Musical Theater and Storytelling in Southern Italy

June 1 – July 13, 2024

During this six-week seminar based in Gesualdo, Italy, students will explore the fundamentals of storytelling through music theater, while studying Italian language and experiencing the culture of Southern Italy.

A central text is Giambattista Basile’s work Lo cunto de li cunti (known in English as The Tale of Tales or The Pentamarone, and published 1634–1636 in Naples). Written in regional dialect, The Tale of Tales was the first collection of literary fairy tales to appear in Western Europe, containing some of the earliest known written versions of Sleeping Beauty, Puss in Boots, and Cinderella.

Students will also examine how performance reflects culture through a study of Broadway musicals that reinterpret and are in conversation with the fairy tales and themes from Basile’s work.

This seminar will include participation in a public performance presented by the ensemble of students in collaboration with local community artists and professional teaching artists. The original, bi-lingual musical theater piece is inspired by the life and work of both Giambattista Basile and his sister Adriana Basile, an early Italian opera star who published the tales.

All experience levels are welcome! In addition to participation in the group theater performance, students will undertake individual creative or research projects as a culminating outcome of the course. Planned excursions include visits to Naples, Pompeii, and Florence.

“Musical Theater and Storytelling in Southern Italy” is cosponsored by the Lewis Center for the Arts. The seminar is supported by the Beth M. Siskind Global Seminars Fund and the Edward T. Cone ’39 *42 Fund in the Humanities Council.

Important Notes

PIIRS Global Seminars are open to first-year students, sophomores and juniors.

Fulfills the Literature and Arts (LA) distribution requirement, as well as a course for the minor in Theater and Music Theater.


The deadline for applications is February 1, 2024. Apply now for the Global Seminar

Descriptions, dates and travel details are subject to change.