Friday, March 6, 2009

A Venetian Great

Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni (1707-1793)

Another Venetian favorite of the 18th century is most certainly Carlo Goldoni. Born in Venice in 1707, this mastermind playwright, poet and librettist is greatly responsible for changing Italian theatre as it was then known as the Commedia Dell’Arte. Goldoni wrote mainly in Venetian, Tuscan and French.

His true affinity for the dramatic arts was noticed when he was just a young child. Rather than the usual children toys, he loved playing with puppets and creating all sorts of plots and scenarios. Growing up, his father signed him up at a strict school, Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia, where he was to be educated in discourse.

Goldoni, who could not suppress his desire to write, found root to expression through poems. In one of these poems, Goldoni pushed the limit by writing a poem which mocked noble daughters of the Pavian aristocracy. Other mischievous incidents as these, together with frequent unauthorized (...obviously) trips to local brothels, eventually got him expelled from school.

He later earned his Law degree in Modena and practiced for awhile until returning to Venice. It is here, that he left his law practice to begin writing for good. With a new bride in tow, Nicoletta Conio, he decided to make Venice is home again and playwriting, his career.

Goldoni composed several works of opera and tragedies. But he soon discovered that his true love was comedy. Goldoni loved people and relationships and this was reflected in his plays. A modern man for his times, Goldoni abhorred any abuse of power, and his plays reflected this by the importance he gave to the struggles and conflicts of the middle class. Although this was comedy, Goldoni used this form of expression to make light of important life situations. With Molière plays as a guide and base for his own, in addition to some aspects of the Commedia dell’Arte, Goldoni developed a new form of dramatic expression that revolutionized the theatre altogether.

Things were not so perfect in Italy for Goldoni. His ideas were often rebuked as was his modern humanistic thinking. This new way of reforming the theatre was not well taken by all. Due to ongoing disagreements with another playwright, Carlo Gozzi, Goldoni finally decided to leave for France. There, he achieved much success writing numerous plays. He also wrote the very successful, Le Bourru bienfaisant for Marie Antoinette’s wedding to Louis XVl. Goldoni was very popular in the King’s court. He was so loved by the French, that he chose Versailles as his place to retire.

Of the many plays that Goldoni has written, Il Ventaglio is my personal favourite. (My brother back in the 70’s while in University, actually had a role in this play). The story entails the lives of all the typical people living in and around Venice in the 1800s. Through intrigue, scandal, love, hope and conflict-all of them were linked by one, simple fan; How deliciously Venetian and Goldonian.

Here are some pictures that I found of the play Il Ventaglio, still very popular today.

Memorie di Carlo Goldoni:,_di_Carlo_Goldoni_1.html



Ingrid Mida said...

Sounds like a wonderful play. I'll look out for it.
I had to smile when I learned that he was expelled from school and still went on to become a lawyer and playwright. Good to keep in mind for those of us with teenagers.

May said...

Sounds very entertaining. I had never heard of Goldoni before, thanks!

Totally off topic, but for some reason the blogs I follow are not appearing in my profile. Has this ever happened to anyone here? I can't figure it out.

Ninon said...

An informative and well-written post! I've only heard his name before, so this was really interesting to read. Thanks!!

Lucy said...

Ingrid- Sometimes those uncontrollables end up being geniuses of all time...funny how nobody mentions the struggles of their Mom along the way;)

Lucy said...

Hi Matterhorn- Goldoni is truly a great in the world of literature and grand theatre. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. As for your profile; when I click on it I do see all the blogs you're following. If you're having trouble seeing it on your site...I won't be much help, as I suspect neither will Blogger. Anyhow, do try the Blogger Help section- sometimes you can read about a similar problem. Sorry I can't be of more help to you.

Hi Ninon- I'm glad you liked it. It might especially interest you to know that Goldoni wrote several opera pieces together with the composer Baldassare Galuppi and the "Opera Buffa" and also (translated) The Country Philosopher and The Good Girl. Thanks for your interest.

May said...

Hi Lucy. Thanks, I'm glad they show up when other people check my profile. I couldn't find any help on Blogger, oh well. Mystery.

May said...

Aha! I finally got it to work!

Once again, thank you for this lovely post, and for your blog, it is always so cheerful to read.

Lucy said...

Oh, I'm glad for you!! Was Blogger of any help at all? Help Forum?

ceecee said...

Venice, Goldoni, puppets, masks, theatre, romance....What more do we need? Excellent post, Ms.Lucy!

May said...

Blogger Help didn't help, but suddenly an option appeared on my "Edit Profile" asking whether I wanted to show the blogs I follow. I had looked in vain for such an option on Edit Profile before... strange. Anyway, now it's fine.

Lucy said...

Hi Catherine! What can i say except...the stuff that dreams are made of;) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting life he lead!