In the 16th century, high-brow audiences flocked to Venice to experience her latest artistic performances. Curious onlookers also gathered in her outdoor squares and gardens to watch teams of travelling players regularly staged popular Commedia dell’Arte. They improvised overtly stereotypical characters with exaggerated gestures, masks, and costumes.
There was Pantalone, the miserable, old Venetian merchant, always dressed in a red waistcoat and black cloak, who became the ironic victim of every imaginable trick. While, the colourful trickster Arlecchino, performed energetic back flips and commonly outwitted his master.
The actors artfully explored themes around jealousy, old age and age-old love and satirized local scandals and included regional tastes. With creativity surging through her streets, the line between players and audience became difficult to distinguish; Venetians truly lived all aspects of the arts.
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