Seven Days of Winter Solstice Giveaways-Day 4

As seen in True Colors, the Elder Races have their own winter holiday celebration called the Masque of the Gods, which culminates in the Festival of the Masque on the winter solstice. For the next week, join us in celebrating the Masque with seven days of winter solstice giveaways. Every day you’ll have a chance to enter to win a gift pack that includes one copy of Lord’s Fall, a bookmark, dragon soap made by Thea Harrison, a coupon for 30% off the Elder Race novellas (including True Colors), and a holiday card from Thea. To enter, just comment on the daily posts and then enter your information via the Rafflecopter form (embedded in the post or click on the link). You can get extra entries by signing up for Thea’s newsletter and tweeting about the giveaway.

Once again, thank you all for your interest in Thea’s novels and happy holidays!

The Commedia dell’Arte

The commedia dell’arte flourished in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy and France. While the bauta and moretta were Venice’s most common masks, many masks for the Venetian Carnevale were taken from commedia characters. Basically the commedia was a mixture of what we would today call vaudeville and improvisational comedy. The players in a commedia would use stock characters and situations to comment on contemporary events and politics.

There were tons of characters in the commedia, each with their own personality and costume that usually mocked real-life “types”: aristocrats, doctors, immigrants, merchants, and so forth. Some of the more famous characters you’ve probably heard of were Scaramouche, Pierrot, Pulcinella, Innamorati, and Harlequin.

Some characters “belonged” to certain cities and became the symbol for its citizens. Harlequin spoke the dialect of Bergamo, a town in Lombardy. Venice’s stock character, meanwhile, was Pantalone or Pantaloon. Pantaloon dressed like a foolish old merchant in a red costume, black cape, and red Turkish-style slippers. The Pantalone mask had a hooked nose, and the actor playing him usually hunched his shoulders and always spoke in a Venetian dialect. The word Pantaloon is said to be a combination of pianta lione, “to plant the lion,” referencing the symbol of Venice’s patron saint (of course, no one REALLY knows where the name came from). Pantalone is known for being avaricious, paranoid, patriotic, and obsessed with conquering the world through trade. As Peter Ackroyd writes in Venice: Pure City, “He represents Venice’s uneasy conscience.”

If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because the commedia may have passed in popularity, but its characters did not! Mr. Burns on the Simpsons, for example, is a perfect example of Pantalone carrying on in a modern setting, right down to the hunched shoulders.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the beginnings of opera and the music of Venice. Today let us know what stock character you’d invent for the commedia to represent your own city in the comments!

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48 Responses

  1. myrandaroyann says:

    Ooo! Tough question! I think I’d make a character that was influences by one of the big cats because that’s what the mascots of the local schools are.

  2. Mel says:


  3. Elizabeth H. says:

    Well, I live in a small town in Kansas so the stock character to represent this town would probably be a Redneck. We don’t got nothin’ fancy ’round here. We is refined like that! hehehe

  4. Sabrina says:

    I live in Cheyenne, WY so I am guessing a cowboy πŸ˜‰

  5. Raonaid Luckwell says:

    Mmmm, since I live in west virginia I would create a tree-like character with vibrant red, orange, yellow and combination… Just seems so right!!/RaonaidLuckwell/posts/511408698892667

  6. Linda Thum says:

    i live in a city which is famous for it’s yummy food, my character would be a rotund middle aged lady with double chins.

  7. hilly says:

    Wow, that’s a Tough question! I can’t create a new character, but … I can recognize the costumes from my favorite version of Taming of the Shrew.

    I wish that I could find (online) the PBS-produced introduction to this version of TotS, in which Hal Holbrook explains ‘commedia dell’arte’. Does anyone else recall it?

  8. Viki S. says:

    Wow – this is hard. We live in a suburb of Cleveland that is really in the country so my stock person would be a farmer kind of like Oliver Douglas from GREEN ARCES.

  9. Pam P says:

    Since I’m in CT, I’d go with Mark Twain. Love dancer Gene Kelly, who made a musical called Scaramouche.

  10. Diane says:

    I live in Canada so I’m guessing it would be an RCMP uniform!

  11. Sheryl Nyary says:

    I live is South MS so I guess it would have to do something with old southern charm and the era of antebellum homes since we still have some of those here.

  12. Amber Lovvorn says:

    I live in a little town in Tennessee so I would have say someone that represented a hillbilly. He would definitely have on overalls πŸ˜‰

  13. Jackie Nicholson-Woodland says:

    Seeing as I live in Canada and everyone thinks it does nothing but snow here and we only play hockey
    I would have to say a hockey player. πŸ™‚

  14. wish all thea’s books were in book form not ereaders as i like books so i can go back and read them again and again.

