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X-factor: Emma sings “Nebbia” by Caterinetta Lescano

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X-factor: Emma sings “Nebbia” by Caterinetta Lescano

Trio Lescano or Lescano Trio was a vocal trio singing close harmony. The trio became extremely popular in Italy in the 1930s and 1940s. The trio was an Italian version of American groups such as the Boswell Sisters, the Andrews Sisters and was formed by three Dutch sisters Alexandra (1910-1987), Judik (1913-2007), and Kitty Leschan (1919-1965), whose names were italianized into Alessandra, Giuditta and Caterinetta (Caterina) Lescano.

The three girls were born in Gouda (Alexandra) and The Hague, of August Alexander Leschan, a Budapest-born contortionist, and Eva de Leeuw (1892-1985), a Dutch Jewish operetta singer. They grew up in the Netherlands, where two of them worked as acrobats before forming a vocal trio.

They arrived in Italy in the mid-1930s, and took up the name Trio Lescano. Directed by maestro Carlo Prato and thanks to the radio, they became immediately so famous that even Benito Mussolini, passing by their balcony one day, recognized them and stopped to greet them.

In 1941 the Lescano sisters became Italian citizens. This made big news on the Italian papers, who had invented for them such definitions as “the three graces of the microphone”, “the century’s sensation” and “the sisters who materialize the mystery of the heavenly trinity”.

But just two years later, their golden period ended: because of their mother’s Jewish origins, they were first cancelled from all radio programs, questioned on allegations of espionage. The accusation was that their songs contained encoded messages for the enemy.

Once the war was over, after two years of silence, Trio Lescano bade farewell to their Italian audience. In 1947, two of the three sisters (Kitty left the trio and was replaced by the Italian singer Maria Bria) moved to South America, where their artistic career continued until the mid-fifties. Once the Lescano fame had dissolved, the ladies took up ordinary jobs and split up.

The Trio Lescano’s style was based on sophisticated vocal virtuosity – a technique called vocalese – on swing and jazz harmonizations. Their greatest hits include Signorine Grandi Firme, Maramao perché sei morto, Ma le gambe, Pippo non lo sa, Camminando sotto la pioggia, La famiglia canterina, C’è un’orchestra sincopata, Tulipan, Il pinguino innamorato.

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