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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Μπουρνοβαλιά
(Bournovalia)

(Girl from Bournova)

 

This page contains a translation into English of the lyrics to the popular Greek song "Bournovalia" (Μπουρνοβαλιά), which was sung by Sotiria Leonardou. Also included is a pronunciation guide for the Greek lyrics so you can sing along if you like.

Bournova is a suburb of Smyrna (Izmir, Turkey). This song refers to a girl from this suburb. This is one of the most beautiful old-school Greek Anatolian songs. There is a traditional island version and a traditional Oriental versions.

The Rembetiko movie which featured this song was inspired and created by the life of one of the greatest Greek-Armenian Rebetises, Evangelia Atamian. Even though Evangelia was of Armenian decent, she still captured the hearts of Greeks and enjoyed a successful career. Her second husband, Niko (Ninos) Nikolaidis, was an entertainer and acrobat. Evangelia adopted the stage name Marika Ninou and performed with her husband as Duo Nino. They also collaborated with several other great artists of that time.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: The photo shows Marika Ninou.

For more information about the laiko and rebetiko styles of music, see Introduction to Laiko / Rebetiko Music elsewhere on this web site.

Song lyrics are provided for educational purposes. If you like the song, please purchase either the album or a download from an authorized source.

Merika Ninou

About Sotiria Leonardou

Sotiria Leonardou, the original artist for this song, was born in Athens, Greece. She learned to sing and dance at an arts school. Her rise to fame occurred as a result of her appearing in the 1983 motion picture Rembetiko, a role which earned her the award for Best Actress at the Thessaloniki Film Festival.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This photo shows actress/singer Sotiria Leonardou.

Sotiria Leonardou

About Nikos Gatsos

Nikos Gatsos, the lyricist for this song, was born in southern Greece in 1911. He attended the University of Athens for two years, where he studied history, literature, and philosophy. He became a published poet, with his work featured in magazines.

After World War II, Gatsos began writing lyrics for songs. His body of work explores the human condition, with songs about sacrifice, injustice, evil, and the pains of love. He also wrote about Greek-specific issues such as the sorrows of exile.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: This photo features lyricist Nikos Gatsos.

Nikos Gatsos

About Stavros Xarhakos

Stavros Xarhakos, the composer of this song, was born in 1939 in Athens. Beginning around 1963, he began composing music for theater and cinema. He studied in Paris for four years, then studied at the Juilliard School of Music. He is known worldwide for composing the musical score for the 1983 motion picture Rembetiko.

Stavros Xarhakos

About Glykeria

Glykeria Kotsoula is the sweetheart of Greece and one of the greatest legends of our time. She was born in 1953 in Serres, Greece. Her musical style is modern laika (rebetika & folk), while still always paying tribute to the great Rebetes of the past.

Panayiota, the translator of this song, offers this personal perspective on what Glykeria's music means to her:

Glykeria's music always has and always will inspire me both on and off the stage. I admire her simplicity and humbleness despite her fame and success. While most kids were learning standard lullabies, my mother would sing all her songs to me, since I was a baby. My mother Evangelia is a huge fan and loves singing her songs. On family road trips, my mother played this song (and all her tapes) over and over again. Those cassette tapes (with this song) are what made me fall in love with Laika/Rebetika style music at the age of ten. Thank you Glykeria, thank you Mama! Enjoy!

Most of Glykeria's records have gone platinum. She has gained fame and respect through out the world. Glykeria collaborates with many notable international musicians, including the Turkish living legend, Omar Farouk Tekbilek.

Glykeria

Song: Bournovalia – Girl from Bournova (Smyrna/Izmir), 1983

Lyrics: Nikos Gatsos

Music: Stavros Xarhakos

Original Artist: Sotiria Leonardou

Has Also Been Sung By: Glykeria

Τραγουδι: Μπουρνοβαλιά, 1983

Στίχοι: Νίκος Γκάτσος 

Μουσική: Σταύρος Ξαρχάκος 

Πρώτη εκτέλεση: Σωτηρία Λεονάρδου

 

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Lyrics

This song has been recorded by both Sotiria Leonardou and Glykeria. Translations for both versions appear below.

Sotiria Leonardou

Numbers in parentheses refer to footnotes that appear at the bottom of the translation.

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Ώπα ώπα ώπα ώπα Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! (1)
σου το λέω και σου το 'πα sou to leo ke sou to pa I am telling you and I told you,
το κορμάκι το φιδίσιο to kormaki to fidisio your snake-like body (2),
μην το γέρνεις μπρός και πίσω min to gernis bros ke piso don’t lean forward and backward,
το κορμάκι το φιδίσιο to kormaki to fidisio your snake-like body,
κράτα το και λίγο ίσιο krata to ke ligo isia hold it upright for a bit.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova
να σου στείλω τα φιλιά μου na sou stilo ta filia mou so I may send you my kisses.
χόρεψε αγαπούλα μου horepse agapoula mou Dance, my love,
παραμύθι πούλα μου paramithi poula mou my fairy tale.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova,
να θυμάμαι τα παλιά μου na thimame tap alia mou so I may remember my past.
χόρεψε χανούμισα horepse hanoumisa Dance, my belly dancer,
μου 'μοιασες και σου 'μοιασα mou miases ke sou miasa you are like me and I am like you.
     
