Ernesto Tomasini (born 15 May 1968 in Palermo, Italy) is an Italian actor/singer/writer living in Britain. Best known for his more recent forays into contemporary music, he has behind himself a 30 year career on the stage.
Tomasini begun his career at 16 on the Italian comedy circuit and, later, in the legitimate theatre. Throughout his teens Ernesto devised comedy sketches and sang songs in smoky clubs and small cabaret spaces in his home town of Palermo. On one instance he caused a riot by performing his "outrageous" show at a conservative political party's celebrations. He kept his cabaret activities secret from his parents; his mother found out the truth about her son's suspicious nights out long after his debut, by reading an article about his shows on the national press.
As his acts became more sophisticated (with original songs co-written by himself) he moved up to exclusive clubs until he landed on the legitimate stage, appearing next to one of Italy's leading stars of the time, Duilio Del Prete, in the national premiere of Franz Xaver Kroetz's Death on Christmas Night. After this he performed in numerous theatre productions, never abandoning his first love: Cabaret (something he continues to do to this day). He was the support act for TV comedian Nino Frassica and performed on the televised (RAI 3) Premio Anna Magnani. For the Scuola di Cabaret TV show, he created comic characters that became household names and in 1991 he was awarded the prize for best comedy act from Sicily.
The following year he moved to the UK where, after graduating at the Arts Educational London School, he made a point of having as varied a career as he could, working as actor/singer on the West End stage (Chicago the Musical), in Off-West End productions (Blind Summit's Mr China's Son) and with experimental theatre companies (Lindsay Kemp). In 2014, after a six year period dedicated almost exclusively to music, he returned to theatre with three new plays written especially for him: Andrea Cusumano's Petit Cheval Blanc, Roberta Torre's Aida and Il Mutamento's Mamma Schiavona.
As avant-garde comedian and cabaret artist he has performed in theatres, museums, nightclubs and cultural institutes in thirteen countries around the world and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Stephen Montague and Ron Athey and with the Resonance Radio Orchestra.
Having made some early experiments in the late '90s with a production called The Other Woman, in 2002 Tomasini started to create (in various capacities) his own shows and first attracted attention with an appearance at the Edinburgh Festival with True or Falsetto? A Secret History of the Castrati. Written by Time Out critic Lucy Powell, the show was a sell out hit not only in Edinburgh but also in London for two seasons and on international tours, in three different languages. This was followed by Ernesto's own script for The Veiled Screen: A Secret History of Hollywood! which has had two London runs in 2006, sponsored by the Arts Council of England. Tomasini's style of performance - an operatic, dark and twisted blend of Italian Cabaret, avant-garde performance art and thought-provoking Vaudeville - has been defined "as shocking as it is moving".
In more recent times Tomasini has lent his voice to experimental music projects, quickly establishing himself as an international cult figure. A wide vocal range combined with his melodramatic delivery have interested the press: Frontiers magazine described him as "the most exciting and flamboyant personality to shake up the opera world since Klaus Nomi" and Italian newspaper La Repubblica called him a "prominent figure in avant-garde circuits with his seducing high voice reminiscent of those belonging to evirated singers".,
He has sung his repertoire in London venues like the Royal Albert Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Purcell Room, the National Theatre, the Cadogan Hall, the London Astoria and the Tate Britain.,
On radio he has sung, acted and was interviewed on all the BBC stations, Classic FM, Radio Nacional de España, Radio New Zealand and on major stations in France, Germany, Brazil and the US.,
For six years he has been the muse of composer Othon Mataragas. As Othon & Tomasini they have performed in some of Europe's most prestigious concert halls, theatres, museums and churches. They feature on the soundtrack of Bruce LaBruce's film: Otto; or, Up With Dead People, they performed at the show of hat designer Nasir Mazhar for the London Fashion Week (an experience that Ernesto repeated on his own the following year) and were special guests at Marc Almond's London concert at the Roundhouse. In 2010 they made their West End debut and performed at the National Portrait Gallery. Othon's first album, in which Tomasini sings alongside Almond and David Tibet, was released in 2008 on the Durtro Jnana label. 2011 saw the distribution of their first single and music video together and Othon's second album, Impermanence, in which Tomasini and Almond are joined by Camille O'Sullivan as guest singer, on Cherry Red/SFE. In 2012 the same label published their second single and video. In 2014 Othon released his third album and in it Tomasini sung two dance tracks.,
Ernesto is singer and songwriter of Almagest!, a band he co-founded with Fabrizio Modonese Palumbo (of cult Italian band Larsen). Since 2007 they have produced three albums and one music video and have performed in arts festivals in Portugal, Italy and Germany (at the Volksbuehne in Berlin, the Natural History Museum in Turin and the Kurt Weill Fest, to name three).,
In 2011 he created a new noise music project with dj José Macabra, called Trans4Leben, which opened the Drop Dead Festival in Berlin.,
Other collaborations of note are those with Julia Kent, Adam Donen, Andrew Liles (of Nurse With Wound for whom he has sung at the Sala Apolo in Barcelona, at the Wet Sounds Festival in London, at the PRE Final Fest in Rome and has recorded tracks that became part of his CDs: The Vortex Vault Collection, 2007) and the "father of industrial music"Peter Christopherson (aka Sleazy of Coil, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, with whom he performed in Italy in a live soundtrack for Derek Jarman's The Angelic Conversation).,
In 2008 Ernesto appeared as special guest singer, alongside Marc Almond and Antony (of Antony & the Johnsons), at the Current 93 concert in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall. A production music track that he recorded with Rolo McGinty of The Woodentops was released in 2010. In 2012 he was special guest of the band Patti Plinko at the Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room.
In 2008 he was paid tribute in his hometown of Palermo with a special evening entitled Tomasini con la O, in which he discussed his life, career and main sources of inspiration. In 2013 he was awarded the prize "Sicilian in the World".,
A lecturer on theatre history and techniques he has given master-classes to drama students in England, Spain and Mexico.,
His work and performance style are discussed in four books and an academic essay. In March 2012 he was included in the book Eccellenza Italiana (Italian Excellence, with an introduction by the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano), in the Theatre/Music section, for representing Italy in the world.,
For two years (2010-2012) Ernesto was the London correspondent of the Italian magazine Musical!.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license