Nobody will be able to resist the loveable (and cheeky) Arlecchino and his companions as they take us to the city of love itself — Venice — where plots are laid, mayhem ensues, and all is well in the end!  Filled with traditional commedia stock characters and scenarios, this fast paced comedy contains cases of mistaken identity, lost and reunited love, travelers in disguise, silly plots, saucy maids and greedy old men.

 

Synopsis - Arlecchino and the city of love 

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Commedia dell’Arte (which translates as “theatre of the professional”) began in Italy in the early 16th Century and quickly spread throughout Europe, creating a lasting influence on Shakespeare, Molière, opera, vaudeville, contemporary musical theatre, sit-coms, and improv comedy. The legacy of Commedia includes the first incorporated (i.e. professional) theatre company, the first European actresses, and many of the themes and storylines still enjoyed by audiences today.

 

The earliest extant

references to masked

comic actors improvising

during fairs and festivals

go back to the late 15th or early 16th centuries in which farcical master-servant skits are cited as a part of the street entertainment. Although it is now 
unknown how these spontaneous street improvisations evolved from a couple of actors doing a skit to troupes traveling from town to town performing full scenarios, it does make sense that along with the unmasked young lovers, the most basic of the Commedia's masked characters were that of two types of old men and two types of servants or valets. We may layer on top of these four basic characters a host of other supporting characters, both masked and unmasked, all of which contributed to the Commedia's comic depth and diversity and combined to weave what we might consider 
in modern parlance as a multi-cultural artistic fabric.

Commedia Dell Arte

Masks

The Commedia Characters

The style of Commedia is characterized by its use of masks, improvisation, physical comedy, and recognizable character types. According to the Maestro Antonio Fava, the famous character types can be divided into four main categories:

(1) The Servants or Zanni such as Arlecchino (Harlequin), Pulcinella (Punch), Colombina (Columbine), Scapino (Scapín), Brighella, Pedrolino, Pierrot, and the like;
(2) The Old Men or Vecchi such as the greedy Magnifico (Pantalone), the know-it-all professor (il Dottore), or the stuttering Tartaglia;
(3) The young Lovers or Innamorati with names such as Isabella, Flaminia, or Ortensia (for women) and Flavio, Orazio, Ortensio, or Leandro (for men).
(4) The boasting Captains or Capitani and their female equivalent, the vivacious and oftentimes violent La Signora.

 

Hundreds of character names exist, each the invention of a particular actor, but all of them can be viewed as a derivative or hybrid of these four major character types.

© 2016 by The Maskers. 

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