Virtù ascosta e negletta. La Calabria nella modernità (Filosofia) (Italian Edition)

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Studi sul Barocco tra letteratura ed arte Roma: Salerno editrice, L. Immigration has been very good for them. It has brought with- in their reach economic and political opportunities which could never become available to the likes of them in their own country. As we read on, we soon find out that they have acquired the manners of their new home- land, accepted its fashion, assimilated its customs, trained themselves in its special protocols, and, without losing any essential aspects of their former selves, such as their identifying costumes, their native language, and their inclination to coarseness, they have become sufficiently refined to rise to the highest offices possible for anyone other than the emperor himself.

The jour- ney begun tu'o centuries earlier by the ancient Zanni from Bergamo, who, in the performances of the first actors and in the minds of the first popular audiences of commedia dell'arte, had first immigrated to Venice in pursuit of opportunity, seems finally to have found a Utopian end in the sardonic imag- ination of Count Carlo Gozzi - fierce ideologue of the counter-enlighten- ment, reactionary aristocrat, and devoted revivalist of the commedia tradi- tion, obliged, as the saying goes, by his nobility to become the generous patron of a company of actors especially committed to its survival in the pro- fessional theatre.

If not in aristocratic Venice, which even Pantalone, himself a native Venetian, but. As the minister closest to the Emperor, Pantalone is the one who should advise him on the course of action that he should take, but in this case he is at a total loss, since, as he points out to the emperor, in Venice, where he comes from, there are no girls who hate men, nor, for that matter, men who would rush to get their heads chopped off for a pretty face. Master of the Pages Brighella, entrusted as he is with the education of the young men at court, is profoundly concerned not only by Turandot's incompre- hensible cruelty towards her suitors, but also by her general rejection of the institution of marriage, without which, it seems to him, legitimate procre- ation is not possible, and by the fact that to go against her wishes, as he would like to do, would surely mean putting his own head at risk.

Calcaterra, Rosa Maria [WorldCat Identities]

Only Truffaldino is cheerful, for he, having made the ultimate sacrifice in order to become head eunuch in Turandot's seraglio, sees no advantages whatsoever in the institution of marriage, which is furthermore based on the lie that marriage is necessary for procreation: his mother, he points out, was never married, and yet he had no trouble coming into the world. From her own self-pres- entation, however, we learn that she is not naturally cruel but is forced to be so by men who, intoxicated with her beauty, pursue her relentlessly against her will, and that she finds the very idea of becoming someone's wife absolutely repulsive, wishing only to live in seclusion with her women com- panions and her eunuchs.

It is cast in the form of an averted tragedy, and it is meant to be shown to the audience through a prism capable at once of caus- ing reflection on the seriousness of the story and of inducing laughter at it. The commedia characters who provide the laughter-inducing filters of the play are not the ones usually found together in the tradition prior to Gozzi.

Opposite Pantalone, we would normally expect to see the Dottore rather than Tartaglia, the canonical combination of masked characters in the con- temporary repertoire being, on the one hand, the two. Pantalone and Dottore. Playwrights of the time very rarely call for Tartaglia, and, as a rule, do not do so as a replacement for the Dottore. Immigration brings together all kinds of strangers, one would be tempted to say in coming up with a thematic reason for the replacement, were it not for the fact that Gozzi's exceptional stance has a veiy simple explanation: the company of Antonio Sacchi, whose alliance Gozzi had secured in his program for a systematic revival of commedia, did not include an actor trained in the role of the Dottore - Roderigo Lombardi, the company's last Dottore, had died in and had never been replaced - while it did include an excellent Tartaglia in the person of the accomplished actor Agostino Fiorilli.

There is, of course some similarity of function between Tartaglia and the Dottore, in that Tartaglia is also a pompous know-it-all, but he stutters and is from Naples rather than Bologna, and he has a totally different costume and mask.

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For these reasons, the presence of Tartaglia and the absence of the Dottore made Sacchi's company unique among the or so which were active in north- ern Italy in the second half of the eighteenth centuiy Giardi The fact that the composition of the company was the chief conditioning factor in script production lends itself to the important observation that cast- ing precedes play writing, rather than reverse, which is normal for us, and is in any case the responsibility of the playwright rather than that of the com- pany manager. Professional playwrights of this period worked as scenario and script writers for particular companies and were therefore expected to write plays that could be successfully performed by their actors.

