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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: August ::
Re: Salvini
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0609.  Saturday, 5 August 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Ron Macdonald <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Aug 1995 11:46:02 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Salvini
 
(2)     From:   Stephen C. Schultz <
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        Date:   Friday, 04 Aug 95 11:39:19 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0607  Re: Salvini
 
(3)     From:   Julie  Dubiner <
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        Date:   Saturday, 5 Aug 1995 00:44:24 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0607 Re: Salvini
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ron Macdonald <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Aug 1995 11:46:02 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        Salvini
 
Martin Green asks if it is possible that Tomaso Salvini acted the part of
Othello in Italian.  He did indeed, according to Henry James, who wrote in the
_Atlantic Monthly_ for March of 1883:
 
   The famous Italian actor, Tommaso Salvini, giving us an opportunity
   to admire him in far too small a number of performances, has played
   to us under conditions very similar to those with which the actors
   of the last century had to struggle.... Salvini's triumph-- a very
   great triumph-- is therefore, like that of Garrick and Mrs. Siddons,
   a proof of extraordinary power.... His fellow actors were of a
   quality which it is a charity not to specify; unmitigated dreariness
   was the stamp of the whole episode, save in so far as the episode
   was summed up in the personality of the hero.  Signor Salvini naturally
   played in Italian, while his comrades answered him in a language which
   was foreign only in that it sometimes failed to be English.  It was
   in this manner that _Macbeth_, _Othello_, _King Lear_, were given.
   Signor Salvini uttered the translated text, and the rest of the
   company recited the original.
 
James goes on to called such an arrangement "grotesque, unpardonable,
abominable," but he adds that Salvini was "well aware of his offence, and he is
equally well aware that, unpardonable as it is, he induces us to pardon it."
James' views of Salvini both in Boston (the current instance) and in London may
be consulted in _The Scenic Art: Notes on Acting and the Drama, 1872-1901_ ,
ed. Allan Wade (Rutgers U. Press, 1948), pp. 168-91).
 
                                     --Ron Macdonald
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(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen C. Schultz <
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Date:           Friday, 04 Aug 95 11:39:19 EDT
Subject: 6.0607  Re: Salvini
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0607  Re: Salvini
 
Because acting is such an ephemeral art, there's something sort of touching
about a flurry of interest in someone like Salvini, once so celebrated and now
so seldom remembered.  So--
 
Yes, Salvini played Othello (and his other roles) in Italian while the
supporting actors performed in whatever was the local vernacular.  This was not
TOO uncommon in his time; Edwin Booth did the same.
 
And, in light of occasional criticisms of "Stanislavsky acting" for fostering
small scale and ignoring technique, it's interesting that one of Stanislavsky's
two favorite actors was Salvini, lauded in his time for titanic emotional
display and remembered in ours--when at all--for saying that the three
requirements of an actor are "Voice, voice, and voice."  (Stanislavsky's other
favorite was Fyodor Chaliapin, best known for the overwhelming emotional effect
of his Boris Godunov.)
 
It would be nice if an actor who once so dominated his profession had left a
souvenir in the form of a sound recording--but I don't think it's so.
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Julie  Dubiner <
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Date:           Saturday, 5 Aug 1995 00:44:24 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0607 Re: Salvini
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0607 Re: Salvini
 
There is documentation of Salvini's Italian and English Othello - in fact at
least once in Brooklyn at the Opera House he played the Moor in Italian to
Edwin Booth's English speaking Iago.
 

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