FLORENCE, ITALY – This morning the Florentine actor Roberto Benigni has received the honorary citizenship of the city of Florence. The ceremony for the Academy Award winner Benigni was held in the Palazzo Vecchio. Benigni will return this summer to read the poems of Dante in Florence.
In the fact, Benigni is an improvisatory poet, appreciated for his explanation and recitations of Dante’s Divina Commedia by memory. He has reached over 45% Italian households with his lectures on the Divine Comedy.
During 2006 and 2007, Benigni had a lot of success touring Italy with his 90-minute “one man show” show TuttoDante (“Everything About Dante”). Combining current events and memories of his past narrated with an ironic tone, Benigni then begins a journey of poetry and passion through the world of the Divine Comedy.
TuttoDante has been performed in numerous Italian piazzas, arenas, and stadiums for a total of 130 shows, with an estimated audience of about one million spectators. Over 10 million more spectators watched the TV show, Il V° canto dell’Inferno (“The 5th of Hell”), broadcast by Rai Uno on 29 November 2007, with re-runs on Rai International.
Benigni began North American presentations of TuttoDante with an announcement that he learned English to bring the gift of Dante’s work to English speakers. The English performance incorporates dialectic discussion of language and verse and is a celebration of modernity and the concept of human consciousness as created by language.
In 2009, Benigni brought “TuttoDante” to the United States with performances in San Francisco, Boston and Chicago. Following his U.S. premiere in San Francsico on May 26, 2009, Benigni was feted at a special reception held by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) in his honor.