While British directors are debating a ten years ban on William Shakespeare, a new Italian version of the Bard's Richard III opens tonight at Trieste's Politeama Rossetti following a successful and critically acclaimed open-air preview last July at Verona's Roman Theatre. Translated into Italian by poet Patrizia Valduga, the new Italian production of Richard III is directed by Antonio Calenda.
Leading a company of 17 is the popular award-winning actor Franco Branciaroli, whose recent credits include the lead role in a 'male' version of Euripedes' Medea directed by Luca Ronconi, the title role in Shakespeare's Othello directed by Gabriele Lavia, the title role in Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac and the double role of Zanetto and Tonino in Goldoni's I due gemelli veneziani (The Two Venetian Twins) directed by Gianfranco De Bosio. Other principals include Lucilla Morlacchi in the role of the old Queen Margareth, and Anita Bartolucci, in the role of Queen Elisabeth. Elena Ghiaurov plays Lady Anne and Antonio Zanoletti is the Duke of Buckingham.
Featuring the ruthless rise of the Duke of Gloucester who murders his way to the throne and then must fight to keep it, Richard III is one of William Shakespeare's best known and most frequently performed tragedies. Notable productions include the 1963 Royal Shakespeare Company mounting directed by Peter Hall starring Ian Holm and Peggy Ashcroft, the 1984 RSC production directed by Bill Alexander starring Anthony Sher and Roger Allam, the 1987 English Shakespeare Company production directed by Michael Bogdanov starring Andrew Jarvis and Michael Pennington and the 1992 RSC production directed by Sam Mendes starring Simon Russel Beale. Richard III also enjoyed a number of screen versions including the 1955 classic starring Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Claire Bloom and the recent versions starring respectively Ian MacKellen and Al Pacino (Looking for Richard).
Notable Italian productions of Richard III include the 1968 mounting by Luca Ronconi, with Vittorio Gassman in the lead role, the 1979 mounting by Antonio Calenda, starring Glauco Mauri and Elsa Merlini and the 1990 production directed by Gabriele Lavia.
A co-production between Trieste's Teatro Stabile del Friuli Venezia Giulia and Milan's Teatro de gli Incamminati, Richard III features sets and costumes by Bruno Buonincontri, music by Germano Mazzocchetti and lighting by Claudio Schmid. Richard III will run in Trieste thru Apr. 5; tickets and information are available at the Politeama Rossetti box office (+39 40 54331). After Trieste, the 1998 tour will move to Turin's Teatro Carignano (Apr. 11-19) and Rome's Teatro Argentina (Apr. 23-May 12).
--By Stefano Curti