I saw Roberto Benigni on television again last night. Just as our faithful reader, Lucy, said, they are broadcasting episodes of his tour TuttoDante now every Thursday night.
As I said last week, this is one of the few times I am enjoying my subscription to the television channel RAI International to the fullest. Seeing him perform in Piazza Santa Croce in Florence, with the square's statue of Dante over his shoulder, is an absolute joy.
Last night's episode showed him reading Canto I of Dante's Inferno. That's one of those cantos that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai per una selva oscura....
In the show, first he reads through the canto with explanations. This part is quite funny and takes up the majority of the program. It reminds me of countless discussions I've had with friends in Florence. Why? Because Benigni is the consummate Tuscan man. He has all the characteristic mannerisms and sayings, and of course he's got the Tuscan accent and sense of humor! What a package!
Then at the end he reads the ENTIRE canto from MEMORY. From memory, folks!
And the emotion he feels when he reads Dante is evident in his delivery, his tone, his face.
Era stupendo ragazzi!
Quando guardo queste trasmissioni, penso: quant'è bello conoscere la lingua italiana. How great is it knowing Italian.
I think the same thing when I listen to the aria "Casta Diva" from Bellini's opera, Norma or for that matter, "L'America" di Gianna Nannini.
What an incredible language it is.