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Gardiner Museum "Harlequin Romance: Europe's Love Affair with Commedia dell'Arte

Join us on Commedia dell'Arte Day for a special talk by Domenico Pietropaolo, Principal of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, and professor of Italian Literature.

The Commedia dell’Arte was a popular form of drama and powerful tool for social criticism based on the improvisation of dialogue and action. It lasted well over two hundred years, spreading from makeshift stages in public places to the most refined homes and commercial settings of Europe. 

As the political and economic conditions of Europe changed, so did Commedia dell’Arte. It adapted to the new circumstances by reversing the direction of its criticism and by migrating from the stage to the world of the decorative arts. This presentation will trace the main lines of that transition, showing how the stock characters continued to flourish as protagonists of their new domains.

Presented in collaboration with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto; Victoria University, Toronto.




Principal of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto, Domenico Pietropaolo is a professor of Italian Literature and an active scholar. He is a former Chair of the Department of Italian Studies and a former Director of the Graduate Centre for Study of drama. His main research interests are Italian literary history from Dante to the Enlightenment, the Commedia dell’Arte Tradition and the Baroque opera libretto.



On February 25, we're celebrating Commedia dell'Arte Day with a special Gardiner Signature Lecture and a 15% discount* for Gardiner Friends in the Shop on regular priced items, including works inspired by the characters of the Commedia dell'Arte by Thomas Aitken and Kate Hyde