Students of eighteenth-century commedia are familiar with the compositional implica- tions of this idea from Goldoni, who leaves no doubt that, even in plays writ- 9 — Domenico Pietropaolo ten after his rejection of commedia, his own developmental procedure was to begin always with an analysis of the "nature", that is to say the physique, emotional disposition, and skills of the actors in the company, including their linguistic abilities, and then to invent characters that presupposed those very qualities, both physical and emotional, and that required those precise skills in the actors for their realisation on stage.

Dr Guido Giglioni

Only then he could devise actions of which such characters might be the likely agents. Even at the level of pure script, before any staging process actually begins, the writer and the actor are engaged in a form of authorial collabo- ration which is logically implied by the idea of theatre-making that informs the contemporary professional stage and which consequently is legally called for by the contract that binds them in partnership.

His familiarity with the tradition of improvisation and the guidelines that he sup- plies in the script were sufficient to enable him to write a play that is not fragmentary in the least. There are tu'o kinds of improvisational scenes in Turandot: In the first type, no actual speeches are given, though the basic content of the episode is provided in a point-form narrative with a call for appropriate stage business.

This is the case of the lazzi-studded monologue by Truffaldino who, on behalf of Turandot - who, having been riddled out by the mysterious prince, stoops to cheating - attempts to discover Calaf's identity, that is to solve his riddle, by interpreting the movements that he makes in his sleep as if they were letters of the alphabet and as if his body were unconsciously spelling out his name. The second type of improvisational scene includes an episode in which the speeches of Truffaldino are sketched out — 10 — Commedia dell'arte Elements in Gozzi's Tikasdot in scenario form, the exact words being left for the actor to produce ex tem- pore, while those of his several dialogue partners are given in full.

We are before a very complex model of play, in which some scenes are fully scripted, other scenes are described in the traditional commedia del- l'arte manner for impromptu performance, and others still are given in a form that is a logical hybrid of the other two. As a channel for ideo- logical discourse, script comes with guarantees that improvisation cannot offer.

But the comic view that one can have of the story through commedia clowning - an action which is meant to reinforce the ideology expressed in the serious part of the script by exacerbating the effects of Turandot's hos- tility to marriage - is entmsted to the skill and experience of the actors impersonating the stock characters.

This heterogeneous model of play script leads us to an important obser- vation. You may have noticed that in my references to the play I have not used the term text and that I have always spoken instead of script and writ- ing. My reason for avoiding that category is quite simple. Text in the case of true commedia dell'arte plays, which are by definition based only on a scenario for improvisation, can refer only to text-as-performance, the scenario being little more than a story line and an elaborate set of stage directions.

In the case of fully scripted plays, text refers to the verbal substance which, though meant to be acted out on stage, is endowed with autonomous existence as a complete linguistic, per- haps even literary, object. Gozzi's model makes use of both ideas, but it can- not be reduced to either of them. His dramatisation of the story of Turandot has a built-in fluidity that partakes both of the notion of text as performance, as found in the pre-Goldoni commedia dell'arte tradition, and of that of text as a script to be performed, as upheld Iw Goldoni in opposition to the per- — 11 — Domenico Pietropaolo former-based compositional practices of commedia companies, and as accepted in part by Gozzi as an apparatus for ideological discourse.

Although it is much more complete than a scenario, it is also much less com- plete than a literary' text. It therefore cannot be assigned to either category. It will become a complete text only when the actor's improvised parts are added to the playwright's scripted ones; however, at that point it will not be a literary but a performance text, since improvisation occurs only in per- formance.

Before performance Gozzi's play can be described only as a text in a state of becoming, enjoying a form of public existence, that is to say existence in print, as an incomplete dialogical object, a status which is denied to pure commedia and is logically unavailable to scripted comedy. Conceptually it comes into being when the closure of script is broken by the intrusion of improvisation.

Calcaterra, Rosa Maria

It is no accident that, of all the companies available to him. Gozzi should have chosen to work with that of Antonio Sacchi.

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The most renowned Truffaldino of his generation, in Sacchi had improvised with the skill of a great virtuoso The Servant of Two Masters, on a scenario that he had com- missioned from Goldoni and which Goldoni later in turned into a scripted play, incorporating as much as he could remember of the material created on stage by the actor. But Sacchi had left Italy, going first to Russia and then to Portugal, when Goldoni's call for an anti-commedia form of the- atre practice began to threaten the future of actors trained in the impromp- tu comic style.

