Ernesto Tomasini

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Ernesto Tomasini
Tomasini at party.jpg
Born15 May 1968

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 also had a 30-year career on the stage.

Early performances[edit]

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.[1] He kept his cabaret activities secret from his parents;[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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).[5]

Having made some early experiments in the late '90s with a production called The Other Woman,[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] Tomasini's style of performance - an operatic, dark and twisted blend of Italian Cabaret, avant-garde performance art and thought-provoking Vaudeville - has been described "as shocking as it is moving".[10]

From 2013, 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. In 2017 he debuted his own musical comedy, Beato chi ci crede, at the Out Off Theatre in Milan.[11]

As avant-garde comedian and cabaret artist he has performed in theatres, museums, nightclubs and cultural institutes in fourteen countries around the world and has collaborated with artists as diverse as Stephen Montague, Ron Athey,[12] Carlos Motta[13] and with the Resonance Radio Orchestra.

Very active in the fashion world, Tomasini performed at the shows of hat designer Nasir Mazhar for the 2008 and 2009 London Fashion Week and for Carlo Volpi at Pitti Uomo 2017.


For the past ten years he has been lending his wide vocal range to experimental music, singing an eclectic repertoire written by him or for him by a multitude of musicians, and, in the process, becoming an international cult figure.[14] 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" [15] 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".[16]

Last year he performed his new one man entertainment, “One Life To Live!“, at the National Theatres of Germany and Italy.[17] He is singer/songwriter of the prog-rock band Almagest!, with which he tours extensively, appearing in venues like the Volksbuehne in Berlin[18] and festivals like the Kurt Weill Fest.[19] Recently Tomasini collaborated with electronic producers Man Parrish (on a forthcoming new record)[20] and Shackleton, who wrote for him “Devotional Songs“, the critically acclaimed live show and album, which was among the best of 2016 for the Wire, the Quietus and many more.[21] Other collaborations include Marc Almond, the late “father of industrial music”[22] Peter Christopherson (founder of Coil, Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV),[23] Julia Kent (Antony & the Johnsons), Andrew Liles (Nurse With Wound),[24] members of Larsen [it], Current 93 (he was special guest at their first Queen Elizabeth Hall concert, alongside Anohni),[25] Rolo McGinty of The Woodentops, Othon, Adam Donen and José Macabra, with whom he opened the 2011 Drop Dead Festival in Berlin.[26]

He has sung his repertoire in London venues like the Royal Albert Hall (main house and Elgar Room), Purcell Room, National Theatre, Roundhouse, Cadogan Hall, Tate Britain, National Portrait Gallery, and in historical theatres, museums and churches around the world. As a recording artist he sings on thirteen albums, four singles, five music videos and on the soundtrack of a film by Bruce LaBruce.

On radio he has sung, acted and was interviewed on all the BBC stations, Classic FM, RAI Radio3, Radio Nacional de España, Radio New Zealand and on major stations in France, Germany, Brazil and the US.


In 2012 he was included in the Theatre/Music section of Eccellenza Italiana (Italian Excellency, with presentation by the President of the Republic of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano), for representing Italy in the world.[27] In 2013 he was awarded the prize "Sicilian in the World" and in 2016 received the keys to the city by the mayor of his hometown of Palermo.[28]
A lecturer on theatre history and techniques he has given master-classes to drama students in England, Spain and Mexico. Tomasini is the only Italian to have given a masterclass at RADA Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[29]
His work and performance style are discussed in four books and an academic essay.[30]
For two years (2010-2012) Ernesto was the London correspondent of the Italian magazine Musical!.[31]


  • Black Widow (album, 2007) Beta Lactam-ring Records
  • Black Sea (album, 2007) Beta Lactam-ring Records
  • When I Leave You (single, 2007) Othon Mataragas
  • Canes Venatici (album, 2007) Blossoming Noise
  • Otto; or, Up With Dead People (soundtrack album, 2008) Crippled Dick Hot Wax!
  • Digital Angel (album, 2008) Durtro Jnana
  • The Hunting Dogs of Boötes the Herdsman (album, 2010) Chew-z
  • Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes (single, 2011) Cherry Red/SFE
  • Impermanence (album, 2011) Cherry Red/SFE
  • Impermanence (single, 2012) Cherry Red/SFE
  • Düde (album, 2012) Tin Angel Records
  • Messier Objects (album 2013) Tourette Records
  • InSonar, L'Enfant et le Ménure (album, 2013) Lizard Records
  • Dawn Yet To Come (single, 2014) Cherry Red/SFE
  • Pineal (album, 2014) Cherry Red/SFE
  • Devotional Songs (album, 2016) Honest Jon
  • Madame E (album, 2017) Undogmatisch


