I Giullari di Piazza (Southern Italian Folk Group)

I Giullari di Piazza is the only performing troupe in America devoted to the creation of new musical and theatrical productions reviving the old traditions of southern Italian music, theatre, and dance, combined with folk legends, myths, and Commedia dell’Arte.
The company was founded in 1980 by artistic director, singer, and actress Alessandra Belloni, together with music director, composer, and classical guitarist John La Barbera. Together the directors have produced a wide repertoire based on twenty years of field and academic research. I Giullari di Piazza are artists-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
The company has performed at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Carnegie Hall, the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts (where they also teach Commedia dell’Arte), Madison Square Garden, the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan Museum, Giants Stadium, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. They have toured in Hawaii, California, Illinois, Canada, Florida (Epcot Center/Disneyworld), Pennsylvania, and elsewhere.
I Giullari di Piazza’s mission is to educate audiences, both in theatres and schools, on the rich southern Italian folklore, through concerts, theatrical productions and workshops, all of which are based on extensive library and field research by Directors Alessandra Belloni and John La Barbera. Our troupe specializes on the improvisational style of Commedia dell’Arte theatre, with music and dance, using masks and giant puppets, and combining mythic rituals of Pagan-Christian origins. Through the creation of new work based on these old traditions, our goal is to encourage Italian-American awareness, interest and pride in this rich ethnic heritage which has been lost due to integration and assimilation into the American culture.
The productions, “The Voyage of the Black Madonna” and “Earth, Sun and Moon,” comprise a multi-cultural cast. These performances draw parallels between the cultural and musical traditions of Southern Italy with those of Africa, and Latin and Native America. These rituals date back to the ancient cult of the Mother Earth Goddess. We believe that through this unique theatrical experience we can bring different races together and help save humanity from self-destruction. As artists we feel that our work must grow and be dedicated to the most important issues of our age and society. To expand our audience and to convey this message we have reached one of the most visible spaces in New York, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In this location we have drawn audiences from the Hispanic and African-American Communities of the neighborhood as well as our regular Italian-American audience.
The production, “Stabat Mater: Donna de Paradiso,” premiered to a wide audience and critical acclaim during Easter season of 1995 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. In the Italian and Spanish traditions, Passion Plays are represented during Easter, as ritual drama in the form of procession with traditional music and costumes, with actors and statues playing the roles of Mary and Jesus. With its procession of penitents, stations of the cross, ritual music, dance and drama, the “Stabat Mater” provided people of Italian and Hispanic descent, as well the general public, with a meaningful celebration of life and of the Mother.
I Giullari has performed at major theatres such as: Carnegie Hall in New York and Pittsburgh, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Museum, Madison Square Garden, St. John the Divine, St. Mark’s Church, Symphony Space, and toured to Smithsonian Institute, Dept. or Cultural Affairs in Chicago, Universal Studios in Los Angeles, Epcot Center in Florida.
ALESSANDRA BELLONI founded I Giullari Di Piazza with classical guitarist/Composer John La Barbera in 1979, and is now artist in residence at the cathedral of St. John the Divine where she performs the following operas, also available for touring: For more information email: abelloni@aol.com