Clues for Watching l’Opera dei Pupi 

Back before television was invented and became available in many households, in many of Sicily’s towns and certainly, in its larger cities, L’Opera dei Pupi, or marionette theater, was a major pastime for men and children of the popular classes. They loved to follow the trials and tribulations of their knightly heroes. A major character of the dramas was Orlando Furioso.

Now, for my non-Italian speaking followers, here are a couple of tips to understand the action on the little stage: 1. Orlando, our hapless hero pictured, is generally dressed in green or greenish blue and his shield has a cross on it. 2. The good guys, whose shields often possess suns and birds, enter from the stage left. The bad guys, whose shields usually have crescent moons and stars on them, enter from the stage right. There are many more clues and conventions to the Opera dei Pupi. For this lesson, we will keep it simple.

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