Commedia dell'arte 🎭 (in France) - April 2020

April's Virtual Communitea Concert

"Polichinelle," ca. 1680–1690 by French artist Nicolas Bonnart


Commedia dell'arte was a form of Italian troupe theater popular all over Europe for centuries. In France, as Italian opera provided serious entertainment, parody with stock comedic characters flourished.  Here's a short list of our favorite stock characters: 

Harlequin wears a chequered costume, he's a lighthearted and nimble romantic hero Pulcinella was raised by two fathers, he's witty, sarcastic, rude, and cruel Pierrot wears all white and a pointy hat... and he's sad Pantalone has money, likes the ladies, and he causes problems because he's a petty guy Columbine is the wife of Pierrot; she wears a patched dress and likes to flirt with Harlequin Scaramouche is sly, subtle, and grimances often while he plays guitar

"Les Jongleurs, Sauteurs, et Saltinbanques, avec les Ours et les Singes"

AKA "The Jugglers, Acrobats, and Tumblers, with Bears and Monkeys"

from François Couperin's Les Fastes de la grande et anciénne Mxnxstrxndsx, Act 3

Kevin Devine, harpsichord and hurdy-gurdy,

Francis Liu, violin, and Sarah Stone, viola da gamba.

Boismortier "Allemande" from Première Suite Op. 17

Kevin Devine on hurdy-gurdy

A very loosely translated scene from Oedipe Travesti

in Les Parodies du Nouveau Theatre Italien (1738)


SCENE II. Colombine, Scaramouche, Claudine.


SCARAMOUCHE

[Sarcasm] Yes, all our peasants love having Finebrette here…. [Aside] Madam, he’s secretly hatred by everyone; he’s the reason that Pierrot died, expiring from his blows!

Our problems will be solved now that he’s back, putting an end to this plague of ills killing us.


Since the death of our friend Pierrot, all our misfortunes are advancing at a great speed; our sheep are mangy; the war makes the fields barren, all the horses were turned into glue, the boys don’t go out to play, and jaundice spoils all our girls.


COLUMBINE

Good God, What have I heard? We suspected it… but 

Such injustice is enough to surprise me, Claudia can it be?!


CLAUDINE

My surprise is extreme.


COLUMBINE

Hmmm…. Finebrette, they say?…


SCARAMOUCHE

Yes Madam? himself;

Quite frankly, I don’t believe that we can take advantage of it. And what else, indeed, could we apologize for?

We know that he threatened you, saying that you often go to the tavern together, and that your husband, reasonably jealous, feared on your part a LITTLE betrayal...


COLUMBINE

Scaramouche, stop talking like that!

You lied about it, you and the whole village…. GET OUT!

What nerve! It’s too cruel an affront!

Jean-Philippe Rameau "La Pantomime" from Pièces de clavecin

Kevin Devine, harpsichord, Francis Liu, violin, and Sarah Stone, viola da gamba

Jean-Antoine Watteau "The Italian Comedians" (1720)

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© 2020 by Sarah Stone