The Servant of Two Masters context

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  • The Servant of Two Masters context
    • Influences/ differences to Commedia Dell'arte
      • Much of what Commedia did was improvised, but improvisation occurred within a rehearsed framework
      • Lazzo: used to enliven a performance when the audience's interest lagged, to create a change of pace, to embroider on a situation or to fill a gap in the action
      • Carlo still used some of the stock characters of commedia dell'arte such as Truffaldino, Pantalone, the lovers.
      • Found commedia hackneyed and vulgar; sentimentalised the characters and situations.
      • Goldoni campaigned for the abandonment of maks because they handicapped the actors,hiding their facial expressions.
      • Pantalone has none of the miserly traits typical of his character, Brighella deprived of libidinous and cruel traits,
        • Middle-class characters given more respect and the women are far more sensible than the men
      • Goldoni avoided the coarse, often smutty humour and sexual innuendo of earlier commedia.
    • 1740s/ 18th century Venice
      • By 1775, theatrical mode of commedia largely ceased to be a living form,
        • ...perhaps due to over familiarity after 200 hundred yrs or because its broad, coarse, farcical humour had lost its appeal in the more refined atmosphere of the 18th century.
      • Commedia found audiences among the common people and the ruling classes
      • Commedia was most popular between 1575 and 1650 but it continued into the last half of the 18th century
    • The world of the play
      • Only 5 settings: a room in Pantalone's house, the courtyard of Pantalone's house, the street in front of Brighella's inn, a street.
        • Goldoni wrote for a company that performed in a public theatre: box, pit and gallery arrangement of the auditorium and picture frame stage and wing-and-drop perspective scenery
      • Lighting depended on candles or oil lamps
      • See costume mindmap
    • Historical, social, cultural context
      • Written by Goldoni in 1745 for a Venetian commedia dell'arte troupe
      • First example of a Commedia Dell'arte performance being scripted with less improv.
      • Based on disguise, coincidence, misunderstanding and withheld information.
      • Carlo Goldoni, Italy's most famous comic dramatist, began writing scenarios for commedia companies in Venice 1734.
        • Carlo was a failed tragedian who found more success with comical tragedy
      • Actors playing the fashionable young men were encouraged to keep notebooks in which to record appropriate sentiments from poetry and popular literature.
      • By 1600 companies were playing throughout Italy as well as in France, Spain and other European countries. Exaggerated physicality was thus used to convey humour transcending language barriers.
      • Performed anywhere: town squares or at court, indoors or out, on improvised stages or in permanent theatres.


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