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Friday, July 12, 2024
P10877- Cast from “La Passatella” created and produced by Armando and Carmine Viselli
  (This story by Ciaran Ganley was published in The Windsor Star on March 22, 1977. It will be published on this site as a courtesy of Armando Viselli)

Ever since he was a youngster in Italy, Armando Viselli had a penchant for writing. But, after moving to Canada and

P10877 - Cast from “La Passatella”, created and produced by Armando and Carmine Viselli. Courtesy of Armando Viselli
  raising a family, he had little time or chance to pursue his goal, until three years ago.
At that time, he saw a movie which was very moving, and it urged him and his brother, Carmine, to reproduce something similar, but for radio instead. Armando wrote a tragedy, in rhyme, about street gangs in Rome in the 1920s. They hired a couple of guitar players, gathered some friends, produced a play and put it on tape. It was broadcast on WMZK in Detroit, on the Italian Musical Program.
P10850  Carmine and Armando Viselli Seniors Video and Camera Club 1994
  From that inconspicuous beginning, the Viselli brothers now have nine full-length productions to their credit, dealing with many aspects of the Italian culture from the experience of Italian immigrants arriving in Canada to re-enacting the effects of the earthquake that struck Italy last May.

P10850 - Carmine and Armando Viselli, Seniors Video and Camera Club, 1994
  “This was our dream,” Carmine, 53, a Windsor barber for the past 25 years, said. “Armando and I have always
wanted to do something like this.” They built a room onto Armando’s house to serve as their recording studio and had it soundproofed. Piece by piece they accumu1ated and improved on their equipment. The brothers, who live next door to each other, now have about $6,000 worth of recording equipment which they paid for themselves. Armando, 50, a meter-reader with Hydro for 22 years, is the writer, narrator, talent scout, producer and also plays Uncle Checco. Carmine is the technician. Uncle Checco is a character that Armando developed to serve as a wise, old man who plays a sage-like role in many of their productions.
P10871A-Press Card
  “We needed a character that all the listeners could identify with and learn from,” Armando said. “Uncle Checco is a regular character who adds colour to our productions.” The Visellis have had their work broadcast on several radio and TV stations in Windsor, London,
P10871A - Press Card. Both Carmine and Armando Viselli had these cards from the Federazione Mondiale Della Stampa Italiana All’Estero. The brothers ran a radio show together in Windsor for many years “Armando and Carmine radio productions”. Courtesy of Armando Viselli
  Toronto, Detroit and Edmonton. They spend an average of four hours a day, writing, bouncing ideas back and forth, researching and producing their programs. “Sometimes we forget our families,” Carmine said.
Carmine said that the public library has been extremely helpful to them. It supplies them with music and much of their information comes from books in the library. They even bought a set of encyclopedias to help in their research. When they started out it was difficult to get sponsors to pay for the radio time, Armando said. Now it only takes one phone call, he added.
P10865 - Armando Viselli Photo - Armando and Carmine Viselli 2002

For their last production, an in-depth, 7 ½-hour study of Sicily, which is currently being broadcast on WMZK Detroit, they had 46 sponsors.

The brothers don’t receive any pay for their efforts, but are satisfied with having the radio time paid for by the sponsors. Carmine and Armando are now

P10865 - Armando Viselli Photo - Armando and Carmine Viselli, 2002
  members of the Italian World-Wide Press Federation, and were awarded the honour from the Italian government in

Italy, for their excellent achievements in Italian radio programming.

When Italy was struck by an earthquake in May of last year, the Fogolar Furlan Club asked the brothers to produce a play re-enacting the catastrophe. Their production brought the reality of the disaster to the awareness of the Italian community, and stimulated a financial response to assist the refugees in Italy.

“We try to make the people laugh, and make them cry,” Armando said. In his quest for authenticity, Armando recalled one instance when he had to actually choke Carmine’s daughter, Lori, to make her cry for real.

Lori, 13, a grade nine student at Lowe Tech, does the voice of Mario, another regular character in their productions. According to Carmine, no one has yet been able to tell that the voice of Mario is really done by a girl. As the brothers develop experience, producing their programs has become less difficult. “At first, it was very hard to express and produce our thoughts,” Armando said, “but now it is getting much easier.” The main emphasis of their productions has been to “Canadianize” Italians and keep alive the Italian culture and heritage. “Every day is another day dedicated to the Italian-Canadian community,” Armando said.

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The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.


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