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    Italian Renaissance Theatre

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    When was the Italian Renaissance?
    1400 – 1620
    What was the Commedia dell’arte?
    Comedy of Professional Artists
    How did the Commedia dell’arte differ from other theatre groups?
    Improvisation. There were no scripts, so the dialogue and most of the business was improvised
    What type of comedy did the commedia perform?
    – Farce
    – Low comedy
    – Comedy of pain
    – Slapstick
    Why is physical comedy also known as slapstick comedy?
    The humor in Commedia was produced by one character beating another character. The prop that was used was called a “Slapstick.” Which was supposed to produce more sound than pain.
    What was the scenario in Commedia?
    The plot outline posted back stage.
    Bits of comic business, performed by the actors, which were inserted into the play. The specific lazzi to be performed was often indicated in the scenario.
    Why can many of the commedia’s lazzi not be used on stage today?
    Because many of these bits would be considered obscene, or in bad taste, by a modern audience. Especially the ones using bodily functions.
    How do the stock characters from commedia compare with those used by Plautus?
    The stock characters of the commedia were very similar to the characters which appeared in Plautus’ Roman comedies.
    The straights (Commedia)
    – A pair of young lovers.
    – Handsome, well-educated and witty
    – The dapper young man was usually opposed in his love affair by one of the masters (or father).
    – The young lady was sophisticated, noble and innocent.
    Il Capitano (Commedia)
    – Pompous braggart
    – Coward who boasted of his great prowess in love and battle
    – Usually discredited in both.
    Pantalone (Commedia)
    – Greedy
    – Lustful
    – Meddling old man
    – Often a merchant
    Il Dottore (Commedia)
    – A friend of Pantalone.
    – He was a professor (or physician)
    – Spouted inaccurate Latin.
    – His standard dress was the academic cap and gown.
    The Servants (Commedia)
    – At least two servants (zanni)
    – One smart and one less smart.
    – The less smart servant = an insolent liar, thief and drunkard.
    – Most of the humor came through the actions of the servants.
    What was the commedia’s influence on Moliere and Shakespeare?
    Moliere (France: 1622-73) and Shakespeare (England: 1564-1616) stole characters, bits of comic business (lazzi) and plots from the commedia.

    Moliere’s = The Doctor in Spite of Himself

    Shakespeare’s = Taming of the Shrew and All’s Well That Ends Well

    What was the first Opera?
    – Dafne (1597)
    – Text by Ottavio Rinuccini (1562-1621)
    – Music by Jacopo Peri (1561-1633)
    – Staged during the pre-Lenten Carnival at Palazzo Corsi.
    – Rincuccini’s text was published in 1600.
    What group produced Dafne?
    – Camerata Fiorentina
    – Academy of wealthy Italians who studied the arts of ancient Greece and Rome.
    In what city was the Camerata Fiorentina located?
    Firenze (Florence)
    What were the Camerata Fiorentina attempting to do?
    Recreate an authentic Greek tragedy.
    Who do most music historians consider the first great opera composer?
    – Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643)
    – Court composer
    – From Mantua
    – First opera, Orfeo (1607) was an adaption of Greek legends.
    What changes did Claudio Monteverdi make in the original musical style of opera?
    – Increased the size and importance of the orchestra.
    – Established a formula which would be followed into the 20th century.

    This formula divided an opera into two units:
    1. Musical and consisted of solos, duets, trios, and choruses; gave the show color, and helped establish characters.
    2. Dramatic and consisted, semi-sung dialogue; moved the “play” along, relating the action of the opera to the audience.

    What is the difference between an aria and a recitative?
    Aria- A solo sung by one of the opera’s major characters.
    Recitative- The chanted dialogue which joined the opera’s musical moments.
    Who is the most often produced opera composer on the stage of Metropolitan Opera in New York City?
    Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901).
    In which century did Giuseppe Verdi live?
    Where was Giuseppe Verdi from?
    What opera did Giuseppe Verdi compose for the opening of the Cairo Opera House?
    – Aida (1871).
    – Most famous, and grandest opera.
    It is also one of the only, Verdi opera not based on earlier drama.
    – It was an original story drawn from Egypt’s colorful history.
    Who was Richard Wagner?
    Richard Wagner (1813 – 1883) was a German composer who believed that opera should be a total art work.
    What is a leitmotif?
    Leitmotif is a clearly defined musical theme, representing a person, object or idea, which appears at the appropriate moment in a dramatic work.
    What is considered Wagner’s masterpiece?
    Der Ring des Nibelungen (1876). The “Ring” is actually four music dramas: Das Rheingold (“Rhinegold”), Die Walkure (“The Valkyries”), Siegfried and Gotterdammerung (“The Twilight of the Gods”) with a combined playing time of seventeen hours.

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