Villeggiatura trilogy

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Smith and Kraus, 1994 - Drama - 202 pages
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About the author (1994)

Carlo Goldoni, the great Venetian playwright, reformed the Italian theater. In his time, the reigning theatrical genres were the melodrama and the commedia dell'artecommedia dell'arte; the one stressing musicality, the other the antics of familiar "characters" who more often than not improvised their way through a skeletal script. Goldoni's early Servant of Two Masters (1745) served to put an end to improvised commedia dell'arte by supplying a complete script for masterful actors; but in fact, and hardly ironically, the spirit of the old improvisors lives in modern performances of that comedy. In 1752, Goldoni went to Paris to head the Italian Theater and enjoy the patronage of the royal family, which lasted until the revolution of 1789, after which he lived and died in poverty. He wrote comedies of history, intrigue, and exotic romance, but his plays are comedies of characters and manners. Pirandello praised the latter as Goldoni's triumph. Goldoni had learned from Moliere, Shakespeare, and even Machiavelli, how to set living comic protagonists before his audience; but his genius, said Pirandello, consisted rather in taking subordinate characters---a little housemaid, for instance---and suddenly making her the center of a comedy of her own. Among Goldoni's best plays are: in Italian, The Liar (1750) and The Fan (1763); in the Venetian dialect, The Tyrants; and in French, The Beneficent Bear, which was produced for the marriage of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette in 1771. This tribute play gave Goldoni the pleasure of seeing a work of his own performed in French on the stage where Moliere's plays had triumphed.

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