Church of San Rocco a Chiaia

Mandolin Attitudes

Mauro Squillante, mandolin
Monika Toth, violin
Maria Cristina Vasi, viola
Salvatore Gatto, puppets


The show “Mandolin Attitudes” was born essentially from a game, a musical entertainment that our Emanuele Barbella decided to compose more than 300 years ago. The trios proposed here were probably composed for the theater, we do not know what genre, but what immediately becomes clear to us is that they tell stories, describe scenes, and the author himself in some of the scores suggests which scene is described. For this reason, it seemed appropriate to us to build a show that was not merely musical, but could tell a story. Hence the idea of ​​”inventing” a story, a succession of scenes and movements that acquire meaning only when accompanied by music. The choice of puppets and in particular of the “guarattelle” is not accidental, the guarattellari raged through the streets of Naples and then all over Europe at the time when the story unfolds. Unlike the marionette, the guarattella is an exquisitely popular element, disruptive, indomitable and totally anarchic, an appendage of the operator himself is part of his body and can perform few but effective movements.

Imagine finding yourself at the end of the 18th century at William Hamilton’ home, the ambassador of the British kingdom to the court of the Bourbons in Naples. The young wife of the now elderly official, enjoys creating havoc among the Neapolitan nobles fascinated by her extraordinary beauty by organizing the “Attitudes”: artistic performances in which she herself, dressed as an ancient Roman, dances and recites compositions of the classical tradition, in front of a court of cicisbei flocked to admire her. In addition to the Neapolitan nobles, Barbella himself, a regular visitor to the Hamilton house, admiral Nelson, secret lover of the beautiful Emma and the archbishop of Derry, a family friend and well-known viveur of the time, are invited to the evening. To cheer the party there are three musicians to play Barbella’s music and a Guarattellaro to entertain the attendees.

That evening our Sir Hamilton holds in his hands a very strange vase given to him by a servant that same afternoon and a note accompanies the strange object. It is an artifact that is said to have been found in the temple of Isis, which has been discovered at the recent excavations of Pompeii. The fine workmanship and shape suggest that it is a funeral urn kept in the temple. A large M is carved in relief on the main facade of the object, perhaps the initial of the name of the person to whom the ashes belonged. Derry suggests that it may be the urn of Messalina used later by the priestesses of Isis as a container for love potions. Legend has it that whoever drinks from the jar, carnally indulges in the first who presents in front of him …


Trio III – Allegretto comodo e spiccato – Canzona alla napolitana – Alla maniera inglese.

Trio II – Allegro con moto e con espressione – Largo staccato e con espressione – Allegretto con moto.

from Trio IV – Taice in rondò presto.

Trio V – Comodo – Alla maniera Siciliana – Alla Venezia.

from Trio IV – Allegretto brillante e staccato.

Trio I – Andante con moto – Furioso e staccato – Andantino amoroso.

Trio VI – Andante maestoso – Compassionevole e piangendo – Ballo di doppio carattere fatto per Pulcinella e Coviello.

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