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Commedia dell'Arte
Part 3: Costumes, Masks, Music
 More of this Feature
• History, Influence, Props
• Stock Characters
• Study Guide
 
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• Italian Culture/Traditions
 
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• Venice Carnevale
 
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• History of Commedia dell'Arte
• La Commedia dell'Arte
 
 

Arlecchina: Commedia dell'Arte Stock Character Costumes
The audience was able to pick up from each character's dress the type of person he was representing. For elaboration, loose–fitting garments alternated with very tight, and jarring color contrasts opposed monochrome outfits. Except for the inamorato, males would identify themselves with character-specific costumes and half masks. The zanni (precursor to clown) Arlecchino, for example, would be immediately recognizable because of his black mask and patchwork costume.

While the inamorato and the female characters wore neither masks nor costumes unique to that personage, certain information could still be derived from their clothing. Audiences knew what members of the various social classes typically wore, and also expected certain colors to represent certain emotional states. Regardless of where they toured, commedia dell'arte conventions were recognized and adhered to.

Masks
All the fixed character types, the figures of fun or satire, wore colored leather masks. Their opposites, usually pairs of young lovers around whom the stories revolved, had no need for such devices. Today in Italy handcrafted theater masks are still created in the ancient tradition of carnacialesca.

Music
The inclusion of music and dance into commedia performance required that all actors have these skills. Frequently at the end of a piece even the audience joined into the merry–making.

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