BirthLercara Friddi, Palermo, Sicily, Italy (1912)
DeathLercara Friddi, Palermo, Sicily, Italy (1993)
Italian puppeteer. Giuseppe Argento was the son of “Cecé” Argento, who had himself been the pupil of Giovanni Pernice. Don Cecé had started his own business around 1890 and had travelled through many towns and villages in the Province of Palermo before establishing himself in Pernice’s theatre after the latter’s death (Corso Scinà on the ground floor of the Lo Monaco Sgaderi palazzo). Young Giuseppe began performing in his father’s theatre in 1927. In 1934, he founded his own theatre and began to tour in the same locations as his father had in his time. In 1938, he married Rosalia Trapani, but he was soon called to military service and sent to Libya. He was taken prisoner and remained in captivity until the end of World War II, spending part of this time in Mysore, India, where he embroidered and painted little tableaux of scenes from chivalric tales.
Upon his return to Palermo, Argento installed himself in the theatre of Corso Scinà, where his shows were attended every night by enthusiastic audiences. Afterward he relocated to the theatre of the Kalesa (1962-1964), then to Vicolo Pappagallo, at Piazza Marina. In this period the group of traditional enthusiasts was beginning to thin out and being replaced by tourists. When Argento was sent away from the Vicolo Pappagallo theatre because of necessary restoration work on the building, he was welcomed by the Associazione per la Conservazione delle Tradizioni Popolari (Association for the Conservation of Popular Traditions) in a building located in Piazza Marina, under the marionette museum (Museo Internazionale delle Marionette Antonio Pasqualino). After only a few years, however, he retired.
Giuseppe Argento was not only an experienced puparo (puppeteer) but also an excellent craftsman who painted and restored scenery and posters. In the early 1960s, he designed beautiful pupi (puppets), at a time when hardly anyone practised this craft.
He conferred his knowledge on his son Vincenzo, who has a boutique at 445 Corso Vittorio Emanuele. At the end of the 20th century, Vincenzo opened a theatre in collaboration with his wife and children on the ground floor of the Palazzo Asmundo, in front of the cathedral.