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Morlacchismo, illirismo, involuzioni esotiche. L’immagine degli slavi del sud nel teatro e nella musica dell’Ottocento in Italia/Morlakizem, ilirizem, eksotična zamotanost. Lik južnega Slovana v italijanskem gledališču in glasbi devetnajstega stoletja


Alberto Fortis’ Viaggio in Dalmazia (Venice, 1774) described for the first time the Morlacks of the interior of Dalmatia as the true model of a primitive group, whose characteristics became an exotic source of inspiration for some Italian writers and ballet composers until 1830s. Contemporaneously, the Homer’s paradigm was introduced by Melchiorre Cesarotti in the foreword joined to the Italian version of the poems of “Ossian” (1763), and it was in turn transformed by the composer and doctor of Split Giulio Bajamonti. Even though published in Italian, Bajamonti’s Morlacchismo d’Omero (Venice, 1797) can be considered the first contribution to the romantic Croatian literature. The essay of Bajamonti recognizes in the poetry and music of the Morlacks the authentic national spirit of South Slavic people. At the light of Vico’s Scienza nuova (Naples, 1744), the author emphasises Homer’s paradigm aiming at showing close ties between the Morlack’s way of life and the heroes’s behaviour of the Iliad. Further, he compares the Morlack blind guslar, who plays by heart epic verses, to the ancient Greek bard. At the same time, the “Morlackmania” influencend theatrical activities: in particular some Italian choreographies based on the comedy Gli antichi slavi, ossia le nozze dei morlacchi (1793), staged in Venice by the playwriter Camillo Federici. The figure of the Morlack disappeared around the 1840s, at the time when some intellectuals of Dubrovnik and Venice edited articles and novels on Croats, Bosniaks, Montenegrins and Serbs, in the Italian periodical La Favilla. With the aim of creating a unifying language in the Balkan area and the Slavic lands of Central Europe, writers such as Ivan August Kaznačić, Medo Pucić, Niccolò Tommaseo and Francesco Dall’Ongaro promoted in Trieste the South Slavic literature linked to the unwritten tradition of the guslari’s epic songs. These intellectuals, as supporters of the Illyrian Movement promoted by Ljudevit Gaj, exalted the South Slavic epic rejecting the well-known Italian writers and the “Gothic” literature of Germany and Great Britain (see the fiftheen Studi sugli slavi of Kaznačić and Pucić printed from 1842 to 1844) The Romantic pattern of a Slavic prototype substituted the previous wild Morlack but not his culture. This phenomenon involved some Italian composers of the 1860s, who wrote new operas on this topic, always characterizing the South Slav people as primitive, honest, hospitable and vindictive. Unfortunately, with the exception of two Illyrian an- thems inserted by Nikola Strmić (Niccolò de Stermich) in his La madre slava (1865), the scenes of “couleur locale” in the operas L’uscocco (Francesco Petrocini, 1858), La vendetta slava (Pietro Platania, 1865), and I morlacchi (Giuseppe Sapio, 1878) are not provided of authentic tunes gathered from Balkan regions. On the contrary, as a symbol of revenge and otherness, the literary topos of blood feud appears in the aforementioned Fortis’s diary, in the novels of Francesco Dall’Ongaro, and in a ballad of Giovanni Prati, significantly titled La vendetta slava, from which Pietro Platania drew the title and the names of main characters of his own opera.