Master Puppeteer, Mimmo Cuticchio, brings Sicilian theater to central Illinois

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Mimmo Cuticchio, master puppeteer and one of the last true heirs of the Sicilian theatrical tradition of the Opera dei Pupi, brings two free performances of “The Great Duel between Orlando and Rinaldo for the Beautiful Angelica’s Sake” to Illinois.

The first will take place Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the University of Illinois-Urbana, Foellinger Auditorium, 709 S. Mathews Ave, Urbana, Ill. The second will take place Friday, Nov. 2 at 4:30 p.m. at Chicago’s Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, Theater East, 915 E. 60th St., on the campus of the University of Chicago. The performances are recommended for ages 4 and up.

The performances tell the otherworldly, magical war story of Orlando and Rinaldo as they desert the French army in pursuit of the beautiful princess Angelica, battle with outlandish beasts in the forest, challenge each other to a duel and are only saved from destroying each other by the convenient intervention of an enterprising wizard.

While Opera dei Pupi/Sicilian Puppet Theater has been mesmerizing audiences since the start of the 18th century, when marionettes were a popular form of entertainment, the show’s narrative structure has been adapted for a contemporary audience. In 2001 UNESCO recognized Sicilian Puppet Theater as part of humanity’s “oral and intangible heritage.” For a description of Sicily’s Puppet Theater Tradition as listed on the UNESCO website, please click here: https://ich.unesco.org/en/rl/opera-dei-pupi-sicilian-puppet-theatre-00011

Opera dei Pupi features stories inspired by epic medieval literature along with Italian Renaissance poetry. Sicilian puppetry is different than traditional marionette in their style but also in the visual aspects of the theatrical performance. In Opera dei Pupi, the puppets are larger than their North American counterparts (2-3 feet in height, weighing almost 20 pounds) and “act” on stage through the control of the master puppeteers, who share the stage with them. The performances will feature recorded music from Giacomo Cuticchio, who will also be handling the puppets alongside Mimmo Cuticchio.


Admission to the Tuesday, Oct. 30, 6 p.m. performance at the Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 6 p.m. at the University of Illinois-Urbana, Foellinger Auditorium, 709 S. Mathews Ave, Urbana, Ill.; are free, but tickets/reservations are required for all. Visit https://cuticchiospettacolo.eventbrite.com or call 312-822-9545 to secure your seat. The performances are recommended for ages 4 and up.

About Mimmo Cuticchio:

Mimmo Cuticchio comes from a family of distinguished puppeteers and is one of the last true heirs of the Opera dei Pupi theatrical tradition. In 1973, he opened the Teatro dei Pupi Santa Rosalia in Palermo, Italy and is now passing the tradition on to his son. He founded the Associazione Figli d’Arte Cuticchio in 1977, intending to pass down the artistic tradition. Similarly, in 1997 he opened a workshop and the first School for Pupari e Cuntisti (puppeteers and storytellers) in order to ensure the future for Opera dei Pupi.

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