Director - Robert Hollingworth




Five Grotesque Characters / Leonardo da Vinci

Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Five Grotesque Characters


Orazio Vecchi – Daspuò che stabilao (1597)



Leonardo stressed that beauty gained power from its juxtaposition with ugliness.  His sketchbooks are richly peopled by grotesque characters, often in profile and sometimes coupling men who have bizarre features with comparably ugly women. He noted unpleasantly that there was no woman so ugly that she would not meet her male match. He made notes about where to see individuals with remarkable features and carried small sketchbooks with him to capture striking examples. Behind the extreme characterizations lay the ancient and mediaeval science of physiognomics, that claimed to determine the inner character of each person from their facial features.


Leonardo’s grotesques were for some centuries amongst his most popular drawings, and were reproduced quite early. They corresponded to a major tradition of bawdy literature in which characters who behaved with pomposity, stupidity, mendacity and sexual licence were crudely mocked.


In the famous drawing of five characters, a shop-soiled if dignified king of fools, crowned with a wreath of oak, is noisily mocked by men whose faces bear witness to their malice. It seems likely that he is being subjected to a mock wedding with a pug-faced crone in a related drawing.











This scene from Vecchi’s madrigal comedy L’Amfiparnaso is a caricature of greed (literal and financial), stupidity and incompetence, at the same time creating a beautifully constructed musical sketch. The three characters (from what was later called the commedia dell’arte) are the old miser Pantalone, his servant Francatrippa and later the confused, but nonetheless verbose, Dr Graziano. [Spoken introduction by Timothy Knapman]




Five Grotesque Characters

Leonardo da Vinci








Pan: Daspuo ch’ò stabilio sto parentao

E parte de la Diote

Su’l Banco de Grifon depositao

Voio mò far nozze,

Sù Francatrippa invida i mie parenti.

Fran: Sagnur si sagnur nò.

Ma i me paret de mi?

Pan: Che parenti hastu ti?

Fran: Fè cont du compagnet

Paret de stret de stret.

Pan: Chi xè costor di mò?

Fran: Mesir à vel dirò.

O’l Gandai, e’l Padella

Zan Piatel, e Gradella.

Zan Bucal, e Bertol.

Burati, e Zanuol.

Relichin, e Simù.

O’l Zampetta, con Zanù.

E Frignocola, e Zambù.

Il Fritada, e Pedrolin

Con dodes Fradelin.

Pan: Moia moia moia

Do compagnet’an?

Fran: Eh si caro Patrù.

Pan: Tasi là pezzo de Can

Fran: O mesir l’è i lò u’l Duttur

Che suna u’l Zambaiù?

Pan: Chi xè sto Zambaiù?

Fran: Sentif? sentif? Oldif?

Trencu trencu tren

Pan: Bon zorno caro Zenero

Deh caro e’l mio Dottor fem’un piaser

Gra: O com’o com’o com,

Msier si msier si msier si.

Pan: Cantè sù un pochetin

Un madregaletin.

Gra: A dirò al me favorid

Pan: Sù Francatrippa

Va in casa e dì à mia Fia

Che se fazza al balcon

Che sol per lei se vive in allegria.




Pan: Now that I’ve settled this family business,

and have put part of the dowry

in the Bank of the Griffin,

I want to prepare the wedding feast.

Up, Francatrippa, go and invite my relatives!

Fra: Yes boss, no boss,

but what about my family?

Pan: What family have you got?

Fra: Count on two groups

that are this close.

Pan: Tell me who they are?

Fra: I’ll tell you, boss:

the Crumb and the Pan,

Jack Dish and Griddle,

Jack Goblet and Fool,

Mr Punch and little Zanni,

Harlequin and Simey,

or Chicken Leg with Zannini,

and Dumpling and Ham-bone,

the Omelette, and Pedrolino

with his twelve little brothers.

Pan: Drop dead, drop dead, drop dead!

Just two groups, eh?

Fra: Er… yes, chief.

Pan: Keep quiet, dogsbody!

Fra: Sir, there’s the Doctor,

plucking his bagpipe!

Pan: What kind of an egg pudding is that?

Fra: D’you hear it?

[Whine, twang.]

Pan: Good day, dear son-in-law.

Pray, my dear Doctor, let’s divert ourselves.

Gra: O how, O how, O how,

Yessir, yessir, yessir!

Pan: Sing us a little song,

a little madrigal.

Gra: I’ll sing it to my betrothed.

Pan: Hurry, Francatrippa,

go inside and tell my daughter

 to appear on the balcony,

because we’re celebrating for her.



Clare Wilkinson - mezzo-soprano

Eleanor Minney - mezzo-soprano

Nicholas Mulroy - tenor

Robert Hollingworth - baritone

Charles Gibbs - bass

Twitter @ifagiolini

Represented by Percius /

© Copyright 2019 - I Fagiolini