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Each of these seven miniatures suggests a character of the Commedia dell’arte: exaggerated, grotesque archetypes that play on the most basic human emotions – love, hate, pride, anger, jealousy, fear and greed. The miniatures are not intended as literal pictorial descriptions of the characters, rather to suggest aspects of personality; nor are they intended to function collectively as a traditional narrative, but of course the listener is free to imagine the interactions of characters and the bizarre scenarios that might result. Below are brief descriptions of each of the characters.
I. il capitano – the captain. Whether this swaggering braggart is actually a military hero is dubious; certainly he is quick to anger, prouder than a rooster and without any sense of humour, especially if the joke is on him.
II. pulcinella – literally “little chicken.” A most obnoxious, irritating upstart who squawks like a chicken until everyone around him is exhausted.
III. arlecchinno – literally “little devil.” An impish servant to pantalone, talking constantly. His is a slow mind in a ridiculously agile body.
IV. columbina – an oasis of calm amongst a band of villains and imbeciles, columbina thinks things through where her other half, arlecchinno, dives in head-first. Versatile, dazzling and impossible to resist.
V. scaramuccia – literally “a skirmish.” Another unscrupulous and unreliable servant, (occasionally) taking orders from il capitano. Smaller and faster than his master, scaramuccia is often in conflict with the similarly reckless arlecchinno.
VI. pantalone – a rich, greedy, lecherous and senile merchant who often abuses power for his own ends, pantalone is the equivalent of a mafia Godfather.
VII. gli innamorati – the lovers. A pair of self-absorbed, vain, indulgent youngsters, unconcerned with the world around them.
I. il capitano
VII. gli innamorati
11 Apr 2012: NZ Music for Woodwinds