Ώπα ώπα ώπα ώπα Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa!
κοίτα γύρω σου και σώπα kita giro sou ke sopa Look around you and be quiet.
μάτια σε τρυπάνε χίλια matia se tripane hilia 1,000 eyes are piercing you
μέσ' απ' της καρδιάς τη γρίλια mes apt is kardias ti grilia from inside a heart's pillar.
μάτια σε τρυπάνε χίλια matia se tripane hilia 1,000 eyes are piercing you
με χαμόγελο και ζήλια me hamogelo ke zilia with smiles and jealousy.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova,
να θυμάμαι τα παλιά μου na thimame tap alia mou so I may remember my past.
χόρεψε χανούμισα horepse hanoumisa Dance, my belly dancer,
μου 'μοιασες και σου 'μοιασα mou miases ke sou miasa you are like me and I am like you.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova
να σου στείλω τα φιλιά μου na sou stilo ta filia mou so I may send you my kisses.
χόρεψε αγαπούλα μου horepse agapoula mou Dance, my love,
παραμύθι πούλα μου paramithi poula mou my fairy tale.
  1. "Opa!" is a Greek exclamation that usually goes with enthusiasm, joy, or excitement. In this song, it refers to the narrator's delight with the dancer.
  2. In Greek, if someone says a dancing woman resembles a snake, that is a very favorable compliment. It suggests that she can move her body sinuously, like the way a snake undulates when it moves.

 

Glykeria

Greek Lyrics

Pronunciation

English Translation

Ώπα ώπα ώπα ώπα Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! (1)
σου το λέω και σου το 'πα sou to leo ke sou to pa I am telling you and I told you,
το κορμάκι το φιδίσιο to kormaki to fidisio your snake-like body (2),
μην το γέρνεις μπρός και πίσω min to gernis bros ke piso don’t lean forward and backward,
το κορμάκι το φιδίσιο to kormaki to fidisio your snake-like body,
κράτα το και λίγο ίσιο krata to ke ligo isia hold it upright for a bit.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova
να σου στείλω τα φιλιά μου na sou stilo ta filia mou so I may send you my kisses.
χόρεψε χανούμισα horepse hanoumisa Dance, my belly dancer,
μου 'μοιασες και σου 'μοιασα mou miases ke sou miasa you are like me and I am like you.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova,
να θυμάμαι τα παλιά μου na thimame tap alia mou so I may remember my past.
χόρεψε αγαπούλα μου horepse agapoula mou Dance, my love,
παραμύθι πούλα μου paramithi poula mou my fairy tale.
     
Ώπα ώπα ώπα ώπα Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa! Opa!
κοίτα γύρω σου και σώπα kita giro sou ke sopa Look around you and be quiet.
μάτια σε τρυπάνε χίλια matia se tripane hilia 1,000 eyes are piercing you
μέσ' απ' της καρδιάς τη γρίλια mes apt is kardias ti grilia from inside a heart's pillar.
μάτια σε τρυπάνε χίλια matia se tripane hilia 1,000 eyes are piercing you
με χαμόγελο και ζήλια me hamogelo ke zilia with smiles and jealousy.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου Horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova,
να θυμάμαι τα παλιά μου na thimame tap alia mou so I may remember my past.
χόρεψε αγαπούλα μου horepse agapoula mou Dance, my love,
παραμύθι πούλα μου paramithi poula mou my fairy tale.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova
να σου στείλω τα φιλιά μου na sou stilo ta filia mou so I may send you my kisses.
χόρεψε χανούμισα horepse hanoumisa Dance, my belly dancer,
μου 'μοιασες και σου 'μοιασα mou miases ke sou miasa you are like me and I am like you.
     

Instrumental Section

Instrumental Section

Instrumental Section

     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova
να σου στείλω τα φιλιά μου na sou stilo ta filia mou so I may send you my kisses.
χόρεψε χανούμισα horepse hanoumisa Dance, my belly dancer,
μου 'μοιασες και σου 'μοιασα mou miases ke sou miasa you are like me and I am like you.
     
Χόρεψε Μπουρνοβαλιά μου Horepse Bournovalia mou Dance, my girl from Bournova,
να θυμάμαι τα παλιά μου na thimame tap alia mou so I may remember my past.
χόρεψε αγαπούλα μου horepse agapoula mou Dance, my love,
παραμύθι πούλα μου paramithi poula mou my fairy tale.
  1. "Opa!" is a Greek exclamation that usually goes with enthusiasm, joy, or excitement. In this song, it refers to the narrator's delight with the dancer.
  2. In Greek, if someone says a dancing woman resembles a snake, that is a very favorable compliment. It suggests that she can move her body sinuously, like the way a snake undulates when it moves.

 

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Translations of
Sotiria Leonardou's Songs On This Site

 

---------------

Translations of
Glykeria's Songs On This Site

Other translations of songs performed by Glykeria on this web site include:

 

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About the Translator

This page was contributed by Panayiota Bakis Mohieddin, who is happy to share her culture and music she grew up with! Here's how Panayiota describes her background:

I always love engaging with intelligent like-minded people, especially artists. I love sharing anything and everything about my Hellenic culture and upbringing, especially music and dance. A conversation with me will bring you back to America's favorite Greek-American movie by Nia Vardalos called My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

I love investigating Greek culture, history, music, and dance. Speaking of investigating, I think I missed my calling, I probably should have been an investigator. Instead, I use those skills to dig and dig and dig tirelessly, often times falling asleep on my laptop... just to find the truth. But, most importantly, accurate truth. For me personally, and other respectable folklorists, my culture and accuracy are very important. Each generation of ethnic born artists has a duty to do the best it can to pass down our traditions as was taught to us. We have been given this artistic gift to be the gatekeepers of our heritage and culture.

Panayiota

 

 

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