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‘From Suetonius to Camus, Caligula has constantly inspired historians, poets and playwrights, to the point of becoming a myth: that of madness steeped in cruelty . . . Caligula raves, Caligula is crazed, but his gaze is that of the visionary, his derangement of the senses is an opening towards the fantastical. Now it is precisely that fantastical (and also comical) dimension that is inscribed in the fable set to music Giovanni Pagliardi in Venice in 1672, which Vincent Dumestre brings back to life here. But above all, this portrait of Caligula as a hero of the impossible, a showman of wonders, has been rounded off with an idea that suddenly seems self-evident: Caligula, and all the characters around him, could only be “wooden actors”, puppets.
(...) The traditional Palermitan pupo – used in the famous puppet shows – is manipulated in full view of the audience by means of iron rods fixed to the head of the wooden character and one of the arms of the pupo, especially for the fight scenes, while the other arm is connected by a thread. The specific genius of the pupi is not mimetic, as in Venice, but poetic. Or, even better: epic . . . There is only one surviving representative of this popular art backed up by learned culture: Mimmo Cuticchio. Born in 1948, he learnt his skills from his father Giacomo, through practical experience of performances both itinerant, going from village to village, and local, in Palermo.’ (Alexandra Rübner and Vincent Dumestre, from the booklet article)