  • Autori vari. Incontroazione 70/96 – 20 anni + 1, Theatrum Mundi Edizioni 1997
  • Marinelli, Manlio. Per un teatro degli spazi, Theatrum Mundi Edizioni, 2001
  • Scarlini, Luca. Lustrini per il regno dei cieli. Bollati Boringhieri, 2008
  • Autori vari. Teatro Libero. Quarant’anni: Le creazioni di Beno Mazzone e Lia Chiappara, 1969-2009, Theatrum Mundi Edizioni 2009
  • Guarracino, Serena. La primadonna all'Opera. Tangram Edizioni Scientifiche, 2010
  • Tomaz Pires, Luìs. The Julie Andrews Visual Encyclopedia. Lisbon: Pires, 2011
  • Cazzato, Luigi (cur). Orizzonte sud. Besa, 2011
  • Jackson, Stanley. Get Me a Celebrity. Ecademy Press, 2011
  • Guarracino, Serena. Donne di passioni, Editoria&Spettacolo, 2011
  • Palumbo Crocco, Cristina (with a preface by the President of the Republic of Italy Giorgio Napolitano). Eccellenza Italiana. Rubbettino, 2012
  • Pajdic, Predrag & Nash, JL. Beneath the Shadows the Soul Walks. The Pandorian, 2012
  • Johnson, Dominic (cur). Pleading in the Blood: The Art and Performances of Ron Athey. Intellect Live, 2013
  • Esposito, Igor. Torre, Roberta. Tomasini, Ernesto. Aida, il grande circo dell'aldilà. Glifo Edizioni, 2014
  • Frignani, Enrico. Sofa. Frignani, 2015
  • Cresti, Antonello. Solchi sperimentali Italia. Crac Edizioni, 2015
  • Arrevad, Magnus. Boy Story. Red Room Books, 2015
  • Pegg, Nicholas. The Complete David Bowie. Titan Books, 2016

Selection of Work in Variety, Cabaret and Performance Art[edit]

  • The LA Italian Revue (variety - 1984, USA)
  • The Victoria Series (cabaret - 1988/93, I)
  • Support for Nino Frassica (cabaret - 1991, I)
  • The Lenny Beige Show at the Regency Rooms (variety - 1998, UK)
  • The Amazing Tomasini at the Tron Theatre, Glasgow (cabaret - 2001, UK)
  • Stars Fall From Heaven at the Colourscape Festival (performance art - 2006, UK)
  • The History of Ecstasy at MADRE Museum, Naples (performance art - 2009, I)
  • Tomasini/Macabra Trans4Leben at the MILKandLEAD art gallery, London (performance art - 2011, UK)
  • Lascia o raddoppia? (performance art - 2011, UK)
  • Alternative Miss Liverpool (cabaret - 2011, UK)
  • Franko B's Untouchable (cabaret -2013, UK)
  • New Year Celebrations in Piazza Politeama, Palermo (variety - 2015, I)
  • Bowie Night at Ace Hotel, London (with Lindsay Kemp, Marc Almond, Holly Johnson. variety - 2016, UK)
  • Heavenly Voices/Sensual Bodies at the Teatro Massimo, Palermo (illustrated lecture - 2017, I)

Selection of Theatre Work[edit]

  • Morte nella notte di Natale (play - 1988, I)
  • Ballarò (play - 1989, I)
  • Nasci lu iornu (musical - 1993, I)
  • Volti Lunari (play - 1994, UK)
  • Reunion in Genthin (play - 1995, UK)
  • Grand Hotel - The Musical (musical - 1995, UK)
  • The Tempest (play - 1995, UK)
  • Varietè (dark operetta - 1996/97, UK)
  • The Other Woman (compilation musical - 1998/99, UK)
  • The Conquering Hero of Seville (play - 1999, UK)
  • Mr China's Son (multimedia play with music - 2002, UK)
  • True or Falsetto? A Secret History of the Castrati (one man musical - 2002-2007, UK + world tour)
  • The Englishman Sits in a Caravan at St Osyth/Singing (opera - 2003, UK)
  • Cabaret - The Musical (musical - 2003, UK)
  • Chicago - The Musical (musical - 2004/05, UK)
  • The Veiled Screen: A Secret History of Hollywood (one man musical - 2005/06, UK)
  • Camurrìa! (musical - 2008, UK)
  • Petit Cheval Blanc (play - 2013, India)
  • Aida (musical - 2014, I)
  • Mamma Schiavona (play with music - 2014, I)
  • Beato chi ci crede (musical - 2017, I)

