Sunday January 5th at 5 PM (Epiphany Eve in Italy)
Theater for the New City, Johnson Theatre
155 First Avenue (between 9th & 10th Street)
Tickets: $25 Reservations: 212-254-1109 or www.theaterforthenewcity.com
BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND!
Celebrate the Epiphany, the Coming of the Light, in Southern Italian Style with I Giullari di Piazza's
'LA CANTATA DEI PASTORI' (The Shepherd's Cantata)
Based on the Traditional Southern Italian Play by Andrea Perrucci in the 17th century and still performed annually in the environs of Naples.
The musical version has been adapted and directed by Alessandra Belloni and enacted by masked commedia dell'arte characters, puppets, devils, and the Archangel Gabriel on stilts. Narrated in English by La Befana - the Good Witch of Christmas; music composed and directed by John La Barbera.
"A musical play presented by the traditional Italian group I Giullari di Piazza (is) a rarity among Christmas programs; it somehow manages to be both riotously entertaining and curiously haunting, even profound… a vibrant and uproarious performance." --Alex Ross, The New York Times
The music, directed by John La Barbera, is folkish, aiming for vitality above precision and often achieving both. The adaptation, by the troupe's director, Alessandra Belloni, is geared for action rather than quiet piety; in a climactic battle, Miss Belloni as Maria beat a large drum and sang out while the Angel Gabriel took on the dragon. Giuseppe de Falco as Razzullo (and Vincenzo Corrao as the birdlike Sarchiapone) shared slapstick duties. --Jon Pareles, The New York Times
Alessandra Belloni - as Mary, mezzo-soprano, percussion
John La Barbera - music director, classical and renaissance folk guitar, mandolin
Giuseppe De Falco - Neapolitan singer/actor as the commedia dell'arte character Razzullo
Max McGuire - La Befana
Mark Mindek - stilt dancer as Archangel Gabriel
Joe Deninzon - violinist as the Devil
Susan Eberenz - flute, piccolo, recorders
Enrico Granafei - as a devil and a fisherman
James Karcher - sword fighter, principle devil
Francesca Silvano - dancer, shepherdess, devil
Peter DiGeronimo - shepherd, devil
Sebastian La Barbera - young devil fiddler and special children's participation as shepherds and angels.
I GIULLARI DI PIAZZA, renowned 33-year old Southern Italian music/theater/dance company, will present their traditional Southern Italian "La Cantata dei Pastori," (The Shepherd's Cantata) a musical holiday delight for people of all ages, Sunday January 5th at 5 PM, at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue.
Join La Befana, the Good Witch of Christmas, Mary and Joseph, the Archangel Gabriel, Devils, Demons, and the commedia dell'arte characters who enact this beloved story of the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the triumph of good over evil.
The music - tarantellas, villanellas and pastorales - comes from traditional sources, with original music by John La Barbera. Adaptation and direction are by Alessandra Belloni. Songs are sung in Italian; costuming and music instrumentation is traditional Southern Italian; narration is in English. The play ends with a singing by the Company of the oldest known Neapolitan Christmas song.
The play is set during Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem, during which the Devil has dispatched demons to stop the birth of Jesus. Along the way, the holy couple's escapades are entwined with the hapless commedia dell'arte character called Razzullo, a comic mischievous Neapolitan scribe who is always hungry and looking for something to eat. The demons, in the meanwhile, conjure up tempests, dragons, and do all they can to stop the birth, but all are under the protection of the Archangel Gabriel (played here, in traditional style, by Mark Mindek, well known stilt dancer who has appeared in Metropolitan Opera productions, Disney Films and special events around the world.). The holy couple experiences funny, outrageous, and dangerous adventures before they finally reach Bethlehem and Good triumphs over Evil!
"La Cantata dei Pastori" is still performed annual during the Christmas season in the environs of Naples. Written by Andrea Perrucci during the height of commedia dell'arte popularity in Italy, it combines commedia characteristics with those of the Italian medieval sacra rappresentazione. These elements are fused in settings which borrow from a third genre, the Italian pastoral drama.
The play's author, Andrea Perrucci, used the pseudonym of Dt. Casimiro Ruggiero Ugone when he wrote "La Cantata dei Pastori." This Sicilian-born but Neapolitan-bred poet and dramatist, who had a reputation in Naples as a stage director, was educated by the Jesuits and received a doctorate in letters.
Alessandra Belloni’s links to TV appearances:
Alessandra Belloni Live Appearance on ABC-TV7 Chicago http://youtu.be/3J9ZlzKLzPw
Alessandra Belloni featured on CNN Worldbeat http://youtu.be/IkOqBrpcB9Q
Alessandra Belloni "Spider Sex documentary " on National Geographic http://youtu.be/vp8dE3jJnq0
" In this age of high tech special effects and over the top theatrics it was refreshing to see a performance reminiscent of traditional Opera Buffa. One gets the feeling of witnessing a show performed the same way it has been for centuries in Campania. The performers' passion and talent, not technology, breathe life into the story to create a wonderful illusion." --Magna Grece (Journal for people of Southern-Italian descent)