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Because Santuzza and Mirandolina were the only Italian parts that she included in her repertoire, this particular judgement often arose.


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The notion that they, the Italian actors, are better at interpreting their own roles with us, the English audience, watching them, inevitably expresses a sense of division between the foreign cast and the English spectators. However, what most of these reviews have in common is that the saving grace of the play is Duse.

The play was quite new to me; I did not even know the plot when the curtain rose; and the excessive brevity and bareness of the action somewhat took me aback.

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This time, knowing the characters and the situation beforehand, I was prepared to give my whole mind to the acting. And what acting! She is the Italian peasant in every gesture and attitude. We can see in her whole carriage that she has shuffled along the mountain paths beneath burdens which a Northern woman could scarcely lift, while Compare Turiddu, very likely, jogged comfortably on his mule by her side. I Palermo: Alberto Reber, — , pp. The actress is far more of a creator; she brings far more of her own observation, invention, thought, and feeling to her work.

The actress has to invent, not only pantomime, but vocalisation; the singer finds her vocalisation invented for her, and even her pantomime is restricted within comparatively narrow conventional limits. As a result, there is more emphasis placed on invention and skill on the part of the actress as opposed to the opera singer. She is now beginning to draw her audiences into the drama, enabling them to empathize with the lead role, despite the language barrier. Anything that makes this expression more vivid, 34 Ibid.

The two performances were clearly different but the way in which the actresses are remembered today sets them even further apart. Her creation of any given character never seems to vary; it is always a work of genius. And this is what Duse anticipates here: she is so merged within the psyche of Santuzza that she appears as though she has become her character, behaving naturally as though she were Santuzza.

It is an assumption in which the individuality of the artist is absolutely merged in that of the person represented. Here, at least, no attempt is made to idealise: absolute realism is the keynote of the performance.

Santuzza is a supplanted, neglected, jealous, and reckless woman. Her charm has gone: the fact is known to her and maddens her. She betrays her lover to the husband of his paramour, and, as a result, the lover is slain. Nothing could be more sombre, more tragic. The sub- ject has often been treated in the romantic, picturesque spirit: here the playwright elects to follow Nature closely, and Signora Duse carries out his intentions to the letter. Che brutta parola!

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Eleonora Duse nel teatro italiano fra i due secoli Rome: Bulzoni, , p. The disappearance and renunciation of self, along with the amalgamation within the identity of the character, have been reinforced here by many different reviews. Instead, her letters as well as the accounts of her performances described by both her English and Italian contemporaries lead us to believe that her approach to her characters is rooted somewhere deeper.

The Sicilian Subject of the Stage In conclusion, this study has aimed to shed light on the kind of evolution the critical reviews from the cited newspapers and early accounts have undergone. One of the questions posed at the beginning of this investigation was how did Duse interpret this Sicilian character on stage and what has emerged from the contempo- rary reviews is the element of compassion which Duse conveyed in her performances. Con 55 illustrazioni Florence: R. The Actress in her Time, ed. As well as breaking down language barriers, Duse also seems to have pushed the boundaries distinguishing them from us.

After a somewhat hesitant reception at the start of her tour, critics no longer declare that they, the Italian actors, should concen- trate on their own roles, but rather that we, the English public, should actually take a leaf from their book.


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They are so absolutely natural that one forgets she is acting: but that, we know, on great authority is the perfection of art. There is no woman on the English stage who can be compared with Signora Duse in intensity of passion and lightness of touch, in both of which she equally excels. Finally, this assessment has shown how, this grande attrice not only managed to challenge barriers and boundaries, but also appears to have broken down the stere- otypes of women in the theatre. The English audience is clearly looking at Duse and recording their views in newspa- pers, but, at the same time, what also emerges from the later critical reviews is how the English audience is also looking up to this foreign actress — in admiration — no longer as a mere object of the gaze, but more as a kind of Sicilian subject on the London Stage.

Acknowledgements I would like to thank Anna Laura Lepschy and Shirley Vinall for their support throughout the writing of this article, Guido Bonsaver for his useful feedback at the later stages of this research, and the peer reviews for their invaluable suggestions. I am also grateful to the organizers of the Society of Italian Studies Interim Confer- ence, Transnational Italy: National Identity and the World Atlas, which was held at the University of Reading on 13—14 July , where I presented an earlier version of this study.

Related Papers. Verga and Duse: Transposing Silence from 'Il canarino del n. A Prelude to Symbolism. By Enza De Francisci. By Stefano Boselli. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

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This natural- istic acting technique was particularly unusual at the time as actors tended to wear heavy make-up and magnificent dress, and to employ grand gestures, as her predeces- sor Adelaide Ristori had done. From this, it would seem that English audiences, for the first time, not only witnessed a new type of rustic character on stage, but also a new type of a naturalistic actress. The article published in The Standard on the same day is mainly devoted to com- paring the play with the opera.

