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Commedia Dell' Arte is the lively form of professional Italian mask theatre that flourished in 16th and 17th Century Europe. Commedia is an actor's theatre. It is an exciting, challenging, physical, inspiring part of our western heritage.

Traditionally, these crowd-pleasing troupes played to thousands, relying on their exceptional physical skills, quick comic timing, and sharp satiric wit to bring familiar, broad characters to ebullient life. BellaLuna welcomes you to join with us in honouring that tradition.

Commedia Troupes were the comic stars of the time - they were social satirists, improvisers, with great acrobatic abilities. Who does that now? Can Mary Walsh or Rick Mercer do a backflip or juggle fire while they're making funny? Not a chance. BellaLuna strives to mingle the Excitement of 'Cirque Du Soleil', the Satire of 'This Hour Has 22 Minutes' and the Spice in a great plate of Spaghetti Puttanesca.
But enough about us, here's more about our predecessors...

Click on a subject or scroll down

CHARACTERS - Description of principal Commedia Personalities
RESOURCES - A Brief List
IMAGES - Classic Scene and Character Images


- Pantalone
Pantalone is the greedy old miser who comes from Venice. He usually is the master of Arlecchino and usually carries a bag of money. His mask has a hooked nose and usually some grey or white facial hair. An animal association is the turkey or hawk.
- Il Dottore
Il Dottore is a professor or a doctor who comes from Bologna. He likes to talk a lot and listen to himself talk! What he says is usually nonsense. His mask emphasizes his forehead and nose. There are no cheeks on this mask. An animal association is the boar or owl.

- Arlecchino
Arlecchino is a mischievous male servant who comes from the city of Bergamo. He has a bump on his head and he usually carries a baton or slapstick. His mask has a bump on the forehead. Some of the older masks were all black. An animal association is the monkey or cat.
- Pulcinella
Pulcinella is a malicious servant (male or female) or innkeeper who comes from Naples. He enjoys seeing other people in pain. His mask has a very distinct hooked nose. Pulcinella literally means ³little chick² in Italian.
- Smeraldina
Smeraldina (also known as Ricciolina, Columbina, Franchescina) is the maid servant. She is quite a smart woman and usually works for either Dottore or Pantalone. She wears no mask. She is in love with Arlecchino.

- Il Capitano
Il Capitano is a foreign soldier usually from Spain or France. He likes to boast a lot but, inside he is a coward. His mask has a very long nose. An animal association is the rooster.

- Innamorati
The two lovers (female: Isabella, Rosaura, Flaminia, Vittoria and male: Silvio, Lelio, Orazio, Flaminio, Vittorio) are usually the children of Dottore and Pantalone. They are often secretly in love against their fathers wishes. They wear no masks. An animal association is the peacock. They come for the region of Tuscany.

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Commedia Dell'Arte Ducharte, Pierre L., Dover Books, Paris 1955
The Commedia Dell'Arte Orgeglia, G., Metheun &Co, 1968
Scenarios of the Commedia Dell'Arte Scala, Flaminio
Lazzi Gordon, Mel
Commedia Scene Study Rolfe, Bari
Commedia Dell'Arte:An Actor's Handbook Rudlin, John

Masks made by Amleto Sartori or Donato Sartori (Padua, Italy)
Masks made by Antonio Fava
Drawings of the Commedia by Jaques Callot
Drawings of the Commedia by Maurice Sand (Beautiful series from around the 1800's)

by Carlo Gozzi
by Moliere
by Dario Fo - Tricks of the Trade
by Carlo Goldoni - Servant of Two Masters and any of his early plays
by Shakespeare - Comedy of Errors, Merchant of Venice (Shylock), Midsummer Night's Dream (The rude mechanicals), the jesters and fools, lovers, etc

'Modern' Clowns:
Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, John Ritter, Kramer
TV sitcoms of today: have a look at the characters

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Traditional Commedia Dell' Arte Images by Maurice Sand

Pulcinella Arlecchino Pantalone Pulcinella Dottore

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Famous Commedia Proverb: "A Company That Eats Together, Stays Together"