On the 6th day… We rested .

November 11, 2015

Welcome to Naples!

For our day off we were treated to a day-trip to the famous Italian city of Naples. Located in southern Italy, Naples is a major port city in the centre of the ancient Mediterranean region. Its origins go back to its foundation as Parthenope or Palaepolis in the 9th century B.C., subsequently re-established as Neapolis (New City) in 470 B.C. It is therefore one of the most ancient cities in Europe, whose current urban fabric preserves a selection of outstanding elements of its long and eventful history, as expressed in its street pattern, wealth of historic buildings and parks, the continuation of many of its urban and social traditions, its wonderful setting on the Bay of Naples and the continuity of its historical stratification.
Naples was among the foremost cities of Magna Graecia, playing a key role in the integration of Greek culture to Roman society. It eventually became a major cultural centre in the Roman Republic, civitas foederata. Sections of the Greek town walls excavated since World War II and the excavated remains of a Roman theatre, cemeteries and catacombs testify to this history.

In the 6th century A.D., Naples was conquered by the Byzantine Empire, becoming an autonomous Duchy, later associated with the Normans, Swabians, and the Sicilian reign. Evidence of this period includes the churches of San Gennaro extra moenia, San Giorgio Maggiore, and San Giovanni Maggiore which is featured in our show Death for Five Voices– with surviving elements of 4th and 5th century architecture.
With the Angevin dynasty (1265-1442), Naples became the living symbol of the prestige, dignity, and power of the dynasty. The city expanded to include suburbs and neighbouring villages. The Angevin also initiated an influential relationship with Western art and architecture, particularly French Gothic, integrated with the earlier Greek and Arab elements. The convents of Santa Chiara and San Lorenzo Maggiore and the churches of Donna Regina and I’lncoronata, San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Domenico Maggiore and the new Cathedral across from San Severo where Carlo Gesualdo made his Napoli home, date from this period.
As we skip ahead to 1734, under the government of the Bourbons, Naples emerged, together with Paris and London, as one of the major capital cities of Europe.

The architectural heritage of Naples from this period was widely influential, and is expressed particularly in the interior design of the royal palaces and associated noble residences that were part of the territorial system extending far beyond the city itself. Important palaces of the 18th century include the large palace Albergo dei Poveri, the National Archaeological Museum -which you will see below, the Certosa of Suor Orsola Benincasa on the hill of San Martino, and the Villa Pignatelli. These remarkable buildings are in constant states of repair and disrepair. There is this magical feeling that the whole city is constantly melting and being glued back together– but you will see the real glue of this city is tradition, art, religion and of course; Food.

Below is the most important cathedral in Naples, the Duomo di Napoli.

Here Jaime poses with his character, Alfonso– who is buried in this very crypt behind them.

Alfonso’s tomb. It is fascinating to be able to visit the people we portray! Though a few are lost to history, the major players are accounted for and certainly preserved for the duration of the city.
  

Light was so important to the cathedrals of Naples. It was capable of evoking the fantastic celestial experience needed to draw people to the wonder of religion. You walk into these buildings and feel like you understand what heaven can be- art, music, and a sense of peace wash over you as the light pours through the leaded windows allows the landscape of naples to be framed like the art housed in these massive properties.

But Naples isn’t all politics and religion. There is also a very cheerful tradition of craft. Specifically wood working. Below is a master puppeteers shop showcasing some of the finest example of traditional marionettes. You may recognize one of them…
  

And check out this little guy in the mask above! Pulcinella, often called Punch or Punchinello in English, Polichinelle in French, originated in the commedia dell’arte of the 17th century and became a stock character in Neapolitan puppetry.
A plausible theory derives his name from the diminutive of Italian pulcino (chick), on account of his long beaklike nose, as theorized by music historian Francesco Saverio Quadrio, or due to the squeaky nasal voice and “timorous impotence” in its demeanor. You can hear men walking around Naples in these masks making bird like noises.

According to another version, Pulcinella derived from the name of Puccio d’Aniello, a peasant of Acerra, who was portrayed in a famous picture attributed to Annibale Carracci, and indeed characterized by a long nose. It has also been suggested that the figure is a caricature of a sufferer of acromegaly. (eek)
Always dressed in white with a black mask (hence conciliating the opposites of life and death), he stands out thanks to his peculiar voice, whose sharp and vibrant qualities produced with a tool called a swazzle.  Pulcinella often carries around macaroni and a wooden spoon. Much like me during a long tech process.

According to Pierre-Louis Duchartre, his traditional temperament is to be mean, vicious, and crafty and his main mode of defense is to pretend to be too stupid to know what’s going on.