Indeed, more often than not, critics inevitably tended to compare the theatrical version of Cavalleria rusticana with the operatic version. The impression which subsequently emerges from these critics is that they seem to have misunderstood this new actress in this new one-act play which depicts a simple village life, without any spectacular scene changes. One of the criticisms Duse faced was linked with her choice to interpret French roles as opposed to just her native roles.

Because Santuzza and Mirandolina were the only Italian parts that she included in her repertoire, this particular judgement often arose. The notion that they, the Italian actors, are better at interpreting their own roles with us, the English audience, watching them, inevitably expresses a sense of division between the foreign cast and the English spectators. However, what most of these reviews have in common is that the saving grace of the play is Duse.

The play was quite new to me; I did not even know the plot when the curtain rose; and the excessive brevity and bareness of the action somewhat took me aback. This time, knowing the characters and the situation beforehand, I was prepared to give my whole mind to the acting. And what acting! She is the Italian peasant in every gesture and attitude. We can see in her whole carriage that she has shuffled along the mountain paths beneath burdens which a Northern woman could scarcely lift, while Compare Turiddu, very likely, jogged comfortably on his mule by her side.

I Palermo: Alberto Reber, — , pp. The actress is far more of a creator; she brings far more of her own observation, invention, thought, and feeling to her work. The actress has to invent, not only pantomime, but vocalisation; the singer finds her vocalisation invented for her, and even her pantomime is restricted within comparatively narrow conventional limits. As a result, there is more emphasis placed on invention and skill on the part of the actress as opposed to the opera singer.

She is now beginning to draw her audiences into the drama, enabling them to empathize with the lead role, despite the language barrier. Anything that makes this expression more vivid, 34 Ibid. The two performances were clearly different but the way in which the actresses are remembered today sets them even further apart.

Her creation of any given character never seems to vary; it is always a work of genius. And this is what Duse anticipates here: she is so merged within the psyche of Santuzza that she appears as though she has become her character, behaving naturally as though she were Santuzza.

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It is an assumption in which the individuality of the artist is absolutely merged in that of the person represented. Here, at least, no attempt is made to idealise: absolute realism is the keynote of the performance. Santuzza is a supplanted, neglected, jealous, and reckless woman.

Her charm has gone: the fact is known to her and maddens her. She betrays her lover to the husband of his paramour, and, as a result, the lover is slain. Nothing could be more sombre, more tragic. The sub- ject has often been treated in the romantic, picturesque spirit: here the playwright elects to follow Nature closely, and Signora Duse carries out his intentions to the letter. Che brutta parola! Eleonora Duse nel teatro italiano fra i due secoli Rome: Bulzoni, , p.

The disappearance and renunciation of self, along with the amalgamation within the identity of the character, have been reinforced here by many different reviews. Instead, her letters as well as the accounts of her performances described by both her English and Italian contemporaries lead us to believe that her approach to her characters is rooted somewhere deeper.

The Sicilian Subject of the Stage In conclusion, this study has aimed to shed light on the kind of evolution the critical reviews from the cited newspapers and early accounts have undergone. One of the questions posed at the beginning of this investigation was how did Duse interpret this Sicilian character on stage and what has emerged from the contempo- rary reviews is the element of compassion which Duse conveyed in her performances.

Con 55 illustrazioni Florence: R. The Actress in her Time, ed. As well as breaking down language barriers, Duse also seems to have pushed the boundaries distinguishing them from us. After a somewhat hesitant reception at the start of her tour, critics no longer declare that they, the Italian actors, should concen- trate on their own roles, but rather that we, the English public, should actually take a leaf from their book.

They are so absolutely natural that one forgets she is acting: but that, we know, on great authority is the perfection of art. There is no woman on the English stage who can be compared with Signora Duse in intensity of passion and lightness of touch, in both of which she equally excels. Finally, this assessment has shown how, this grande attrice not only managed to challenge barriers and boundaries, but also appears to have broken down the stere- otypes of women in the theatre.

The English audience is clearly looking at Duse and recording their views in newspa- pers, but, at the same time, what also emerges from the later critical reviews is how the English audience is also looking up to this foreign actress — in admiration — no longer as a mere object of the gaze, but more as a kind of Sicilian subject on the London Stage. Acknowledgements I would like to thank Anna Laura Lepschy and Shirley Vinall for their support throughout the writing of this article, Guido Bonsaver for his useful feedback at the later stages of this research, and the peer reviews for their invaluable suggestions.

I am also grateful to the organizers of the Society of Italian Studies Interim Confer- ence, Transnational Italy: National Identity and the World Atlas, which was held at the University of Reading on 13—14 July , where I presented an earlier version of this study. Related Papers.

Verga and Duse: Transposing Silence from 'Il canarino del n.