Opening the ‘Teatro degli Illuminati’* Literature season with his new show ‘Amore scalzo’, (Love Barefoot), popular actor Alessio Boni, along with Marcello Prayer, paid tribute to the poetic testimony of Piero Ciampi; a great artist who died in 1980 and who was considered by many to be the father of singer-songwriters.
by Massimo Zangarelli
Where did you get this idea for a tribute to Piero Ciampi?
«Along with Marcello Prayer, I’m dedicated to characters we consider to have been mistreated in their lives and sometimes even their artistic expression, such as Pasolini, Pavese, Alda Merini. For this reading we’ve put together a good vocal duality. In my opinion Ciampi was more a singer-poet than a singer-songwriter, and during his lifetime was more regarded in France than in Italy».
Has Ciampi’s poetic works accrued followers?
«I don’t seem to see any around. Ciampi sang about domestic love, the most real, direct, intimate, within-four-walls type, with the dynamics of the everyday pain of living and of inharmonious love, but it was never rhetorical or dull. Ciampi is modern, he shared, conversed, argued well with the public. I rate him a Rachmaninov that goes straight to the heart».
You’ve worked with directors such as Ronconi, Strehler and Stein. Which of them has most influenced your idea of theatre?
«Everyone, from my teacher Orazio Costa, has been necessary to my journey, but Strehler [who directed Boni in ‘L’Avaro’- Ed.], revolutionized my thinking; I consider it a blessing to have been able to work with him for three months. Currently I’m enjoying working with Valerio Binasco in ‘Il Visitatore’ which resumes in November».
Has the success of ‘Incantesimo’ influenced your subsequent choice of roles?
«No, because I haven’t done any more of this type of fiction despite the constant proposals. I hate the highbrow type who denies what he did before becoming famous. I don’t reject the soap operas which I took on in order to keep me at the Academy of Dramatic Art. Unlike those who do that kind of tv series throughout their working life and don’t move on, it’s been different for me».
With ‘War and Peace’, ‘Caravaggio’ and ‘Puccini’ you’ve done something other than TV soaps. Do you believe that television still has a popular function?
«Yes, but not like it used to; everyone has a TV and watches it, even if just out of curiosity. When I shot ‘Wuthering Heights’ they had to reprint copies of a novel that just wasn’t being sold anymore. Of course, 85% of tv is poor and therefore we tend to generalize. We don’t have channels like ARTÈ in France, so we have to pick and choose, like going to an antiques market where you can find good stuff amongst the crap».
You’ve worked in films such as ‘La meglio gioventù’ (‘The Best of Youth’) and ‘La bestia nel cuore’ (‘Do not Tell’) that are known abroad. How come it’s so hard to get an Italian film marketed outside the country?
«The language doesn’t help. A film in English or Spanish has more of a chance, but if a movie is done well, like ‘La grande bellezza’ it can go international. The fact is that today fifty films a year are produced in Italy, compared with 350 in the 70’s, so it’s rare to find good movies. The times are what they are; money and the desire to take risks is lacking, but I believe that with the quality of many young people today they’ll have the will to invest in production and distribution projects».
Having played him, how would you define Walter Chiari’s character?
«An overall number one, a unique talent, a kaleidoscope of invention, a man who was fascinated by the most beautiful women, and the scapegoat for a corrupt political system that didn’t find the real culprits».
*In Città di Castello