Benigni to take ‘Dante’ to America

First-ever U.S. stage tour to start May 26

ROME — Roberto Benigni will make his U.S. stage debut with “Tutto Dante” (Everything About Dante), a one-man show in which the Italo multihyphenate recites and expounds on verse from Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” written in the early 1300s.

“Dante,” a megahit on the Italian legit circuit, where it has played intermittently for three years, has already traveled to European capitals including London, Paris, Zurich, Frankfurt and Athens.

Benigni’s “Divine Comedy” recitation is preceded by a standup act, which takes its cue from current events in the country and the city where the show takes place. It segues into a lighthearted verse-by-verse explanation of Dante’s work preceding the actual recitation.

In the U.S., Benigni will perform most of his show in English. The actual verses of the Inferno’s Fifth Canto will be performed in the original medieval Italian with English subtitles projected on a screen.

Benigni’s U.S. tour will kick off in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on Tuesday. “Dante” plays in New York’s Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom on May 30, Boston’s Berklee Performing Center on June 6 and Chicago’s Harris Theater on June 12.

“I feel it’s sort of like Jim Carrey coming to Rome to recite Walt Whitman,” Benigni quipped.

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