commedia dell'arte

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commedia dell'arte

(kōm-mā`dēä dĕl-lär`tā), popular form of comedy employing improvised dialogue and masked characters that flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th cent.

Characters of the Commedia Dell'Arte

The characters or "masks," in spite of changes over the years, retained much of their original flavor. Most important were the zanni, or servant types; Arlecchino, or Harlequin, was the most famous. He was an acrobat and a wit, childlike and amorous. He wore a catlike mask and motley colored clothes and carried a bat or wooden sword, the ancestor of the slapstick. His crony, Brighella, was more roguish and sophisticated, a cowardly villain who would do anything for money. Figaro and Molière's Scapin are descendants of this type. Pedrolino was a white-faced, moon-struck dreamer; the French PierrotPierrot
[Fr.,=little Peter], character in French pantomime. A buffoon, he wore a loose white tunic with big buttons, balloon sleeves, and white pantaloons. His face was painted white. A creation of Giuseppe Giaratone or Geratoni (fl.
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 is his descendant. Pagliaccio, the forerunner of today's clown, was closely akin to Pedrolino.

Pulcinella, as seen in the English Punch and JudyPunch and Judy,
famous English puppet play, very popular with children and given widely by strolling puppet players, especially during the Christmas season. It came to England in the 17th cent.
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 shows, was a dwarfish humpback with a crooked nose, the cruel bachelor who chased pretty girls. Pantalone or Pantaloon was a caricature of the Venetian merchant, rich and retired, mean and miserly, with a young wife or an adventurous daughter. Il Dottore (the doctor), his only friend, was a caricature of learning—pompous and fraudulent; he survives in the works of Molière. Il Capitano (the captain) was a caricature of the professional soldier—bold, swaggering, and cowardly. He was replaced by the more agile Scarramuccia or Scaramouche, who, dressed in black and carrying a pointed sword, was the Robin Hood of his day.

The handsome Inamorato (the lover) went by many names. He wore no mask and had to be eloquent in order to speak the love declamations. The Inamorata was his female counterpart; Isabella AndreiniAndreini, Isabella Canali
, 1562–1604, Italian actress. Beautiful, elegant, and well-educated, she was one of the most famous performers of her time. She joined the Gelosi troupe, becoming a leading player, and married the troupe's manager, Francesco Andreini, in 1578.
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 was the most famous. Her servant, usually called Columbine, was the beloved of Harlequin. Witty, bright, and given to intrigue, she developed into such characters as Harlequine and Pierrette. La Ruffiana was an old woman, either the mother or a village gossip, who thwarted the lovers. Cantarina and Ballerina often took part in the comedy, but for the most part their job was to sing, dance, or play music. None of the women wore masks.

Influence

The impact of commedia dell'arte on European drama can be seen in French pantomime and the English harlequinade. The ensemble companies generally performed in Italy, although a company called the comédie-italienne was established in Paris in 1661. The commedia dell'arte survived the early 18th cent. only by means of its vast influence on written dramatic forms.

Bibliography

See K. M. Lea, The Italian Popular Comedy (2 vol., 1934, repr. 1962); W. Smith, Commedia Dell'arte (rev. ed. 1964); P. L. Duchartre, The Italian Comedy (tr. 1928, repr. 1965); A. Nicoll, The World of Harlequin: A Critical Study of the Commedia dell'Arte (1987).

References in periodicals archive ?
Esta transcurre en Cartagena y comienza justamente en la novela La comedia del arte. Es la historia de un pintor, Camondo, y de su modelo, Marieta.
La comedia del arte comparte algunos elementos con el grotesco y el sainete.
Sin entrar en el texto dialogado, la presentacion, vista desde la historia y la teoria del teatro, resulta un tanto sorprendente: el titulo crea unas expectativas sobre personajes, formas e historias, que dejan de cumplirse inmediatamente, ya en la lista de los personajes, a los que esperariamos encontrar con los nombres de los actores de la Comedia del arte: Pierrot, Colombina, Arlequin, Pantalon, el Capitan Spaventa, Polichinela, etc.
La escena del descubrimiento de un talento precoz se repite casi igual en La comedia del arte. Solo que en ese caso es un pintor en decadencia el que descubre al nino mas dotado: "Mostraba facilidad innata para encontrar el tono preciso, sus manos habiles sabian oprimir lo justo los pomos y sin exagerar la cantidad, la hacia rendir.
Efectivamente, Los intereses creados recuerda la comedia del arte en la localizacion espacio-temporal, en una ciudad italiana del siglo XVII; en la eleccion de los nombres de los personajes y en su caracterizacion tipologica; en el tono comico de la obra y su intencion de divertir.
En la segunda parte del prologo--El Medievo en el siglo del atomo--Carla Matteini nos propone una importante clave para explicar la curiosa regresion hacia el pasado de la Comedia del Arte, de la Edad Media y de los textos biblicos en la construccion de Misterio bufo y para comprender las intenciones de Fo: repitiendo la operacion del antiguo juglar, que ensenaba a leer los textos sagrados, quiere indicar al pueblo de hoy su verdadera historia, la tradicion oral y escrita del teatro popular italiano, marginada y manipulada por la cultura academica oficial.
Desde esta identificacion podria releerse el siguiente fragmento de La comedia del arte: "Al aproximarse a la escalera [...] [Camondo] observo un gran ruedo de gente [...].
Y en La comedia del arte, quizas para muchos su obra mas lograda, figura Camondo, el pintor al que le falto talento y encanto para mantener junto a el a su mujer, una modelo de mala muerte.
No se si puede hablarse de un proceso creativo, porque los dos tenemos experiencia, y esa experiencia nos permite decidir en que parte de la obra hay naturalismo, en que otra parte es aconsejable el teatro experimental, pasar de Stanislawski a Grotowski, o a Brecht y el distanciamiento, o usar elementos de la comedia del arte. Ambos tenemos conocimientos y los ponemos al servicio de la obra que queremos lograr.
En los pasajes finales de La Comedia del Arte (1), de Adolfo Couve, Camondo, viejo pintor fiel al paisaje y al desnudo que ha decidido colgar los pinceles definitivamente, solicita y recibe la atencion de los dioses del Olimpo --quienes desde siempre han regido sus acciones-- para realizar su mayor creacion: transformarse el mismo en una obra de arte.
Esa es la mascara africana (de la que deriva gran parte del arte moderno), llena de inventiva y vitalidad, consagrada y ritual, saturada de poder sobrenatural, tan diferente, por ejemplo, de las elegantisimas de Arlequino, Pierrot o Colombina en la maravillosa Comedia del Arte.