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Commedia dell'Arte: The Masks of Antonio Fava
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Dottor Plus Quam Perfectus


The forehead of this mask is "astronomical"; the lumps are laid out in the form of a constellation, symbolizing universal thought and consciousness. This Dottore is a classic Bologna-dialect Dottore with multilinguistic layers. He is a great expert on everything, "Grand Old Man," father of one of the two Lovers, and friend-enemy of Magnifico, with whom he is in eternal conflict-complicity.

This Mask has a minimal structure: just forehead and nose. The forehead is indispensable as a symbol of genius, the nose as the comic center of the face.

Dottore-like in everything, the character is in reality a continuation of the ancient charlatan who demonstrates spectacular but doubtful knowledge that depends on the ignorance of others, which he can always count on, because they are either more ignorant than he (servants, Capitano) or too distracted by great joy and suffering (the Lovers) to notice his blunders. The audience immediately recognizes him for what he is, shameless and pompous. But he is truly, truly great in one thing: gastronomy. There he excels. He goes into exaltation, he becomes deeply moved, he slobbers over himself while describing the recipe, for instance, of real lasagna; and he is scandalized, indignant, furious when reporting barbarous variations and ignoble practices. The Dottore is the projection of the aspirations of an entire starving population that sees in him, in his immense gut, his fat pronounciation, his language that explosively reinvents all languages, and his intestinal outbursts, as overflowing as his gestures, the realization of their most gluttonous, prohibited desires.