Opera dei Pupi

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The Sicilian marionette theater Opera dei Pupi
The Sicilian Opera dei Pupi
RegionEurope and North America
Inscription history

The Opera dei Pupi (Sicilian: Òpira dî pupi; English: "Opera of the Puppets") is a marionette theatrical representation of Frankish romantic poems such as The Song of Roland or Orlando furioso that is one of the characteristic cultural traditions of Sicily. The sides of donkey carts are decorated with intricate, painted scenes; these same tales are enacted in traditional puppet theaters featuring hand-made marionettes of wood.

The opera of the puppets and the Sicilian tradition of cantastorîas (singers of tales) are rooted in the Provençal troubadour tradition in Sicily during the reign of Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, in the first half of the 13th century. A great place to see this marionette art is the puppet theatres of Palermo, Sicily.

The Sicilian marionette theater Opera dei pupi was proclaimed in 2001 and inscribed in 2008 in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.[1]

Today, there are only a few troupes that maintain the tradition. They often perform for tourists. However, there are no longer the great historical families of marionnettists, such as the Greco of Palermo; the Canino of Cinisi and Alcamo; Crimi, Trombetta and Napoli of Catania, Pennisi and Macri of Acireale, Profeta of Licata, Gargano and Grasso of Agrigento.

Anyway, you can admire the richest collection of marionettes at the Museo Internazionale delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino, and at the Museo Etnografico Siciliano Giuseppe Pitrè in Palermo. Other beautiful marionettes are on display at the Museo Civico Vagliasindi in Randazzo. The Northwest Puppet Center in Seattle WA and the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta GA also have displays of marionettes in this style.


  1. ^ UNESCO Culture Sector. "El teatro de marionetas siciliano Opera dei Puppi". Retrieved 2010-08-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Fortunato Pasqualino, Il Teatro con i pupi siciliani, Cavallotto Editore, Catania, 1980.
  • Horst Reimann, Siziliens kleines Volkstheater opera dei pupi, Nold, Frankfurt, 1995, ISBN 9783922220664
  • Giuseppe Guarraci "Pupi e pupari a Siraacusa 1875-1975" Editrice Merisionale Roma 1975.
  • Giuseppe Guarraci "Siracusa Teatro Contributo alla storia del teatro siciliano" LAPS Siracusa 2004.
  • Giuseppe Guarraci "Ernesto Puzzo e l'opera dei pupi nel siracusano" AICS 2011

External links[edit]