Saturday, February 25, 2017

Born Today February 25: Carlo Goldoni


Italian dramatist and librettist Carlo Osvaldo Goldoni was born on this day in the independent republic of Venice.  Through in his own biographical writing, he claimed that he was introduced to the theater by his grandfather; the grandfather in question actually died four years before his birth.  Goldoni's father was an apothecary.  Where ever his interest in the theater came from, it manifested itself at a very early age. Despite his parents attempts to dissuade the interest, Goldoni would only have puppets as toys and would only read plays.  His earliest education came when his father placed him under the tutelage of philosopher Caldini, but Goldoni soon ran away with a group of traveling players.  In 1723, he father had him placed in the Collegio Ghislieri in Pavia, a strict monastic school, this nonetheless gave him access to Greek and Latin plays.  While there, he began to write.  He was eventually expelled from the school for penning a poem ridiculing daughters of prominent Pavian families--the poem was considered libelous.  He then went on to study law, and eventually took a degree from the University of Modena.  After this, he did indeed, spend several years in the sole practice of law; but a summons from Venice saw him abruptly change careers to that of a playwright.  He supplemented his income by managing theaters.  He would go on to write some of Italy's most famous and beloved plays; most of them tinged with wit and stark honesty.  He wrote in both Italian and French, but also sprinkled a good deal of the Venetian language throughout his works.  After 1734, he also began to pen librettos for Italian opera.  In film terms, the first use of his writing for a scenario came in 1911, with the short Miranda, a French/Danish production.  The following year, the first film of his work in his native Italy came with another short, La locandiera.  The last film of his work made in the silent era came in 1929, with a full length treatment of that same play--again an Italian production. The first sound film produced from his work was also based on that play and came in 1944 (yet another Italian production).  The most recent film using his work for a screenplay came in 2011, with the Swedish Två herrars tjänare.  His works have been translated in many languages and have graced at great number of stages in great theaters.  Successful Broadway runs of his work have been staged. By the late 1750's he had gotten into a serious dispute with fellow Italian playwright Carlo Gozzi; disgusted with the whole situation, and with Gozzi's work supplanting his as "Italian theater," he moved to France, where he would spend the rest of his life.  Goldoni died on the 6th February in 1793 in Paris, just before his 86th birthday.  Details of his burial are unknown.  

Honorary statue to Goldoni in his native Venice

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