Theater actor, voice actor, with a passion for music, photography and good food… Carlo Valli is the one who gave voice to over 15 characters in the audio book of the Soeliok trilogy.

The breath of the earth, Beyond the borders and Behind the waterfall are the three titles of Daniele barioglio’s trilogy published by ZoneCreative. The project has the ambition to go far beyond the publishing market by exploring more ambitious avenues such as the world of play and cinema.

This audiobook is an example of how different the approach of the Biellese agency is, which stands out for its cinematic cut by choosing one of the most loved voice actors in the Italian scene and curating a sound system that has nothing to envy to the productions.

What does it mean to read an audiobook? Where do we start from and how can all those characters be interpreted? We asked Carlo Valli during the recordings and his words, who surprised us with his irony.

Enjoy the reading!

What did you think when they asked you to lend the voice of this book?

When they asked me to make this audiobook I was very happy, I must say, because I made one, but many years ago, when I was a boy. It was Robinson Crusoe. After that, I didn’t do any of these things anymore, so I was interested in it, I liked it. They didn’t have much trouble convincing me.

How have you been contacted?

So, I was contacted in this way: I do dubbing lessons with a group called Voice Art which is based in Rome, Catania, Bari, Matera and Naples I only do Rome, Naples and Matera and they sent me an email saying “there are guys from Biella who would like to get in touch with you, to offer you a job” I said “okay” and I spoke to Daniele who explained the project to me. I liked it because it was a different way of doing my job… it didn’t take them long to convince me.

The beginning of a friendship

Where do you register?

The recordings of this audiobook are made here in Biella, at ZoneCreative. Daniele and Davide, are very nice and their headquarters is in a converted warehouse, put up very well. They equipped me with the necessary, a microphone and a music stand, because “the visual” (as for film dubbing) is not needed.

Did you enjoy reading and interpreting this book?

The story is compelling, a lot of things happen! It’s interesting because there are nice characters, nice characters, bad characters. There is a little bit of everything! The story takes a long time.

At the cinema there is the dubbing director, in this case who was replacing this role?

I interacted with Daniele, above all, who is the author of the book. At the cinema there is a dubbing director who has seen the film, who knows everything and advises you on how to interpret. Here I was lucky enough to have the book’s author himself. Fortunately because, not everyone has it! He suggested various things to me, for example the age and character of the various characters: this is an old man, this is a very irrepressible and full of himself boy, who wants to face difficulties, this other one is shy. Then, when I sometimes got the way or the type of voice wrong, he would say to me: “No, wait, I’ll do this again because it’s this character here, it’s not this other one!” “Ah! Yes, sorry, I was wrong!”
carlo valli che legge il libro

The novel has many characters did you give a different voice to each one?

The protagonists of the book are about twenty, if we add the narrator (which is me) and the minor characters are over thirty different “Voices”.
While reading the audiobook we tried to do everything possible to differentiate them both in intonation and intention, trying to respect age, gender, character, etc.

I did a lot of different voices, but it’s not like I can do all the voices of all the characters … it would be impossible, in short, maybe not even Robin Williams could, even if he was very good.

For the minor characters I tried to get around by proposing an alternative way of acting or a different way of giving a joke.
There is a noble way of speaking, there is a fearful way and that is a character who is perhaps afraid and fearful, there is the bad way of saying things, the good, cordial and loving way.
In short, giving voice to an audiobook and having to play many characters is fun and it’s also a great challenge.

One, none, one hundred thousand

What is the challenge in voicing many different characters?

Undoubtedly, good preparation is needed, you need to know the text and be aware of all the protagonists. Before starting the recordings, Daniele told me about all the various characters and prepared summary sheets with the main indications of each one … and then as I read everything became easier because I identified with them a little.

In the dubbing you give your voice to an actor, here instead you are the actor who plays all the roles, don't you think?

The difference with the cinema is actually that. In the cinema I only do one, it would not make sense to dub several characters but here it is different … I do many because it is so … it is accepted that I have to do them all …. and indeed the result is gratifying.

Which character in the book did you identify with the most?

Eldur’s character is what I like best because he’s the wise old man and I’m old enough so that’s okay, I get into character. He is the one who knows how to do it in every situation, knows the advice to give, knows the things that should and should not be done.