Gozzi saw in Sacchi a formidable champion of the comme- dia dell'arte and invited him to join forces with him in a strategy designed to slow down the development of bourgeois drama by neutralising the effects, social and dramatic, of Goldoni's reform. Sacchi had everything to gain from this alliance, since Gozzi's vision of drama was based on the sur- vival of his type of company. He therefore gladly. And so, just as 12 Commedia I i:i. With respect to content, he did so by incor- porating the masks into works with a clear and serious ideological lesson to impart.

Bernardino Telesio

Tiiraiiclot is the most famous of the Fiabe in which he fused together the scenario and the scripted form, and the one in which his idea of a natural social hierarchy is expressed in the most basic terms, concern- ing as it does the place and self-understanding available to women in an androcentric world, and is hence of great relevance to later periods of his- tory.

It is a play in which the scenario form, retrieved from within the writ- ten play, introduces a visibly foreign presence which endorses with calcu- lated buffooneiy the same vision of ideal womanhood that is more soberly proclaimed in the scripted part. In becoming wealthy and powerful denizens of a Chinese empire in a state of crisis, TRiffaldino, Brighella, Pantalone and Tartaglia have not shed all the traits by which the commedia tradition had previously signified their social classes, their trades, and their regions of ori- gin.

These distinctive features are first of all visual. When Gozzi says that they are costumed "in the Chinese manner" he means, of course, that the actors impersonating them wear the formal dress of Chinese state officials over their commedia costumes, but in such a manner as to leave the latter sufficiently visible to enable the audience to identify their wearers as the tra- ditional stock characters of Venice, relocated in an oriental court.

In the commedia tradition, a costume cannot be separated from the character's skin without dissolving away the substance under the costume. The actors were here required to play Pantalone and Tartaglia in the process of acting as Chinese officials who were themselves performing state rituals, making full use of a visual rhetoric capable of magnifying and deflating the mean- ing of stage action at the same time, and hence of drawing the attention of the audience onto the narrative flow of the action performed and onto the artificial nature of the performance itself.

Sacchi was a perfect ally in this type of theatre, because under his direction his company had acquired very valuable experience in using the substance of one aesthetic product as the form through which to view the substance of another, without having recourse to the fiction of illusion. As early as Sacchi's company had produced with great success a commedia dell'arte version of the famous pas- toral The Faithful Shepherd II pastor fido , in which the visual and linguis- tic identity of the impersonating commedia characters, some of whom, like Truffaldino, played more than one role in the pastoral play, remained delib- erately conspicuous throughout Molinari , thereby constantly intruding the wodd commedia into that of the pastoral.

It is because of the disruptive effect dare we say alienating effect? All the non-commedia characters speak Italian verse in the unrhymed hendecasyllabic metre of tragedy, on the aesthetic fiction that this is the language of China, which Tartaglia, whose name means "the one who stutters" and who is the linguistically least competent character in the entire commedia tradition, has almost totally mastered, speaking as he does fairly elegant literary Italian prose.

But on the fiction that the Chinese and Tartar characters do not notice any difference. When Calaf declares that the solution to Turandot's third riddle - the riddle of the invincible animal, winged and four-footed, resting on sea and sand at the same time, and tire- lessly protecting all the land - is the lion of Venice, Pantalone cannot con- tain his happiness and embraces him, bursting with a pride so intense as to transform his immigration into a form of exile from his beloved city.

In their approach to the relationship between popular culture and socie- ty', sociologists find it useful to ask whether a given work is an expressive or an instrumental aspect of culture, a description of community values or a prescription of what those values ought to be. To be sure, both aspects are always present, description and prescription being dialectically connected Goodlad Before Turandot's conversion. Gozzi is clearly describing, through the allegory of China, tensions present by implication in Venetian society and culture. But after Turandot's change of heart, when the great chain of being has been fully restored and life in China is allowed to return to its natural rhythm, Gozzi is clearly presenting an ideal model of society which he believes his audience should try to realise, and in this sense his work is fundamentally prescriptive.

Since this Utopian state of society is the ideological end of the story of Turandot, and therefore the informing prin- ciple of every scene of the play from beginning to end, we may say that Gozzi tipped the relationship very heavily in favour of prescription, all the while pretending to describe a scheme of things that naturally obtained in actuality. He was cominced that the social and aesthetic forces that were increasingly attacking the world he represented were minor and could be easily subdued.

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On Lombardi and Fiorilli see Gozzi For the English version of these pages see Van Steenderen The Essence of Opera, Ed. Princeton: Princeton UP, Polena, Gianfranco. Giardi, Orietta. Roma: Bulzoni, Goodlad, J.