Sonoma Sun Event Calendar

Make a date with Dante Oakmont Berger Center

Monday March 20th -

What do these have in common: a 14th-century poet, 21st-century gardens, opera, strong black coffee, red hot candies and Facebook pages? Answers to these, and other queries, can be found in Kayleen Asbo's Osher Lifelong Learning class, “Undaunting Dante: The Divine Comedy Through Art and Music.” Though this poem took 12 years to write, the class will study it in six weeks on Mondays at 3 p.m. in the Oakmont Berger Center. Classes run March 20, 27, April 10, 17, May 1, 8. Registration is still open.

Author of The Divine Comedy, Dante's influence is omnipresent. Composers Liszt, Tchaikovsky and Puccini put music to Dante's words. Rodin's “The Thinker” contemplates the gates of hell. T.S. Eliot's “The Waste Land” echoes scenes from the Inferno.

More recently The Sopranos, Criminal Minds and Law and Order had episodes referring to The Divine Comedy. From Santa Cruz, North Coast Coffee Roasting Co. sells their popular blend, Dante's Dark. The bearded Iris Germanica TB boasts magnificent wine, copper and orange hues. Its common name? Dante's Inferno.

In her class, Kayleen Asbo explains the complexity of the poet and his ubiquitous poem. “Dante is not a journey to be taken alone,” she said.

According to former student Dr. Howard Lee, “Dr. Asbo's classes are an event rather than merely a class. Her knowledge is virtually limitless, her charismatic presentation is passionate and flawless. I sit on the edge of my seat.”

To register for this OLLI class, go to