Showing posts with label 1707. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1707. Show all posts

25 February 2019

Carlo Goldoni – playwright

Greatest Venetian dramatist whose work still entertains audiences today

Alessandro Longhi's portrait of Carlo Goldini is on display at the Casa Goldoni
Alessandro Longhi's portrait of Carlo Goldini
is on display at the Casa Goldoni
Carlo Goldoni, the author of The Servant of Two Masters, one of Italy’s most famous and best-loved plays, was born on this day in 1707 in Venice.

Goldoni became a prolific dramatist who reinvigorated the commedia dell’arte dramatic form by replacing its masked, stock figures with more realistic characters.

He produced tightly constructed plots with a new spirit of spontaneity and is considered the founder of Italian realistic comedy.

The son of a physician, Goldoni read comedies from his father’s library when he was young and ran away from his school at Rimini with a company of strolling players when he was just 14.

Later, while studying at the papal college in Pavia, Goldoni read comedies by Plautus, Terence and Aristophanes and learnt French so he could read plays by Molière.

He was eventually expelled for writing a satire about the ladies of Pavia and was sent to study law.

Although he practiced law in Venice and Pisa and held diplomatic appointments, his real passion was writing plays for the theatres in Venice.

Antonio Dal Zòtto's statue of Goldoni in Piazza San Bartolomeo in Venice
Antonio Dal Zòtto's statue of Goldoni
in Piazza San Bartolomeo in Venice
In 1748 he began writing for the Teatro Sant’Angelo company and dispensed with masked characters altogether for his play, La Pamela, a serious drama based on Samuel Richardson’s novel.

In the 1750 season he produced some of his best comedies, such as I pettegolezzi delle donne - Women’s Gossip - a play in Venetian dialect, Il bugiardo - The Liar - written in commedia dell’arte style and Il vero amico -  The True Friend - a comedy of manners.

From 1753 to 1762, Goldoni wrote for Teatro San Luca, now called Teatro Goldoni. Among the important plays he wrote during this period is La locandiera - Mine Hostess - which was first performed in 1753.

There was intense rivalry between competing playwrights at the time. Goldoni satirised Pietro Chiari, a rival playwright, in I malcontenti - The Malcontents - which was performed in 1755, before Carlo Gozzi, an adherent of the commedia dell’arte, denounced him in a satirical poem in 1757, then ridiculed both Goldoni and Chiari in a commedia dell’arte classic, L’amore delle tre melarance - The Love of Three Oranges - which was performed in 1761.

In 1762, Goldoni left Venice for Paris to direct the Comedie-Italienne. He later rewrote all his French plays from this period for Venetian audiences. L’Eventail, performed in France in 1763, became Il ventaglio - The Fan - and is considered one of his finest works.

Goldoni retired from the theatre in 1764 and went to teach Italian to the French royal princesses at Versailles.

In 1783 he began writing his Memoirs in French but after the French Revolution his pension was cancelled and he died in poverty in Paris in 1793. The pension was eventually restored to his widow, Nicoletta Conio, after the intervention on her behalf of the poet Andrea Chénier.

Goldoni’s most famous work, Il servitore di due padroni - The Servant of Two Masters - written in 1745, has been translated into different languages and performed many times. In 2011 it was adapted for the National Theatre in the UK under the title One Man, Two Guvnors and it was so popular it transferred to the West End and then Broadway.

Travel tip:

Goldoni was born in Ca’ Centani, or Centanni, a beautiful 15th century Gothic palace overlooking a narrow canal in the San Toma district of Venice. Better known as Casa Goldoni, the palace was bequeathed to Venice in 1931 and now houses the Goldoni Museum and a centre for theatrical studies. Through a series of displays of relics, furniture, paintings, illustrations of Goldonian comedies and explanatory panels, the museum represents the life and work of Carlo Goldoni in the context of 18th century theatre and Venetian society.

Hotels in Venice from

The interior of the Teatro Goldoni, which dates back to the 1720s
The interior of the Teatro Goldoni, which
dates back to the 1720s
Travel tip:

Teatro Goldoni near the Rialto Bridge in Venice was formerly known as Teatro San Luca, when Goldoni was writing plays for it. The present building dates back to the 1720s although it has been renovated many times after fires or structural problems. Situated in Calle Goldoni in the San Marco district, it was renamed Teatro Goldoni in 1875 and is now home to the Teatro Stabile del Veneto ‘Carlo Goldoni’.

