A couple of months ago, I went to see Roberto Benigni give his first American show about none other than Dante’s Inferno. Ok I know…this is just too much highbrow for everyone but I love Dante’s Inferno. I love the whole Divine Comedy. It’s exquisite and people just don’t have feelings like that any more. Not to mention to hear it read by someone in the original language will just make you quiver.
However, before Benigni jumped into a recitation of a Canto, he did his usual thing. He was the energetic comedian that Italy knows and loves. (Of course some Americans know him too because of the movie “Life Is Beautiful”). He was bouncing around and sweating and just being his charming self. I felt like bouncing around along with him. After about a half hour of his commentaries on the world, he dove into a specific canto of the Inferno that he explained to us in English. This was a pretty funny task since some of the canto involved some history that was happening at the time that Dante had written the work. He compared these pieces to modern day event which was very funny.
After going through this canto, he finally read the canto aloud by memory in Dante’s original Italian. I got goose bumps. The previously hot performance center made my tingle with cold. My husband thought it was equally amazing to hear this silly man take a dramatic turn. I was awestruck.
If I hadn’t already thought he was wonderful, that performance would have done it. Now I just think he’s a god. A truly divine comedian.