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The commedia dell'arte

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Pages: 206

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC

By: Winifred Smith

Excerpt from book: she is the shameless creature of the mountebanks' bench, who is brought into the play for the purpose of adding to the main intrigue a subordinate love plot, a parody on the principal interest.29 The lovers in the improvised plays on the other hand were taken bodily from the written comedies: young, inflammable, conscienceless they generally were, and, as Lamb says of the characters in our Eestoration drama, not to be judged by the moral standards of every-day life. Their names were taken from life hoWever, their faces were unmasked, their costumes those of ordinary well-to-do young people, their talk the Tuscan of the academies. Isabella Andreini, the most famous of prime donne, not only gave her name to her role in Scala's plays and in many later ones but wrote volumes of speeches appropriate to the part in their expression of love as the Petrarchists and Platonizers conceived it. Like the conceits for the Doctor and the Captain and the extravagances of the heroes and heroines in written plays, these "tirades" are full of mythology, classical quotations and allusions and far-fetched figures.30 The critical tradition of there having been but four Masks, two of them belonging to the old men and two to distinct kinds of Zanni,— the knave, Brighella or Pulcinella, and the fool, Arlecchino,—seems to go back to Barbieri 'a Suppliea, in which the actor-author says '' The first servant . . . provokes laughter ... by most subtle tricks and ready replies: the second by foolishness." Goldoni probably did not know Barbieri but he expresses the same opinion, Memorie, II, 185 f.: L. Moland, Sand and Symonds all adopt this statement as the basis of their exposition of the commedia dell'arte. M P. M. Cecchini in his Frutti delle moderne commedie says, '' They who play the difficult pa...  

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