|Written by||Eduardo De Filippo|
|Original language||Italian Neapolitan|
|Subject||after 25 years marriage Filumena is to be thrown over for a younger woman, pretence of death cures all|
|Setting||Domenico Soriano's house in Naples, Italy|
The curtain opens on Domenico Soriano, 50, a wealthy Neapolitan shop-keeper who is raging against Filumena, 48, a former prostitute. They lived together for 26 years as husband and wife (but with him frequently having trysts with other women) and she has tricked him, pretending to be near death, and convincing him to marry her in extremis. Domenico, however, would rather marry Diana, a young girl, who is already in the house pretending to be a nurse. Filumena reveals the real reason for the marriage to Domenico: she wants to create a family for her three children (Umberto, Michele and Riccardo) who have no idea of who their mother really is.
Domenico is not going to allow this and asks his lawyer, Nocella, to annul the marriage. Filumena speaks to the young men telling them that she is their mother. Filumena accepts the defeat of the annulment, but tells Domenico that one of the three children is actually his. All attempts to find out who his son is fail, and Domenico, after 10 months remarries Filumena accepting to be the father of all three.
In the play Filumena memorably tells Domenico that "Children are children, and they're all equal" (I figli sono figli e sono tutti uguali).
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Filumena Marturano was initially written as a tribute to Eduardo's sister, Titina De Filippo, a famous Neapolitan theatrical actress, who took the title role in the first production in Naples in 1946. The play followed on from the success of Napoli milionaria, which Eduardo had written and which had premiered the year before to general acclaim. The first night of the new play, proved a disappointment however, and received lukewarm notices from the Neapolitan theatre-going public. Titina decided to address this by following her own instincts and performing as she felt the role required. She was proved right. The play achieved great success, so great in fact that for many years afterwards Titina was called in public in Italy by her character's name, Filumena, rather than her own.
Thanks to an arrangement made by Carlo Trabucco, the editor of the daily Italian Christian Democrat newspaper Il Popolo, an audience was arranged for the cast to meet Pope Pius XII in a private audience in the Vatican. At the audience, the Pope unexpectedly asked to hear one of the monologues, and Titina recited for him the prayer of Filumena to the Madonna of the Roses.
Despite the strong connection between Titina De Filippo and the role in the mind of the Italian public, another actress, Regina Bianchi, was also able to achieve cult status as Filumena in subsequent years.
In 1977 an English language translation by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall undertook a production at the Lyric Theatre in London directed by Franco Zeffirelli starring Colin Blakely and Joan Plowright. This won The London Theatres Comedy of the year award in 1978. The production was then taken to New York City where it opened on 10 February 1980 at the St. James Theatre on Broadway where it ran for 32 performances. Prior to the New York transfer it had a run in Baltimore where it was directed by Laurence Olivier (Husband of Joan Plowright)
The play was performed at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, opening on 30 September 1998 and running until 27 February 1999. It was directed by Peter Hall with Dame Judi Dench in the title role. Michael Pennington played Domenico.
In 1950 Eduardo De Filippo directed Filomena Marturano, the film of the play, in which he starred as Domenico alongside his sister Titina. He also made a tv version in 1962, in which Regina Bianchi played the title role. Another screen version was directed by Vittorio De Sica and it was renamed Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian-Style), and starred Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. In 2010 Italian tv, RAI Uno made a miniseries starring Massimo Ranieri.
- De Filippo, Eduardo (1947). Filumena Marturano. Commedia in tre atti (in Italian) (First ed.). Torino. OCLC 14236630.