TICKETS $ 25.00 tel (212) 254-1109
Celebrate the Holidays Italian Style!
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND! the beloved NEAPOLITAN RENAISSANCE CHRISTMAS SHOW LA CANTATA DEI PASTORI (the Shepherds Cantata)
DECEMBER 10 in MIDDLESEX, NEW JERSEY
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY - SPECIAL WINTER SOLSTICE PERFORMANCE DECEMBER 22 AT 8 PM.
Praise by Alex Ross of the New York Times:
"A 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."
FEATURING: La Befana (the Italian Christmas Witch), the Archangel Gabriel, and Pulcinella from the Italian Commedia dell’Arte!
Based on a Renaissance play by Andrea Perrucci. This musical version has been adapted and directed by Alessandra Belloni and enacted by masked commedia dell'arte characters, puppets, devils, and the Archangel Gabriel on stilts! Narrated in English by La Befana - Good Witch of Christmas.
Jon Pareles, New York Times:
"The adaptation, by the troupe's director, Alessandra Belloni, is geared for action rather than quiet piety; in a climactic battle, Miss Belloni as Maria beat a large drum and sang out while the Angel Gabriel took on the dragon. Giuseppe de Falco as Razzullo (and Vincenzo Corrao as the birdlike Sarchiapone) shared slapstick duties.The music, directed by John La Barbera, is folkish, aiming for vitality above precision and often achieving both."
"LA CANTATA DEI PASTORI" also features:
THE NEAPOLITAN SINGER /ACTOR GIUSEPPE DE FALCO IN THE ROLE OF RAZZULLO or Pulcinella, the character that leads the story,
ALESSANDRA BELLONI in the role of Mary
MARK MINDEK, dancer on stilts as the Angel Gabriel
MAX MCGUIRE as LA BEFANA, the Italian Christmas Witch
MARA GERETY, violin, in the role of the Devil
SUSAN EBERENZ, MUSIC DIRECTOR, Flutes, piccolo, recorders
WILSON MONTUORI, guitar
VINNIE SCIALLA, percussion and drum set
JAMES KARCHER, lead devil and sword fighter
FRANCESCA SILVANO dancer - Devil, Shepherdess, Moon & Sun
LUCA FOCELLA, little shepherd and junior devil
Join La Befana, the Good Witch of Christmas, Mary and Joseph, 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 and directed by Susan Eberenz. Adaptation and direction are by Alessandra Belloni. Songs are sung in Italian and old Neapolitan dialect; costuming and music instrumentation is traditional Southern Italian; narration is in English. The play ends with a singing by the whole 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!
The show is a classic of the Italian Renaissance theatrical tradition of Commedia dell'Arte, rich in "lazzi" or improvised comedic scenes, punchlines, physical comedy and wordplay. I Giullari di Piazza have mastered the traditional Commedia style based on improvisation, rapid-fire jokes and often grotesque humor, outrageous props, vivid costumes and masks, and evocative music and sound effects.
"La Cantata dei Pastori" is still performed annual during the Christmas season in the environs of Naples. Written by Andrea Perrucci 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 but 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.