Sussurra Luce x Radio Raheem. Episode 05: Carmelo, Bene e l’Androide with Enzo Mansueto, Massimo Torrigiani and Francesco Cavaliere

Since Sussurra Luce explores the spaces where voices, words, sounds, music, and their media carcasses, meet and collide, we could not fail to introduce you, in our own way and sooner or later, Carmelo Bene, who is an extreme synthesis of these encounters. We do it on March 16, 2022, on the 20th anniversary of his passage to another life: this one. A reconnaissance broadcast in the company of Enzo Mansueto, who has been following his adventures since the 1980s. The usual episode of Sussurra Luce is followed, from 9 to 11 pm, by a selection of pieces that Massimo Torrigiani put together with plays by Bene himself, music he used in his theatre, radio and television works, songs by his contemporaries, associates and collaborators, and by those who were inspired by him and who seem to follow his footsteps.

Carmelo Bene was born in Campi Salentina, in the Southern South of the Saints, in 1937. In 1957 he enrolled in the Academy of Dramatic Art in Rome, but only attended it for less than year, preferring to animate unruly Roman nights. In 1959 he made his debut as a protagonist at the Teatro delle Arti with Albert Camus’ Caligula: here, the writer granted the script in exclusive free use to the unknown young artist, perceiving his precocious genius. Years of research followed in several directions, from writing to stage. The period between 1961 and 1963 saw the experience of Teatro Laboratorio, with performances generating scandal among the respectable audience. In the following years, a profusion of multimedia creativity exploded, from the writing of the novel Nostra Signora dei Turchi to Bene’s landing in cinematography, a fulminant parenthesis closed in 1973. The productions for Rai (Italy’s public broadcasting company) in the 1970s marked his research in the television medium, from the Russian poets featured in Quattro modi di morire in versi [Four Ways to Die in Verse] to Riccardo III. Then, the turning point of concerts, the study on the phoné, the experimentation with phonic instrumentation around the voice, with the great Manfred at Milan’s Scala Theatre and his work on poets – Leopardi, Campana, Hölderlin and Dante ­– and the summer 1981 legendary reading from the Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna. Over the years, lines of work, flows, variations between Pinocchios and Hamlets were taken up and overlapped, with a progressive dehumanization and deconstruction of the theatre, which will culminate in the poetics of the ‘actor-machine’, the post-human declination of a theater without a subject and without a show. From Lorenzaccio to the Cena delle beffe [The Jester’s Supper], from the dreadful Macbeth Horror Suite to the Penthesilea project and In-vulnerabilità di Achille [Achille’s In-vulnerability], where the scenic rarefaction, the playback, and the mechanical fragmentation of the gesture left on stage an android with a displaced voice. The impossibility of that voice, as an oral death in the writing, will linger latently on the 2000 poem ‘l mal de’ fiori [The Malaise of Flowers], Carmelo Bene’s creative testament. His organic body, after repeated surgical break-ins, would turn off definitively on March 16, 2002.


Giancarlo Dotto, The ‘Divine Comedy’ with Bach, Vivaldi and Presley, 2011 (Italian)

Pietro Acquafredda, Carmelo Bene: dopo la parola, la musica, originally published in Paese Sera, 3 May 1979 (Italian)

Carmelo Bene interviewed by Alberto Luna in the television show Cinema 70, full version (Italian)
Carmelo Bene in a rare interview by Paolo Terni, 1980 (Italian)
l mal de’ fiori [The Malaise of Flowers], 2000
Carmelo Bene, Manfred, version for concert in oratorio form, 1979
A Night with Carmelo Bene with Romeo, Juliet and companions
Carmelo Bene, Pinocchio (1982), final scene

Enzo Mansueto (Bari, 1965) is a poet, essayist, teacher, curator of cultural events, literary and music critic. He has collaborated with the Apulian regional pages of the Corriere della Sera for over twenty years. Between 1987 and 1989, with Massimo Torrigiani, Pino Pipoli and Carlo Bibolich, he gave birth to Rubbia, a seminal and collective magazine of cultural unrest. Since the early 1990s, he has written for various magazines, from Allegoria to Linea d’Ombra, from Rockerilla to Rodeo to Lo Straniero. He has published two collections of poetry, Descrizione di una battaglia (Scheiwiller 1995) and Ultracorpi (ed. d’if 2006) and, with the phonographic poetry collective La Zona Braille, the audiobook Scassata Dentro (ed. d’if 2010). In the early 1980s he was the frontman of The Skizo, and told the post-punk band’s story in Lumi di Punk (Agenzia X 2006). Mansueto took part in several literary awards as a juror, including the prize “Alberto Dubito di Poesia con Musica” and the Mondello 2021 Award. He is a founding member of the GREC – Groupe de Recherche sur l’Extrême Contemporain at the University of Bari.

Massimo Torrigiani is a member of Fantom, and the director of its sound projects.

Francesco Cavaliere, visual artist and musician, is the curator of Sussurra Luce.