Wide view of Venice: Piazza San Marco - Riva degli Schiavoni


(La Servetta - The Soubrette)

The Soubrette is one of those characters which appeared in the Commedia dell'Arte in almost all plays, although keeping a low profile which got more personality with time, developing into more elaborate and important characters such as Colombina, Corallina, Franceschina, Mirandolina and, in one of her disguises, also Arlecchinetta.

But the original Soubrette which in Italy continued to fit in the cast remained almost unchanged, usually simple at heart, witty, vane, chatterer, a little clumsy, always present as a "spalla" (counterpoint) to more defined and cherished masks, such as Harlequin, Pantalone.

Her dress always remained simple, wearing no mask, as most of the female characters.

One of the Soubrette, Franceschina marries Harlequin with the consent of Pantalone, but sometimes she's Pantalone's lover, too.

Doubtful moral as a rule, the simplicity of the Soubrette coincides with her availability, easiness and love of life and of intrigue to play behind somebody's back.

A woman with the freedom of betraying, of playing games of free morals, but still a servant, nonetheless ...

Engraving - Arlecchino, Pantalone and Franceschina - from "Recueil Fossard"
Arlecchino, Pantalone and Franceschina
from "Recueil Fossard"
Engraving - The Soubrette in the play by Carlo Goldoni "La Castalda"
The Soubrette in the play by Carlo Goldoni: "La Castalda"

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