Commedia dell Arte
The Comedy of Art
Commedia dell Arte
 Commedia
dell'Arte (Italian: "the
comedy of art") is a form of
improvisational theatre that began
in Italy in the 16th century and
held its popularity through the
18th century, although it is still
performed today
Commedia dell Arte
 Performances
were
unscripted, held outside, and
used few props.
 They were free to watch,
funded by donations.
Commedia dell Arte
A
troupe consisted of ten
people. (Women included as
actors)
 Outside Italy the form was also
known as "Italian Comedy".
Commedia dell Arte

Conventional 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, some of
which were themselves translations of lost
Greek comedies of the fourth century BC.
Commedia dell Arte

Performers made use of well-rehearsed jokes
and stock physical gags, known as Lazzi and
, as well as, of course, on-the-spot
improvised and interpolated episodes and
routines, called burle (singular burla, Italian
for joke), usually involving a practical joke.
Commedia dell Arte


Characters were identified by costumes, masks, and
even props,
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.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Arlecchino or Harlequin:

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Clown.
Acrobatic and mischievous,
zanni & Servant
Recognizable by the colorful diamondshaped patches that traditionally were
part of his costume.
The part is sometimes substituted with
Truffaldino, his son.
His mask has a low forehead with a
wart, and sometimes wore a black
stocking wound round the lower face
and then up over the head.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Arlecchino:
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is often the servant to Pantalone
He is in love with Colombina,
He can often have a close
relationship with the audience,
The Arlecchino character also
tries to trick his masters and is
always plotting and planning, but
his plans never work.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Brighella:
 either a shopkeeper or
servant.
 Brighella is always out for
a way to profit from any
given situation.
 Will cheerfully lie to save
himself.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Il Capitano (The Captain):

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Swash-buckling and bold,
but not necessarily heroic,
Wears the military dress of
the day.
His attire is generally foppish
and overdone.
A braggart, a ladies man,
and a cavalier.
He is motivated by his desire
for sex.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Colombina:
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female counterpart of Arlecchino.
Servant and zanni.
Initiates the plot of the play.
Clever, crafty, and untamed.
Her costume often had the same
colored patches found in
Arlecchino's outfit.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Il Dottore - the doctor:
 He appears to be a learned man,
but generally that impression
proves to be false.
 He is older, wealthy, and a
member of the vecchi.
 Pedantic and miserly, he is
hopelessly unsuccessful with
women.
 Everyone else believes what he is
saying to be true but it is
erroneous.
 This leads into further trouble
and confusion.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

The Innamorati- The Lovers:
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The innamorato and innamorata had
many different names over time
("Isabella" was a particularly popular
name for the woman, as was
"Flavio" for the man).
Young, righteous, and hopelessly in
love with one another.
Wear the most fashionable dress of
the day.
Never play in mask.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

The Innamorati:
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Often seen singing,
dancing, or reciting
poetry,
Frequently portrayed as
the children of Dottore
and Pantalone.
Madly in love but only
surmount the obstacles
put in the way of their
happiness, at the end of
the play.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Pantalone :
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member of the vecchi.
Archetypal "old miser.”
Quite wealthy but very greedy.
He only cares about money and
he will do anything to get it.
His costume usually incorporates
a long beard and red pants.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

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Pedrolino:
also known as "Pierrot" or
"Pedro"
The loyal servant.
Hardworking, trustworthy,
honest and devoted to his
master.
Charming and likable, he
wears a loose white outfit
with a neck ruff.
Tends to be the butt of the
physical jokes.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Pulcinella :
 sometimes called "Punch,”
 Pitiable, helpless, and often
physically disfigured.
 Usually has a hump, a distinct
limp, or some other obvious
physical deformity.
 In some portrayals he cannot
speak, and expresses himself
in squeaks or other strange
sounds.
 His personality can be foolish
or sly and shrewd.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Scaramuccia:
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also known as
Scaramouche
Roguish character who
wears a black velvet mask,
black trousers, a shirt and a
hat.
Usually portrayed as a
buffoon or boastful coward.
Commedia dell Arte
Stock Characters

Tartaglia:
 short sighted with a terrible
stutter
 he is one of the stock old
characters who appears in
many scenarios as one of the
lovers.
 His social status varies; he is
sometimes a bailiff, lawyer,
notary or chemist.
 Tartaglia wears a large felt
hat, an enormous cloak,
oversized boots, a long
sword, a giant mustache and
a cardboard nose.
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