The commedia dell’arte, the ‘improvised’ Italian theatre that dominated the European stage from 1550 to 1750, is arguably the most famous theatre tradition to emerge from Europe in the early modern period. Its celebrated masks have come to symbolise theatre itself and have become part of the European cultural imagination. Over the past twenty years a revolution in commedia dell’arte scholarship has taken place. The research is structured around key topics that span both the early modern period and the twentieth- century reinvention of the commedia dell’arte. The influence of the commedia dell’arte goes well beyond the borders of the theatrical world and finds its way into literature, music and opera, classical ballet and dance, cinema and the visual arts.
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