CORALINA CATALDI-TASSONI: by Owen Keehnen

Manhattan born Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni was destined for an artist’s life. Her lineage practically demands it! Her mother was a Lyric singer - her father was a musician and Lyric director - her grandfather a composer - her grandmother a musician, etc. She is a painter, trained to be an opera star, a singer/songwriter (her CD ‘Limbo Balloon’ is now available), and an actress of stage and screen as well. On film she has appeared in some great horror films for some wonderful directors. She has worked twice with Dario Argento as the seamstress Guila in ‘Opera’ (1987) and in ‘Terror at the Opera’ (as Honorine) with Julian Sands and Asia Argento (1998). She did an Italian TV show with Argento called ‘Giallo’ and even acted with his daughter Asia Argento (a second time) in ‘Demons 2’ (1986) directed by Lamberto Bava. In the zombies-overtake-the-apartment-building classic Ms. Cataldi-Tassoni played Sally, the girl who is having her sweet 16 party and ends up turning into a demon! She also recently wrapped filming on Mr. Bava’s latest film ‘Ghost Son’. Her addition films include her role as Sister Candida in Luciano Odorsio’s ‘Sacrilege’ (1986), the Nurse in Fabrizio Laurenti's ‘The Room Next Door’ (1994), Pupi Avati's ‘The Childhood Friend’ (1994), Andrea Marfori's ‘The Evil Clutch’ (1988), as well as playing the part of Cora in ‘Via Paradiso’. In addition she has also garnered a solid reputation as a stage actress appearing in roles as Rizzo in Grease’ and Laura in ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Recently I had the chance to chat with her via email…and I wasn’t disappointed.


 
Owen: I’ve heard you mention that you always play the soundtrack to Dario Argento's 'Profundo Rosso (Deep Red)' on your stereo when you write interviews.  Is it on your stereo now?

Coralina: Yes.

Owen: Excellent. You recently returned from filming 'Ghost Son' in South Africa with Lamberto Bava.  Would you tell me a little something about the project?

Coralina: I describe it as a love story with a "twist". The cast is a small international one- Oscar nominee Pete Posteltwaite, John Hannah (Sliding Doors, The Mummy), Laura Harring (Mullholland Drive) and young Musa Keiser (Hotel Rwanda). Should be coming out in a few months. It was the best time in my life. My motto is "I saw God in South Africa"...Mind you it was an Elephant-but that's what I saw. I will never be the same person again. If one day I vanish...you will know where to find me.

Owen: You had also worked for Bava previously in 'Demons 2' almost 20 years ago. Had his style of directing changed much in the interim what with the changes in technology and such?

Coralina: As always Lamberto showed his professionalism and attention to his work and with that I am sure comes his growth with all the new technology. What remained unwavered was his care and understanding towards me. Demons 2 will bond us both forever.

Owen: Many fans associate you with the two opera films of Dario Argento, 'Opera' (87) and 'Phantom of the Opera' (98).  What is unique about working on an Argento film?  I've heard it is almost a transformative experience?

Coralina: Quantum Physical...

Owen: Did your previous study of opera prove effective when it came to filming those movies?

Coralina: My parents are from the Opera world-so I lived it and I guess subconsciously studied it. Maybe others felt they were going from their hotel to the opera house to film every morning-I felt like I was going home.

Owen: You've also worked with Asia Argento on 'Demons 2' as well as 'Phantom of The Opera'.  What common trait do you see reflected in father and daughter?

Coralina: An incredible desire to work and learn as much as they can.

Owen: Tell me about the 3 month TV show you did with Dario Argento called 'Giallo'.

Coralina: Incredibly rich with memories of all kinds. Dario and I, for a few months had a "live" segment on this show every Friday night for R.A.I. We interviewed people like Anthony Perkins, Pink Floyd, traveled to Saudi Arabia where we did what I like to call a warped Bob Hope show-where for Christmas we went to salute the Italian navy on their ships. ..And so many more stories... exorcists, monsters, FX, war, camels, dreams...

Owen: You also recently released your debut CD 'Limbo Balloon'.  How would you describe you musical style?

Coralina: Music with a very operatic and punkish-gothish thing going on. Not my words…what others tell me-I really cannot personally answer that question.

Owen: On the CD you even have a song to Dario called 'Argento'.  What did you want to convey with the song?

Coralina: When Dario kills me....I finally come to life. We both come to life. We love.

Owen: You also starred in the strange film, Agnese Fontanas' 'The Evil Clutch'. Tell me something about filming that odd movie.

Coralina: Strange? Odd? You are being very kind. All I can say is if I had the powers to destroy every tape of that "whatever we can call it" around, I would die without any regrets of what I am leaving behind.

Owen: Tell me about your work in Luciano Odorisio's 'The Devils of Monza' aka 'Sacrilege'.

Coralina: I was to do a bigger role-but my schedule with Demons 2 was a conflict. The director wanted me to drop Demons 2 but I refused and he gave me another role much smaller and told me that one day I would regret my choice of doing a horror. But you know what? I look at all my fans through the years and I see how special and kind they all are and I know in my heart I did the right thing. How could ANYONE EVER say no to an Argento project. Not me. Ever.

Owen: What is your primary force that draws you to your film projects

Coralina: My respect for the few old school directors of Italian cinema left. I am so fortunate to have worked with these people...filmmakers that will never be forgotten in cinema history

Owen: You an Italian-American and yet you appear in so many Italian films.  Is it a specific something in Italian cinema that you are drawn to, or merely that Italian directors seek you out?

Coralina: I guess if you love something or someone it can find you for it feels some crazy force.

Owen: You write, paint, act, and are a musician and songwriter as well.  As such a rounded artist how solid is the border between the arts for you or do they all flow and intermingle under a larger banner of creativity?

Coralina: They all live Co-dependently happily ever after. Free to be as screwed up as they can be amongst themselves.

Owen: Which form of artistic expression do you prefer?

Coralina: Music is my heart and whatever artistic form comes out from there-as a child... is loved as well.

Owen: I've also heard you are a UFO enthusiast.  What are your theories or beliefs in that area?  Have you ever seen one yourself?

Coralina: Yes - I have. I would not say, "I believe" as if it were a religion, or that I am taking some bizarre leap of faith. It is like a learned logic I was born with and acquired. Put together all that science, chemistry, atmospheric states have to show us; add to that an infinite universe.... and if our big, insecure ego's still think we are the only ones in the universe. Then you know what? - I hope we are, the only stupid ones around-for one planet like this would be enough.

Owen: In addition to 'Ghost Son', do you have any other projects coming in the near future?

Coralina: I live in NYC and have an art exhibit in at the HPGRPGALLERY coming up .Nov 9th is the opening. 32-36 little west 12th street-you should come and visit I will be there.

Owen: Very tempting. It would be a nice road trip from Chicago. What makes you scream in real life?

Coralina: Me.