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Being the Core of the mighty Roman Empire, Southern Italy in the XIIIth and ... First he joins the Dalmatian Army, and 3 years later he returns to Venice ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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The Historical Background Italy in the
High-Middle Ages
  • Being the Core of the mighty Roman Empire,
    Southern Italy in the XIIIth and XIVth century
    was partitioned between many small countries
  • The Northern Part was highly developed because of
    the strong trade links after the crusades
  • The European economical boom of that era was
    highly experienced in Italy this helped the
    numerous city-states to become independent from
    the Holy Roman Empire in XIII century
  • The agriculture flourished in the inner
  • The Italian Mediterranean routes were also major
    sources of knowledge and cultural exchange
  • Many Byzantine scientists and scholars who came
    after the Ottoman invasion in XV century, revived
    the academies in Italy
  • From Egypt and the Levant, the scientific,
    philosophical, and mathematical thinking of the
    Arabs entered Northern Italy
  • The XIV century was marked by a collapse of the
    European economy as a whole due to the
    English-French War, Little Ice Age, and the
    Ottoman Empire in the East
  • Constant wars for dominance between the
    city-states followed by a peaceful period at the
    end of XV century

The Renaissance in Italy
  • A period of Great cultural achievement in Europe,
    it encompasses the period between the end of the
    XIVth century to about 1600
  • The Italian Renaissance is considered to be the
    opening stage of the entire epoch in Europe
  • It marks the transition between the Medieval Ages
    to the Early Modern Age
  • The Italian Renaissance began in Tuscany,
    Florence and Siena
  • Some of the most important figures of the era are
    Petrarch, Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci,
    Michelangelo, Castiglione
  • Reawakened interests in Ancient Greek and Roman
    thought and achievements
  • As a cultural movement the Renaissance affected
    only small portions of the society

The Italian Theatre
  • The Ancient legacy was revived and this led to
    occasional performances of Roman comedies in many
    small states in Italy known as Neoclassicism in
    Italian Theatre
  • The initial purpose of the Italian Theatre was to
    reflect the glory and power of the ruler and the
    theatrical productions were secular
  • Another major feature of the Italian Theatre was
    the desire to read and understand the basics of
    the works of Aristotle, Horace and other
    prominent ancient philosophers
  • The Renaissance Drama began developing in Italy
    at that time, marking the end of medieval
  • Fantasy and supernatural elements were avoided in
    neoclassical plays
  • The chorus and soliloquies were also discouraged.
    Reality was stressed in drama plays along with
    plays that teach moral lessons

The Italian Theatre (contd)
  • The creation of a frame (proscenium arch) for the
    pictorialized scenery became standard and
    remained so till today the oldest theatre with
    permanent proscenium is Teatro Farnese in Parma,
    built in 1618
  • The themes and topics of the Italian plays were
    drawn from ancient mythology
  • At first the Italians did not have any permanent
    theatre halls. They used to set up temporary
    performance stages in large halls, used for
    different purposes
  • The acceptance of perspective scenery brought the
    foundation of movement from architectural to
    representational and pictorial stage the stage
    can be modified according the specific production
  • The architectural methods of perspectives gave
    the audience the illusion of distance and depth
  • Teatro Olympico was built in 1584 used for a
    variety of productions

Sebastiano Serlios stage
  • A prominent Italian architect known for his
    high-quality illusions and plans for theatrical
    scenery and stages
  • in his Architettura Book II (1545), interpreted
    what he thought were classic ideas on perspective
    and the periaktoi and published the first designs
    on the definitive types of sets to be usedfor
    tragedy, palaces for comedy, street scenes for
    satyr plays, the countryside.

Commedia Dellarte
  • It means Comedy of Art or Comedy of the
    profession opposite to the literary comedy
    Commedia Erudita
  • It began in the XVth century and kept its
    popularity until the late XVIIIth century (still
    performed today in some theatres in Italy)
  • For the first time women had the right to
    participate in theatrical production (in contrast
    to the Elizabethan age). The number of female
    roles increased, even though these didnt become
    as permanent and deep as the male characters
  • The troupe consisted usually of 10 people (7 men
    and 3 women), traveling around the country
  • The plays were supported at the beginning by
    donations and the were free to watch
  • The plays were held outside initially with poor
    props and modest requisite
  • Outside Italy it was known as Italian Comedy
  • Improvised drama, implying the subject matter of
    the play than the manner of performance of the
  • Some of the plays can be traced back to the plays
    of Plautus and Terence
  • The play was adjusted though improvisation and
    most of the plays had satiric character
  • Characters in plays were portrayed by actors
    wearing masks
  • Amusement in the form of acrobatics and juggling
    was also provided

Commedia Dellarte
  • The material was divided into acts and scenes
    with a prologue
  • The situation (scenario) had been clearly
    determined and outlined, although the actors
    improvised the dialogue and the action to some
  • The performances created the impression of
    spontaneity because the behavior of the actors
    was quite unexpected by the other actors on the
  • The actor was the heart and the emphasis of the
  • There were few scenarios which were tragic,
    melodramatic, musical, and most of them were
    comic, revolving around love affairs, intrigues,
    disguises and others
  • Many actors were required to record appropriate
    sentiments from poetry and popular literature

