Italian puppet master Mimmo Cuticchio, left, and an assistant. Photo provided by Theatre Company Figli d’Arte Cuticchio.
 
He’s a man known for pulling strings.

Mimmo Cuticchio, a renowned Sicilian storyteller and actor who had a small role as the puppet narrator in “The Godfather III,” is scheduled to give a free performance of a puppet opera Saturday at the Illusion Theater in Minneapolis.

It’s a rare opportunity for Twin Cities audiences to see the Italian master.

Cuticchio, 70, is descended from a line of performers of Opera dei Pupi, as the puppet operas are called in Italian. These performers, in turn, are part of the same centuries-old oral tradition that gave rise to the troubadours and to the singing storytellers of Sicily.

Puppet operas, which became popular in the 18th-century, use wooden marionettes and music to relay epic poems and stories, with a strong element of romance. A favorite of the genre is the thousand-year-old “Song of Roland.”

In Minneapolis, Cuticchio will perform “The Great Duel Between Orlando and Rinaldo for the Beautiful Angelica’s Sake.” It is about two warriors who desert the French army to win the hand of a princess. The fighters travel through magical worlds, battle beasts and encounter all kinds of snares before a wizard rescues them from their own folly.

The show will be accompanied by live musicians, including Cuticchio’s son, Giaccamo.

While admission is free, reservations are recommended (and donations are being accepted).

7:30 pm. Sat., Illusion Theater, 528 Hennepin Av., Mpls. 612-339-4944 or online.

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