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The Reform of the Rappresentativa: Roots and Routes of a National Art


Curated Panel: Italian Acting I explore the remarkable role that the reform of the old Rappresentativa played in the years of Risorgimento, and examine the differences of application of the declamatory symbols in the old Rappresentativa and in the New Style that is referred as la romantica, or Drammatica, analysing Gustavo Modena, Adelaide Ristori and Gaetano Gattinelli’s prompt books and works. Gustavo Modena reformed the old style of the Rappresentativa and was an unforgettable patriot of Risorgimento as well as Ristori and Gattinelli. I explain how Modena steered the drammatica along a new course in the first fifty years of the nineteenth century and shaped the method giving it the goal to become a National Art; and why Gattinelli’s Dell’Arte Rappresentativa in Italia. Studj riformativi (1850) gives a fine account of the role patriotism played in shaping the method. Gattinelli as well as Ristori played in the Reale Compagnia Sarda that was founded in 1821 and dismantled in 1859, just one year before the Unification, though the last season of the Company was on in 1855. Gustano Modena’s reform of the old Rappresentativa was absorbed by most of the actors who were recruited by the Reale Compagnia Sarda, in particular by Gattinelli, who became Eleonora Duse’s teacher of Declamation, and, from 1870, directed a theatrical academy in Florence (Reale Accademia de’Fidenti) which was later renamed Reale Accademia di Recitazione and run by Luigi Rasi. We are now able to record that in the course of the nineteenth century, the theatrical Italian declamatory system reinforced the political role of some of the great Italian actors and actresses.