More reading:

How Carlo Gozzi fought to preserve commedia dell'arte

Zanetta Farussi, the 18th century Venetian actress who was the mother of Casanova

Niccolò Piccinni, the opera composer for whom Goldoni wrote a libretto

Also on this day:

1682: The birth of anatomist Giovanni Battista Morgagni

1873: The birth of the great tenor Enrico Caruso

2003: The death of comic actor Alberto Sordi

Selected books:

The Comedies of Carlo Goldoni, edited and introduced by Helen Zimmern

The Servant to Two Masters, by Carlo Goldoni


27 August 2017

Zanetta Farussi – actress

Venetian performer who gave birth to a legendary womaniser

Giacomo Casanova, whose mother was  the actress Zanetta Farussi
Giacomo Casanova, whose mother was
 the actress Zanetta Farussi
Zanetta Farussi, the comedy actress who was the mother of the notorious adventurer, Casanova, was born on this day in 1707 in Venice.

At the age of 17, Zanetta had married the actor Gaetano Casanova, who was 10 years older than her.

He had just returned to Venice after several years with a touring theatrical troupe, to take a job at the Teatro San Samuele.

Farussi’s parents opposed the marriage because they considered acting to be a disreputable profession.

But Farussi soon began working at Teatro San Samuele herself and the following year she gave birth to a son, Giacomo, who was to grow up to make the name Casanova synonymous with womanising and philandering.  Giacomo Casanova would later claim that his real father was Michele Grimani, who owned the Teatro San Samuele.

Zanetta and Gaetano accepted a theatrical engagement in London where Farussi gave birth to their second son, Francesco, who became a well-known painter.

They returned to Venice in 1728 and went on to have four more children. The youngest child was born two months after the death of his father. 

The Teatro San Samuele, where Farussi found work
The Teatro San Samuele, where Farussi found work
The same year, Farussi met the playwright Carlo Goldoni in Verona and he wrote a short comedy for her called La Pupilla (The Female Ward), which was inspired by the jealous infatuation she had inspired in a famous actor and theatrical impresario of the day. It was presented as an interlude with his tragicomedy, Belisario.

In 1737 Farussi signed a long contract to appear in Italian comedies in Saxony.

The following year she made her debut in Pilnitz, near Dresden, on the occasion of the proxy wedding of Crown Princess Maria Amalia.

Farussi eventually visited Warsaw, where she presented two short theatrical pieces she had written herself.

When the Seven Years War started, the Saxon court suspended the activities of the Italian comedy troupe and the actors all retired and were granted an annual pension.

The playwright Carlo Goldoni
The playwright Carlo Goldoni
During the war, Farussi sought refuge in Prague but as soon as it was safe she returned to Dresden where she was to remain for the rest of her life. She was joined by one of her sons, Giovanni, who taught at the Academy of Fine Arts there, and one of her daughters, Maria Maddalena, who married the court organist, Peter August.

Meanwhile, her eldest son, Giacomo Casanova, had graduated in law from the University of Padua. At various times during his life he worked as a clergyman, military officer, violinist, businessman and spy. Throughout his life it was a recurring pattern that he embarked on passionate affairs with women, ran out of money and was imprisoned for debt.

He was locked up for a time in the Doge’s Palace in Venice in terrible conditions, but he eventually escaped through the ceiling of his cell, broke back into the building through a window, walked out through the main entrance and made his escape in a gondola across the lagoon on his way to exile in France.

Farussi, who was known in theatrical circles as La Buranella, a reference to her family roots on the island of Burano, died in 1776 in Dresden.

Travel tip:

The church of San Samuele, just beyond the waterbus stop
The church of San Samuele, just beyond the waterbus stop
Teatro San Samuele, where Farussi began her theatrical career, was an opera house and theatre at the Rio del Duca, between San Samuele and Campo Santo Stefano. It was first opened in 1656 in Venice and the playwright, Carlo Goldoni, was the theatre’s director between 1737 and 1741. The theatre was destroyed by fire in 1747 but then rebuilt and it remained a theatre until the building was demolished in 1894. San Samuele is in the San Marco sestiere and has a waterbus stop on the right bank of the Grand Canal before you reach the Rialto.

Goldoni's home was the beautiful Palazzo Centani
Goldoni's home was the beautiful Palazzo Centani
Travel tip:

The playwright, Carlo Goldoni, who wrote more than 250 comedies, was born in the beautiful Gothic Palazzo Centani in Venice. The palace, in Calle dei Nomboli in the San Polo district, is now a centre for theatrical studies and has a collection of theatrical memorabilia on display. It is open to the public every day except Wednesday.