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Commedia dell'arte is a style of theatre based on masks that developed in the middle of the 16th century in Upper Italy, soon spread to Lower Italy, subsequently came to life all over Europe and still lives on today. Typical of the commedia dell'arte are the defined characters, derived from the social structures of the time, who are always parts of the plays with different names but the same functions and expressive individual body language. Grip theatre, i.e. a mixture of predefined action and improvisation, as well as a variety of languages and dialects are further characteristics of commedia dell'arte.

Compagnia Za-Zà

Nymphs, Gods and Gullibles (Ninfe, Dèi e Polli)

A piece of Commedia dell’arte free after Ovids «Daphne and Apollo»

Direction: Antonio Fava



Photos: Marcella Fava, Aldo Lemoine

"Daphne and Apollo", an episode from Greek mythology, has inspired numerous artists over the centuries. The Compagnia Za-Zà now tells the story lively and light-footed in their own and new way in the style of the Commedia dell'arte. "Ninfe, Dèi e Polli" is an interweaving of poetry, wit, wonder and madness: mythological creatures of nymphs, satyrs and gods meet town figures from the world of commedia dell'arte, such as the historically significant, credulous servant Pulcinella, his bold wife Zezza or the miser Pantalone. The protagonist of the play is the nature, especially the woods - home to wondrous creatures - which, as a place of action, becomes a projection screen for desires and dreams. The magic of the forest entices and seduces, inspires mischief and confusion - entirely in the tradition of the Commedia Boschereccia.

This Ovidian Midsummer Night's Dream is also the story of the laurel, namely how a love affair turned the laurel crown into a symbol of political, sporting and academic success. In line with our zeitgeist, the role of women is also significant here: already in ancient mythology it is clear that the woman sees herself as an independent being. To preserve this, nature offers her solution and salvation in "Daphne and Apollo".


"Ninfe, Dèi e Polli" stands in the tradition of the original Italian mask theatre, the street and folk theatre, which has a direct and immediate relationship with the audience and in which each character is defined by its own distinct repertoire of movements and emotions. In addition to the spectacular and technically virtuous body language of commedia dell'arte, other disciplines such as music, singing, dance and acrobatics enrich the play. Ninfe, Dèi e Polli" combines different languages and thus preserves the plurilingual tradition of commedia dell'arte. The Swiss actress and singer Annina Gieré and the Chilean actor and theatre-maker Carlos Becker both interpret several roles, switching from one character to the next on the fly and inspiring the audience's imagination so that a whole crowd seems to take over the stage.


Annina Gieré and Carlos Becker trained with Maestro Antonio Fava and work alongside him for several years. He is one of the most celebrated exponents of commedia dell'arte and his mask making is considered a worldwide reference for leather masks. In "Ninfe, Dèi e Polli" his masks are being used, and he also directed and composed the music.

Let yourself get carried away into the fantastic forest of nymphs, gods and gullibles...

Excerpts from the Premiere, August 2023, Reggio Emilia, IT

The play is multilingual, the main language is adapted to the audience's language and performance venue. Possible languages are German, Spanish, English, Italian, French and possibly also Greek. 

Next Shows
Atelier Theater Meilen, 6th and 7th of April 2024, CH


August 2023: Teatro San Prospero, Reggio Emilia, Italy (Premiere)

January 2024: Anfiteatro bellas artes, 2x, Santiago de Chile, Chile
                       Teatromuseo del títere y el payaso, Valparaíso, Chile

April 2024: Atelier Theater Meilen, Switzerland

Compagnia Za-Zà

Physical theatre - Commedia dell'arte

Carlos Becker & Annina Gieré


The Compagnia Za-Zà, founded in 2022, consists of the Chilean actor and theatre maker Carlos Becker and the singer and actress Annina Gieré. The company is devoted to physical theatre, with a particular focus on commedia dell'arte. Both artists trained under Maestro Antonio Fava and have been working alongside him for several years, for example in his opera "L'Istriona" or his pulcinellata "Pulcinella ammutolito". Annina Gieré and Carlos Becker also jointly run theatre courses for young people and adults at the Atelier Theater Meilen- in physical theatre styles such as bande mimée or human comedy with their own created masks. From spring 2024, they will take over the youth and children's theatre "La Scaletta" at the ATM. 
The languages of the Compagnia Za-Zà are German, Spanish, English, French and Italian. Music and dance are other important aspects of Za-Zà's work.

Compagnia Za-Zà, M. Fava
Compagnia Za-Zà, M. Fava 2

With ArscomicA

L'Istriona by Antonio Fava
Opera in un atto

Company: ArscomicA

Music, Libretto, Maskmaking, Direction: Antonio Fava

Soprano solo/Istriona: Annina Gieré 

Pantomimo Phersu: Carlos Becker

Musical Direction and Piano: Corina Gieré 

Clarinet: Jennifer Piazza

Flute: Chiara Bigi

Bassoon: Benedetta Pozzi

Percussion: Thomas Coccolini

Choir Master: Andrea Caselli 

Choir: Ensemble Istriona

In ancient Rome, 7 July: NONÆ CAPRUTINÆ: it is feast day of Uni Caprutina, goddess of slave women, a festival only for women, dedicated to fertility and prosperity. The slave Istriona, Hystrix, celebrates in her own way by telling the fate of the beautiful and unfortunate nymph Echo: It is the story of Echo's love for Narcissus, her invisible yet audible end, her tragic and humiliating immortality - immensely poetic and moving. Narcissus too struggles with pitfalls - in love with his unattainable reflection. So preoccupied with himself he is deaf, blind and mute to the pain of those who love him.
The opera is a great vocal solo by Istriona, who, together with Phersu, slips into numerous roles and masks and gives rise to the most diverse characters: Gods, mortals, animals, plants, monsters.
The opera is written for an instrumental ensemble and a chorus in the ancient tradition, as the voice of the people and common sense.


Photos: Marcella Fava

Training in Commedia dell'arte with Maestro Antonio Fava, Arscomica

2021: Classical Commedia dell'arte of the North:
Training in the classical characters from the North: The Z
anni (servants), e.g.: Brighella, Pedrolino or Colombina as Primi Zanni, Arlecchino or Truffaldino as Secondi Zanni-, the Innamorati (the young lovers), the Vecchi (the old ones) like Pantalone or Dottore and the second lovers like Capitano and Signora.
Training in the performance of Canovaggi, i.e. impromptu theatre, character direction and the corresponding body language.


Photos: Marcella Fava


2022: Zannanti, Commedia dell'arte of the South

Training in the characters from the South such as Pulcinella, Zezza, Giangurgolo, as well as Scaramuccia and Coviello (primi zanni), Jettatore or the forgotten character of Sivello - rediscovered by A. Fava. Training in the Commedia Pastorale, Commedia Boschereccia with satyrs and nymphs, the Opera Regia (tragedy) and the solo Gabrielliana.

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