Written byEduardo De Filippo
Date premiered1946
Place premieredNaples
Original languageItalian
Subjectafter 25 years of marriage Filumena is to be thrown over for a younger woman; pretence of death cures all
SettingDomenico Soriano's house in Naples, Italy

Filumena Marturano (Neapolitan: [filuˈmɛːnə martuˈrɑːnə], Italian: [filuˈmɛːna martuˈraːno]), sometime performed in English as The Best House in Naples, is a play written in 1946 by Italian playwright, actor and poet Eduardo De Filippo. It is the basis for the 1950 Spanish language Argentine musical film Filomena Marturano, multiple Italian adaptations under its original title, and the 1964 film Marriage Italian Style.


The curtain opens on Domenico Soriano, 50, a wealthy Neapolitan shop-keeper who is raging against Filumena, 48, a former prostitute. They lived together for 26 years as husband and wife (but with his frequently having trysts with other women) and she has tricked him, pretending to be near death, and convincing him to marry her in extremis. Domenico, however, would rather marry Diana, a young girl, who is already in the house pretending to be a nurse. Filumena reveals the real reason for the marriage to Domenico: She wants to create a family for her three children (Umberto, Michele and Riccardo) who have no idea of who their mother really is.

Domenico is not going to allow this and asks his lawyer Nocella to annul the marriage. Filumena speaks to the young men telling them that she is their mother. Filumena accepts the defeat of the annulment, but tells Domenico that one of the three children is actually his. All attempts to find out who his son is fail, and Domenico, after 10 months, remarries Filumena accepting to be the father of all three.

In the play, Filumena memorably tells Domenico that "children are children, and they're all equal" (I figli sono figli e sono tutti uguali).


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Mira Danilova as Filomena Marturano in a 1955 play by Ljubljana City Theatre
Mira Danilova as Filomena Marturano in a 1955 play by Ljubljana City Theatre

Filumena Marturano initially was written as a tribute to Eduardo's sister Titina De Filippo, a famous Neapolitan theatrical actress, who took the title role in the first production in Naples in 1946. The play followed the success of Napoli milionaria, which Eduardo had written and which had premiered the year before to general acclaim. The first night of the new play, proved a disappointment however, and received lukewarm notices from the Neapolitan theatre-going public. Titina decided to address this by following her own instincts and performing as she felt the role required. She was proved right. The play achieved great success, so great in fact that for many years afterwards Titina was called Filumena in Italy rather than her own.

Thanks to an arrangement made by Carlo Trabucco, the editor of the daily Italian Christian Democrat newspaper Il Popolo, an audience was arranged for the cast to meet Pope Pius XII in a private audience in the Vatican. At the audience, the pope unexpectedly asked to hear one of the monologues, and Titina recited for him the prayer of Filumena to the Madonna of the Roses.

Despite the strong connection between Titina De Filippo and the role in the mind of the Italian public, another actress, Regina Bianchi, was able to achieve cult status as Filumena in subsequent years.

In 1977, an English language translation by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall undertook a production at the Lyric Theatre in London directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Colin Blakely and Joan Plowright. This won The London Theatres Comedy of the year award in 1978. The production was taken to New York City where it opened on 10 February 1980 at the St. James Theatre on Broadway where it ran for 32 performances. Before the New York transfer, it had a run in Baltimore where it was directed by Laurence Olivier (husband of Joan Plowright).

The play was performed at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, opening on 30 September 1998 and running until 27 February 1999. It was directed by Peter Hall with Judi Dench in the title role. Michael Pennington played Domenico.

Film adaptations

In 1950, Eduardo De Filippo directed Filomena Marturano, an Argentine, Spanish-language film of the play, in which he starred as Domenico alongside his sister Titina. They also co-starred in the 1951 Italian film Filumina Marturano, again directed by De Filippo, although Ms. De Filippo received no screen credit. He also made a TV version in 1962, in which Regina Bianchi played the title role.

In 1964, another screen version was directed by Vittorio De Sica, titled Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage Italian Style), starring Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. It was nominated for several international awards, winning the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.[1]

In 2010 Italian television, RAI Uno, made a miniseries starring Massimo Ranieri.


  1. ^ Marriage Italian-Style, retrieved 2018-05-12

Further reading