Natale in casa Cupiello Presented by the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan

On December 17, 2019, the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan presented a live production of Eduardo De Filippo’s Natale in casa Cupiello (“The Nativity Scene”) to a sold-out audience at the Village Players of Birmingham.   The event was organized in collaboration with the N.O.I. Foundation (Nuovi Orizzonti Italiani), in conjunction with the XIX Week of Italian Language in the World “L’italiano sul palcoscenico” (Italian on Stage), under the auspices of the Consulate of Italy in Detroit.

The cast was made up of a wonderful group of volunteers, amateurs committed to dedicating their free time to make this event fun and memorable for the community.  Rehearsals began in February 2019 and took place at the Dante Alighieri offices and in the homes of cast members.  Though they had a dress rehearsal in the theatre on December 16, the first time the entire cast was on stage together was the night of the performance.   

Natale in casa Cupiello
, written in 1931, is part of Italy’s Christmas tradition. It takes place in Naples, where Luca Cupiello (portrayed by Franco Iaderosa) and his wife Concetta (portrayed by Lia Adelfi), try to get ready for Christmas while their children Ninuccia (portrayed by Annunziata Mazza-Perpetuini) and Tommasino (portrayed by Wladimiro Marcelli) complicate the preparations.  Luca’s bachelor brother Pasquale (portrayed by Lino Scamardella) adds to the family discord. As Luca is working on the presepe (the traditional Nativity scene), his wife and son are constantly criticizing his efforts.  Luca is explaining this art to his son Tommasino: each ”pastore” (shepherd) has its own place, there are the mountains, the small houses in the back to give depth to the scene, the shack where baby Jesus comes to life, and the real waterfall coming down from the mountains.  Meanwhile Ninuccia is in love with Tommasino’s best friend Vittorio (portrayed by Massimo Risi) and wants to leave her husband Nicolino (portrayed by Pierluigi Erbaggio). The plot develops around Christmas Eve dinner and the story escalates when Nicolino understands his wife’s intentions. Luca has a stroke caused by the stress and until his last breath tries to save his daughter’s marriage and to convince his son Tommasino about the importance of the Christmas tradition of the presepe.  A Dying Luca tells his family “Vi dovete voler bene” (you must love one another). It is only at this point that the members of the Cupiello family seem to be willing to change their attitudes and improve their family dynamic. 

The cast included Franco Iaderosa, Lia Adelfi, Lino Scamardella, Wladmiro Marcelli, Annunziata Mazza-Perpetuini, Pierluigi Erbaggio, Massimo Fulfaro, Massimo Risi, Daniela D’Amico Henderson, Anna Pedalino, Maria Giovanna Ferrigno, Giovanni Mastrangelo, Tonino Corsetti, Monica Buscaroli, Sara Corsetti, and Gerardo Alvino.   Michael Scamardella provided a musical interlude Lacrime napulitane  (Neapolitan Tears).   Gianfranco Cataldo performed the audio/video duties, and Erika Caturegli was the makeup artist. 

For its adaptation of Natale in casa Cupiello, the Dante Alighieri Society of Michigan elected to keep its original linguistic form, a combination of Neapolitan dialect and Italian. The translation of the play into English surtitles was done by Wayne State University “Italian 6700 –Performing Italy” students Paula Qefaliaj, Tullio DiMichele, and Taylor Claybrook led by Professor Elena Past. 

Having been sold out for weeks, this evening was greatly anticipated and there was never a doubt that it would be thoroughly entertaining.  However the level of professionalism and the high quality of the performance amazed everyone in the audience, who responded with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.  The Dante Alighieri Society is to be congratulated for bringing this exceptional play to our community.

By Sandra Tornberg

by Eduardo De Filippo

Characters & Cast
Luca Cupiello Franco laderosa
Concetta Cupiello Consiglia (Lia) Adelfi
Tommasino Wladimiro Marcelli
Ninuccia Annunziata Mazza-Perpetuini
Pasquale Lino Scamardella
Nicolino Percuoco Pierluigi Erbaggio
Vittorio Elia Massimo Risi
The doctor Daniela D’Amico Henderson
Raffaele Massimo Fulfaro
Carmela Anna Pedalino
Olga Maria Giovanna Ferrigno
Alberto Giovanni Mastrangelo
Luigi Pastorelli Tonino Corsetti
Rita Monica Buscaroli
Armida Sara Corsetti
Gerardo Gerardo Alvino

~Lacrime napulitane  written by Libero Bovio (lyrics) and  Francesco Buongiovanni (music)
~I’ te vurria vasa’ written by Vincenzo Russo,  Eduardo Di Capua, and Alfredo Mazzucchi
performed by: Michael Scamardella

Adaptation: DAS of Michigan
Video/Audio: Gianfranco Cataldo
Makeup Artist Erika Caturegli
Graphics: Consiglia (Lia) Adelfi
Pierluigi Erbaggio
Anna Chiara Alberti
Photos: Tulia Henderson

Special thanks to Prof. Elena Past  and her WSU students of “Italian 6700 Performing Italy”, Paula Qefaliaj, Tullio
DiMichele, and Taylor Claybrook for the translation in English of the play.

Another special thanks go to:
Mena Abbagnale, Diana Scamardella , Lucia Falcone, Monica Buscaroli

A special thanks to all the families.

Thanks for the hospitality for the rehearsals to the Henderson, Adelfi and Risi families

DAS – Michigan – 2019.