  15. Aly P says:

    We have the only Clock museum in Est and Central Europe so something with clocks… maybe a character that looks like the dude in Beauty and the Beast πŸ˜€

  16. Renate says:

    Oh…let’s see….
    As I live in Hamburg, the city with the largest port in Germany and the famous “Speicherstadt”, I’d most likely be a merchant trading with spices. Yup, I think I’D like that πŸ™‚

  17. Kristina Parmenter says:

    I live in a town who’s Big manufacturer is cars so i would have to say that I would create a character based on a factory worker…

  18. bn100 says:

    some kind of farmer

  19. I live in Italy,so I guess… a dark-haired guy cooking pasta

  20. Danielle E says:

    I guess here it would have to be something based on a bear as we have plenty of those coming out of the mountains.

  21. Joanne B says:

    I live in the Midwest in the middle of corn country, so I’d have to say maybe a farmer or a scarecrow.

  22. Marianne says:

    I live on the ocean in Virginia Beach, so something with a dolphin.

  23. Hmm, I’m in San Jose so it would have to be a nerdy character to represent Silicon Valley.

  24. Gonza says:

    As an Italian that grow up in Rome, even if now I live in Berlin, I’d have a big fat old man that I’d call Berlusoni that trys to have his way with all the women….obvioulsy much more younger than him…

  25. Chelsea B. says:

    Something wearing camo and drinking sweet tea… maybe an elephant πŸ˜‰

  26. robin priddy says:

    Since I live in Ky it would have to be a wildcat. I bleed blue. Go Cats!!!

  27. Cinzia says:

    I live in Italy, Umbria, I think about someone Who believe we are actually in the middle age, about women and Who don’t understand we are in 2012

  28. DBReynolds says:

    Ooooh, there are so many morons who are politicians, it would have to be a clown.

  29. Samantha R says:

    I would have a character called Morningside, dressed in a very posh-looking thigh-length fur coat (and little else), little button-up granny boots, and a large 1940’s style handbag with books and theatre programmes poking out the top of it….

    That’s very precise – and maybe not the most flattering picture – but probably quite recognisable… At least locally!


  30. Elizabeth Z says:

    A soccer mom! She’d have a cell phone with oversized texting keyboard attached to her, yoga pants, hair pulled back, and a baby on her hip with a huge bag filled with all ages of kid stuff from diapers to a soccer ball, plus a copy of Lord’s Fall peeking out from amidst the debris.

  31. Alaina says:

    something that can handle the cold.. a farmer polar bear type thing maybe??

  32. Katrina says:

    I think my character would need to have a rainbow costume since I live in the Bay Area. Plus I just love rainbows. πŸ™‚

  33. L. Blanchard says:

    Well, I live in Sacramento, the capital of the great state of California. We also used to be known as a bit of a cowtown, to the point where fans of the sacramento Kings used to ring cowbells, so I could go for total satirical parody and have a politician ringing a cowbell.

  34. Yami says:

    I live in Texas, near Houston. The highschool’s mascot is a tiger, but my own highschool was a black panther. I’d tend to go for a character based around the black panther. I’ve always loved the animal cause it looks sleek and majestic.

  35. Jennifer T says:

    Since I grew up in a southern town called Hickory, I think the character would be a hick.

  36. Sandy D. says:

    Since I live in Ohio I would say a Buckeye!

  37. Sandy Dillon says:

    Since I live in Ohio I would say a buckeye!

  38. Keslynn says:

    My character would be someone dressed half and half – half city and half country because that’s how my state is but particularly my town. It’s suburbia with aspirations for more.

    I think I would call the character Identity Crisis.

  39. Timitra says:

    My stock character would be the absent-minded professor!

  40. JenM says:

    I live in an area where a lot of illegal weed is grown, so I’m thinking a pothead would be an appropriate symbol.

  41. donnas says:

    Being on the river in the Midwest I would say some sort of river character, like a steamboat captain. Lots of blues and greens.

  42. Chris B says:

    We have a wonderful mix of cultures here – Italian, Mexican, German, Serbian – I can see a wonderful serenading character like Fiddler on the Roof

  43. Hannah says:

    I’d say I’d have to have twin brothers for my country. Twin brothers, identical in every respect who simply listen to different music and viciously hate each other every time music is brought up, fighting and angry, forgetting how similar they are.
    It’s a happy country I’m from!

  44. Julie says:

    A surfer bro. Because that would add some hilarity!

  45. J.A. Garland says:

    I’m going with a sea otter because the surfer was already taken!

  46. SharonS says:

    A redneck. Slow talking gun toting beer drinking pot belly guy

  47. Sabine W. says:

    I would take a bear because they are included in the blazon of Saxony Anhalt (the state where I live in).

  48. Michelle K says:

    Wow I had no idea about Mr Burns! My town’s character would have to be a redneck caricature