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October
Renowned actor Ferruccio Soleri plays Italian theatre classic
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Renowned commedia dell'arte actor Ferruccio Soleri, together with Piccolo Teatro di Milano, will perform the Italian theatre classic "Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters" from October 26 to 28.

Written in 1747 by Carlo Goldoni, one of Italy's greatest playwrights, "Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters" is a commedia dell'arte masterpiece. Rich in farcical action, improvisation and humour, the late Giorgio Strehler, artistic director and founder of Piccolo Teatro di Milano, revived the play, letting it shine on stage once again. This time, the show is restaged by Ferruccio Soleri in collaboration with Stefano de Luca.

Artful servant Arlecchino is constantly complaining of an empty stomach. So when a strange twist of fate lands him with two masters, he sees this as a great opportunity to gain a double meal ticket. However, life is never simple and he is soon caught up in a web of deceit and misunderstandings spun around the people he serves.

The 78-year-old Soleri, who first played Arlecchino in 1963, has since appeared in the role in more than 2,000 performances. For more than 40 years, in his special black mask and colourful Harlequin outfit, the great performer has crossed all age and language barriers, bringing enjoyment to audiences worldwide and making the role his own.

Commedia dell'art is a form of comic theatre developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries. Built on both the verbal ability and physical stamina of actors, performances were improvised from a general plot description. Actors wore distinctive costumes and masks to identify stock characters that audiences immediately recognised.

Piccolo Teatro di Milano was one of Italy's first examples of public theatre - a theatre subsidised by the government and local authorities. Founded by Giorgio Strehler, Paolo Grassi and Nina Vinchi in 1947, Piccolo Teatro di Milano was one of Italy's first artistic ventures after the Second World War. Over the years, Strehler staged numerous classical dramas from Shakespeare to Goldoni to Chekhov, along with many of the greatest works of 20th century drama.

Following the death of founders Strehler and Grassi, the state appointed two leading figures from the world of culture to manage and direct the Piccolo theatre: Sergio Escobar, and the internationally celebrated stage director Luca Ronconi. Under their direction the Piccolo has continued and increased its role as a Theatre of Art for Everybody, remaining faithful to its policy of staging the classics and contemporary plays by Italian and foreign writers. It has likewise enhanced its international reputation; every year, since 1999, the Piccolo has organised an international festival with companies coming to perform from around the world.

"Arlecchino, Servant of Two Masters" is one of the highlights of the Mediterranean Arts Festival. It will be staged on October 26 and 27 at 7.30pm and on October 28 at 2.30pm at the Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium. The shows will be presented in Italian with English and Chinese surtitles.

Tickets priced at $420, $280 and $150 are available at URBTIX outlets. Some $150 seats may have restricted view. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Booking discounts of up to 20% are available.

Programme brochures are now available at URBTIX outlets or at the website http://www.medifestival.gov.hk .

For programme enquiries, please call 2370 1044. Telephone reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Internet bookings can be made at http://www.urbtix.hk .

Ends/Thursday, October 11, 2007
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