Mario Ricci

Moby Dick. 1971

Moby Dick. Mario Ricci.1972 © foto di Luigi Perrone

Moby Dick (1971)

directed by Mario Ricci
from Hermann Melville
scenes by Claudio Previtera, Mario Romano, Carlo Montesi
with Claudio Previtera, Angela Diana, Lillo Monachesi, Carlo Montesi, Deborah Hayes
music by Modern Jazz Quartet, Richard Strauss
film by Guido Cusolich
First performance Palermo, III Review of the Teatro Nuovo (New Theater and Cabaret Theater), November 1971
Rome, L’Abaco Theater, January 1972
Florence, Rondò di Bacco, Italian first global information about the research theater (Research 1), 19-20 April 1972
Rome, Festival of Unity, 29 September 1972
Edinburgh International Festival, [August / September] 1972
Belgrade, BITEF, September / October 1972
Rome, L’Abaco Theater, March 1973

Notes on Mario Ricci’s Moby Dick: figures of actors and cinema in four dimensions

by Cristina Grazioli
The theatrical vocation of one of the ‘founding fathers’ of New Italian Theatre takes shape in the area of a visual practice
riddled with the presence of the ‘artificial’. Educated in the visual arts, since the beginnings of his creative practice Mario
Ricci invited a number of collaborators, amongst whom Pasquale Santoro, Nato Frascà, Achille Perilli, Gastone Novelli,
Claudio Previtera, Franco Libertucci, Umberto Bignardi. After a stint in Paris in 1959, he consolidated his practice working at
Michael Meschke’s Marionettentheater in Stockholm between 1960 and 1962. Here he also got to know Harry Kramer’s
mechanical theatre.
Two fundamental coordinates guide our reading of Moby Dick: the visual arts and the marionette theatre as every
avantgarde has confronted it, that is as the terrain where the human encounters mechanical and artificial presences. The
circumstances of Moby Dick allow for an analysis guided by the piece’s reception and its resonance. Firstly, because Ricci
himself made available a number of materials that describe both how the piece was made and how its poetic apparatus
functioned. Secondly, because this 1971 work opens up to a spectatorial panorama which since its inception was international
in scope: before unveiling the performance in Italy, Ricci published his description of Moby Dick in a special issue of The
Drama Review dedicated to puppets and marionettes. The piece was also presented at the Edinburgh Festival, at the Bitef in
Belgrade, and in Munich. Keep read…

Mario Ricci. Moby Dick (1971). Description-synopsis

by Cristina Grazioli
We offer a brief synopsis of the show, highlighting some of the processes used and referring the reader to the director’s own accurate description (published in “The Drama Review” and then in the book edited by Quadri) for more detail.
The scene opens in the dark. At the centre, from upstage, Ahab appears (Claudio Previtera). He stands still in the dark silence for a minute, then slowly advances towards the proscenium dragging his wooden leg (the leg of the actor, stuck in a barrel), where a light has come on. He is followed by the first of the fish-actors (Carlo Montesi).
The other figures enter (some from the back of the stage, some from the side): they wear simple tunics and black tights, they have silvery fish heads and watery movements; they place their animal body parts in the spotlights that are scattered across the stage and hold up props (a harpoon, for example) that produce sounds as they are beaten and struck. From the start, the viewer’s attention is thus lead towards images that are revealed through lights and sound.

Keep read...

Documents are published in original language. In case the translation is present, both the original and the translation are published.

Writings by artists and interviews

Mario Ricci, Description of Moby Dick, in Franco Quadri, L’avanguardia teatrale in Italia. Materiali (1960-1976), 2 voll., Turin, Einaudi, 1977

Mario Ricci, Moby Dick, in «The Drama Review», The Puppet Issue, n. 55, 1972

Mario Ricci, Report for the XIV Parma Festival, in Franco Quadri, L’avanguardia teatrale in Italia. Materiali (1960-1976), 2 voll., Turin, Einaudi, 1977

Mario Ricci, L'uso del cinema, in Franco Quadri, L’avanguardia teatrale in Italia. Materiali (1960-1976), 2 voll., Turin, Einaudi, 1977

Mario Ricci, Interview, 2008, in Silvia Carandini (edited by), Memorie dalle cantine. Teatro di ricerca a Roma negli anni ’60 e ‘70, «Biblioteca teatrale», Rome, Bulzoni, 2013


Moby Dick

photos by Luigi Perrone and Tommaso La Pera
© All rights reserved

Mario Ricci, Moby Dick

Cover of «Sipario», February 1972

Elio Pagliarani, Moby Dick all'Abaco, «Paese Sera», December 24, 1971

Edoardo Fadini, Il libero gioco di Mario Ricci, «Rinascita», February 18, 1972

Mario Raimondo, Moby Dick, «Sipario», February, 1972

Angelo Maria Ripellino, Moby Dick approda nel giardino d'infanzia, «l'Espresso», March 18, 1973

Franco Quadri, Moby Dick di Mario Ricci, «Panorama», February 2, 1972

Curator's notes

Notes to documents edited by Cristina Grazioli

Context materials

Franco Quadri, Mario Ricci, Articolo sul teatro di Mario Ricci in Franco Quadri, «Skema», n. 10, 1974

Paolo Puppa, Attorno a Mario Ricci (e al suo Re Lear), in Bartolucci, G., Menna, F., (a cura di), Uso, modalità e contraddizioni dello spettacolo immagine, Macerata, Nuova Foglio, 1975

Mario Ricci, Teatro-rito, teatro -gioco, in Franco Quadri, L’avanguardia teatrale in Italia. Materiali (1960-1976), 2 voll., I, Turin, Einaudi, 1977

Germano Celant, Scheda Moby Dick, Moby Dick reporting, Palermo November 1971 in Germano Celant Identité Italienne, Paris, 1980

Mario Ricci, Hamlet 1986, program, preserved at the Institut International de la Marionnette, Charleville-Mézières, Fonds Brunella Eruli

«The Drama Review» cover

The Puppet Issue,number dedicated to the Puppet,
n. 55, 1972

«Sipario» cover

Mario Ricci, Re Lear,
December 1970

Movimento uno e due

Mario Ricci, Movimento uno e due, 1964. Photos by Pietro Galletti and Riccardo Orsini

Pelle d'asino,

Mario Ricci, Pelle d'asino, 1965. Photo by Riccardo Orsini

I viaggi di Gulliver

Mario Ricci, I viaggi di Gulliver, 1966. Photos by John G. Ross and Riccardo Orsini


Mario Ricci, Salomé, 1966. Photo by G. Mantegna


Mario Ricci, Varietà, 1966. Photo by Riccardo Orsini

Il Barone di Münchhausen, 1969

Mario Ricci, Il Barone di Münchhausen, 1969

Re Lear. Da un'idea di gran teatro di William Shakespeare, 1970

Photo by Luigi Perrone

Il lungo viaggio di Ulisse, 1972

Mario Ricci, Il lungo viaggio di Ulisse, 1972

Macbeth, 1972

Photo Sergio Rossi (from Fondo Brunella Eruli, Charleville-Mézières, Institut International de la Marionnette)

Amleto, 1986

Photo Sergio Rossi (from Fondo Brunella Eruli, Charleville-Mézières, Institut International de la Marionnette)