Orlando e Rinaldo Parte prima Antiforo di Barosia


45 pages

Orlando e Rinaldo Parte prima Antiforo di Barosia

| End of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century | Naples, Italy
Orlando, Bradamante, Marfisia, Gradasso, Ruggiero, Rinaldo, Carlo, Gano, Oliviero, Agolaccio, Dudone, Danese, Viviano, Maganzesi molti, Alberto, Cladinoro, Carinda, Candellino, Messo, Antiforo di Barosia, Malagigi, Attamante, Nugalone, Malignone, Turchi, Altabella
Number of acts

Since the middle of the 19th century, rod marionette theatres from Southern Italy had specialized in cycle plays based on the story of Carlo Magno (Charlemagne) and his knights, which were inspired by several Italian, chivalric romances from the Renaissance period (such as Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, Boiardo’s Orlando Innamorato, or Pulci’s Morgante). A new instalment of this long narrative was performed each evening for a whole year.

This paraphrase of the first instalment of the story of Orlando e Rinaldo, inspired by the anonymous epic poem Antifor di Borasia (1546), belonged to Neapolitan puppeteer Ciro Verdale, even though neither the date of composition nor the author’s name are given. According to evidence from Salvatore Verbale, Ciro’s great-grandnephew, this cycle of plays was originally written between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by Ciro’s father, Francesco Verbale, and then reworked by Ciro himself in the 1930s.

In the first instalment of this cycle, as is often the case in Neapolitan opera dei pupi, many different stories and characters from various sources are interwoven into one single narrative. In this specific case, two stories are told: that of Carlo Magno’s offense to Orlando, and that of the siege of the city of Soldenella, defended by Cladinoro.

Plot summary

A knight, offended by his king, fakes his death, and another knight defends his besieged city.

After paladins Bradamante and Ruggiero get married, Emperor Carlo Magno holds a celebration. But the treacherous paladin Gano hatches a plot to turn the feast into violence and chaos. He plays dice with Rinaldo, who has already won a lot thanks to the money he borrowed from Orlando. Rinaldo wins, but Gano accuses him of cheating. A fight between Gano’s accomplices from Mainz and the other paladins erupts. Rinaldo is about to kill Gano when Carlo Magno arrives. The latter asks Orlando to arrest Rinaldo for not complying with his sovereign’s order. However, Orlando believes that Rinaldo is innocent and lets him escape. When Carlo slaps Orlando as a punishment, Orlando leaves, swearing that he will never protect his king ever again.

Husband-and-wife and paladins Carinda and Cladinoro wish to live a restful life after long years of battles and hardships. However, Cladinoro has a bad feeling. A messenger arrives and informs them that King Attamante besieged Soldanella and that he will only spare his life if he leaves the city. Cladinoro refuses to yield and his son Candellino throws the messenger out. In the meantime, Orlando makes his way to pagan lands. There, he meets Antiforo di Barosia, who commands him to give him his arms. They pick a fight, and Antiforo dies. Orlando cuts his head off and switches clothes with his dead opponent’s. He can thus pretend to be dead so he can take on Antiforo’s identity and fight Carlo. Malgigi, a paladin and a magician, helps him and makes the mark that all members of the French royal family wear appear on the dead man’s shoulder. In Soldanella, King Attamante is furious with the response given to his messenger. The two armies clash in battle, and Attamante and Cladinoro fight until nightfall.

In his royal palace, Carlo Magno, full of sorrow after he offended his nephew Orlando, learns that he is dead. The king and all the paladins of France mourn the death of Orlando while Gano secretly rejoices. Aldabella recognizes Orlando thanks to the mark he wears on his right shoulder. She grieves for her late husband, and curses and condemns Carlo. Meanwhile, in Soldanella, the fight between Attamante and Cladinoro resumes. Attamante loses, and his men attack Cladinoro, as agreed before the duel. Cladinoro vanquishes them all and kills Attamante.

Related works
Antifor di Barosia1546
Composition date
Text written between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, and then reworked by Ciro Verbale in the 1930s

Conservation place

Author's archives
Literary tones
Animations techniques
Rod and string marionette, Armed rod marionette
Not specified


Theatrical techniques


Written by

Anna Leone