Goldoni, Carlo

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Goldoni, Carlo

Carlo Goldoni (kär´lō gōldô´nē), 1707–93, Italian dramatist. He was enamored of comedy from childhood, having sketched his first comic drama at eight. He took a degree in law at Padua but thereafter devoted himself to the theater. He created a new Italian character comedy, considered artistically superior to the old commedia dell'arte. This he achieved by building on the old comedy of masks, but amplifying written parts; by judicious imitation of Molière and adaptation of classical themes; and by applying his own excellent comedic sense. Goldoni wrote more than 260 dramatic works of all sorts, including opera. Among the most notable of his 150 comedies are La locandiera (1753, tr. The Mistress of the Inn, 1856), Il ventaglio (1763, tr. The Fan, 1911), Il burbero benefico (1771, tr. The Beneficent Bear, 1849), and La buona figliuola (1756, tr. The Accomplished Maid, 1767), which was set to music by Niccolò Piccinni. Toward the end of his life he was supported in France by a royal pension that was cut off by the Revolution. He died in poverty.

See Goldoni's memoirs (1787, in French; tr. by J. Black, 1926); biography by H. C. Chatfield-Taylor (1913); study by H. Riedt (tr. 1974).

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