1940 - 1984

EDUARDO DE FILIPPO AT PERGOLA THEATRE

Teatro della Pergola | Fondazione Teatro della Toscana

"Florence is not a common city, it is a home"

Eduardo, as every Theatre man, was a globetrotter; he spent his life working in different cities, but only three of them we can call iconic: Naples, where he was born in 1900, Rome, where he started working in his childhood, Florence, the city he ever called Home because of Pergola Theatre. A fil rouge connected Florence and Eduardo de Filippo: hundreds of performances, world premieres, the dream of a School to give future generations the playwriting and dramaturgy knowledge. A special connection, consolidated under a friendship with the Director Alfonso Spadoni. This virtual exhibition wants to show Eduardo’s traces, a serie of memories, documents and objects he left into the Pergola Florence Theatre, the place he considered his own home.
1940-1943 The Florence debut with his brother and sister: Peppino & Titina
In 1932 Eduardo formed a Theater family-based company Compagnia del Teatro Umoristico “I De Filippo” with his brother Peppino and sister Titina that became famous outside Neapolitan bounderies, in other Italian regions too. Their first performance at Pergola Theatre in Florence dates back to 1939/1940. During that season the comedy “Uomo e galantuomo”, first perceived as an experiment, turned into a success. The Director Aladino Tofanelli wants them with the world premiere of “Io, l'erede”, for the next season and, later on, a series of their best plays where scheduled.

The two brothers (Eduardo and Peppino De Filippo, actors of the same theatrical family-company) did not deal with the crtitics of the Florentine public and their professional relationship started to collapse.

1944-1960 The birth of the new company “Teatro di Eduardo”
During the Second World War, the traveling company couldn’t move freely throughout all Italian territory. The tournée was suspend but the De Filippo family-company continued working in Naples and in Rome until the end of the war. The Pergola Theatre was turned into an shelter where people could find refuge, and only when the war was over it could be reopen to public and patrons. After WWII ending, the troupe split and Eduardo and Titina formed a new company, called “Teatro di Eduardo”. The early 1950s Eduardo starred in famous movies and became well known as screenwriter too, thank to the translation of his works.
1961-1965 The beginning of the friendship with Alfonso Spadoni
In 1961 the young, talented, brilliant and brand new Director of Pergola Alfonso Spadoni wanted Eduardo troupe to heal up the destiny of a the Theatre that was in a big crisis. After a successful European tour, they came back to Italy and two years after, the first channel of the national public broadcasting company (RAI) filmed a series of tape about De Filippo Comedies. In 1964 Eduardo was hosted by Maggio Musicale Fiorentino as director of the Lyric Opera “Nose” (one of the young Dmitri Shostakovich’s greatest masterpiece).
1966-1975 Florence: Eduardo's home
The Arno River flood on November 4th 1966 changed the History of Florence: many people died and when the waters subsided, only destruction enveloped the city. The level of the Arno rose up to 11 metres; not the stage but the Foyer, Main Entrance and Auditorium where completely destroyed by dark, muddy waters. It took two years to re-open the Pergola Theatre and, after this disaster, the relationship between Eduardo and Spadoni was even stronger. Eduardo’s permanent participation at Pergola Seasons donate to Florence world premieres and brilliant successes.
«Despite of the abuse of this sentence, it’s possible to define “world premiere” only comedies performed for the first time ever; if you agree with that, you can count only few dates of these. According to that, The Florentine happening is going to be, probably, the event of the year [...]» (“Il monumento” press release quote) Eduardo De Filippo's show "Il monumento" ("The monument"), performed at Pergola Theatre (world premiere) in 1970.

Bending for the first time his rules to never introduce, to never explain his comedies, Eduardo writes a short introduction of his show “Il monumento”, which is inserted in the programme.

La Nazione, 11 gennaio 1982

Special discount advertisement for under 21, conceived by Alfonso Spadoni in winter 1972

La Nazione, 9 gennaio 1973

Letter written by Carlo Argeri (company administrator) to Alfonso Spadoni, concerning the organization of the show "Il sindaco del rione Sanità" ("Mayor of "Sanità" alley").

Playbill draft for “Il sindaco del rione Sanità” (“Mayor of Sanità alley”)

While Eduardo was in Florence, together with the Director Spadoni, they made plans about a School, (but it was not yet the time for it). «I dream about a school to train actors to perform professionally, ‘cause Italian theatre needs them; but we need to teach and train musicians, costume makers, directors, playwriters, sound engineers, scenographers. Every student has to improve in other skills too, to reach an omogeneus and complete knowledge about theatre disciplines. [...] this educational program has not to be determineted by any political party, that is way could not be state aid. The School won’t be under government ownership but will survive with student’s boarding costs and shows proceeds» (Eduardo letter to J.D. Fera. Rome, March 18th, 1972)

Momento Sera, 12 ottobre 1973

Il Tempo, 13 ottobre 1973

Il Messaggero, 13 ottobre 1973

1980-1984 Last years in Florence
Eduardo’s troupe is involved in recording a cicle of monography about their comedies and he could be back in Florence in 1980, inaugurating the School of Playwriting. The School, that couldn’t be inaugurated earlier because of Eduardo's health reasons, was established with the help of the Florence City Council. The lessons started in April 21st and ended in June; the students produced a paper, a comedy: “Simpatia” published by Einaudi.
"Florence is not a common city, is a home” tells Eduardo De Filippo. To Florentine audience, Eduardo offered the world premiere of his new masterpiece, a triptych of three plays adapted to fit in one performance. Filled with melancholy and wonder, the style of Eduardo expresses the paradox of human lives where smiles and sadness melt together. […] The show grows slowly flecked with ovations, especially during the preview reserved to the youth. […] Eduardo style is a combination of low tone voice and silence that proves that he is back on[…]» (Arnaldo Mariotti, “Avvenire” daily newspaper, January 10, 1980)
When the first year of the School of Playwriting was over, Eduardo, at the very end of his life, never went back to Pergola Theatre but, as we can see following postcards and documents shown on this virtual exhibition, his friendship and professional relationship with Alfonso Spadoni didn't stop.

Cartolina inviata da Eduardo ad Alfonso Spadoni durante il suo soggiorno a Salsomaggiore Terme pochi giorni prima della morte, avvenuta il 31 ottobre 1984

Eduardo De Filippo
Credits: Story

A cura di Gabriele Guagni

Coordinamento digitale Chiara Zilioli
Hanno collaborato Claudia Filippeschi, Riccardo Ventrella
Traduzioni Claudia Filippeschi

Si ringraziano Samuele Batistoni, Andrea Di Bari, Filippo Manzini

Un ringraziamento speciale a Lucrezia Scapinelli Spadoni

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions (listed below) who have supplied the content.
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