Dante Alighieri and The Divine Comedy in Popular Culture - Music


  • In Claudio Monteverdi's 1607 opera L'Orfeo, the title character is bombarded with the famous line "Lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate" as he attempts to enter the underworld.
  • Franz Liszt's Symphony to Dante's Divina Commedia (completed 1856) has two movements: "Inferno" and "Purgatorio." A concluding "Magnificat" is included at the end of the "Purgatorio" movement and replaces the planned third movement, which was to be called "Paradiso" (Liszt was dissuaded by Richard Wagner from his original plan). Liszt also composed a Dante Sonata (started 1837, completed 1849).
  • Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky's 1876 Francesca da Rimini (subtitled "Symphonic Fantasy After Dante") is a symphonic poem based on an episode in the fifth canto of the Inferno.
  • Giacomo Puccini's 1918 one-act opera Gianni Schicchi is drawn from a brief reference to the title character in the Inferno.
  • F.M. Einheit of Einstürzende Neubauten and Andreas Ammer collaborated on an experimental recording called Radio Inferno, a radio play adaptation of the Comedy.
  • Tangerine Dream has released albums setting all the three parts of The Divine Comedy to music: Inferno is a recording of a live performance at the St Marien zu Bernau Cathedral in 2001, and Purgatorio is a studio album from 2004.
  • The band STYX is named after the river of death found in Greek mythology and in Dante's Inferno.
  • Folk singer Loreena McKennitt's song "Dante's Prayer", the final track on her 1997 album The Book of Secrets, is based on Dante's work.
  • Canadian post-rock group …as the Poets Affirm took their name from a passage in the Inferno.
  • Asaki's first album, Shinkyoku, is also the name of the Comedy in Japanese Kanji.
  • The Bright River is a hip-hop retelling of the Inferno by a traditional storyteller, Tim Barsky, with a live soundtrack performed by hip-hop and klezmer musicians.
  • In Weezer's album Make Believe, released May 10, 2005, there is hidden text in the pictures. The text reads "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita".
  • The song "Roll Right" on the album Evil Empire by Rage Against the Machine contains the refrain 'Send 'em to tha seventh level!' referencing the seventh circle (or level) of Hell, where the violent are held.
  • German Dark Electro band yelworC has made two albums of a trilogy based on the three canticas of the Divine Comedy, so far 'Trinity' and 'Icolation'.
  • Australian goth-electro band The Tenth Stage has a self-titled track (2006) that describes the singers descent past the nine stages of Dante's poem to a 10th stage of Hell.
  • Technical death metal guitarist Fredrik Thordendal (from the Swedish Death metal band Meshuggah) used quotes from the Divine Comedy in the song "Dante's Wild Inferno" from his solo album Sol Niger Within.
  • The song "Canto IV (Limbo)" from Progressive music group Discipline's album Unfolded Like Staircase describes the sorrow of those souls whose never knew a deity.
  • New Jersey band The Gaslight Anthem referenced the Comedy in their song "The Navesink Banks" from the album Sink or Swim with the opening line, "All hope abandoned, ye who enter here".
  • Italian progressive rock band Metamorfosi has released two concept albums based on the Divine Comedy, Inferno (in 1972) and Paradiso (2004).
  • Dante's work provided a name for the Irish band The Divine Comedy (1989).
  • The video for Depeche Mode song "Walking In My Shoes" (1993), directed by Anton Corbijn, was inspired by the Comedy.
  • Milla Jovovich's 1994 debut album was called The Divine Comedy.
  • Metal band Iced Earth's album Burnt Offerings (1995) contains the epic song "Dante's Inferno."
  • Norwegian Black metal band Ancient's second album The Cainian Chronicle (1996) contains the song At The Infernal Portal (Canto III).
  • Zao refer to the Divine Comedy on their 1999 album Liberate Te Ex Inferis, covering the first five circles of the Inferno.
  • Punk singer Mike Watt's third solo album, The Secondman's Middle Stand (2004), is a concept album that derives its structure from The Divine Comedy
  • The first song on metal band Decadence's debut album (2005), "Wrathfull and Sullen", is inspired by the fifth level of Hell.
  • Robert W. Smith's The Divine Comedy (CD, 2006) is a four-movement symphony for wind ensemble that depicts four stages of Dante's journey in a tone poem-like symphonic structure. The movements are "The Inferno", "Purgatorio", "The Ascension", and "Paradiso."
  • Indie band Murder By Death's album In Bocca al Lupo (2006) is a concept album partially based on the poem.
  • Thrash metal band Sepultura's tenth album, Dante XXI (2006), is based entirely on The Divine Comedy.
  • Professor Fate's album Inferno (2007) was inspired by the Comedy.
  • Finnish rock band HIM released Venus Doom (2007) of which all 9 songs represent the 9 circles of hell.
  • Dutch composer Louis Andriessen's 2008 film opera in five parts La Commedia incorporates texts from Vondel and the Old Testament, in addition to The Divine Comedy. The 5 parts are "The City of Dis, or The Ship of Fools", "Racconto dall'Inferno", "Lucifer", "The Garden of Delights", and "Luce Etterna".
  • The Finnish progressive rock magazine Colossus and Musea records produced three multi-disc boxsets dedicated to each of the canticas of the Divine Comedy - Inferno (2008), Purgatorio (2009) and Paradiso (2010) - with the participation of several bands such as Yesterdays, Little Tragedies, Nathan Mahl and Phideaux.
  • On his album "Human the Death Dance" (2007) American underground hip-hop artist Sage Francis uses stanzas from Dante's Inferno sung in Italian during the chorus of the song "Black Out on White Night".
  • In Green Day's Album 21st century breakdown there is a song called Christian's Inferno that depicts one of the protagainsts of the album doing the same as Dante
  • Austrian gothic metal band Dreams of Sanity's album Komödia is partially based on The Divine Comedy.
  • American hardcore punk band AFI has a song on their fourth album whose chorus uses a line from the Inferno: "Beyond and to all time I stand"
  • American post-hardcore band Alesana's fourth album, A Place Where the Sun Is Silent is primarily based on the Inferno.
  • Mexican death metal band Transmetal released El Infierno de Dante in 1993. It was also released as Dante's Inferno in an English version of the album.
  • Laudi alla Vergine Maria is Movement 3, for women’s voices, of Giuseppe Verdi’s Quattro Pezzi Sacri (Four Sacred Pieces, 1888). The text is taken from the opening lines of Canto 33 of Paradiso.
  • Italian power metal band Luca Turilli's Rhapsody's first album Ascending to Infinity has a song called Dante's Inferno.

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