On the occasion of Commedia dell’Arte Day, the Italian Cultural Institute is presenting the show Arlecchino diavolo buffo (Arlecchino funny devil), written and performed by Eugenio de’Giorgi.

Arlecchino diavolo buffo is a narration, a giullarata (monologue by the giullare or jester), which shows how the personality of Harlequin developed through his centuries-old legend. It is also a journey through the history of Commedia dell’Arte, as seen through the eyes of its most cele­brated masked character.

With a fast-paced rhythm, de’Giorgi performs 19 characters, with some sketches seeing him play  three characters interacting with each other. He also interprets seven female characters. The show is enhanced by seven original songs.

The play begins with a 17th-century Harlequin in a monkey mask, which changes into a Zanni (astute servant or trickster) from the 15th century in full view of the audience. His opposition to authority and the Church lead him to change again into a 16th-century Ruzzante (peasant), in a mask with a deformed nose, head over heels in an unhappy love, who reaches peaks of intense drama in the painful ending of Act I.

A journey through the history of Commedia dell’Arte

In Act II, traditional sources are used, but the show is also inspired by the medieval French fablieux of the 13th to 14th centuries. There are also two episodes performed strictly in grammelot (an imitation of language used in satirical theatre).

The event is being held by the Italian Cultual Institute in collaboration with the School of Performing Arts and the Department of Italian of the University of Malta, with the aim of promoting Commedia dell’Arte Day, which is celebrated annually on February 25.

It is showing today, tomorrow and on Thursday at 6pm at the Italian Cultural Institute in St George’s Square, Valletta.

Booking is needed on segr.iiclavalletta@esteri.it. Entrance is free, subject to availability. The event is being held in compliance with COVID-19 prevention guidelines. For more information, call on 2122 1462 or visit www.iicvalletta.esteri.it.

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