The move from Joselito's fiery and passionate gypsy singing to Robertino Loretti's slow, soft, almost coctail-lounge crooning is fascinating. He and Joselito were born at roughly the same time (Joselito in 1943 and Robertino in 1947) and both were quite popular, Joselito more so because of the very large number of films he made. They represent two extremes of child singing. Joselito's is highly unusual for a child because of the extreme flexibiltiy and power of his voice,[see previous piece if you have not] and Loretti's because of its sweetness and choir-boy-like softness. Robertino's recording of the old Italian favorite "Mamma" tells the story very well:
Notice the gentleness of the attack, the almost lilting legato, the syrupy sentimentality and the immaculate diction. You can understand every word. Also, the tempo is uncommonly slow, largely as a result of his caressing the climax of each phrase. Robertino's voice has soprano qualities and he sings more nearly on the fine edges of the chords than Joselito did. To use the language of popular music, I think one could say that Joselito was a belter and Loretti was more of a crooner. Both are legitimate; each has its audience. Joselito's voice is more exciting, but edgy and sometimes a little harsh. Loretti's is sweet as can be, but can cloy. Neither child is the result of study and auditioning. Joselito burst onto the scene full-blown, and Loretti was noticed singing as he delivered bakery products for his family. He was hired to sing at a wedding in a restaurant, and that is where he got his start. Singing in restuarants is fine, but of course it creates a certain kind of style, perhaps best described, at least in the age of the microphone, as night club crooning. His reputation grew, and a TV and concert career followed. His career was international and he was especially popular, for some reason, in Russia, where he made many friends. He is still singing today, in his 60's. He certainly never hurt his voice singing the way he did.
Robertino did not always croon—he had a more legitimate voice, although still of the coctail lounge kind, as evidenced in what I think may his best recording, Jamaica:
This is excellent singing, and quite attractive. Roberto's range is much more limited than Joselito's, but it is adequate for the kind of music he sang, and was comfortable singing.
Different kinds of singing attract different audiences, owing both to the quality of the voice and the repertoire (and looks) of the singer. Both Joselito and Robertino were nice looking boys, but their audiences were distinct. It's only a generalization, but one could say that Robertino was at least to a certain extent the darling of elderly ladies, while Joselito had such a devastating effect on girls of his own age that he had to be locked in a hotel room between shows to keep them out, much, I'm sure, to Joselito's absolute distress.
It is the sign of either a naturally intelligent child, or a very well managed one, to stick with songs that are comfortable and can be fairly easily done. Loretti seems to have had a much calmer temperament, and to have been well managed. He made a seamless transition to adulthood, although of course he is not as popular now as an adult singer because there are countless numbers of singing adults. The competition is a little tougher at 30 than it is at twelve:) Joselito's transition to adulthood was an absolute disaster, and his life largely a failure. Sometime around 2001, if memory serves, he was in jail in Angola as a drug dealer and gun smuggler. He presently lives in quiet seclusion in Spain. In his case it was ruthless and exploitative managers, coupled with the breaking of the voice which left him a kind of boudoir baritone who was utterly uninteresting.
Two children, two styles and voices, and two brilliant childhood careers.