You Must have Heard of Harlequin…

Authored by: Michele Bottini , Samuel Angus McGehee , Michael J. Grady

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

10.4324/9781315750842.ch5

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Abstract

One of the most important characters coming out of the Renaissance Commedia dell’Arte was the servant Arlecchino, known in France as Harlequino, and in Great Britain as Harlequin. Coming from the lower valley of the hill town of Bergamo in northern Italy, this zanni was a second level servant who evolved from a clumsy, rather stupid prankster into a spry, mischievous, clever, ever-popular and muchloved character. Written into plays, opera, dance, and the visual arts, the Arlecchino/ Harlequin character came to symbolize the essence of Commedia dell’Arte. This chapter will look at how this character has evolved over the centuries and why he is so popular.

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