Tommaso Salvini 1860: Fortinbras come Garibaldi al Teatro dei Fiorentini di Napoli

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Abstract

Garibaldi landed in Marsala on 11 May 1860. In July of the same year, the Thousand were still fighting in Sicily with the aim of reaching Calabria, where they would have arrived on 1 August, and from there marched to Naples. And on the very evening of 14 July, on the stage of Florentines theatre in Naples, the leading actor Tommaso Salvini (1829-1915) presented a mutilated Hamlet, deprived above all of the most introspective and sentimental scenes, whose interpretation is still preserved in his prompt-book of Hamlet. The declamatory symbols marked by Salvini are still readable in the prompt-book of his 1860 interpretation that is now housed at the Museo Biblioteca dell’Attore, in Genoa. Undoubtedly it may be considered an emblem of his dramatic mannerism as well as an icon of the Risorgimento. Inasmuch as, Salvini enhanced the scenes that evoked contemporary political and social conflicts, and put into evidence every single line that reminded him of the imminent new political order in the Italian Peninsula. Salvini adhered the apprehension of the young Danish prince to the anxiety of the Neapolitan audience in the crucial months of Cavour's military campaign for the unification of Italy. He adapted Giulio Carcano (1812-1884)’s Italian translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet to the rules of Italian declamatory method known as drammatica-metodo italiano . He was trained by the actor Gustavo Modena (1803-1861) to drammatica, And Modena was the one who also shaped his passionate patriotic ardor. Having followed in Modena’s footsteps, Salvini had taken part in the civil resistance in the First Italian War of Independence by acting on stage after a fierce attack or a necessary retreat to the barricades. But between 1846 and 1853 , in particular when he worked with Luigi Domeniconi (1786-1867)’s repertory company, he started changing his ideas about the social goals of theatre, and testing how the epic drama could embody his present times. Gradually, his political opposition took place entirely on stage, highlighting the civil and historical co-responsibility in actor's work. By so doing, he matured the belief that his civil struggle should have revealed on stage through dramatic forms of mannerism that combined history and stories in an assemblage of facts and contexts which should be coincident and divergent at the same time. Thus, he consciously commenced his fight for the unification of Italy on stage and no longer on barricades. The news of Garibaldi's unstoppable advance had reached Naples too. On 15 May he had won the battle of Calatafimi, and began his offensive for the conquest of Palermo. The Thousand reached Palermo on 26 May, defeated the Bourbon troops at the Admiral's bridge, managing to go through the Porta Termini the next day and break into the Royal Palace. And so, on 14 July, Salvini showed the story of the young prince of Denmark, cleansed of the most personal parts, giving the role of Hamlet a virile aura. Since the beginning of the play, Salvini’s Hamlet flaunts his resolve to avenge the death of his father, not so much to claim the throne usurped from him by his uncle but to free Denmark from the usurper. Given that private revenge assumes a political significance, in some ways the play reflects the contemporary political tensions of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Salvini's Hamlet does not seek only his own revenge: on the stage of the Florentines the actor embodied the traits of the tragic hero.
Original languageItalian
Title of host publicationSkakespearean Characters Transposed. Iconography, Adaptations, Cultural Exchanges and Staging
Pages171-184
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameL’IMMAGINARIO TEATRALE

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