EMANCIPATION STORIES: VIRGINIA RAMPONI ANDREINI (1583-1631) FROM HER FATHER-IN-LAW TO HER HUSBAND
Numerous notarial deeds are kept in the State Archive of Mantua, involving some of the most famous comedians of the 17th century. Piermaria Cecchini (Frittellino); Francesco Andreini and his sons Domenico and Giacinto; Giovan Battista (Lelio) with his son Pietro Enrico; Tristano Martinelli; and others used notaries for wills, sales contracts, debt reduction, inventories of assets, and dowries. Some of these documents also involve the women of the Andreini family: Lavinia (sister Fulvia), Caterina (perhaps sister Clarastella), Virginia Ramponi Andreini (Florinda). In particular, an emancipation deed (1620) indirectly affected Virginia (Genoa, 1583? - before 17 November 1631), the first wife of Giovan Battista Andreini. On the basis of document analysis, two perspectives are explored: Virginia’s peculiar contribution to the activities of the family, also from an economic point of view; and the status of women with regards to emancipation, which must be understood from a legal point of view that was patriarchal and defensive of property. The article thus becomes an opportunity to reflect, starting from Virginia but gazing even beyond, on the condition of women who were active in the theatrical and musical world between jurisprudence, artistic professions, economic heritage, and daily life. In conclusion, through some selected examples (the concerto delle dame of Ferrara, Adriana Basile, Margherita Salicola, Antonia Merighi), the theme of emancipation throughout the 17th century is analysed, a period when women singers successfully populated the new operatic market. As the law remained unchanged, these women experimented with different strategies to protect their own person and assets.