In deep

Speakers’ Circle: a “talk show” where everyone can participate

The Speakers Circle at ORA is based on the talk show format. We believe this very popular format, so appreciated by Italians, is the perfect match for our topics. We will have a 45 minutes-1 hour “dibattito”, where our guests will explain their points of view and then there will be some open space for questions and participation.

We will talk about culture, identity, community, and also about the ethnic media in Italian language: why the downfall? Our experts will give us their valuable ideas, but we welcome the contribution of everybody who has a relevant opinion.

Our goal? Raise questions and hopefully find some first answers that will help us of Italian heritage – still keeping in mind the work done so far – to create a new path for the future, for the new immigrants and the second, third and future generations to come.

In deep

Speakers’ Circle @ ORA with Daniela Nardi

Daniela Nardi is an Italian-Canadian musician/composer/producer  and also the “other half” of the Espresso Manifesto Arts Collective (Daniela Sanzone being the other half – read about these two ladies in the Chi Siamo section).

La Nardi lives/works in Toronto. ORA speaks with her about her journey coming back to her Italianità.

In deep

ORA’s special guest from Italy: Calabrian Cantautore Peppe Voltarelli

Calabrian Cantautore Peppe Voltarelli

Calabrian Cantautore Peppe Voltarelli

Peppe Voltarelli’s tour in North America will start on June 25 in Toronto at Bata Shoe Museum (with Daniela Nardi)
Other dates are: June 26 New York City – Chez André @ The Standard, East Village
July 3 Montreal  – Savoy du Metropolis  34° Montreal International Jazz Festival
July 4 Montreal – Savoy du Metropolis  34° Montreal International Jazz Festival

Peppe Voltarelli Bio

The tradition of a troubadour singing and telling stories has been with us for eons. Whether it’s griots in West Africa, bluesmen in Mississippi or Moroccan gnawa players, these traveling musicians inform and entertain with a mix of political and social satire, love songs, comedy, praise of a deity or whatever else inspires them.
Italian singer-songwriter Peppe Voltarelli comes out of this tradition, putting a distinctly modern and Italian twist on it.  Hailing from Calabria (that’s the toe of Italy’s boot), Voltarelli sings his tales with a distinctly Calabrian point of view and dialect, pointing out the hypocrisy and deep political corruption in one of Italy’s most troubled regions, but balancing that with a dash of humor and catchy melodies often delivered on acoustic guitar.
“I think its kind of Mediterranean blues,” Voltarelli says of his music. “I’m a modern songwriter looking at the culture that has dominated our land and then creating imaginary place where a tribal African rhythm meets the sweetness of Greek serenata.”
This restless soul brought his Mediterranean blues with a touch of babalu to Germany, Argentina, the U.S. and elsewhere, settling down for a while before moving along to the next country or returning home for another major concert, television appearance or collaboration with noted Calabrian film director Giuseppe Gagliardi.

While Voltarelli cites such Italian artists as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Roberto Saviano and particularly Domenico Modugno (composer of the standard “Volare”) as influences, his music moves well beyond its Italian roots. This is a performer that transcends his bloodlines with a swagger that recalls fellow global pop iconoclasts like Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hutz, Billy Bragg, Manu Chao or Shane MacGowan, delivering his message with a dynamic intensity and singular style.
Voltarelli (now 43) got his start in music at the ripe old age of 11, eventually founding the popular alternative rock band Il Parto delle Nuvole Pesanti (The Birth of the Heavy Clouds). A band that mixed punk rock and Calabrian folk traditions, it became one of Italy’s seminal bands of the 1990′s. He eventually left that band in 2006 to pursue a solo career.

His first album “Distratto Ma Però” was released in 2007 and it was among the finalists for Italy’s prestigious Tenco Prize. Distributed in Europe by Universal, Voltarelli’s second solo album, “Ultima Notte A Malà Strana,” came out in 2010 and won the Tenco Prize for the Best Album in Dialect. It is the first album in Calabrese to do so.
Nonetheless, Voltarelli’s amazing run of New York City performances in late 2012 needed few if any subtitles.  During four Saturday nights at the intimate but influential Barbes, his audience grew each week and eventually led to a fifth and final show at Drom in Manhattan’s East Village to accommodate the crowd and accompanying buzz.

While Gagliardi and Voltarelli first collaborated on “Doichlanda,” a serious 2003 documentary about Italian immigration to Germany, the most recent collaboration is 2011′s “Tatanka” — Voltarelli wrote the score for the film, which was adapted from the Roberto Saviano’s best-selling novel entitled “Gomorra.”

Voltarelli is currently concentrating on the not so easy task of writing the best music he can for his upcoming third solo album. “I’m looking for a melody with simple and direct words that excite people,” he explains, adding, “a song that speaks of this time and is useful to society.”

