Tiberio Fiorilli

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"That excellent comedian..." Tiberio Fiorilli in a 1700 engraving.

Tiberio Fiorilli (also spelled Fiorillo and Fiurelli; November 9, 1608 – December 7, 1694)[1] was an Italian actor of commedia dell'arte known for developing the role of Scaramouche. He was especially popular in France, where he was the director of the troop of the Comédie-Italienne, which shared with the troop of his friend Molière the Theatre of the Petit-Bourbon, and the Theatre of the Palais-Royal.[2][3][4]

He was born in Naples, but left Italy around 1640 for unknown reasons, perhaps simply while following a troupe of actors, or to flee a political intrigue. He arrived in France under the reign of Louis XIII. His play pleased the queen, which enabled him to attend the court.

It is said that one day, when the two-year-old Dauphin cried (the future Louis XIV), Fiorilli, as Scaramouche, made any possible sound to comfort him. He achieved this task with grimaces and tomfoolery; consequently, the Dauphin had "a need, that he had at the time, the hands and the dress of Scaramouche". Fiorilli was then ordered to visit the court every night to amuse the Dauphin, which helped the Scaramouche character become a stock figure in the theatre of the time. The character of Scaramouche became a standard role thereafter of the commedia dell'arte. He died in Paris and is buried in the Église Saint-Eustache.

In literature[edit]

  • Angelo Constantini, called Mezetin, wrote a "picaresque but untrustworthy biography":[2] La Vie de Scaramouche (The Life of Scaramouche), published in Paris in 1695 and Brussels in 1699. View the 1695 edition and an 1876 reprint (published by Jules Bonassies with an introduction and notes by Louis Moland) at the Internet Archive.
  • Rafael Sabatini wrote a novel entitled Scaramouche, remotely inspired by Fiorilli's life.

A stage musical, Scaramouche - The Zany Commedia Musical, with book, lyrics and music by Stephen Lanigan-O'Keeffe, was premiered in Hoxton Hall, London, UK in 2007 and revised and restaged in 2011. The musical is a fusion of musical theatre and commedia dell'arte practices and treats Fiorillo's life and career as a parable on celebrity culture.


  1. ^ "Fiorillo, Tiberio" in The New Encyclopædia Britannica (15th edition, Chicago, 1991) vol. 4, p. 787.
  2. ^ a b Laurence Sinelick, "Fiorilli, Tiberio" in Banham 1995, p. 373.
  3. ^ Campardon 1880, vol. 1, pp. 222–234.
  4. ^ Maupoint 1733, p. 281.

External links[edit]