Hell 2023, in the Alcantara Gorges with bated breath following Francesca da Rimini


By John

The emotion in the spectators is great at hearing the pronouncement of Amor, ch’a nullo amare amar perdona by Francesca Da Rimini, after having remained in suspense for the entire duration of the walk in the river, until the final liberating applause. It is the actress Giovanna Mangiù who has played Francesca since the debut, in 2018, of Inferno, which has since been appreciated by as many as fifty-three thousand spectators. This success has earned the theatrical work, included in the Palco Al-Qantarah festival, the patronage of the MiC, the Ministry of Culture, the Ars, the Department of Entertainment of the Sicilian Region, the Alcantara River Park Authority and the Municipality of Motta Camastra. Sponsors of the event are then Isola Bella Gioielli, Amaro Herbae and Bacco, typical pistachio.

“Five years after his debut – he confesses Giovanna Mangiu – the emotion that recites Dante’s verses gives me while crossing, at night, in the dark, the waters of the river, icy even in the torrid heat, accompanied by the notes of a piano, has not diminished at all. And it was precisely the emotions that made this new edition of Inferno unforgettable.

The prefect of Messina, Cosima Di Stani, at the end of the “premiere” on July 27 spoke of “A magical, evocative show, in an incredible, truly beautiful setting”. “Congratulations to the director – he added – for the setting in this wonderful site. And then the skill of the actors, the emotional involvement. I really enjoyed it very much.”

Therefore, the avalanche of applause that the public bestowed on those who worked on this edition was justified. A side note: on the evening of the “premiere”, the arrival in the Fratelli Vaccaro structure of both the prefect Di Stani and the regional councilor for tourism and entertainment Elvira Amata, was greeted by the music of the municipal band of Motta Camastra. And Alessandro Vaccaro explained how the mayor, Carmelo Blancato, had wanted to greet the arrival of government representatives, as was done in the past, that is “with that musical band, an expression of collective happiness”. “The revival of Inferno here at the Gorges – added Vaccaro – has renewed the interest of the local populations, not only of the citizens of Motta, but of the entire Alcantara Valley, for this show which in past years, with its induced, allowed significant economic-employment repercussions on our territory”. And Mayor Blancato indicated as “a source of pride for the municipal administration, the resumption, after a year’s hiatus, of this remarkable level of theater work, so much so that it deserved the patronage of the Ministry of Culture, and which arouses great interest also outside our region and abroad, as evidenced by emails and phone calls to our Municipality”.

Inferno, in short, as well as other shows produced by Buongiorno Sicilia and Vision Sicily, and, in this case, also the Gole Alcantara Botanical and Geological Park, have the merit of turning the spotlight on a territory, in its various articulations, such as the Alcantara River Park. “The Region – underlined its director, Valentina Tamburino – has always believed in our Park. And the Sicilians believe in it: even if the institution is sometimes seen as a constraint, it is instead a driving force for development from all points of view. Rich as it is in traditions and culture, it is a resource for the area and everyone here knows it. It’s about educating, inviting people to use the Park in serenity and safety, playing sports or walking to discover splendid places or sitting under a tree to read a book. It is true that Hell is represented here at the Gorges, but for me the Park is a paradise”.

The actors of Inferno are, in order of appearance, Liliana Randi (Narrator), Francesco Bonaccorso (Tourist and Charon) Angelo D’Agosta, (Dante), Salvo Piro (Virgil), Giovanna Mangiù (Francesca da Rimini, Messenger from Heaven ), Davide Pandolfo (Ciacco), Luca Fiorino (Farinata degli Uberti), Rosario Minardi (Ulisse), Davide Sbrogiò (Ugolino), Gabriele D’Astoli (Paolo, Diomede, Archbishop Ruggeri). The damned are instead Beatrice Caudullo, Manuela Grimaldi, Marta Marino, Valeria Mazzaglia, Enrica Pandolfo, Davide Peluso, Alfio Raiti, Lucio Rapisarda, Francesco Rizzo and Gloria Trischitta. The choreography is by Fia Di Stefano, the costumes by Riccardo Cappello, the music by Nello Toscano and the special effects by Alfredo Vaccalluzzo. We should also mention the assistant director Agnese Failla, the light designer Davide La Colla, the sound designer Enzo Valenti, and Simone Trischitta, who takes care of the general organization.