What you don't know about Christmas at the Cupiello house

by Francesco Li Volti

Do you like it or 'crib? No. Nun me piac o 'crib.” “It's cold. It's cold. ” “A 'soup' and milk!. How many are the famous phrases that the great Eduardo staged with Christmas at the Cupiello house... and how many times we Neapolitans have seen it during the Christmas holidays ... the eve, the Christmas, the Immaculate Conception, Santo Stefano, but not only. Many and countless are the right occasions to see the most famous Christmas work of De Filippo, a tradition that has more than 50 years, thanks to the filming for TV in 1977.

One could have long monologues and debates on Christmas at the Cupiello house, starting from the type of spectator: there are those who do not see the third act, those who only see the first, those who know it by heart and those who see it every year as if it were the first time. Eduardo's ingenuity it also succeeds in this. But here we will not praise the greatest of the De Filippo; we intend to reveal to you some secrets and curiosities about Christmas at the Cupiello house, already knowing that you will be super prepared on the subject, but perhaps this article will leave you speechless. Like when Eduardo sees himself refusing the 5 lire offered to Tommasino to make him say that he likes the crib.

Christmas curiosities in Casa Cupiello

  • The first time that Natale in the Cupiello house was staged was on Christmas Eve 1931 al Kursal Theater. But where is this theater located? In reality, the Kursal changed its name over time and today it is none other than the current one Filangieri cinema, in via Filangieri 43.
  • Christmas in the Cupiello house was to be performed for 11 consecutive dates, but given the success it had on the first evening, the impresario of the Kursal Theater renewed the contract to the company for others 24 appointments, until May 21, 1932.
  • Eduardo's show was one act only. What we know as the second act, actually in the 1931 - year of birth of the comedy - constitutes a single act. Only later was the introductory scene of Lucariello's awakening written and in 1934 the opera as we know it today was completed, that is, in three acts. Eduardo defined the work as a "Trigeminal birth with a four-year pregnancy".
  • Luca and Concetta are the real names of De Filippo's maternal grandparents. The two characters are in fact inspired by them. The grandfather was particularly attached to the Christmas tradition, as was the famous Lucariè played by Eduardo.
  • Peppino De Filippo has always claimed the authorship of the scenes "I don't like it or take it" and the famous letter dedicated to his mother, although there is no evidence to prove these statements.
  • The character of Tommasino also called Nennillo (Luca Cupiello's son) is played in 1977 by Eduardo's real son, Luca De Filippo, also a masterful actor of the Neapolitan theatrical tradition. But how come Luca De Filippo uses for the whole show a strange speech, a little nasal and sputtering features? Well it seems that these characteristics have been taken up by the previous actor who played Tommasino, the great Neapolitan macchiettista Pietro De Vico, who actually had this speech impediment.
  • The umbrella that Luca Cupiello gives to his wife Concetta was produced by the greatest umbrella craftsman in Naples, Mario Talarico.
  • Luca De Filippo said that often he actually fell asleep during the beginning of the first act, having to stay completely under the covers for more than 20 minutes. He woke up only after the "call" of Luca (Eduardo): "Tommasì, choose ...".

And in any case, praise and honor at Christmas at the Cupiello house, a unique work that makes you think, even if this only happens to those who reflect even before laughing. In any case, the scenes in which father and son discuss the nativity scene and the hilarious ones about the theft of shoes are unforgettable for everyone. The Cupiellos are a Neapolitan family that tells itself through bitter and comic events, where Christmas is just a background to highlight emotions. If you stop for a moment and look at it, it's not because it's Christmas, but because it's Naples.

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1 Comment

Emanuele CUTRONE 25 May 2021 - 12:31

AND… Francesco FACES THEM; since you are a cosmopolitan, you remind me of the song "Imagine" by the great John LENNON who wished for a no country world (without nations / nationalities) ... if we want to finally reach universal peace on this PLANET EARTH


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