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Istituto per i Beni Culturali Emilia-Romagna

Memoria e Ricerca

A city at «opera dei pupi»: Catania during the XIXth century

di Bernadette Majorana
in Memoria e Ricerca n.s. 29 (2008), p. 63

n the overall investigation of the history of Catania, one must aknowledge the relevance of the opera dei pupi, the most typical theatrical genre in XIXth century Sicily. Thus far considered a marginal and isolated tradition, the opera dei pupi appears instead as a focal point that reorganizes multiple cultural experiences around its specificity. The shows animated by armed puppets were the favourite spectacle for the lower classes, but they attracted the intellectuals, the professional bourgeoisie and the ruling aristocracy as well. Notably in the years around Italy’s unification, next to the traditional epic-chivalrous stories, the pupari introduced themes related to the Risorgimento. Amateur actors played both comedy and drama on the stage of the opera dei pupi, turning it into a space where oratory art experimentations could take place. Since 1870, Catania was eventually reached by the flux of Europe’s industry of entertainment and the pupari begun trying to meet the changes elaborating new solutions in the attempt to lay the new set-up of the opera dei pupi.