Zanni ( Italian: Zanni ) - a large group of characters-servants (masks) of the Italian comedy del arte , among which the most important: Brigella (first zanni of the Venetian mask quartet), Harlequin (second zanni of the Venetian mask quartet), Coviello (first zanni of the Neapolitan mask quartet ) and Pulcinella (second zanni of the Neapolitan mask quartet). This also includes girls, servants of Colombine , Fantesque , Smeraldin, etc.
The word "zanni" comes from the name "Gianni" ( Italian: Gianni ) in the Venetian pronunciation. Zan Ganassa - this was the name of one of the first actors to glorify this mask.
Zanni on the stage of the arena theater is one of the oldest masks, continuing the tradition of court and carnival jesters . They appear in the Italian farces of the 15th century, and even earlier - on the pages of the Renaissance short stories . These are servants, former peasants who left home because of poverty and unemployment ( Bergamo for the northern masks, Cava and Acherra for the southern) in search of a better life in the prosperous port cities ( Venice in northern Italy and Naples in the south). The townspeople mockingly looked at the newcomers, laughed eagerly at them. They often portray them as completely stupid (Harlequin), or smart, but with unusual for the townspeople, provincial actions (Brigell), with a dialect characteristic of "countrymen" (Harlequin and Brigell, for example, speak the rather monosyllabic Bergamian dialect of the Lombard language ). Over time, of course, this satire softened, especially since it is the zanni who are actively plotting the script, helping the old men Pantalone and the Doctor , who are in love with their confrontation.
- A.K. Dzhivelegov, "Italian Folk Comedy", Moscow, 1954, pp. 112-118.