The 3MBS Dante700 Festival celebrates the 700th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death. The festival is curated by 3MBS presenters, Margot Costanzo and Karen van Spall and commemorates the poet’s legacy through a lecture series, a broadcast festival and live performances.

The 3MBS Dante700 Festival offers something for everyone.

  • For the curious or the informed Italophile, a lecture series, Out of Exile explores the Divine Comedy, Dante’s poetic achievements and the art that it inspired during the month of August.
  • For regular 3MBS listeners and new listeners, a broadcast festival from September 13th to September 20th will feature live-to-air performances and interviews from the curators and presenters of the Out of Exile series.
  • For live-music lovers, live performances of work inspired by the Divine Comedy will feature in a program called The Love that Moved the Stars during September.

And finally, there will be an opportunity to explore the Dante holdings of books and artworks from the State Library of Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria during the State Library of Victoria’s exhibition World of the Book until July 31, 2022.

All events are FREE to attend under COVID safe guidelines. Bookings are essential.


Curators’ vision for the 3MBS Dante700 Festival

Dante Alighieri, the author of the Divine Comedy, took his last breath 700 years ago between September 13 and 14 1321. He died as a political exile in Ravenna, lamenting the salty bread, the abysmal standards of the church and the licentiousness of his beloved homeland Florence.

Karen van Spall and I celebrated [celebrate] the composers who were inspired by Dante in a 10-hour series called Dante in Music that includes music by Verdi, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky, Zandonai, Granados and Tischenko now streaming for free on the Festival website.

We now celebrate Dante and the musicians he inspired in a Festival of Broadcast music, live performances and lectures. 3MBS will be supporting an exhibition of visual images and books at the State Library of Victoria in conjunction with the National Gallery of Victoria. The Festival is supported by our lectures series partner CO.AS.IT. and with the support by the Dante Alighieri Society Melbourne, the oldest Dante society in Australia.

We hope that this Festival will attract people interested in Dante from all over the world. Please join us!

The Dante700 Festival is curated by Margot Costanzo and Karen van Spall.


Why Should the General Reader Care about Dante?

Presented by Margot Costanzo
Tuesday 10 August 2021, 6.30-8PM, CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053

This lecture proposes reasons why the Divine Comedy is surprisingly relevant to the reader’s life today. It adopts Erich Auerbach’s description of Dante as a poet of the secular world, with examples from fellow poets, the sinner Francesca da Rimini and life as a political refugee after Dante’s exile. The lecture concludes with a suggestive exploration of Dante’s poetic apprehensions of Paradise as space/time continuum. Margot Costanzo with Karen van Spall is the Co-Producer of the 3MBS Illuminations Series Dante in Music which charts the course of the Dante Alighieri journey through to heaven to reveal the music it inspired. She studied the three books of la Commedia as an undergraduate at the University of Melbourne 40 years ago, becoming hooked on the great work and its many translations.


The Poetic Beauty of Dante

Presented by Simon West
Tuesday 24 August 2021, 6.30-8PM, CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053

Robert Frost once defined poetry as what gets lost in translation. Fortunately, this hasn’t discouraged the many translators from Chaucer to Clive James who have grappled with Dante’s poetry. Accompany Simon and Dante’s translators on a journey into the beauty of the language of the Comedy, its rhyme, metre, metaphor, and what Dante called the – the musical and harmonious connections. Dr Simon West is a poet and an Italianist. He teaches Italian literature including a long-running subject called To Hell with Dante and a close reading experience through all three books of the Divine Comedy. His publications on Dante include Squaring the Circle: Dante, Memory and the Project of Writing. His most recent book is a collection of essays entitled Dear Muses: Essays in Poetry (Puncher and Wattman 2019).


The Dante Collection from the National Gallery of Victoria and the Holdings from the State Library of Victoria

Presented by Petra Kayser and Anna Welch
Tuesday 31 August 2021, 6.30-8PM, CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and State Library Victoria (SLV) have rich holdings of material related to Dante in their collections. In this lecture, Petra Kayser will discuss the world-renowned watercolours by William Blake in the NGV collection, and Anna Welch will take us through some of the highlights of the SLV collection, from 16th-century Italian editions to contemporary Australian artists’ books by artists such as Bruno Leti, Peter Lyssiostis, Angela Cavalieri and Alex Selenitsch, with a special feature on the exciting recent acquisition of Tom Phillips’ Inferno.


The Women of the Divine Comedy

Presented by Diana Glenn
Tuesday 26 October 2021, 6.30-8PM, CO.AS.IT., 199 Faraday Street, Carlton 3053

Over the centuries, the female figures in the Commedia, with the exception of Beatrice, have often been represented as marginal to the role of the male figures. In reality, Dante removes women from the margins and grants them singular agency and voice. Through its nuanced portrayal of female characters, their role, function and ambits of activity, the Commedia incorporates traditional and contemporary images of women who speak of their personal lives, with some incorporating narratives of historical specificity. The characters include pagan, biblical, historical, literary and contemporary figures.