Selection of TV, Film and Radio Work[edit]

  • Premio Anna Magnani (RAI 3, TV - 1990, I)
  • Woman's Hour (BBC Radio 4 - 1998, UK)
  • Outlook (BBC World Radio - 2002)
  • Thunderpants (Pathè, Film - 2002, UK)
  • Walking the Outer Road (Radio New Zealand - 2003, NZ)
  • Crowded Skies (BBC2, TV - 2003, UK)
  • Dream Team (Sky, TV - 2004, UK)
  • The Bottle Factory Outing (BBC Radio 4 - 2005, UK)
  • Children of Men (Universal Pictures, Film - 2006, USA)
  • Siglo 21 (Radio 3 Nacional de España - 2007, Es)
  • Otto; or, Up with Dead People (Film soundtrack - 2008, Ger)
  • Stoo Kuinnutu (music video - Reverso - 2009, Ger)
  • Othon & Tomasini en vivo a la Bienal de Zamora (Radio Nacional de España - 2009, Es)
  • Forget Me Not (Quicksilver Films, Film - 2010, UK)
  • Carne cruda (Othon & Tomasini en vivo y entrevista) (Radio Nacional de España - 2010, Es)
  • Last Night I Paid To Close My Eyes (music video - Cherry Red/SFE - 2011, UK/Dm)
  • Impermanence (music video - Cherry Red/SFE - 2012, UK/Dm)
  • Heavenly Voices: The Legacy of Farinelli (documentary - Tico Films - 2013, EU)

Selection of Concerts and Recitals[edit]

  • COPA at the Royal Albert Hall (concert - 2001, UK)
  • State of the Nation at the Purcell Room (concert - 2002, UK)
  • Andrew Liles + Ernesto Tomasini & Nurse With Wound at the Sala Apolo, Barcelona (concert - 2007, Es)
  • Othon & Tomasini's First European tour (concert - 2007/08 EU)
  • The Angelic Conversation with Peter Christopherson's The Threshold HouseBoys Choir in Turin (concert - 2008, I)
  • Current 93 at Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, with guests Antony, Marc Almond and Ernesto Tomasini (concert - 2008, UK)
  • Andrew Liles + Ernesto Tomasini & Nurse With Wound at the Wet Sounds Festival, London (concert - 2008, UK)
  • Palumbo/Tomasini's Canes Venatici live at the Auditòrio de Serralves, Porto (concert - 2008, PT)
  • London Fashion Week, Nasir Mazhar spring show, London (recital - 2009, UK)
  • Ernesto Tomasini sings: Othon, Canes Venatici and Andrew Liles at the PRE Final Fest, Rome (concert - 2009, I)
  • Othon & Tomasini at The Queen Elizabeth Hall (The Front Room), London (recital - 2009, UK)
  • Othon & Tomasini special guests at Marc Almond's Roundhouse concert, London (concert - 2009, UK)
  • Othon & Tomasini in the West End (Leicester Square Theatre), London (concert - 2010, UK)
  • Othon & Tomasini at the National Portrait Gallery, London (concert - 2010, UK)
  • Palumbo/Tomasini's Canes Venatici live at the Volksbuehne, Berlin (concert - 2010, D)
  • Othon & Tomasini at the Teatro Lara, Madrid (concert - 2010, Es)
  • Palumbo/Tomasini's Almagest! at the Kampnagel, Hamburg (concert - 2011, D)
  • Palumbo/Tomasini's Almagest! at the Natural History Museum, Turin (concert - 2011, I)
  • Tomasini/Macabra Trans4Leben at the Drop Dead Festival, Berlin (concert - 2011, D)
  • Othon & Tomasini at Chelsea Theatre, Impermanence (concert - 2011 UK)
  • Othon & Tomasini Live in London at St Leonard's Church Shoreditch (concert - 2012 UK)
  • Almagest! at Kurt Weill Fest (concert - 2013, D)
  • Poems After Lorca at the Cadogan Hall, London (concert -2014, UK)
  • Pineal at the Garage, London (concert - 2014, UK)
  • Deliquium at Electrowerks, London (concert - 2015, UK)
  • TG Body Probe at the Coronet, London (concert - 2015, UK)
  • Ninja Tunes at St John at Hackney, London (concert - 2015, UK)
  • Shackleton/Tomasini at CaixaForum, Madrid and Barcelona (concert - 2015, Es)
  • Tomasini Masterclass at RADA, Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (recital - 2016, UK)
  • Ernesto Tomasini Live, Teatro Biondo, Palermo (recital - 2016, UK)
  • Shackleton/Tomasini at Arma17, Moscow (concert - 2016, RU)
  • Shackleton/Tomasini at EYE, Amsterdam (concert - 2016, NL)


