Commedia dell'Arte Criticism: Texts And Authors - Essay

Joseph Spencer Kennard (essay date 1935)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kennard, Joseph Spencer. “Goldoni and Gozzi—Decay and Death of the Commedia dell'Arte.” In Masks and Marionettes, pp. 76-96. New York: Macmillan, 1935.

[In the following essay, Kennard maintains that the plays of Carlo Goldoni represent the apex of the commedia dell'arte and were marked by wit and a concern for reform. By contrast, Kennard paints Goldoni's rival, Carlo Gozzi, as a jealous reactionary who loved the pure commedia dell'arte yet despised the common people who performed and watched the popular comedy.]

In the Piazzetta dei Mercanti in Venice, halfway between the Rialto and the Merceria, close to the Riva where the daily...

(The entire section is 6510 words.)

Marvin Theodore Herrick (essay date 1960)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Herrick, Marvin Theodore. “The Commedia Dell'Arte and Learned Comedy.” In Italian Comedy in the Renaissance, pp. 210-227. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1960.

[In the following essay, Herrick compares the plays and practices of the improvisational and scripted theatres, finding evidence that the commedia dell'arte borrowed many of its plots from the commedia erudite.]

The learned comedy never reached a wide audience in Italy, for it was confined to the larger towns and even within these larger towns to a limited audience of educated people who could relish a literary performance as well as slapstick. Outside of Italy the learned comedy...

(The entire section is 6861 words.)

Felicity Firth (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Firth, Felicity. “Comedy in Italy.” In Comic Drama: The European Heritage, edited by W. D. Howarth, pp. 63-80. London: Methuen, 1978.

[In the following essay, Firth compares the literary comedy of Renaissance Italy with the popular commedia dell'arte, suggesting that the latter is characterized by a strong focus on the skill of the actor.]

In the fifth century bc Epicharmus of Syracuse, writing on Italian soil the earliest recorded comic pieces, made up a play about the currently fashionable philosophy of Heraclitus. All is flux, Heraclitus is said to have said, life is a continual becoming, nobody is the same man today as he was yesterday. In...

(The entire section is 8463 words.)

Richard Andrews (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Andrews, Richard. “Improvised Comedy.” In Scripts and Scenarios: The Performances of Comedy in Renaissance Italy, pp. 169-99. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

[In the following excerpt, Andrews discusses the bases for improvisation in the commedia dell'arte, providing examples of the short and long frameworks in which actors could create scenes.]


In 1567, the Duchy of Mantua was visited by two competing theatre companies, both including women: one was actually directed by an actress whose stage name was ‘Flaminia’, and the other run jointly by a ‘Pantalone’ (possibly Giulio...

(The entire section is 13187 words.)