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A Neapolitan Renaissance Christmas Presentation

A Neapolitan Renaissance Christmas Presentation


I Giullari di Piazza


Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue
NY, NY 10003


Saturday, December 12, 2015 - 8:00pm
Sunday, December 13, 2015 - 3:00pm



I Giullari di Piazza

A Neapolitan Renaissance Christmas Presentation
Featuring La Befana (the Italian Christmas Witch), the Archangel Gabriel, and Razzullo from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte

Based on a Renaissance Play by Andrea Perrucci written in the 16th century. This musical version has been adapted and directed by Alessandra Belloni, with music by John La Barbera, and enacted by masked commedia dell'arte characters, puppets, devils, and the Archangel Gabriel on stilts.   Performed in Italian with English narration by La Befana, the Good Witch of Christmas  
Saturday December 12 at 8 PM; Sunday December 13 at 3 PM
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Streets)
Tickets: $25
Reservations: 212.254.1109 or www.theaterforthenewcity.net
"The musical play presented by the traditional Italian group I Giullari di Piazza (is) a rarity among Christmas programs: it somehow manages to be both riotously entertaining and curiously haunting, even profound...a vibrant and uproarious performance." - Alex Ross, The New York Times
GIUSEPPE DE FALCO, Neapolitan singer from Naples, as Razzullo, the commedia dell'arte character
MARK MINDEK as the Angel Gabriel on stilts
MAX MCGUIRE as La Befana, the Italian Christmas Witch 
MARA GERETYA, violinist, as The Devil 
SUSAN EBERENZ , music director, on flutes, piccolo, recorders 
IVAN THOMAS - keyboard guitar
JAMES KARCHER, main devil  

I GIULLARI DI PIAZZA, renowned 35-year old Southern Italian music/theater/dance company, will perform its hilarious Christmas show  LA CANTATA DEI PASTORI for two performances, December 12 at 8 PM and December 13 at 3 PM at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue.
Join La Befana, the Good Witch of Christmas, Mary, the Archangel Gabriel, Devils, Demons, and the commedia dell'arte characters who enact this beloved story of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the triumph of good over evil.   The music - tarantellas, villanellas and pastorales - comes from traditional sources, with original music by John La Barbera.  Adaptation and direction are by Alessandra Belloni.   Songs are sung in Italian; costuming and music instrumentation are traditional Southern Italian; narration is in English, spoken by La Befana.   The play ends with a rendering by the Company of the oldest known Neapolitan Christmas song.

The play is set during Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, during which the Devil has dispatched demons to stop the birth of Jesus.    Along the way, the holy couple's escapades are entwined with the hapless commedia dell'arte character called Razzullo, a comic mischievous Neapolitan scribe who is always hungry and looking for something to eat.   The demons, in the meanwhile, conjure up tempests, dragons, and do all they can to stop the birth, but all are under the protection of the Archangel Gabriel (played here, in traditional style, by  Mark Mindek, well known stilt dancer who has appeared in Metropolitan Opera productions, Disney Films and special events around the world.).   The holy couple experiences funny, outrageous, and dangerous adventures before they finally reach Bethlehem and Good triumphs over Evil!   

"La Cantata dei Pastori" is still performed annually during the Christmas season in the environs of Naples.   Written by Andrea Perrucci in the 16th century, during the height of commedia dell'arte popularity in Italy, it combines commedia characteristics with those of the Italian medieval sacra rappresentazione.   These elements are fused in settings which borrow from a third genre, the Italian pastoral drama.
The play's author, Andrea Perrucci, used the pseudonym of Dt. Casimiro Ruggiero Ugone when he wrote "La Cantata dei Pastori."   This Sicilian-born, Neapolitan-bred poet and dramatist, who had a reputation in Naples as a stage director,  was educated by the Jesuits and received a doctorate in letters.

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