TITLE: Commedia dell’Arte Pantalone
TYPE: face mask
DESCRIPTION: Don Pantalone Commedia mask
MAKER: Alan G. Newman (London, England, 1951- )
CEREMONY: Commedia dell’Arte; Carnival
AGE: 2012
OTHER MATERIALS: pigment; goat hair; elastic strap

The Commedia dell’Arte was a form of public entertainment that succeeded the classical Roman theater in Italy.  Like classical theater, Commedia performers wore leather masks to represent stock characters and often performed in amphitheaters to large audiences.  However, the Commedia differed in having only a very basic plot sketch, with most of the lines invented extemporaneously by the actors.  The Commedia‘s ability to stay topical and its frequent resort to vulgar humor, combined with the considerable talent of Italian troupes that traveled throughout Europe, made this form of theater extremely popular throughout the early 17th to late 19th centuries. Masked actors had to compensate for their inability to convey facial emotion through posture, gesture, and vocal nuance.

Don Pantalone was long among the most popular stock characters of the Commedia. Pantalone is a money-grubbing business man, now old and retired, and apt to fall absurdly in love with young women.

This specific Pantalone comes from classically trained mask maker Alan G. Newman.

To learn more about Commedia dell’Arte, see Pierre Louis Duchartre, The Italian Comedy (Dover Pubs., 1966).