Carnival, Comedy and the Commedia

A case study of the mask of Scaramouche

Authored by: Stephen P. J. Knapper

The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell’Arte

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415745062
eBook ISBN: 9781315750842
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613374


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The first depiction of the figure (Scaramouche) appears in Jacques Callot’s celebrated series 1 Balli di Sfessania of 1621. Without doubt this was the iconographical model for George Sidney’s 1952 Hollywood version of the stage figure such that Stewart Granger’s first appearance is preceded by a frame portraying a poster for the travelling players, depicting Callot’s Scaramucia, and the first costume he wears as Scaramouche is surely modeled on this, as was Carlo Boso’s Scaramuccia in the mask’s return to the theatre in 1986. Working from the findings of Anna Maria Evangelista, Sara Mamone has noted the similarity between many of the names of the masked figures and actors from these companies (Gli Uniti, Gli Accesi, I Fedeli and I Confidenti), among them the Neapolitan, Giovan Battista Fiorillo, in arte (who played) Scaramuzza, who, in the light of evidence recently discovered, seems likely to have been the model for the engraving subtitled Scaramucia/Fricasso (Mamone 1992: 185). It should be noted that while Scaramucia appears in the engraving with Fricasso, seemingly about to bump into each other in what appears to be a comic duel scene, another engraving in the series has Taglia Cantoni, who seems the double of Scaramucia, facing a Fracasso, again in a duel scene, seemingly the reverse of the former.

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