We make him speak a little with the little voice and then he is a character who speaks in verse, in rhyme. He only speaks this way. Here, I’ll let you hear something like this:
“The nacelle seems stable, the explosion is contained perhaps Kalmot exaggerated, but he was not wrong on that the rarefied soeliok in the high altitude range reduced the pressure that the flare emanated. “

Here … every now and then you have to be careful otherwise he looks like a Venetian drunk.

If you want to know the other Soeliok characters, click here

studio di ZoneCreative con la squadra al lavoro per la registrazione

We were impressed by your ability to anticipate the character and the correct intention in the dialogues. How do you do?

When you do something like this, you certainly don’t have the time to learn everything by heart, you must therefore be able to read “imprint”. You have to try to look forward and see what the caption says at the end of the sentence. I’ll give you an example. If I have to interpret this sentence: “Soon Bodag, get back on the ship!” Nodfri said trying not to be heard by those terrible monsters. It is necessary to anticipate, with a glance, the ending where the author provides us with information on who the character is and how the sentence says. In this way the working times are reduced and you are not forced to re-register every time. It may seem difficult, but they are techniques that are learned with the trade …

You never run out of breath even in the longest sentences, how do you have so much air at your disposal?

As for the breath of course, you should not get to the end of the sentence breathless, but this is a normal thing. You learn either by taking a good breath at the beginning or by taking a breath in certain precise points, even very short ones, as musicians do when they play the wind instruments, which between one note and the other are able to take a breath, not they do it all in one breath… this is something you learn by dubbing and acting. It’s a normal thing.

It is something that concerns and also affects style! By the way, I have an anecdote that I tell occasionally: once I saw Gassman perform in one of his shows in which he recited poems at the Quirino in Rome. He had an incredible ribcage. He could calmly say a dozen lines without taking a breath. And at one point he said a lot of lines in one breath and eventually he came without and took a breath. Taking a breath was as if he had said another verse. The breath was another verse, an extra hendecasyllable. So it’s also about style and of course it’s also about not dying at the end of the round.

You have voiced many famous actors and characters, did you find any similarities with any of Soeliok's characters?

I dubbed a few cartoons, not many. I’ve done a lot more cartoon dubbing directions. But as an actor I only did Scaracchio, in How to Train Your Dragon, Master Shifu in the TV version of Kung Fu Panda and also Scaracchio in the TV version of How to Train Your Dragon and the one I’m famous for, Rex from Toy Story, the tyrannosaurus who speaks with his voice. and who is afraid. In this audiobook, to find comparisons it comes to mind… Hèldimak! Yes, it was one I liked! We did it a little like Scaracchio (How to Train Your Dragon) a little more important though, more solemn. He is quite a “Gambadilegno” character, he is missing a few teeth and is almost completely bald. At the beginning we did it with a somewhat popular Bergamo cadence, then we modified it making it more Nordic, but also a little “old sea dog” given the similarities with the flying ships of the dwarves.

Raise the half-berth flag!

Is there more acting than dubbing or reading an audio book?

Well, I’ve been mostly an actor and a voice actor for a long time, so I’m used to giving voice to certain American actors from England, France… whatever happens. Making audio book characters is a different thing. Because with dubbing I have to follow the actor on the screen, I have to do what he does, I can’t invent. But with the audiobook I can do it. I can make a character one way and one another. It’s fun, lots of channels are put into practice, lots of opportunities to self-manage and have fun playing with different voices.

How important is being an actor to be a voice actor?

For me, being an actor, to do dubbing is a basic thing. You have to give an actor a voice so you can only be an actor or at least know how to act. But the difficulty is this: knowing how to act so well that it seems real! Because the actors who are on the screen must be so identified with the role that we do not think that beyond that actor who plays, there are twenty people: one with a microphone, the other with the camera, the costume designer who watches. We must do the same thing with our voice: be true, transmit this truth, which they also have with our Italian voice and give the same sensations that they, with their language, give to the audience that listens to them.

How long have you been doing this job?

