Berlusconi is known for his love of song, regularly serenading his parade of starlets invited to his ‘bunga-bunga’ parties.

He had been expected to release an album of 11 songs, entitled ‘True Love’, in September.

The soppy Neopolitan tunes were written by Berlusconi, a 75-year-old billionaire, and sung by Mariano Apicella, a Naples-based singer who has become the prime minister’s de facto personal minstrel.

This is their fifth CD together.

But Berlusconi seems to have put the brakes on the launch of the sentimental strains out of deference at a time when millions of hard-pressed Italians are feeling anything but sentimental towards him.

One of the songs was inspired by the Zorba the Greek-style ‘sirtaki’ dance – ironic, since Italians fear that their economy is about to be swept up in the sort of financial meltdown that has brought Greece to its knees.

Musical arranger, Angelo Valsiglio, who was asked to work on one of the tracks, described the album as “elegant and refined”.

One of the songs, titled ‘Music’, includes the lines: “Listen to these songs, they are for you/Listen to them when you need caressing/Sing them when you are hungry for tenderness …”.

Berlusconi’s penchant for crooning is well documented. He and Apicella not only perform songs in the private parties at Berlusconi’s mansions  for showgirls and models, they have also put on private performances for Tony and Cherie Blair, Vladimir Putin and George W Bush.

Apicella and Berlusconi first met when Berlusconi had dinner at a restaurant in Naples where the folk musician was performing a decade ago.

The first album they produced, called Meglio Una Canzone or Better A Song, sold more than 45,000 copies.

Before he made a fortune in construction and media, Berlusconi put himself through college by working as a singer on Mediterranean cruise ships.

Though all the singing in the world doesn’t look likely to change the tide of ill-feeling within Italy for him. Berlusconi’s popularity ratings have plunged further to 22 per cent, according to a poll released on Wednesday by the IPR Marketing Institute.

The percentage with ‘zero’ confidence in Mr Berlusconi also rose from 64 to 66 percent according to the poll for the leftist La Repubblica daily.