  • Lovers the had the most realistic roles. They
    gained popularity very fast because they did not
    wear masks and were dressed according to the
    latest fashion trends at that time. Usually the
    lovers were children of the Masters. Their
    affairs were directly related to the opposition
    of their parents
  • Masters The plutocrats, rich merchants, bank
    owners and ship owners. E.g. Pantalone, Dottore,
    and Capitano. They had dual characteristics. They
    were intelligent and braggart, but later their
    controversial personality is revealed by the plot
  • Servants Most of them were male actors. They
    were the most diversified part of the plays. E.g.
    Arlecchino, Pulcinelo and others

Arlecchino Brighella Columbina
Pagliaccio Pantalone (Truffaldino)
  • Arlecchino a poor and illiterate servant from
    Bergamo, who sought for his fortune in Venice. He
    is also an acrobat and a clown. Arlecchino was
    originally created in the French Theatre, but
    later he was adapted by the Italians
  • Brighella A friend of Arlecchino, who always
    being made the joke of. He was always not allowed
    to do something but his eagerness brought him
    into very funny situations
  • Columbina a maidservant, a lover of Arlecchino.
    She is intelligent and in many cases she gets
    involved into love intrigues and scandals
  • Pantalone and old, rich and miserly merchant
    from Venice. He employs Arlecchino and treats him
    cruelly. He always speaks in a Venetian dialect
  • Pedrolino A kind and courteous servant who has
    always been blamed for the others troubles and
    things he has never done.

Pantalone, Jacques Callot, eau forte, 1618
  • Arlecchino and Colombina, or
  • Arlecchino the Seductor,
  • Antoine Watteau, 1716-18

The Masks
  • They played crucial role in Commedia Dellarte
  • All personages (except the lovers) wore color
    leather masks
  • They were used to resemble and utilize the
    personages and also to extinguish them from each
  • As a means of character identification they
    demanded extremely advanced mimicry and sometimes
  • Many of them were similar to masks used in the
    Ancient Roman Theatre

The Masks
Arlecchino Brighella Pantalone
Smerdaldina Truffaldino
Carlo Goldoni (1707-1793)
  • One of the Italys (Europes) Greatest
    playwrights, born in Venice in 1707
  • He attracted the theatre-goers by creating
    characters that were similar to them, and often
    through dramatizing the conflicts and dramas of
    the contemporary middle-classes
  • Initially he wrote tragedies but later he found
    he is better in the comedy genre
  • He was the first to realize that the Italian
    stage needs reformation and adoption of the
    Molieres model
  • He created his first real comedy in 1738
    L'uomo di mondo ("The Man of the World") and
    later he founds his special line
  • During his adventures and journey throughout
    Italy he was discovered as a talented playwright
    of the Venetian Theatre and was assigned by
    Medebac (a famous theatre manager at that time)
    and later by other managers.
  • He also creates Momolo Cortesan in 1738
  • He gradually develops his unique cross-style
    (writing through the Molieres style and and the
    model of Commedia Dellarte, along with his wit
    and vigour style) La Donna Di Garbo
  • His main idea was that the Italian life was
    susceptible to artistic treatment

Carlo Gozzi (1720-1806)
  • He was born in Venice, he came from an old
    Venetian family
  • First he joins the Dalmatian Army, and 3 years
    later he returns to Venice
  • The old Italian dramas of Pietro Chiari and Carlo
    Goldoni, based on the French model, threatened to
    defeat the societys efforts for uniting
  • Gozzi became popular after he published a
    satirical poem in 1757 The Love for Three
    Oranges a parody of the writing manner of the
    other two poets of that time
  • Gozzi produced a series of dramatic pieces, as a
    response of the Goldonis works
  • In his later years Gozzi wrote tragedies, in
    which the comic element was largely introduced.
    The innovation was reviewed with skepticism by
    the critiques
  • Later he turned to the Spanish drama, from which
    he obtained models for various pieces
  • Gozzi was one of the Greatest dramatist of that
    era in the Italian theatre (and art)

The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni
  • Written in 1745 by Goldoni for a Venetian
    commedia dellarte troupe
  • Panatalone and Brighella are presented with
    entirely new traits
  • In contrast to other commedia plays, here the
    middle-class characters were treated with respect
    and the women are much more sensible than the men
  • The cast of characters belongs to commedia
    (Arlecchino, Brighella etc.)
  • The coarse and sexual topics here are avoided
  • The plot is based on disguise, coincidence and
  • The whole dialogue is written by Goldoni, but the
    improvisational elements were based on scenic
    behavior and comic manners
  • The play consists of three acts, with a total of
    ten scenes
  • The play was written for the typical of that time
    theatre box, pit, and gallery arrangement of
    the auditorium, picture frame stage with
    perspective scenery
  • The servant of two masters does not achieve a
    high level of characterization or social

The Influence and Popularity of Commedia Dellarte
  • By the beginnig pf the XVIIth century Commedia
    Dellarte spread outside Italy, gaining
    popularity especially when women did not wear
  • Moliere was strongly influenced by the commedia
  • Some aspects were passed onto the silent
    tradition of the Mimes (or the French
  • Many classical composers used the personages from
    Commedia Dellarte in their works (Stravinsky,
    Strauss etc.)
  • The characters and tropes were used in many
    novels (Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini in 1921)
    and other literary works
  • Its influence in written dramatic forms, helped
    Commedia Dellarte survive throughout the
    centuries (even till recent times)