The Hurdy-Gurdy Band will using two of these Fielding Ballad Operas in their presentation: The Adventures of Tom Thumb and The Author's Farce.
ou LA PRISE DE TROYES COMEDIE
En trois Actes & un Prologue
executée pour la premiere fois par
les Pantomimes du grand jeu du Préau
de la Foire de S. Laurent le 25. Juillet 1711
Le prix est de huit sols
Representé par les Sieurs
DOLET & LA PLACE
A la Foire Saint Laurent.
LE 12 SEPTEMBRE M. DCCXI.
These "scripts" we have of these two comedies are in part little more than a sequence of scenes with plot summaries and a chronological list of stage business (lazzi) but which are never the less full of wonderful details of dialogue, songs and their melodies,
Pantelone, Captain Crocodillo, Il Dottore, Scaramouch, Pierrot, Isabella, Fanchon and Columbina: these are the classic characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, whose zany antics have brought audiences to tears of laughter for hundreds of years.
Their antics give English this precious word: zanny: humour that is outrageous, out-of-the-box, anarchistic, and a mirror of our follies. Their joyous energy has moved audiences of both the elegant fetes gallants and market-place stages of centuries past. Their tradition has enriched, and continues to enrich, our view of the world and ourselves.
New and Curiuos School of Dancing (1716) by Gregorio Lambranzi. (More about this on our Music page);
the plays of Carlo Goldoni and Carlo Gozzi, the Memoires of Casanova, the music of Antonio Vivaldi;
The Italian Comedy by Pierre Louis Duchatre and History of Harlequin by Cyril W. Beaumont, and Mel Gordon's study Lazzi, The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte.
Our sources include two plays performed in Paris in 1711:
Arlequin Énee ou La Prise De Troyes Comedie
Scaramouche Pedant, Divertissemente
Farce and Fantasy, Popular Entertainment in Eighteenth Century Paris, by Robert M. Isherwood: this book is incredible! It is our essential and original road map.
The Fables of La Fontaine, A critical Edition of the Eighteenth Century Vocal Settings, by John Metz: this is a fine collection of popular songs, ariettes, vaudevilles and the danses of the Parisian streets, guingettes (dance halls) and Theatre de la Foire. (More about these on our Music page)
The Beggars Opera, by John Gay, the original and best Ballad Opera, is our font of inspirtion, as it has been for all who have tried since it's first production in 1726
We have chosen two of most popular of Henry Fielding's Ballad Operas:
The Author's Farce
(with a Puppet-Show
Called The Pleasures of the Town)
First Acted in the Haymarket in 1729
THE TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES or,
The Life and Death of Tom Thumb
First Acted in the Haymarket in 1731
The British Broadside Ballad and its Music, by Charles M. Simpson. (More about these on our Music page);
There are, of course, many, many other sources that inform and inspire us, to be found both in print and on the web. For those of you interested in such academe, we will share these with you as we discover new ones.
Below are a few of the Twentieth Century's great performers who are direct decendants of the Commedia.
The Hurdy-Gurdy Band has set out on a voyage in quest of the spirit and techniques of this wonderous tradition.
We have worked with both shadow theater and traditional hand puppets for over thirty years.
2010 Outdoor Summer festivals are offered our new hand puppet production with all your favorite Commedia d'all Arte characters!
With, of course 18th Century Theater Music at it's finest!
Shadow Theater is NOT available to 2010 Summer Festivals.
The stories also took advantage of the Shadow Theatre's ease at "Special Effects". 18th Century Londoners, Parisiens, and Venetians fantastic flights of Fancy as much as our audiences of today look to Industrial Light and Magic for their thrills.
Here we see Fielding's Troupe preparing for a show.