Mark Rotella



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February 28,2021
Rotella recalls meeting Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Mark Rotella recounts meeting the late poet for La Voce di New York.

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Stolen Figs and Other Adventures in Calabria

Stolen Figs



Listen to Enrico Caruso, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dion, Bobby Darin, or any of the songs in the book by clicking on the iTunes playlist link below.

Buy The Book


April 20, 2011

Alias review
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April 17, 2011

Oggi review
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October 18, 2010
The New Yorker

New Yorker review

February 3, 2011
North Coast Journal

Lady Gaga and Madonna may not seem very ethnic (except for their Catholic rebellions) but they are among the latest in a long line of pop singers with an Italian heritage. Mark Rotella’s chronicle describes the careers of the best known (such as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin) as well as forgotten pioneers (like Louis Prima), but his chapters delineating the influences of Italian song itself are especially fascinating. Read full review.

November 27, 2010
Belleville Patch
Author Evokes Golden Era of Italian-American Singers

In 1956, Bobby Darin was 19 and had fallen for an aspiring singer named Connie Francis. He took the bus from the Bronx to Greylock Parkway and Forest Street in Belleville to see her. Though her overprotective father did his best to break them up, chasing Darin off the set of The Jackie Gleason Show with a gun, the two became an item anyway and, eventually, music legends. 

It is vignettes like this – about Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima  and many other Italian-American singers -- that come to life in the pages of Mark Rotella's book Amore:  The Story of Italian American Song. Read full review.

November 7, 2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Italian-American singers dominated pop in mid-20th century

In the years roughly between 1947-64 -- from the end of big bands to the rise of Beatles -- Italian-American singers dominated American pop music. That's the argument Mark Rotella, a proud Italian-American himself, makes in this chatty, unscholarly history of that era.
Read full review.

October 25, 2010
The New Yorker
Books Briefly Noted, Amore

Read review (subscription required)

October 22, 2010
The Wall Street Journal
When Italians Ruled the Airwaves

In the 1940s and '50s—the era between the big bands and the Beatles—Italians dominated the charts during the transition from what we now call "traditional pop" to rock and roll. Crooners like Vic Damone, Dean Martin, Frankie Laine, and Tony Bennett were all sons of Italy, but so were early rockers like Dion (DiMucci) and Frankie Valli. Other singers such as Bobby Darin and Louis Prima were less limited by stylistic boundaries. They could be crooning one moment and rocking the next. Read full review.

September 23, 2010
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Amore by Mark Rotella heralds the Italian delivery in American song

When you can still find an old-fashioned jukebox -- I'm thinking of the one at Akron's famed Luigi's pizzeria -- more often than not it contains several tunes that are decades older than the rest. Whether it's "That's Amore," or "Fly Me to the Moon," or "Sing, Sing, Sing," the common link appears to be that the singers are Italian-American.
Even though many of the songs themselves were not written by Italian-Americans, Mark Rotella's new book, Amore: The Story of Italian American Song, places great weight on the Italian heritage that informed the delivery of these standards. Read full review.

September 12, 2010
Editor's Choice

"Rotella is splendidly anecdotal and specific about it all throughout this treasure house.... Who can resist a guy who spends a sweltering time in Las Vegas trying to set up an interview with the great and notably wary Sam Butera, the lounge maestro whose jump blues band the Witnesses gave second life to the greatest years of the sublime Louis Prima?" Read full review.

September 14, 2010
Barnes & Noble
Amore by Mark Rotella

"Here's a welcome switch: an Italian-American writer who discovers his ethnic identity not in food or gangsterology, but in the golden age of Italian-American singing, a period of almost twenty years when the sons (and some daughters) of immigrants dominated the American airwaves. " Read full review.

September 9, 2010
Shelf Awareness: daily enlightenment for the book trade
Amore: The Story of Italian American Song by Mark Rotella
“Although Mark Rotella grew up in an Italian-American family, it wasn't until he and his wife moved to Brooklyn in 1998, and after she had been diagnosed with breast cancer, that he became fascinated with the Italian-American singers from the postwar years. They were familiar to him from his childhood, but it was during that emotionally wrought time that they acted "as a tonic to [his] despair." As his wife, Martha, recovered from surgery and chemotherapy, he created a warm, loving atmosphere with Italian music and food. In Amore, he explores the reasons the songs and the singers are so compelling for him.”
Read full review.

September 9, 2010
Chicago Tribune
Review: AMORE: The Story of Italian American Song By Mark Rotella

“Mark Rotella’s book covers its subject exhaustively yet with brio; think of it as an encylopedia with a beating heart. Amore: The Story of Italian American Song not only adds to what we know of a bygone era but is also deeply relevant to our own lives. ” Read full review.

"Like the singers and songs it celebrates, Amore gets a lot done in a tight, memorable, heartfelt way.  This isn't just a book about Italian-American crooners -- it's an intimate account of immigrant life, a history of an enduring art form, a tribute to family, an evocation of the power of song, and a deeply personal reckoning with the music itself.  It's a love song in its own right, and it's beautifully sung."
— Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

"Author Mark Rotella... has captured the true essence of these works of art and has recognized their richness in what they bring to our culture. This book serves as his personal aria, dedicated to the performers who pioneered the pre- and post-war music scene and have become the figureheads in terms of Italian-American entertainment." Read full review.
Italian Tribune

"By seamlessly blending personal memoir and historical insights into Italian-American singers - all against an ever-changing America - Mark Rotella has produced a book that is bighearted and flat-out beautiful."
— Wil Haygood, author of In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr.  

"This book is a box of candy for those who love American popular songs, as I do -- and those interested in the fate of Italian culture on American soil.  In Amore, Mark Rotella has looked through the kaleidoscope of his attractive prose at a major postwar phenomenon -- the emergence of Italian American music for a mass audience.  What he finds here will delight readers, who will demand a soundtrack for this highly entertaining volume." 
— Jay Parini, author of The Last Station

"In this lively, anecdotal history, full of engaging profiles and nice autobiographical touches, Mark Rotella explores how a whole wave of hugely talented Italian-American singers dominated the pop charts in the 1940s and 1950s with sounds that have set a standard ever since." 
— Morris Dickstein, author of Dancing in the Dark

"A transformative book.  Mark Rotella has changed the way I think about American music, opening my eyes to the deep importance of Italian-American song.

Amore brings to mind nothing less than Martin Scorsese's documentaries on movie history.  Rotella is an impassioned student of Italian-American culture whose personal journey through the music of his heritage is a work of art itself."
— David Hajdu, music critic for The New Republic

“What a beautiful thing is Amore! Rotella knows these singers like family, and he writes with a passion that turns each of their songs into a grace note about the uphill climb of Italians in America.”  
— Anthony DePalma

"Rotella's keen eye and enthusiast's ear make for sumptuous reading and will garner a renewed appreciation for these performers while those readers unfamiliar with the major works of Tony Bennett or Perry Como, let alone Russ Columbo and Julius La Rosa, will be inspired to load up their iPod." Read full review.
Publisher's Weekly Starred Review

“Rotella explains the magic of the music; the charisma of Caruso, the charm of Columbo, the nonchalance of Como, the presence that was Prima and the singularity that was Sinatra . . . This is a book for Italian Americans, music lovers, and anyone who enjoys a good read.”
— Paul Paolicelli, author of Dances with Luigi