Wonderful Piera Degli Esposti, the “human verb” in an exceptional evening of memories in Catania


By John

«The actor has a task in life: to console, making people laugh like Totò or just showing up with his “immodest” mask like Eduardo. To be an actor you have to dive into your own deep darkness and then come back to the light.” Piera Degli Esposti, the great actress who passed away two years ago and is remembered in Catania, had a very high sense of theatre, a space-world in which she felt at home in an evening of memories, testimonies but also curious anecdotes, hosted by the journalist Maria Lombardo and held at the Zo Centro Culture Contemporanee.

“Piera speaks of Piera”, the homage created by Nicola Conticelloformerly Piera’s press office and her great friend, and organized by the Etnea Musical Association, is a journey into Piera’s world that begins in Catania due to the love she had for Sicily, where she had performed many times, both with “La Passion” (which stopped in Catania and Messina) and at the Greek theater of Syracuse, with performances of great power, from Electra to Alcestis, from Io and Clytemnestra to Athena, receiving, therefore, the Golden Aeschylus 2003.

Among testimonies from his brother Antonio, his niece Lisa, the directors Andrea Chiodi, Aurelio Grimaldi and Luca De Fusco, readings, videos and musical interludes, with performances by Graziana Leonardi on the cello and maestro Nello Nicotra on the double bass (with music by Antonio Marcello and Nello Nicotra), Piera Degli Esposti, this “human verb” (as Eduardo De Filippo called her) «absent but close even from afar» (as her witty answering machine said), she filled the essential scene of the Zo theater with her irony and her humanity (method of life and acting). He did it through Pamela Villoresi and Galatea Ranzi who read with great intensity excerpts from «Storia di Piera», an intimate and explosive book written with their friend Dacia Maraini, a “vertical” investigation into the complex family feelings that delves into the ‘cog of existence (and in fact Piera loved Simenon who “digged” into the human with his Maigret).

«I have a vertical character – he wrote – I like the author-diviner, but I also see myself as a raft to which I can cling patiently, a skill that I have very strong». And then, through the video «All the stories of Piera» by Peter Marcias and the short film «Love letter to Robert Mitchum» by Francesco Vaccaro, with a splendid Piera reading a witty letter, never sent, to her idol Mitchum, who he later met thanks to Lina Wertmüller.

She entered the theater as an actress without a “graduate”, starting from her first experiences with Antonio Calenda and Gigi Proietti, but then as a “warrior” (as her niece defined her) she accepted many film and television roles, despite “initially fearing that those enormous screens could take her soul”, passing from directors such as Wertmüller and Pasolini to Moretti, Taviani and Bellocchio, from Tornatore to Sorrentino (who included her in the “unreachable category”), from Milani to Grimaldi (who remembered the experience of «Nerolio»), moving between numerous films and TV series (from «Lieutenant Sheridan Returns» of 1963 and «The Count of Monte Cristo», 1966, to «Tutti Crazy for Love» 2008-2012, and to « May God help us”, 2019, just to name a few).

For her lesson to continue (“without books and without theatre, food for the mind – she said – we cannot live”), as her family recalled, the Cineteca di Bologna, her city, which has already dedicated an exhibition to her , will establish a permanent site while consideration is given to a foundation named after her.