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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Volpone, or The Fox (in Italian: "Big Fox"), is a comedy by Ben Jonson first produced in 1606, drawing on elements of city comedy, black comedy and animal fable. A merciless satire of greed and lust, it remains Jonson's most-performed play, and it is among the finest Jacobean comedies.


In 1918 the theme of a man faking his death to cozen his friends was taken up by Puccini in the third part of Il Trittico, namely Gianni Schicchi.

Volpone was adapted by Jules Romains and Stefan Zweig in their 1928 production, with the ending changed so that Mosca winds up with Volpone's money.

This version was used by George Antheil in his 1953 opera Volpone.

A more recent operatic version, by composer John Musto and librettist Mark Campbell, premiered in March 2004 at the Barns at Wolf Trap to positive critical notices.

A short-lived 1964 Broadway musical adaptation entitled Foxy moved the play's setting to the Yukon during the gold rush of 1898.

The stage adaptation Sly Fox, by Larry Gelbart, updated the setting from Renaissance Venice to 19th century San Francisco, and changed the tone from satire to farce.

The Honey Pot is a 1967 film by Joseph Mankiewicz based on Volpone, although with a romantic subplot and some more sentimental trappings, with Rex Harrison in the main role, Cliff Robertson as Mosca ("McFly"), and Maggie Smith as the love interest.

In 1988 the film was adapted for Italian cinema by Maurizio Ponzi, with the title Il Volpone. Set in modern Liguria, it features Paolo Villaggio as Ugo Maria Volpone and Enrico Montesano as Mosca.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Volpone" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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