Mario Fratti, playwright, critic, past ATCA member, dies at 95

Mario Fratti, playwright, critic, past ATCA member, dies at 95

Mario Fratti. Photo: Joseph Marzullo

Playwright, critic, educator, and man about town Mario Fratti has died at the age of 95.

Many in the theater world know him as responsible for the Italian play Six Passionate Women adapted from Federico Fellini’s film 8 1/2 that was also adapted by Arthur Kopit for the book of the musical Nine. (The shared or “as adapted from the Italian by” credit for Fratti for Nine was a point of conversation, for him for years.) Others know him for his prolific international writing playwriting and critical career — more than 100 works translated into 21 languages and performed in 600 theaters in more than two-dozen countries and drama critic for many European newspapers. Still others may know his daughter Valentina Fratti (one of his three children) who is an accomplished theater director and playwright, or that Valentina’s mother Laura Dubman Fratti, who died in 1992, debuted on piano at Carnegie Hall at age 5 and taught Katharine Hepburn at MGM how to play piano as Clara Schumann in “Song of Love.”

Mario Fratti was born in L’Aquila, Italy on July 5, 1927, He earned his doctorate in languages and literature in 1951 at Ca’ Foscari in Venice, served in the Italian Army 1951-1952, and was married in 1953 to Lina Fedrigo and in 1964 to Laura Dubman.

His earliest works included the play that got him to New York — a one act titled Suicide staged at the 1962 Spoleto Festival where Lee Strasberg saw it and brought it to the Actor’s Studio. Fratti moved to the US in 1963 and stayed for the rest of his life.

Fratti scaled back his work life in recent years, and was named professor emeritus of Italian literature at Hunter College and emeritus member of the Outer Critics Circle. Many of his papers and manuscripts are archived in the Mario Fratti Collection at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

– Submitted by Martha Wade Steketee

Additional coverage:

April 15, 2023 La Voce di New York
April 17, 2023 TheaterMania (David Gordon)

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