It is well known that the commedia dell'arte troupes of the 16th and 17th centuries improvised their stage performances. Nevertheless, a special form of text serving to plan the individual shows did emerge from the productions of this first modern professional theatre. The present volume contains one of the oldest collections of such handwritten texts, the so-called Scenari più scelti d'istrioni, now being published for the first time in their entirety. The manuscript, preserved in the Corsini Library in Rome, is unique in that each of its one hundred scenarios is illustrated by a watercolor drawing. All of the drawings also appear here for the first time, reproduced in colour. Each scenario is introduced by a commentary on the narrative themes and the theatre-historical background. Among other things, intertextual references to classical and modern comedy, to novels and fairy tales, and to other literary genres are discussed. With this carefully edited Italian text, crucial material is finally being made available to international researchers, while the translation of the scenarios offers German-speaking readers their first direct glimpse into the world of the commedia all'improvviso. The introduction casts light on the development of the scenarios in terms of theatre history, also examining the contrast between an improvised play and written text. The publication is supplemented by explanatory notes on the illustrations and the language of the scenarios, as well as an Italian glossary.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Hulfeld lehrt Theater- und Kulturwissenschaft am Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft der Universität Wien
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