Also, like me during a long tech process…..kidding..kidding…
Many regional variants of Pulcinella were developed as the character diffused across Europe. In Germany, Pulcinella came to be known as Kasper. In the Netherlands he is known as Jan Klaassen. In Denmark he is Mester Jakel. Russian composer Igor Stravinsky composed two different ballets entitled Pulcinella and Petrushka, inspired by him. Stravinsky seems to be quite the fan of Carlo Gesualdo as well– as he visited the Castello Gesualdo to see where one of his major compositional influences lived.  This little masked man may be most familiar to you as PUNCH- from Punch and Judy– Celebrated comic characters from the United Kingdom.

Oh– and those little peppers? Or… red ghosty tails?… Well… those.. umm.. they used to be umm.- ahem… Phallic luck charms. But the Catholic church made them lose the.. uh…spherical bits. So now they are peppers and they bring you great luck! Hurray!

Below is San Severo- the home of Carlo Gesualdo on San Maggiore Square. This palace is also where the murders of Donna Maria D’Avalos and Fabrizio Caraffa were committed. Though it is now apartments- we were able to enter the courtyard and take a few photos of the main entrance.

This is San Maggiore square- where Pietro and Carlo waited by the church for Fabrizzio to enter San Severo and visit the wife of Carlo Gesualdo-ultimately sealing his fate.

The church at San Maggiore. 

Inside this church there is a beautiful painting that has a portrait of Maria D’avalos. She is the gentle lady reading a book on the right.

Spoiler alert: Unfortunately for the lovers– their love was not to last.

Maria D’Avalos and Fabrizio Carafa met at a dance– Carafa, not inclined to marital fidelity, took quickly to the beautiful Maria and soon, after a few “casual” meetings at parties, the relationship between the two began to turn into a bit more…. They then arranged for a secret meeting–It isn’t brilliant by any means, but apparently worked out ok? (kidding?) Maria feigned an illness while walking in on Chiaia street, where she just HAPPENED to find a welcoming friends house… that just HAPPENED to have Fabrizio waiting inside. (Nice work, Maria). Romantic things ensued.. etc.

This was followed by other meetings, and passion and love took over the initial caution of the two lovers. Whoops.

Now their love story was pretty well known to the citizens of Naples—subtle allusions in the noble salons were made and gossip spread the flames of their liaisons straight back to Carlo.
These meetings were increasingly bold and occurred even in the Palace of the Gesualdo Family. Carlo- being deeply in love with his wife, did not want to believe what was being reported.

However he concocted a ruse to see if what was said was true. He pretended to organize a hunting party to Astroni — he told Maria that the hunting party would spend the night at an inn near the forest of Astroni– which was quite far from San Severo.
That afternoon they set off for the hunt, but instead of going in the resort of Astroni, Carlo and Pietro hid in a friend’s house, near Palazzo San Severo.

Meanwhile, with the help of her maid Sylvia– Maria received her lover in his room, Sylvia was to stand guard in the next room.. but whoops– Sylvia fell asleep.

Carlo Gesualdo headed to the palace around midnight. Before entering he met Pietro ‘Bardotti’ Marzialle- who had already been put on notice by the Prince; they arrived armed with a blunderbuss and halberd– and entered the building without being heard— directly going to the room of Maria D’Avalos who was surprised to be found together in bed with Fabrizio Carafa.

The Prince, blinded by jealousy, shot his wife’s lover who was overwhelmed by Pietro’s strikes with a large pike. Then he killed his wife with a dagger and halberd. Well, not just killed.. but horrifically stabbed over and over… and over.
Soon after they began looking for Sylvia to get rid of any witnesses, but she was hidden under the bed of the little son of the Prince, Emanule. Pietro concerned about the child waking to the scene of horror advised they not search too thoroughly— partly because he harbored some sympathy for Sylvia.

The morning after the Vice Regal Prosecutor arrived for an investigation of the scene, where the Prince explained his return as not premeditated, but due to a mishap while hunting, and thus the crime was listed as honor killing. So the V.R.P decided against starting legal proceedings against the Prince.

In the days following — Carlo displayed the naked bodies of the two lovers on the staircase to  the palace, where the public could see the consequences of messing with a Prince.
Carlo Gesualdo, fearful of the revenge of Giulio Carafa, nephew to Fabrizio Carafa, took refuge in his castle at Gesualdo, near Avellino– where we will perform Death for Five Voices! A musical based on this hideously fascinating story. Cool, huh? Oh.. and check this out– Kat West and Jaime Valles eatin some fish! Yep. Flipped that one over, eh?

For lunch–We went to one of the most famous pizzerias in Naples, where we devoured their famous thin crust pizzas.  Om nom.
  

Then it was off to the Museum of archaeology. I couldn’t resist creating a little art while I was there….

You practically had to drag us away!

Butt…. it was eventually time to go! (ba dum ching)

Naples– you are awesome. We are better for having met you! And our show will benefit for all that we learned, and experienced! Hope to see you again soon!

Check back with us tomorrow to see if we managed to get all the way through the show! Fingers crossed we will be blocked and ready for a full run by Friday! This time is flying by!!! Stick with me as we head into dress rehearsals and to learn more about our time in Italy!

Till soon,

-Ryan

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