Friday, March 6, 2009
A Venetian Great
Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni (1707-1793)
Another Venetian favorite of the 18th century is most certainly Carlo Goldoni. Born in Venice in 1707, this mastermind playwright, poet and librettist is greatly responsible for changing Italian theatre as it was then known as the Commedia Dell’Arte. Goldoni wrote mainly in Venetian, Tuscan and French.
His true affinity for the dramatic arts was noticed when he was just a young child. Rather than the usual children toys, he loved playing with puppets and creating all sorts of plots and scenarios. Growing up, his father signed him up at a strict school, Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia, where he was to be educated in discourse.
Goldoni, who could not suppress his desire to write, found root to expression through poems. In one of these poems, Goldoni pushed the limit by writing a poem which mocked noble daughters of the Pavian aristocracy. Other mischievous incidents as these, together with frequent unauthorized (...obviously) trips to local brothels, eventually got him expelled from school.
He later earned his Law degree in Modena and practiced for awhile until returning to Venice. It is here, that he left his law practice to begin writing for good. With a new bride in tow, Nicoletta Conio, he decided to make Venice is home again and playwriting, his career.
Goldoni composed several works of opera and tragedies. But he soon discovered that his true love was comedy. Goldoni loved people and relationships and this was reflected in his plays. A modern man for his times, Goldoni abhorred any abuse of power, and his plays reflected this by the importance he gave to the struggles and conflicts of the middle class. Although this was comedy, Goldoni used this form of expression to make light of important life situations. With Molière plays as a guide and base for his own, in addition to some aspects of the Commedia dell’Arte, Goldoni developed a new form of dramatic expression that revolutionized the theatre altogether.
Things were not so perfect in Italy for Goldoni. His ideas were often rebuked as was his modern humanistic thinking. This new way of reforming the theatre was not well taken by all. Due to ongoing disagreements with another playwright, Carlo Gozzi, Goldoni finally decided to leave for France. There, he achieved much success writing numerous plays. He also wrote the very successful, Le Bourru bienfaisant for Marie Antoinette’s wedding to Louis XVl. Goldoni was very popular in the King’s court. He was so loved by the French, that he chose Versailles as his place to retire.
Of the many plays that Goldoni has written, Il Ventaglio is my personal favourite. (My brother back in the 70’s while in University, actually had a role in this play). The story entails the lives of all the typical people living in and around Venice in the 1800s. Through intrigue, scandal, love, hope and conflict-all of them were linked by one, simple fan; How deliciously Venetian and Goldonian.
Here are some pictures that I found of the play Il Ventaglio, still very popular today.
Memorie di Carlo Goldoni: http://www.pelagus.org/it/libri/MEMORIE,_di_Carlo_Goldoni_1.html
Posted by Lucy at 1:37 PM