Commedia dell’arte was an early form of professional theater, originating from Italy, that was popular in Europe from the 16th to the 18th century. The characters of the commedia usually represent fixed social types and stock characters, such as foolish old men, devious servants, and enraptured lovers. The characters of The Barber of Seville are inspired by those same stock characters. Learn all about them below!
- Harlequin (Figaro) – The Servant. Light-hearted, nimble, and astute, Harlequin often acts to thwart the plans of his master with wit and resourcefulness.
- Innamorati (Rosina and Almaviva) – The Lovers. Their main function, naturally, is to be in love; and in doing so, they come upon obstacles that keep them apart, but they are always united by the end.
- Pantalone (Doctor Bartolo) – The Miser. Pantalone is all about money and ego, for he has the highest regard for his intelligence, but he’s always the patsy for every conceivable kind of trick.
- Il Dottore (Don Basilio) – The Doctor. A comic foil to Pantalone, Il Dottore is representative of the learned intellectual class, and as such is meant to playfully parody the educated elite.
- La Ruffiana (Berta) – The Nurse. A stealthy and gossipy “outsider” who always mixes things up and causes trouble for the rest of the characters, but deep down is actually kind.