi's croonings on guitar, said there will be 14 new songs on the new CD. ''We have to choose from around 40 songs, but they'll all be love songs linked to the Neapolitan tradition. I was also thinking about throwing some jazz in to try to make the Naples soul a bit more modern,'' he explained.

A former car park attendant, Apicella first met Berlusconi when the premier dined at a Naples restaurant where he was playing in 2001. The relationship soon blossomed and two years later the pair released their first album, ''Meglio Una Canzone'' (Better A Song), which sold about 45,000 copies - just 5,000 short of the number needed for a Golden Disc. The two have frequently put on mini-concerts for friends and visiting heads of state at the premier's villa in Sardinia. Apicella says the premier is an expert in Neapolitan music and a talented songwriter.

Before his careers in business and politics, the media mogul sang on a cruise ship for holiday-makers in his youth.