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  • Writer's pictureThe Sicilian Wanderer

The Puppet Theater: a journey through the traditions of Sicily


Puppet Theater

Dear readers, today we talk about something special in Sicily. There is a very particular puppet theater called Opera dei Pupi. It firmly established itself in Southern Italy, especially in Sicily, between the second half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Sicilian puppets stand out from others for their particular maneuvering mechanics and for the repertoire, composed almost entirely of chivalric narratives largely derived from novels and poems of the Carolingian cycle.


Initially, in the 18th century, the puppets were animated from above through a thin metal rod connected to the head by a joint, and through various threads, which allowed the movements of the arms and legs. But then, in Sicily, in the first half of the 19th century, a brilliant craftsman, whose name we do not know, invented effective technical devices that transformed the puppets into "pupi."

These new technical tricks made it possible to give the animated figures quicker, more direct, and decisive movements, particularly effective for "imitating" duels and battles on stage, which play such an important role in chivalric stories.

Now, there's a fun thing you need to know: there are two different traditions, or "styles," of the Opera dei Pupi in Sicily: that of Palermo and that of Catania. The Palermo tradition is widespread in the western part of the island, while that of Catania extends in the eastern part and also in Calabria.


The two traditions are distinguished by the size and weight of the puppets, some mechanical aspects and the maneuvering system, but especially for a different theatrical conception and performance, which has meant that in the Catania area there is a much wider chivalric repertoire than that of Palermo and in many different aspects.

But don't worry, it's not hard to distinguish the two traditions: those of Palermo are smaller and lighter, while those of Catania are larger and heavier. And you know what happens? In Catania, the puppet animators work on a suspended bridge behind the stage, while in Palermo they are positioned on the sides of the stage.

In short, if you are a fan of puppet theater and you are ever in Sicily, you cannot miss the Opera dei Pupi!

Puppet Theater


Teatro dell'Opera dei Pupi (Palermo)

Teatro dell'Opera dei Pupi is a renowned puppet theater in Palermo, Sicily. It offers various puppet shows that are a part of the rich Sicilian tradition. The theater has received positive reviews from visitors, who describe it as a unique and enjoyable experience. The puppet shows depict traditional stories and are performed by skilled puppeteers. The theater is located at Via Bara All'Olivella 95, 90133, Palermo, Sicily, Italy.


Additional Information

  • The Opera dei Pupi is a family business in its fifth generation.

  • Puppetry has been a revered art form in Sicily, starting in Siracusa and making its way around the island.

  • The theater offers different ways to experience the place, including walking tours and street food experiences.


Palermo

1. Teatro dei Pupi Cuticchio Franco Figlio D’Arte

  • Address: Via dei Benedettini, 9, 90134 Palermo, Italy

  • Phone:+39 351 549 0399

  • Description: This puppet theater in Palermo offers historical shows of their family and has various events planned throughout the year.


2. Teatro dell'Opera dei Pupi

  • Address: Via Bara All'Olivella 95, 90133, Palermo, Sicily, Italy

  • Rating: 4.5/5 based on 123 reviews


3. Teatro dei Pupi - Famiglia Argento (Palermo)

  • Description: Teatro Argento is a traditional Sicilian Puppet Theatre founded in 1893 and still run by the same family.

  • Rating: 4.5/5 based on 97 reviews


Catania

La Marionettistica Fratelli Napoli (Catania)

  • Address: Antica Bottega del Puparo - Via Reitano 55, 95121, Catania, Italy

  • Email: fratellinapoli@hotmail.com

  • Website: Fratellinapoli.it

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