Several generations of puppeteers have followed one another over almost a century of the Syracuse puppet opera. In each case the prime mover of the theatre activity as a whole was the synergy of the family.

The Puzzo family was the first family from Arezzo to launch the art of puppetry in the area in 1877. In their workshop and behind the scenes, the young Saro Vaccaro collaborated, treasuring his love of puppets and theatre. Thanks to him, therefore, the baton of the puppet art passed after the war to the Vaccaro brothers, Saro and Alfredo, who together reopened the curtain on the puppet tradition with the collaboration of their respective families. Years of silent labour dedicated to the construction and maintenance of the puppets passed before the first show was staged. It was 1978. It was a growing success and since then the large Vaccaro family carried on the business until 1995.

13 February 1995 is a sad date for the Vaccaro family. At his death, grandfather Alfredo left the puppet heritage in the hands of his heirs, children and grandchildren. It is time to roll up our sleeves to preserve the Teatro dei Pupi. Thus, the first association ‘Opera dei Pupi Alfredo Vaccaro‘ was founded. Unfortunately, the history of Pula families is also a history of splits, aspirations and divergent projects. The first big change took place at the end of the 1990s when the Mauceri family, Francesca Vaccaro, her husband Umberto and their children, the Mauceri brothers, took over total management of the business and founded the association “La compagnia dei Pupari Vaccaro-Mauceri” on 3 December 1999. It was important for the two brothers to start their own journey, drawing on the experience of their predecessors and making it contemporary for the benefit of their audience. Thousands of spectators have attended their shows every day over the years in Via della Giudecca in Syracuse, and numerous national and international awards and recognitions have been given to their art. These include: the International “Nuove Mani” Award (Amalfi 2000), the National “Puppeteers of 2000 in competition” Award (Mantua 2001), the National “Maranci” Award (Syracuse 2003), the National Ethics and Enterprise Award (Ravello 2009), the Artisans of the Year Award (Syracuse 2010), Festival mondial des théâtres de marionnettes FMTM (chateau de Malbrouck 2010), Festa della Repubblica Italiana at the Italian Embassy in Paris (2019).

However, since historical ebbs and flows have also marked the lives of Pula families throughout history, the time has come for the Mauceri brothers to take a different path in 2020. After 25 years of theatre, commitment, sacrifice and satisfaction, the brothers decided to continue and develop their own artistic paths.

Daniel MauceriDriven by his tenacity and love for his work, in keeping with the family tradition, he founds the company. the new associationOpera dei Pupi Vaccaro Mauceri” together with the parents, relying on their experience and irreplaceable role. The aim is always to continue to promote the passion for theatre and to disseminate the artistic tradition, la costruzione dei pupi e valorizzare l’antica tecnica della carta pesta, tramandataci da Alfredo e Rosario Vaccaro.


The craft workshop in Via della Giudecca 17, Ortigia, is the headquarters of the new association. Inside, there is a real journey through time, which will fascinate all those who participate in the workshops on puppet makingor in the guided tours or the proposed theatre performances.

Moreover, today it is not only the puppets that inhabit the creative space of the workshop. The Aretusian tradition of papier-mâché carried on by Daniel and his parents has also found new applications with the creation of sacred statues, including life-size ones, and the manufacture of jewellery that becomes wearable history. Daniel Mauceri’s handicraft workshop is a must for viewing the world of Sicilian craftsmanship of excellence.

Everything is transformed and everything is preserved. Certainly, the dedication to art and the meaning of family will never change.


The Opera dei Pupi, the traditional Sicilian theatre, dates back to the first half of the 19th century and since then has never ceased to fascinate Sicilian and non-Sicilian audiences. The Puppet Theatrestages stories from medieval and Renaissance chivalric literature inspired by the Carolingian cycle. The first to collect all the legends, exploits and loves of Charlemagne’s knights and his enemies was Palermo-based master Giusto Lodicoat the end of the 19th century. In doing so, Lodico carried out a cultural operation of historical significance. His collection became ‘U Libru’ for many Sicilians, especially the less well-off and non-literate, who were attracted by the Puppet Theatre and learned to read and write. Since then, the tradition of the Opera dei Pupi suffered a setback during the World Wars and was certainly affected by the advent of technology and the variety of entertainment in recent decades. Fortunately, however, despite the dark years of conflict and crisis, the puppet theatre has never completely outlived its usefulness. He has preserved and transformed it by dressing it with the value of tradition. There are still many active puppet families, but in terms of construction techniques, puppet sizes, theatrical texts and acting, there are at least three main strands: the Palermo school, the Catania school and the Syracuse school.