  1. ^ Gottert, Michael (April 2010), "Ernesto Tomasini Interview (article)", Black Magazin, archived from the original on 8 July 2011
  2. ^ Ellis, Samantha (5 August 2002), "All Mouth and No Trousers (article)", The Guardian
  3. ^ Alaimo, Roberto (25 November 1988), Morte nella notte di Natale (article) Giornale di Sicilia
  4. ^ Longo, Piero (1 September 1991), Si conclude domani con il Genio di Palermo Montepellegrino '91 (article) Giornale di Sicilia
  5. ^ Shuttelworth, Ian (2 October 1996), Kemp's camp mime to music (article) Financial Times
  6. ^ -, - (10 June 1998), The Other Woman (article) Evening Standard
  7. ^ Costa, Maddy (12 August 2002), True or Falsetto? (article) The Guardian
  8. ^ Nicholson, Colin (14 April 2003), Hitting the high notes (article) Daily Mirror
  9. ^ -, - (5–12 April 2006), The Veiled Screen (article) Time Out
  10. ^ Phillips, Giovanna (13 April 2006), Hollywood Unveiled (review) What's On
  11. ^ Vivi Milano Corriere della Sera 2017
  12. ^ De Ciuceis, Franco (8 June 2009), "Ron Athey, la body art come scena della crudeltà (article)", Il Mattino
  13. ^ Torchia, Franco (14 October 2016), "Parte de tu religión (article)", Pagina12
  14. ^ Ca., Al. (20 February 2007), "La voce di Tomasini "perle nere" in falsetto (article)", La Repubblica
  15. ^ Clare, Lenora (2008), "Naked City: Informer (article)", Frontiers, 27 (02), archived from the original on 31 May 2008
  16. ^ Campo, Alberto (16 April 2008), Threshold House, suoni e voci per Jarman (article) La Repubblica
  17. ^ Pasta, Rosanna (29 March 2016), "Ernesto Tomasini al debutto live Concerto al Teatro Biondo (article)", LeiSi
  18. ^ -, - (October 2010), "Italienischer Theaterherbst (article)",, archived from the original on 4 September 2010
  19. ^ Campo, Alberto (29 April 2009), "Brillano sul festival le stelle di Canes Venatici (article)", La Repubblica
  20. ^ Nobile, Laura (8 October 2017), "Tomasini: Musical, dischi e poi torno a Palermo (article)", La Repubblica
  21. ^ Sherburne, Philip (18 July 2016), "Shackleton Devotional Songs (article)", Pitchfork
  22. ^ Petridis, Alexis (28 November 2010), "Peter Christopherson Obituary (article)", The Guardian
  23. ^ Ferrari, Paolo (11 April 2008), "La memoria dei Coil per Balance e Jarman (article)", La Stampa
  24. ^ C, J (21 February 2007), "Caprichos esquisitos (article)", La Vanguardia
  25. ^ Diana, Barbara (n. 251, September, 2008), "Ernesto Tomasini, una voce extraordinaire (article)", Il Giornale della Musica, archived from the original on 27 May 2009 Check date values in: |date= (help)
  26. ^ Sherburne, Philip (29 August 2011), "Festival: Kreativer Krach an der Schillingbrücke (article)", Berliner Morgen Post
  27. ^ -, - (24 March 2012), "Eccellenza Italiana (article)", Eccellenze Italiane, archived from the original on 23 December 2014
  28. ^ Comune di Palermo
  29. ^ ADKronos
  30. ^ Guarracino, Serena (Spring 2010), "Of Castrati, Angels and Simians (article)", Anglistica, archived from the original on 23 July 2012
  31. ^ Tomasini, Ernesto (July – August 2010), "Con la voglia di sognare ancora (article)", Musical!

External links[edit]