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The commedia dell'arte, the improvised Italian theatre that dominated the European stage from 1550 to 1750, is arguably the most famous theatre tradition to emerge from Europe in the early modern period. Its celebrated masks have come to symbolize theatre itself and have become part of the European cultural imagination. Over the past twenty years a revolution in commedia dell'arte scholarship has taken place, generated mainly by a number of distinguished Italian scholars. Their work, in which they have radically separated out the myth from the history of the phenomenon remains, however, largely untranslated into English (or any other language). The present volume gathers together these Italian and English-speaking scholars to synthesize for the first time this research for both specialist and non-specialist readers. The book is structured around key topics that span both the early modern period and the twentieth-century reinvention of the commedia dell'arte.
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