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Love takes center stage in ‘La Locandiera’

Michelle Fordice | Friday, April 20, 2007

As one of the few foreign language productions on campus, “La Locandiera” (“The Innkeeper”) is an excellent addition to Notre Dame’s theatre season. A strong and excited cast and crew have brought what could have been a very unapproachable play – both in setting and language – to a point where it can be appreciated by a wider audience.

The Notre Dame Italian Theatre Company, which is presenting the production, is composed of students taking the one credit Italian Theatre Workshop course taught by professor Laura Colangelo. The students are immersed in Italian, as they speak the language at every stage of production. Participants serve as actors, set and costume designers, publicists, sound and light technicians, and multiple other roles. As it is an academic course, students were required to do some writing as well, including character analyses displayed at the play.

The company makes an effort to fully surround the audience with the experience of an Italian theatre setting in several ways. First, the posters advertising the play come in both Italian and English versions. The score from an opera based on “La Locandiera,” composed by Antonio Salieri, will be played throughout the intermissions. Lastly, all of the ushers will speak Italian.

“La Locandiera,” chosen to commemorate the 300th anniversary of its author, Carlo Goldoni, tells the tale of Mirandolina, an innkeeper whose beauty and charm have left her with a prominent set of suitors. Foremost are the Marchese, a penniless noble, and the Conte, his newly moneyed rival. But while Mirandolina keeps these men guessing, she still has to remember that her hand is already promised to the waiter Fabrizio. Amid these plot twists enters Cavaliere, a man who despises all women. Mirandolina decides to make him fall in love with her, beginning this humorous tale of love, money and manipulation.

The interaction between the audience and the actors is echoed in the set of “La Locandiera.” The play is performed in the DPAC’s Black Box Theatre, and the sets are placed around the space so that they nearly surround the audience, creating a very intimate effect. This closeness also makes the foreign language more accessible.

One obstacle a Notre Dame audience must surmount to experience “La Locandiera” is the Italian language. Students of Italian should take advantage of hearing the language spoken, but the rest should not be afraid. The plot is easy to follow (especially with the detailed synopsis provided in the program), and many of the jokes and emotions are universally understood. Thankfully, there are few places where the action is too difficult to grasp.

“La Locandiera” should not be missed by any of Notre Dame’s Italian community, and would be a wonderful new experience for those less familiar with the language. The themes it approaches and entertainment it provides can be universally enjoyed.

“La Locandiera” will show Saturday and Sunday at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center Philbin Theatre at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.