The work of Eduardo De Filippo at the foot of Vesuvius

It is in the magical climate that precedes Christmas that initiatives ferment and take place in the Bel Paese, where, fortunately, a climate of peace still reigns. This was the case with a creative and particular adaptation of Filumena Marturano at Villa Campolieto, one of the most beautiful Vesuvian residences in the Miglio d’Oro at Herculaneum – an avenue dotted with palaces where the nobles of Bourbon times had their summer quarters.

It takes the genius of a playwright with an unlikely destiny, Eduardo De Filippo and the passion of an aesthete, Antonello Aprea, madly in love with the theatre, at the head of the troupe of Donna Peppa whose founding members have known each other for more than a quarter of a century, so that the miracle is born and the moment of grace is repeated at each performance.

The role of the extraordinary heroine of this play, Filumena Marturano, Parthenopean par excellence, had been interpreted at the cinema in Italian wedding by Sophia Loren, with the immortal Marcello Mastroianni in the role of Domenico Soriano. But the theater is life, energy in its purest form. From one room to another, for an hour and a half, the spectators of the play followed Teresa di Rosa, Antonello Aprea, Enza Ascione, Davide Ametrano and others, between century-old frescoes, period furniture, tasty perfumes Parthenopean cuisine and Baroque music, thus attending a show staged as a real feast for the senses, with the essence of existence as its central theme. Thus filial love is affirmed, the central role of the woman of the Mezzogiorno and of every woman, guarantor of the family nucleus, the man of detached, almost cynical refinement, who bends to the inflexible law of life, recognizing the children conceived outside the nuptial bed, sons of unknown fathers who must be recognized, carried at arm’s length, all equal, all kings. In this brilliant and thrilling rehabilitation, Filumena, played by Teresa di Rosa, is a prostitute turned leader who, through self-sacrifice, genius, patience and sacrifice, offers an honorable name and a legitimate home to three children born to him. Antonello Aprea, director and actor – he plays the role of Soriano in the play – greets the spectators still caught up in the violent emotion of the text and the acting.

Eduardo De Filippo’s work has not aged a bit. The rewriting of the dialogue in a tasty Neapolitan dialect, the voices of the made-up prostitutes who repeat the key words of the work in chorus or who play scenes of memory and suffering in the background, the flamenco dancer who invokes the duende and brings out the pathos of the ultimate scene: no detail has been left to chance. The Filumena of mature age is reflected in the pupils of a still young Filumena, interpreted by Gelsomina Ascione, brought back to the stage by the evocation of memory. Two exceptional performers, witnesses of the improvised nuptials of Soriano and Filumena, offer sugared almonds to those present, amazed and overjoyed. The narrator, a chamberlain from another era, brandishes a candelabra and invites those present to the final room, covered with sumptuous frescoes. The choice of this classic drama is part of the troupe’s desire to seal a long experience that has become a passion. But Donna Peppa has not said her last word. Other performances have been scheduled for December. Antonello Aprea salutes the memory of the great playwright, author of the play, and claims his spiritual heritage: we must innovate so that the theater remains life transmitted in the immediate future.

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The work of Eduardo De Filippo at the foot of Vesuvius