The theatrical world of the Catania Opira produced to its own forms of artistic craftsmanship: puppets, scenes and signs. These artifacts, to be considered among the most significant products of Sicilian folk art, are the constitutive elements of the so-called "craft", that is the set of all the theatrical equipment that allowed the puppeteers to stage their evenings. The Napoli family today preserves the only ancient Catania-style craft that has remained intact and complete, with which Marionette has worked from 1921 to today.

 

The Catania puppet theater has given rise to two important lines of pictorial craftsmanship: the scenes (canvas backdrops used for the shows) and that of the signs, (the advertising posters on wrapping paper posted every evening to advertise the show). . Rosario Napoli first and then his brother Natale were two of the most important painters of the Catanese Opera dei Pupi. Giuseppe Napoli learned the techniques of scenography and poster design from his father Natale and still today, in his workshop, he paints scenes and cartelli following the dictates of tradition. The same chivalrous subjects, as well as on canvas and paper, can also be reproduced on other supports: terracotta plates and jugs, cart keys, even ostrich eggs.

 

Davide Napoli , making his father's teachings his own, applied the ancient techniques of embossing of the ladder masters to the creation of refined jewelry in gold, silver, nickel silver, copper, brass, steel. Rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings are thus worked entirely by hand with the same procedures as the puppets' armor. Other objects made in this way are interesting embossed paintings with an epic - chivalrous theme and surreal metal masks.

Foto © Andrea Dipasquale
Foto © Andrea Dipasquale

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Monili

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Monili

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Foto © Andrea Dipasquale
Foto © Andrea Dipasquale

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The creation of catanese puppets "di mestiere" involves a complex series of skills, ranging from the carving of the pieces of the bust to the sculpture and painting of the head, from the working of the armor to the tailoring work.

It is an art that has been handed down in the Napoli family for several generations. Pippo Napoli had learned the fundamentals and techniques of this particular form of craftsmanship from the ancient master coppersmiths who in the first decades of the twentieth century embossed the armor of theater puppets, up to m. 1.30. Of these now secular puppets, the only "mestiere" that has remained intact and complete is now jealously guarded by the Napoli family. Fiorenzo Napoli learned the job from his uncle Pippo and further perfected them through a very personal research that allowed him to combine refined goldsmith work with traditional embossing techniques with pole and puntiddi.

We make collectible puppets of 80/90 cm. in size and miniatures defined as “jewel puppets” of 30, 50, 65 cm with armor in brass, copper and nickel silver foil are made.

This wealth of knowledge was collected by Davide Napoli , who today, together with his father Fiorenzo, builds the armor. Alessandro Napoli also collaborates in the workshop for the padding and lining of the busts and Agnese Torrisi Napoli for the creation of costumes.

Davide Napoli , making his father's teachings his own, applied the ancient techniques of embossing of the ladder masters to the creation of refined jewelry in gold, silver, nickel silver, copper, brass, steel. Rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings are thus worked entirely by hand with the same procedures as the puppets' armor. Other objects made in this way are interesting embossed paintings with an epic - chivalrous theme and surreal metal masks.

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