THE PUPPET THEATER
OF
MARIO MAGONIO

 
 

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The first news regarding the return of the mask of the puppet Baciccia, a mask 
of the Genovesian Theatre of the late 18th century, goes back to the winter 
of 1943 during the last conflict when, in a Nazi concentration camp,
 a young captive cheered the evenings in comrade of its companions with
 one old stocking painted like a puppet. The voice was that one with the typical genovesian cadence of a fisherman ... exactly that one of Baciccia 
(in genovesian is John Baptist) to which Mario Magonio added the family
name  "of the Radiccia" nearly to evidence the popular origins.. and so he become
 
Baciccia della Radiccia

 But the first true Puppet Theatre of Mario Magonio goes back up to the year 1947
  which when in the oratory of the Church of Nostra Signora delle Vigne, in the
 center of old Genoa, every Sunday afternoon was presented a show of Puppets
 for the little boys of the Parish.

 Entertainers of this small puppet company, in that oratory that already in the past century had presented prestigious Puppet Theatres, were Mario Magonio and a young priest Don Francesco Urbano just arrived in the Parish. 

The first was already lover of Theatre, young fanciful and shining the second,
 they created one ideal couple full of ideas. With old stoppers of the Val Gardena
 they constructed the puppet, personally sewed the dresses and with
 painting and pastels they designed the scene of their small 
Theatre: a outside-castle, a inner-house, a bewitched forest and how 
much served for their first commedy that they wrote together. 

The original text unfortunately has gone lost, but it remains news that the central personages of the history were Baciccia of the Radiccia and the wife Texinin 
whose quarrels, in style with commedies of Gilberto Govi, become very appreciated 
in the small world of the children and the relative parents who were frequent 
and assiduous spectators of those shows. 
Price of the ticket of entrance in currency of that time: only Ten Liras 

Subsequently in 1951, stated the enormous success, they decided to realize
 a new Great Theatre of string puppets with the considerable dimensions
 of 3 meters x 2 meters with one high bridge 2.5 meters from floor that could
receive until three puppeters. The scene were redesigned for fitting to 
that various type of show, the puppets, nearly all maneuvered with 7 strings,
were high 80 cm and the new book-stories, some drafts from the classic
 as Pinocchio and Cenerentola, had the largest appreciation of the public.
 But all this did not exalt the artistic spirit of Magonio that found
 more spontaneous the old beloved glove-puppets. 

The reputation of the its small Theatre become very famous in city and 
when, in 1953, Fratel Fiorenzo Director of the School Negrone Durazzo 
of The Brothers of the Christian Schools gave him the opportunity to begin a series of appointments with the parents and the students of the School, picked the occasion in order to return to the old beloved glove-puppets, his first love. 

A new Theatre will be reconstructed, whose proscenio measured 4 mt. x 3 mt,
 the Masks of puppets will be restored, the dresses will be rendered more precious,
 the scenes became rich of lighting and sound effects, the Company enroled
 new elements reaching the record to handle eight puppets in scene at the same time. The succes was huge, the theater was collecting every show beyond 500 persons, and the show were presented every Thursday at 21.00 for beyond three scholastic years. 

In that occasion the last 15 minutes of recital were dedicated to the adults with the amusing sketch between wife and husband, Baciccia and Texinin, that became therefore an amusing appointment for the grandfathers and the parents who crowded the theater transforming the occasion of the show in a city event.

Thanks to a donation of puppets heads, belonged previously to the precious 
collection of the father of the well known On. Taviani, new personages joined the initial cast of the company with  new customs in velvet and brocade:
The Duke of Gorgonzola with the trusted black servant Tommy, the beautiful Princess Lisetta, Barudda the great stammering friend of Baciccia, Pipia the sly peasant and Pinocchio imported in the company because very loved from the smaller spectators. 

The mask of "Baciccia della Radiccia" was always present in Genoa in the years 60/70. There was'nt a birthday in the noble and rich families in Genoa that did not offer a show of Puppets of Magonio, also any cultural or benefic manifestation had the presence of the small Theatre of the Wizard Magonio.

 In the 1974/75 in collaboration with the newborn Teatro della Tosse of the great Tonino Conte were organized in the schools of Genoa and Province and the shows, animated also with the presence of young actors of the Teatrof della Tosse, obtained large success from the pupils and teachers. 

In 1976 with the collaboration of a famous actress Angela Valle and with the administrative supervision of Angela Lazzeroni was founded the theather
Compagnia Teatrale La Giostra
 that integrated the puppet show of Burattini with  the presence of actors 
interpretating on the stage a continuous dialogue with puppets and children.

The modernization of the show obtained appreciation from the little public that
 continued to love Baciccia, and the skilful Angela that interpreted the
Fairy Angelina or the Pagliaccina Angelocchia 

years passed and Magonio continued to amuse its young public...

 Mario Magonio in years 1980 begins to attend, after the  his evening performances,
 the Ancient
Trattoria Colombo at Genoa in Borgo Incrociati.
 This trattoria, founded in 1957, was the point of encounter of actors, singers and cabaret performers growing in Genoa in those years, and it was at those tables that, while a genuine genovesian specialty was tasted, were born new encounters,
storyboards and new collaboration ideas. 

And still today, although Mario Magonio is 92 years old, he and Angela Valle continue to present  their  Puppet Theatre with the same passion and the same love for the little  public who has spurred them from decades to limestone the scenes


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The show must go on...!

 
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