One of Sicily’s oldest traditions is the puppet opera,“ L’opera dei pupi ”, which tells chivalry stories derived from novels and poems of the Carolingian period.
The puppetry of the Napoli brothers,“La marionettistica dei fratelli Napoli”, represent the most significant reality of this traditional puppet theatre in Catania. It was founded in this city in 1921 by Gaetano Napoli. Today it has come to its fourth generation, where each family member takes part in the staging of the show, according to the role that best suits them.
The company has been performing this theatrical activity for the last century, which led them to perform all over the world with their most important shows. In 1978, the Napoli brothers received from the Dutch Royals the prestigious “Erasmianum Award”, which is given to people and institutions who have enriched the European culture with their work.
The dimensions of the Catanese puppets are between 80 cm and 130 cm height and weigh about 35kg. They have stiff legs and if the puppet is a warrior, a sword is held in his right hand.
As from the beginning, the workshop of the “Fratelli Napoli” is situated in the historical centre of Catania. It represents a heritage of great historical and cultural importance. From decades, inside this work shop the rules of this artistic profession linked to the traditional work of the Catanese puppet have been handed down from generation to generation.
Among all puppets “Peppinino”, the mask representing the typical Catanian puppet, stands out. He is always present in all the stories, and accompanies the Paladins. “Peppinino” represents the voice of common people, and with glee and humour he talks about current and realistic events.
The Napoli family preserves this ancient craft, intact and complete in its Catanese style, with which they have worked since 1921 till nowadays.