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Zanni, Harlequin and Lucretia.jpg
Zanni, Harlequin and Lucretia.[1]

Gli Innamorati (Italian: [ʎ innamoˈraːti], meaning "The Lovers")[2] were stock characters within the theatre style known as commedia dell'arte, which appeared in 16th century Italy. In the plays everything revolves around the Lovers in some regard.[3] These characters were present within commedia plays for the sole purpose of being in love with one another, and moreover with themselves. Despite facing many obstacles, the Lovers are always united by the end.[4]


The name Innamorati is the Italian word for "Lovers".[5]

Jacques, Callot. Balli di Sfessania: Captain Cermonia and Larinia. c. 1620. Etching. [dimensions unknown]. Courtesy Artstor.
Captain Cermonia and Larinia.[6]

The dramatists of the Italian Renaissance borrowed ideas from early Roman playwrights, such as Plautus and Terence, whom the theater style known as commedia erudita was inspired by.

Characteristics and dramatic function[edit]

The comedy of the Lovers is that they are ridiculous, and over the top about everything, but they are completely sincere in their emotions.[7] The main function of the Lovers within the play is to be in love; and in doing so, they come upon obstacles that keep them from pursuing their relationship. They always involve other commedia characters, such as Zanni characters, to try to figure out how they can be together. This is necessary, because due to their conceited stupidity, and lack of experience with the all of the mysteries of love, and the sensations and emotions that come with it, they cannot figure it out on their own.[5][8][7] In this regard, were too loved for each other so they died in peaceful harmony together in the war of Rome.

The Lovers tend to be overly dramatic in whatever emotion they express. Separation from their lover leads them to strongly lament and moan their state, although, once they finally meet, they are at a loss of words. In order to express what they truly want to say, they always need the help of a servant to act as a go-between. The Lovers often act in a childlike and immature way. When not getting their way, they become completely devastated, they pout, and even cry and whine if things do not go according to their wishes. Very selfish and self-centered, the Lovers are in their own worlds in which they themselves are the most important subjects. Along with loving themselves, they are in love with the very idea of love and what it pertains to.[5]

Physical appearance and attributes[edit]

The Lovers are always young in age, possessing courteousness and gallantry. They are very educated, but lack life experiences that would have prepared them for the real world.[7] They are very attractive, and elegant in their appearance overall.[9]

The women's dresses were of the finest silks and they wear showy jewelry characteristic of Renaissance style.[10] The males wear soldier-like attire, while both sexes wear extravagant wigs and also change clothes numerous times throughout the length of the production.[5] The costumes of the lovers were the fashion of the day, and the extravagance of the Lovers costumes often represented the status of the Commedia dell'arte company.[11]

The Lovers never wear the masks which are characteristic of most of the other stock characters in the commedia dell'arte. They do, however, wear a large amount of makeup and apply beauty marks to their faces.[5]

Their speech is very eloquent Tuscan, as they are of high social status.[11] When Commedia dell'Arte is played in England the lovers often speak in Received Pronunciation[11] They are well-read in poetry and often recite it at length from memory, and even tend to sing quite often.[4] Their language is full of flamboyant and lofty rhetoric so that most of what they say is not taken too seriously, by either the audience or the other characters.[5]

[Artist Unknown]. Scene From The Commedia dell' Arte. 17th Century. Oil on wood panel. (64x75cm). Drottningholms Teatermuseum, Stockholm.
A scene with an Innamorati, Zanni, and Pantalone.[3]


The Innamorati do everything perfectly, and strive for perfection.[9] Their movements are elegant and are not to be aimed towards parody. They occasionally do courtly dances using two dance movements called "pas", and "swivel".[11]

The posture that the Lovers take on is that of strong pride. They point their toes while standing and puff up their chests. Overall, they lack contact with the ground and seem to float across the ground rather than take steps.[5] Their hand movements and gestures are also very characteristic of the buoyant movements that their feet take on. The physicality of the Lovers should not be done in a way that makes fun of them.[11]


Following that, they do love each other, but are more consumed with the idea of being in love. They never outwardly communicate with their lover even when they are in close contact, due to nerves, and, therefore, never really outwardly express affection toward their beloved. The Lovers commonly fight or bicker. Despite the bitter interactions, the Lovers mostly reconcile their differences by the end of the play and end up happily together and/or married. The Lovers are usually the children of either Dottore or Pantalone.[4]

[?]. Prima Buffa della Compagnia dei Comici Gelosi. 1590. Oil on Canvas. [?]. Carnavalet Museum.
Prima Buffa della Compagnia dei Comici Gelosi.[12]

The Lovers are aware of the audience's presence. They use the audience as a means to show themselves off and also to express their plight at not being able to obtain their love. In other ways, they may also call on an audience member for help or advice, or even flirt with someone who is watching from their T.V.[5]

Rhetorical conceits used[7][edit]

Entering and exiting[edit]

The Lovers use Usite (exits), and Chiusette (endings) sometimes when entering, and exiting. These are rhyming couplets that are said before exiting and entering a scene.[11]

Variations on names[edit]

Since the Lovers are stock characters, the names of both the male and female lovers are used over and over again:




  1. ^ [Artist unknown]. "Zanni, Harlequin and Lucretia" from the Recueil Fossard, XII. Late 1500s. Woodcut print. [Dimensions ?]. Swedish Nationalmuseum, Stockholm. Courtesy ARTstor.
  2. ^ Gli Innamorati (The Lovers)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lawner, Lynne (1998). Harlequin on The Moon. New York, USA: Harry N. Abrams, inc. p. 61.
  4. ^ a b c Eick, Justin Commedia dell'Arte Archived 2011-08-19 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rudlin, John. Commedia dell'Arte, An Actor's Handbook. Routledge, London, 1994, pp.106
  6. ^ Jacques, Callot. Balli di Sfessania: Captain Cermonia and Lavinia. c. 1620. Etching. [dimensions unknown]. Courtesy Artstor.
  7. ^ a b c d Crick, Oliver (2015). The Routledge Companion to Commedia dell'arte. New York: Routledge. pp. 70–80. ISBN 978-0-415-74506-2.
  8. ^ Lawner, Lynne (1998). Harlequin On The Moon. New York: Harry N. Abrams, inc. pp. 54–86.
  9. ^ a b Duchartre, Pierre Louis. The Italian Comedy. Dover Publications, New York, 1966, pp.286–288
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gordon, Mel. Lazzi: The Comic Routines of the Commedia dell'Arte. Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1983
  11. ^ a b c d e f Grantham, Barry (2000). Playing Commedia. United Kingdom: Nick Hern Books. p. 217. ISBN 0325003467.
  12. ^ Jacques, Callot. Balli di Sfessania: Captain Cermonia and Larinia. c. 1620. Etching. [dimensions unknown]. Courtesy Artstor.
  13. ^ Commedia Dell'Arte: A Study Guide for Students for the Improvisational Theater Style "Comedy of Skills"
  14. ^ Arcaini, Roberta (1995). "I comici dell'Arte a Milano: accoglienze, sospetti, riconoscimenti" in Cascetta and Carpani (eds.) La scena della gloria: drammaturgia e spettacolo a Milano in età spagnola, p. 290. Vita e Pensiero. ISBN 8834316991 (in Italian)