The Green Bird

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The Green Bird
GreenBird-elliot goldenthal.jpg
The cover of Goldenthal's score for the 2000 Broadway production
Written by Carlo Gozzi
Characters Tartaglia
The Green Bird
many others
Date premiered 18th Century
Original language Italian
Subject A fantastic, but dysfunctional, royal family
Genre Commedia dell'arte, Fantasy, Dark Comedy
Setting Monterotondo

The Green Bird is an 18th-century commedia dell'arte play by Carlo Gozzi. It has been translated into English by Albert Bermel and Ted Emery and also by John D. Mitchell. The most famous production, directed by Julie Taymor, was first performed on Broadway in 2000.[1]


The play is set in the imaginary city of Monterotondo and several other fanciful locales. While the nincompoop King Tartaglia is away, his queen, Ninetta, gives birth to twins, Barbarina and Renzo. His incomparably wicked mother, Tartagliona, orders a servant, Pantalone, to lock the queen in the cellar and throw the babies in the river. Pantalone first wraps them securely in oilcloth, a gesture which saves their lives since they are soon found by a butcher, Truffaldino and his wife, Smeraldina, who raise them. Meanwhile, Ninetta languishes in Tartagliona's prison, kept alive by regular visits from The Green Bird. Tartagliona's evil is abetted by a soothsayer, Brighella.

As the twins mature, they come to realize something is amiss, and commence a search for truth and, as happens, fortune. Their adventure (fairly reminiscent of Dorothy's in the Wizard of Oz) we see played out to its joyful conclusion. It includes time spent in the company of Singing Apples, Dancing Waters, an enormous serpentine puppet aptly named Serpentina; one beautiful statue, Pompea, that comes to life; another enormous statue, made of stone with moving eyes and mouth but, alas, a broken nose, Calmon; and a variety of others far too numerous to mention.[2]

Production history[edit]

Julie Taymor designed the masks and puppets and directed the Off-Broadway and Broadway debuts of the piece. It was originally presented in March 1996 at The New Victory Theater on 42nd Street with Theater for a New Audience. It was subsequently produced at La Jolla Playhouse when Michael Grief was the artistic director.

The Broadway production opened on April 18, 2000 and closed on June 4 after 56 regular performances and 15 previews. The production won glowing reviews for its strong performances and breathtaking creative aspects. It received Tony Award nominations for Best Costume Design and Best Featured Actor for Derek Smith as Tartaglia. Elliot Goldenthal composed a highly acclaimed score for the production that is available on iTunes. Musical staging was by Daniel Ezralow.[3]


  1. ^ The Broadway League. "The Green Bird | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  2. ^ "A CurtainUp Review, The Green Bird". Retrieved 2012-03-11. 
  3. ^ "Talkin' Broadway Review: The Green Bird". 2000-04-19. Retrieved 2012-03-11. 

External links[edit]