Il numero monografico che presentiamo propone una raccolta di saggi sulla cultura teatrale italiana del Settecento. Si avvia in tal modo una serie di pubblicazioni dedicate alle vicende della drammaturgia, del teatro, della teatralità nel secolo dei Lumi, fra le quali un volume centrato sull’area milanese sarà fra breve dato alle stampe.
In the eighteenth century, the debate on reception focused on the complex relationship between theoretics and
stage practice, identifying Italian theatre as a constantly evolving area, rich in artistic and cultural ferments,
and which was rendered dynamic by the unresolved tensions of the age. The fertile exchange of ideas between
the faculties of the intellect and the potential of instinct, between the arguments of Enlightenment rationality
and pre-romantic emotional impulses, marked the unfolding phases of reflection on the power of the theatre to
persuade the viewers, kindle their strong involvement, and stimulate complex debates on the aesthetic and
moral ends of art, the modes of presentation and the paradigms of drama. The analysis of the nature of
passions, the revision of the Aristotelian canons, the inquiry into tragic pleasure and its imaginative and fantastic
components progressively identified dramatic art as a veritable communicative context, the focal point
of the most momentous theoretical questions. Within this complex panorama, Antonio Conti’s reflections stand
as a critical and autonomous observation point, responding to the two souls of the century - the rational and
the emotive one, and intertwining the numerous debates on the objectivies and nature of the art of theatre.
The present essay starts from the assumption that literary translation is a privileged vehicle for communication
and exchange among different cultural systems. It seeks to highlight the fact that this phenomenon can
also be interpreted from a socio-cultural perspective in the specific case of the translations of theatrical texts
published in Italy in the 18th century. That is to say, theatrical genres contributed to the development of a sort
of osmosis within European culture, which was to enable Italy to overcome the cultural crisis at the start of
the 18th century. The essay, however, also points to a resistance which was opposed against culturally exogenous
elements, in the form of a reappraisal of the classical tradition and hence of classical drama. The analysis of
modern texts (the French ones in particular), of classical texts in translation and of the theoretical debate over
which of the two approaches should be favoured in the attempt to revitalise Italian culture, ultimately leads
beyond mere emphasis on an opposition. Indeed it suggests that the very need to facilitate the revival of the
classical tradition sparked the necessity for cultural exchanges and the acceptance of the achievements of
modern European culture.
The spread of translated versions of Greek tragedians in the eighteenth century and the ways in which it was
carried out represent a highly complex field of investigation, so far almost completely unexplored. It is indeed
a chapter of eighteenth century culture, considered in its relation with the ancient classics, which to a large
extent is still to be written.
The author proceeds through a meticulous reconstruction of the study of Greek in the eighteenth century
and a comprehensive survey of the century's translations of Greek tragedies, taking up a reflection by A.
Pertusi applied to renaissance drama of classical inspiration. He then argues that Euripides was the best-loved
and most widely translated among Greek tragedians, and that he definitely influenced the writing of tragedies
in that age, including those that were not directly inspired by the classics. Finally, the investigation into the
work of three tragedians leads to the conclusion that, of all the tragedies, Euripides’Hecuba was so fortunate
as to be translated by seven different authors. A brief overview of such translations is presented, illustrating
their history and the techniques adopted.
Among the Italian translations of Seneca’s tragedies, most of which were carried out around the beginning of
the 18th century, those written by Giorgio Maria Rapparini are in the form of paraphrases, a genre whose features
are set out in Quintilian’s Institutio oratoria. The Parafrasi dell’Agamennone di Seneca, published in
Cologne in 1708 and presented to the wife of the Palatine Elector, was printed in a volume with the original
text and the translation on facing pages. It was intended for an erudite readership, capable of appreciating the
original solutions proposed by Rapparini for some of the difficult passages. Rapparini’s approach with respect
to the hypotext was a sort of aemulatio, which prompted him to expand, condense or explicate Seneca’s text
as the case required. Rapparini’s Parafrasi can therefore be considered in line with the general revival of the
classics which was typical of the early 18th century. The foreword to the work was written by Giovan
Gioseffo Orsi, himself a translator, poet, literary critic and theorician of aesthetics. He claimed the superiority
of the Latins over the Greeks even in the field of tragedy, and praised Rapparini’s translations.