This month we’re celebrating the life of the great Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni, who died on 6th February in 1793, and whose works include some of Italy’s best-loved plays – such as Servant of Two Masters, which was recently adapted for the National Theatre as One Man, Two Guvnors.
Over the course of his long career, Goldoni dramatically reformed Italian theatre, moving it away from the clichés of the Commedia dell’arte tradition and turning it into a medium for sharp political observation and light-hearted social subversion of everyday life. His plays are still performed around the world today, and there’s plenty of material to choose from; in one year alone he wrote sixteen three-act comedies, and between 1734 to 1776, he wrote 250 plays. Here are a few spots in town to pay homage to his remarkable output and legacy:
Carlo Goldoni’s House: Situated near Campo San Tomà, this beautiful Gothic palazzo was home to the Goldoni family around the turn of the 18th century, and it was here that Goldoni was born on 25th February 1707. Today the palazzo houses a charming museum dedicated to Goldoni’s life, with highlights including a collection of first editions of his plays, a display of eighteenth century marionettes and a delightful miniature puppet theatre.
Goldoni Theatre: Founded in 1622 and rebuilt in the 1720s, the Goldoni Theatre is the oldest extant theatre in Venice. Originally named Teatro Vendramin or Teatro San Luca, it was renamed Teatro Goldoni in 1875 in honour of the famous playright who worked there for a number of years under the patronage of the Vendramin family. The theatre remained in the hands of Vendramin descendants until 1957, when it was dispossessed having fallen into disrepair during WW2. After a lengthy restoration, it reopened in 1979 with a performance of Goldoni’s La Locandiera, and it continues to host first-rate productions of plays, concerts, ballets and other events organized by the Teatro Stabile del Veneto “Carlo Goldoni.” Keep an eye on the website for the upcoming programme.
Statue of Carlo Goldoni, Campo San Bartolomeo: In the centre of Campo San Bartolomeo, just a stone’s throw from the Rialto Bridge, you’ll find a splendid bronze statue of Goldoni himself, created in 1883 by the sculptor A. Dal Zotto. Once you’ve admired his jovial swagger, head to Piazza San Marco and lose yourself in the Carnival crowds – many of whose costumes hark back to the era of Goldoni’s Venice.