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Commedia Dell' Arte
Transcript of Commedia Dell' Arte
Influence on other arts forms
Mozart - Marriage of Figaro
Comedy of errors
Two gentlemen of Verona
Cyrano de Bergerac
Laurel & Hardy
Subjects of the Commedia dell'arteConventional plot lines were written on themes of adultery, jealousy, old age, and love. Many of the basic plot elements can be traced back to the Roman comedies of Plautus and Terence, some of which were themselves translations of lost Greek comedies of the fourth century BC. Performers made use of well-rehearsed jokes and stock physical gags, known as Lazzi and Concetti, as well as on-the-spot improvised and interpolated episodes and routines, called burle (singular burla, Italian for joke), usually involving a practical joke. Since the productions were improvised, dialogue and action could easily be changed to satirize local scandals, current events, or regional tastes, while still using old jokes and punch lines. Characters were identified by costumes, masks, and props, such as a type of baton known as a slapstick. These characters included the forebears of the modern clown, namely Harlequin (English for arlecchino) and Zanni.The classic, traditional plot is that the innamorati are in love and wish to be married, but one elder (vecchio) or several elders (vecchi) are preventing this from happening, leading the lovers to ask one or more zanni (eccentric servants) for help. Typically the story ends happily, with the marriage of the innamorati and forgiveness for any wrongdoings. There are countless variations on this story, as well as many that diverge wholly from the structure, such as a well-known story about Arlecchino becoming mysteriously pregnant, or the Punch and Judy scenario
Theatre in the World
Theatre in the Making
The action of The Marriage of Figaro is a continuation of the plot of The Barber of Seville several years later, and recounts a single "day of madness" (la folle giornata) in the palace of the Count Almaviva near Seville, Spain. Rosina is now the Countess; her husband, the Count (a scheming middle-aged baritone, rather than the romantic youthful tenor of Rossini's Barber) is seeking the favors of the Countess' maid and confidante, the young Susanna, who is about to wed her fiancé, Figaro, the Count's valet. In an effort to pursue his amorous designs towards Susanna, the Count keeps finding excuses not to perform the civil part of the wedding of his two servants, which is arranged for this very day. When the Count detects the interest of the adolescent page, Cherubino (a breeches role), in the Countess, he tries to get rid of Cherubino by giving him an officer's commission in his own regiment. Figaro, Susanna, and the Countess conspire to embarrass the Count and expose his scheming. Meanwhile Figaro has been caught up in a dispute with Bartolo and Marcellina, which ends when he is revealed to be their long lost, out-of-wedlock son. The Count and Don Bartolo are being aided by Don Basilio, the music teacher, who constantly intervenes spreading gossip. Evening comes and all find themselves in the palace gardens, among the pines under cover of the night, where a comic series of cases of mistaken identity and several misunderstandings, some intended and some not, result in the Count's humiliation and then forgiveness by the Countess.Place: Count Almaviva's palace (French: château) of Aguas-Frescas, three leagues outside Seville, Spain.
Masks & Characters
Costumes & Make up
Theatre in Performance
Character & Body Language
View: Mel Gibson's Hamlet -
Play within a play
Reading Assignment: Luis Valdez
No Saco Nada De La Escuela (handout)
Identify the aspects of commedia dell' arte in this work.
How does Valdez combine commedia dell' arte with social activism?
What other theatre gendres does this lead to?
Other commedia selections