Peppe Voltarelli (featuring Kevin Johansen) – “Scarpe Rosse Impolverate”

Peppe Voltarelli – “Sta Citta”

Peppe Voltarelli – “Tourismo in Quantità”

The Real Legend of Tony Vilar Film Trailer (Starring Peppe Voltarelli)


Speaker’s Circle @ ORA: guest Donato Santeramo

Prof. Donato Santeramo

Donato Santeramo

Donato Santeramo is the Head of the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Queen’s University, in Kingston (Ontario).

He received his first degree from the University of Rome, La Sapienza  (Faculty of Letters and Philosophy) and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of Toronto (Italian Studies).  He also holds appointments at the University of Rome II (Graduate School) and at Middlebury College, VT (Summer Language School).

Santeramo has been at Queen’s University since 1995 when he joined the Department of Spanish and Italian. He is cross-appointed to the Department of Drama and is associated with the Cultural Studies Graduate Program.

He has been visiting scholar/professor in several universities in North America and Europe and was the Emilio Goggio Chair Lecturer in Italian Studies at the University of Toronto (2005 & 2007).

Santeramo has published on Italian literature and theatre, Film and Semiotics. He has translated and staged works of contemporary Italian playwrights in Kingston, Toronto and New York.  He is on the Editorial Boards of several academic journals.

In 2005 Donato Santeramo was awarded the Queen’s University Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

His most recent publications are: Luigi Pirandello: la parola, la scena ed il mito, “Pirandello, uno, due e tre”, “La struttura occulta: la teatralità de Il Fu Mattia Pascal”, “Craig contro. Dai primi manifesti futuristi al Convegno Volta”, “Pirandello e Craig la crisi della rappresentazione”, “Enrico IV the Perfect Theatrical Machine”, “Il bell’Antonio ovvero la fine della Storia”, “Dario Fo 1997 Nobel Prize in Literature” and “La Sagra del Signore della Nave tra simbolismo e allegoria”. He has also co-authored Deictic Verbal Constructions and co-edited The Sign in Theory and Practice (both with Marcel Danesi).

In 2005, he co-edited RED CARS: An original screenplay by David Cronenberg. He is currently working on an art exhibit in collaboration with Cronenberg: 46 Frames, From Cinema to Painting.

Santeramo is a member of several editorial boards of Italian journals dedicated to the fields of literature, theatre and film.

Associated with the Queen’s Cultural Studies Program.

Courses Taught

  • Studio panoramico della letteratura italiana
  • Pirandello’s Major Plays
  • Italian Literature and Film
  • From Fellini to Benigni
  • Dante
  • Dai romantici al D’Annunzio
  • Introduction to Semiotics
  • Introduction to Italian
  • Intermediate Italian
  • Advanced Italian
  • Sintassi e Traduzione
  • Traduzione e composizione


Phone: 613-533-2112
Office: Kingston Hall, Room 414

Department of Spanish & Italian
103 Stuart Street
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario, Canada K7L 3N6

(From the Queen’s University website)

Our other speakers on the panel include, Antonio Nicaso (writer), Paul Golini (developer), Luciano Volpe (entrepreneur) and Daniela Nardi (musician). More news to come on them… stay tune!

In deep

Let’s briefly define “Culture”

Culture (Latin: cultura, lit. “cultivation”)[1] is a modern concept based on a term first used in classical antiquity by the Roman orator, Cicero: “cultura animi”. The term “culture” appeared first in its in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, to connote a process of cultivation or improvement, as in agriculture or horticulture. In the 19th century, the term developed to refer first to the betterment or refinement of the individual, especially through education, and then to the fulfillment of national aspirations or ideals. In the mid-19th century, some scientists used the term “culture” to refer to a universal human capacity. For the German nonpositivist sociologist Georg Simmel, culture referred to “the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history”.[2]

In the 20th century, “culture” emerged as a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of human phenomena that cannot be attributed to genetic inheritance. Specifically, the term “culture” in American anthropology had two meanings: (1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences, and acted creatively.[3] Hoebel describes culture as an integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society and which are not a result of biological inheritance.[4]

Distinctions are currently made between the physical artifacts created by a society, its so-called material culture and everything else,[5] the intangibles such as language, customs, etc. that are the main referent of the term “culture”.

(From Wikipedia )

    1. ^ Harper, Douglas (2001). Online Etymology Dictionary
    2. ^ Levine, Donald (ed) ‘Simmel: On individuality and social forms’ Chicago University Press, 1971. p6.
    3. ^ “What is culture?”. Retrieved 2013-03-29.
    4. ^ Hoebel, Adamson. Anthropology: Study of ManMacionis, Gerber, John, Linda (2010).
    5. ^ Macionis, Gerber, John, Linda (2010). Sociology 7th Canadian Ed. Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Canada Inc. p. 53.