commedia dell'arte

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com·me·dia dell'ar·te

 (kə-mā′dē-ə dĕl-är′tē, -tĕ, -mĕd′ē-ə)
A type of comedy developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries and characterized by improvisation from a standard plot outline and the use of stock characters, often in traditional masks and costumes.

[Italian : commedia, comedy + dell'arte, of the guild, professional (from arte, art, craft, guild).]

commedia dell'arte

(Italian kɔmˈmeːdia delˈlarte)
(Theatre) a form of popular comedy developed in Italy during the 16th to 18th centuries, with stock characters such as Punchinello, Harlequin, and Columbine, in situations improvised from a plot outline
[Italian, literally: comedy of art]

com•me•dia dell'ar•te

(kəˈmeɪ di ə dɛlˈɑr ti, -ˈɑr teɪ)

Italian popular comedy of the 16th through 18th centuries, in which masked actors improvised from plot outlines based on stock characters.
[1875–80; < Italian: literally, comedy of art]

commedia dell'arte

Italian comedy characterized by the use of improvisation and masks.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.commedia dell'arte - Italian comedy of the 16th to 18th centuries improvised from standardized situations and stock characters
comedy - light and humorous drama with a happy ending
References in periodicals archive ?
They include Willmore, the Rover - what you might call a soldier of fortune, with the style, seductive values and alley-cat morals of a commedia del'arte travelling player (Joseph Millson, who frequently left the house and this reviewer reaching for their inhalers with the gloriously dotty lunacies of Behn's plot played to the hilt) accompanied by the slightly more square, but equally over-sexed, equally swaggering Colonel Belville (Patrick Robinson in a delicious interpretation) along with camp follower, a charming wimp, Blunt (Leander Deeny) liable to fall for any con going, and a man who seemingly cannot tell the difference between a tart and a virgin).
Although the original was written more than 350 years ago, this adaptation by playwright Stewart Howson - which will be performed in a style with its roots in Commedia del'Arte - proves that Moliere's drama of concealed identities and thwarted lovers is just as funny and relevant in the modern-day.
The origins of some of its traditional characters can be traced back to the Italian commedia del'arte and it was the Victorians who really fell in love with the style and gave it a true lease of life.