I have been doing this job for a very long time. I started as a kid, I was 10 years old. I’m Piedmontese and we only spoke Piedmontese at home. My mother spoke Piedmontese and Italian until the end, until she died. He wanted my sister and I to speak Italian well also because we made terrible mistakes at school. We would Italianize some Piedmontese words for example: “ladle” in Piedmontese is said “cassul” and we wrote “cassullo” and then she said: “no, one moment, alt. Let’s learn to speak Italian well”. He sent us, my sister and me, to an acting school for boys that was run by a radio director named Eugenio Salussolia, who has also been dead for a long time now, who gave us diction lessons, but also acting and at the end of the year we did an essay. A true essay, with true authors! It wasn’t kid stuff. We were doing Molière, Goldoni in a large theater which is the Alfieri in Turin. This was the beginning. I liked it and I said: “I would like to be an actor” at maturity I was a bit undecided I also wanted to be a mountain guide but I took the exam at the Academy, I was admitted and since then I went to Rome to do the Academy of Dramatic Arts and I continued to be an actor. But as a boy, in Turin, I did radio with this director, Eugenio Salussolia. Then we did the comedies, the thrillers on the radio … on Friday evenings, my mother, my sister and I were with the radio on, all stopped to listen to the comedies. It was quite another thing, now it doesn’t happen anymore.
carlo valli che legge il libro

How attached are you to the theater?

Theater is what I’ve always wanted to do. I went to the Academy of Dramatic Arts to do theater. But I always have. At a certain point the dubbing also arrived but I had already been doing theater for a long time. Back then there were seven-month winter tours, now this thing no longer exists. I did seven months of theater and then dubbing in the summer. Theater I have continued to do so until now. This year I did “The Tempest”, by Shakespeare, at the Globe which is a theater inside Villa Borghese that had Proietti built, in fact he is the artistic director, similar to the theater where Shakespeare worked in London. It is the same: in wood, round, white. If you search on the internet “Globe Theater” you see both the English and the Roman one in Villa Borghese, they are the same. The theater is very nice. Outdoors, so there are only shows in the summer until early October, more or less. I did “La Tempesta”, which we had already done some time ago with Albertazzi, who is no longer there, Ugo Pagliai played the part of Prospero. In this theater, Globe, only Shakespeare is played. Last year I did three shows “Six characters in search of an author” in which I played the role of the father, the “Macbeth”, in which I was the king and “Henry V”, in which I did a beautiful character that the author, Shakespeare, calls “Chorus” and which is not a choir, is a presenter who shows up in modern clothes and talks to the audience, saying: “don’t think you see wars, with French and English soldiers fighting: imagine them! Do you see a horse? Imagine two thousand! “. Very cute, the character is very funny because he talked like this to the audience after which he would walk away and the scene would come.

The Italian voice of Robin Williams

How much has dubbing Robin Williams affected your career?

Voicing Robin Williams was everything for me. I had already been a voice actor for about twenty years for a company that no longer exists and was called SAS. I started like everyone else: doing little things, buzzes or small characters and then slowly more important characters. Renzo Palmer, who was a very good actor and voice actor and who was my teacher, gave me the first important ones. But then I left this company and a director offered me the job of dubbing the movie “Good Morning, Vietnam”. According to her, I was fine with it, but she had to do the auditions because the Americans had asked for them. He then asked me if I could take the audition. Back then, those who belonged to a company could not work with other people, with other companies, so I resigned and went to audition. I won it and have since voiced Robin Williams. It was very important to me, because they have known me ever since. I’m always working in SAS, doing small things I was one like the others. I remember that in the early days, people in my environment said: “But who is this one? We have never heard that … who is this who plays Robin Williams?”. It was very important for me to make my career change. I became important, that’s all.

For Italy Robin Williams still lives in your voice, is that a good feeling?

Yes, that’s a little bit true. Robin Williams is as if he were still alive here in Italy because I often meet guys who tell me: “You are the voice actor … your voice! I grew up with your voice!” And this makes me very happy and it is an important thing. Someone else dubbed it too. Marco Mete, for example, dubbed it a dozen times. I dubbed it in forty films, between big and small. But practically the voice that is recognized is mine. Often I also recognize people who I would not think that they could know me. For example, once I went to a shop to buy some pipes and while I was telling this gentleman what I needed, he said: “I know you” I replied “no, we don’t know each other” “his voice is familiar to me .. . is a voice actor “” yes, I’m a voice actor “” Robin Williams! “. There are people who have a fabulous ear because they immediately understand which actor is being dubbed. And this makes me very happy, I must say.

What are you working on right now?

