‘Il gran duello di Orlando e Rinaldo per amore della bella Angelica‘, narrated by Mimmo Cuticchio, master in the art of the Teatro dei Pupi Siciliani (Sicilian puppet theatre) and of the cuntu (oral tale), will be presented for the first time in Australia at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre, 1 Powerhouse Road (entry via Shepherd Street) in Sydney on Sunday 23 October at 11am and 5pm (bookings here). The show, the great duel between Orlando and Rinaldo to win Angelica’s heart, is an example of modification of the narrative structure of the Opra de’ Pupi, born out of the need to adapt the performance to a new audience. The language of the show is condensed in order to give more prominence to the staging quality than to a thorough development of the traditional story. Plot: Paris is about to be besieged just as several Paladins have left Charlemagne’s court to go and look for Angelica, whom they have all fallen in love with. Even Orlando, who is the captain-general and the bravest paladin, has left the court. So Charlemagne has no other option but to entrust Rinaldo with the leadership of the French army. Countless battles, escapes, clashes with fantastic creatures ensue. Rinaldo also ends up neglecting his duties and, having fallen in love himself with Angelica, tries to snatch her from Orlando. The two paladins challenge each other to a duel, and they would have certainly killed each other were it not for the wizard Malagigi’s intervention.
Mimmo Cuticchio is the direct heir of an age-old form of popular (street) theatre, the Teatro dell’Opera dei pupi siciliani (Sicilian puppet theatre), handed down to him by his father Giacomo. It is to Mimmo that we owe the revival of this type of theatre, which a decline in the 1950s and 1960s, had been mostly relegated to the realm of folklore. In 1973 Cuticchio opened the Teatro dei Pupi Santa Rosalia in Palermo, and in 1977 he founded the Associazione Figli d’Arte Cuticchio, with the intention of safeguarding and handing down the artistic tradition of the Opera dei Pupi. In 2015 his collection of Sicilian pupi which includes 19th and 20th century marionettes was purchased by the Fondazione Sicilia and is now on show at the Palazzo Branciforte in Palermo. In 2001 UNESCO added the Opera dei Pupi to its list of Proclaimed Masterpieces and in 2008 it inscribed it on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Mimmo Cuticchio is not only a cuntista and puparo (storyteller and puppeteer) but also an actor and theatre director. He appeared in the film The Godfather Part III, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and in 100 Days in Palermo, directed by Giuseppe Ferrara, in which Mimmo was both author and narrator of the final monologue. He also appeared in the documentary Prove per una tragedia siciliana by John Turturro and in Terraferma directed by Emanuele Crialese.
THE SHOWS, PRESENTED BY THE ITALIAN CULTURAL INSTITUTE OF SYDNEY, WILL TAKE PLACE AT 11:00 am & AT 5:00 pm
Tickets (bookable here):
Concessions, children and IIC members (upon presentation of the IIC card):$10
Family of 4: $40
Family of 5: $45