The Rise of Commedia dell’Arte in Italy

A historical perspective

Authored by: Kate Meehan

The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell’Arte

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  November  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415745062
eBook ISBN: 9781315750842
Adobe ISBN: 9781317613374


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The birth of the phenomena known as Commedia dell’Arte was in the vanguard of the rebirth of professional theatre in Europe and owes a great deal to the restoration of urban societies and the development of a class of people with some measure of disposable income. The preceding centuries, commonly known as the medieval period, sowed the seeds for its birth and ensured that a performance style similar to Commedia dell’Arte was a cultural inevitability. From the rise and fall of the Roman Empire to the similar fate of the Venetian Republic, this urban revival went through several phases, each contributing to the tropes employed in Commedia dell’Arte.

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