Since after Robin Williams’ death I have been giving voice to two very good actors: one my age, the other a little younger, but he still has a good voice, which I like very much. One is Jim Broadbent, who said that no one knows who he is, a very good English actor. He played Professor Slughorn in Harry Potter. The actor is very good. He made a dozen films and I dubbed almost all of them myself. The other is Colm Meaney, an Irish actor, who is also very good. His first film, which was broadcast in Italy, looked like a documentary and was the first time I dubbed that actor. He was the father of a family with a reckless, scrambled daughter. It seemed that a director had entered with a hidden camera and had filmed various moments in the life of this family, so much so. It didn’t even look like a movie, it looked like a documentary. He is a very good actor.

Is there a lot of competition in your work?

I have worked with several people, for example Fabrizio Frizzi, who was Woody in Toy Story and I have always enjoyed it. Within the dubbing, the competition is there, but like in any other profession, however, I don’t care. I’m not going to ask anyone. If they need me, they call me and I go.

Do you still get tense before an important performance?

If we talk about theater, once, before entering the scene, I had a bit of panic, but now not anymore, now I can dominate it. It depends on several things, such as how the rehearsals went. With Cobelli or with Enrico Maria Salerno we reached the end, at the first stage, we were so prepared, so ready, that there was no anxiety. We knew exactly what we had to do. Sometimes it happens instead that you are not very prepared and then you have a little more fear, yes, but now it hardly happens anymore, because it makes up for the fear with the job and with the years of experience.

How does the relationship between voice actor and dubbing director work?

The dubbing director is like the director in the theater. He knows the film, he should know the voices of the dubbing, those that exist on the market must distribute them knowing the film, because most of the time he is also an adapter, so he knows it very well, he has adapted it sentence by sentence, going back to several times and he has to explain to the actors who will come to the room and who know nothing, why no one tells them anything, what they have to do or what kind of character they will have to play, what happened before and what will happen next. In the dubbing it is quite evident, there is not much need to talk, because the character is there, just see him and you do as he does. Often there is also the owner of the film who makes his preferences and says: “I would prefer to put this actor instead of this other for the character”. We talk a little and come to a compromise. An actor is called to take a shift, arrives in the room and sees in that moment what he has to do. Once upon a time it happened! For example, to dub “Good Morning, Vietnam”, which was the first film in which I dubbed Robin Williams, I was asked because everyone who had won the audition to make the film, had been gathered in a room and shown the original movie, before starting to dub it. And that was useful and it was also beautiful. Then that was such an important and difficult film that it was useful to be able to see it earlier. Now it doesn’t happen anymore. There is no more time, everything has to be done quickly; good and cheap!

Don't you think audiobooks tend to accommodate a wider age range than a book to read?

Yes, it can be a way to get closer to both young people and adults. I see that young people, for example, read very little and maybe they would listen to an audio book more willingly. An adult may not read the book but listen to the voice reading the audio book for example by going by car in the morning; if he has to travel twenty kilometers in the fog or in the rain he puts his audiobook on the radio and listens to it as he goes.

A novel for children of all ages

They say that Soeliok has a profound interpretation that makes it suitable for all ages. Do you agree?

Absolutely. It looks like a book aimed at young people because it is a fantasy book with made up stories and bizarre characters, but Daniele has solid writing that can engage you regardless of age. In addition, very topical issues are discussed such as diversity, fragility, the importance of knowledge, the desire to explore the world to discover what we do not yet know. All things that certainly interest adults too.
studio di ZoneCreative carlo valli legge, mentre jacopo suona il pianoforte

Soeliok will also be entirely set to music, what do you think?

The guys at ZoneCreative are doing an amazing job on the music. I know they intend to compose the soundtrack like in the cinema… they made me listen to the first drafts and I was really impressed.
It seems very interesting to me, also because I don’t think it has ever been done, at least not with this quality.

And in any case it is an experiment, a laudable attempt! There is certainly a lot of commitment behind it. I met Jacopo, one of the two composers and I saw the passion he put into thinking about the first themes, taking advantage of my voice in the rehearsals… The music in these things is fundamental to emphasize the emotions.
It is certainly a long, important and tiring job, but I believe it can be successful.

The audiobook has some similarities with the radio because you can put it on, listen to it all together in the family as it was once around the table with maybe a little chestnuts and a glass of wine.

Find out more about the narrating voice, sound design and soundtrack.

Read also &amp Sound design: telling a story without using words

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