- Year of publication: 2019
- Source: Show
- Pages: 5-8
- DOI Address: -
BEING A PROFESSIONAL ACTRESS. AN OVERVIEW OF THE EXISTING BODY OF RESEARCH AND NEW INQUIRES TO BE MADE
In the second half of the 16th century, the arrival of women on the stage caused a revolution, the effects of which extended to the entirety of modern society. A troupe on the move and always at risk, faced with waves of condemnation, the women actors, nomads by trade, were preceded by a diffidence that was both twofold and simultaneous: towards the principal makings of professional work in the theatrical arts and towards the moral qualities of which they had been regarded as the heralds, not individually but as a social group. The process of deconstructing the artistic identity of these pioneering actresses, who tended to be equated with harlots or to their opposites, that is, virgin actresses, was not limited to the first appearance of women on the professional scene, but, rather, it became a long-standing historical category. The article is concerned with removing prior moral judgments that were stratified over the actresses and freeing the historiographic field from preconceived viewpoints; it is concerned with dismantling misogyny and anachronistic sidelong glances. Between masks and prejudices regarding the perturbing aesthetic perception represented by the entrance of women into the world of art, distinguishing that which separates the actress’s profession from sexual adventures, talent from reputation, art from seduction, is essential to provide new historiographic categories and new coordinates to the study of the commedia dell’arte. In this way, other past experiences come to light: the launch towards professionalism, the role of marriage, and the violence that women underwent are a few of the problematic issues to reconsider and overcome based on prior documentary studies.
theatre historiography women’s dramaturgy female leaders of theatre companies female professionalism storiografia teatrale Commedia dell’Arte drammaturgia delle donne capocomicato femminile professionismo femminile
WOMEN AT THE THEATRE IN THE MODERN ERA
At the dawn of the modern era, aristocratic women, whether at court or in the academy, shed a noble aura on the new classic theatre and were often the privileged recipients of dedicated plays and poetry essays. They were totally different from the theatre-going women that bought tickets in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Women in the theatre, whether on the stage or in the audience, were a problem and a source of scandal for Catholic and Protestant authorities, who wanted to ban them from attendance. However, their presence kept growing and finally established itself in the 18th century, when women became the main heralds of good taste and sentiment. This essay discusses the two aspects of this story.
VITTORIA PIISSIMI AS A GYPSY: ANALYSING AN “INTERPRETATION”
This paper analyses Vittoria Piissimi’s best performance in La Zingara (The Gypsy), performed on the occasion of the Medici marriage of Grand Duke Ferdinando with Cristina di Lorena in Florence in 1589. Piissimi was an excellent artist of the 16th century with a great talent for fascinating the audience. Examining records about gypsy tales and plays, this paper explores similarities and differences amongst Piissimi’s descriptions and interpretations of the gypsy.
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.
THE ANTI-CHRISTIAN WOMAN. ON PROFESSIONAL ACTRESSES IN THE EARLY MODERN AGE
The profession of the commedia dell’arte actress acquires a markedly visible position in the broad public horizon of Modern-Age Italy. The actress, in that context, places herself both at the borders of the male amateur theatre practices and amongst the virtuous feminine models (nuns, wives, virgins), conflicting with both. These counter-positions must have been very visible, particularly to the spectators, who could easily draw comparisons both with the amateur shows, where only male actors played, and with different kinds of feminine characters. These contrasts are explored in this article using moral essays of the time, including the equivalence between actress and prostitute put forward by a lengthy treatise in 1646 by G.D. Ottonelli.
DIANA, AURELIA AND THE OTHERS: ACTRESSES AND LEADERS OF THE LAST DUKE OF MANTUA
This article introduces the activity of artistic directors Teresa Costantini, Angela Paghetti, and Colomba Coppa in the service of Ferdinando Carlo Gonzaga-Nevers, their generous patron and the last Duke of Mantua. Referencing studies that were initiated 30 years ago in the field of musicology and using recent historical research and archival sources, the essay highlights the artistic, organisational, and management responsibilities of commedia dell’arte directors. It reconstructs their relations with Ferdinando Carlo, ducal agents, and the Gonzaga court, while also focussing on their relations with Venetian Grimani impresarios, with whom the Duke of Mantua had established a lasting and generous collaboration. Performing women, prejudicially equated with prostitutes and beneficiaries of gifts and privileges, were depictions of love and glory for a discredited prince, whose array of artists was, however, amongst the most dense and dynamic in Italy. Actresses progressively moved away from the codes of courtliness and, as professionals registered and paid with money, they came to have strong bargaining power and levels of autonomy. However, they were subjected to rules and obligations, especially in Venice, where theatre owners made spaces available only to companies under the protection of the princes who were politically aligned with the Serenissima. During the years of the so-called Spanish succession war, Diana, Aurelia, and the others moved between Venice, Mantua, and Casale, where Ferdinando Carlo had moved after the blockade of Mantua, accompanied by a colourful procession of women, musicians, and commedia actors. Through theatrical misadventures mingled with military manoeuvres in Mantuan territory, and via changes of destination, programme, or repertoire, we read the story of a duchy that had lost its identity and of a rapidly changing theatrical market.
THE THEATRE OF AND FOR THE NUNS (NAPLES, 18TH CENTURY)
Recent studies have focused on the musical environment and the theatre in female monasteries of many Italian cities between the 16th and 18th centuries. These art forms became famous as forms of entertainment in travel literature and in the chronicles of the time but were forbidden in the age of the Counter-Reformation. However, the theatrical performances, both in prose and in music, enjoyed enormous success and spread in male and female monasteries. As of the 17th century, if not even earlier, travellers from half of Europe arrived in Naples, attracted by the excellence of the musical and theatrical performances that they could enjoy in the monasteries of the city. This essay aims to reconstruct the times, the modalities, and the contents of the theatrical offerings in the female monasteries of Naples at the beginning of the 18th century, all of which are still unknown today. In particular, the case of the Franciscan monastery of St Chiara will be examined. Through the patronage of Queen Maria Amalia, musical and theatrical performances played an active leading role in the configuration of a specific theatrical type and taste and increased the education of the nuns and young women who were educated in the monastery, representing and legitimising new feelings and sensibilities. The religious women found a way to talk of their feelings and concerns together; they forged relationships even with the environments outside of the monastery and especially with the Queen’s court and with the courts of the aristocratic palaces of their families of origin.
CATERINA BRESCIANI, FAMOUS IRCANA
While writing for the Venetian stage, Carlo Goldoni adhered to the requirements of the commedia dell’arte theatre, and thanks to his successful cooperation with actors, he gradually introduced changes to the ossified convention. The comedian-playwright wrote many of his texts for particular performers, using their personal qualities, stage experience, interpersonal relations within the team, and even biographies. Caterina Bresciani is an actress with whom Goldoni worked for as many as 10 theatre seasons, from 1753 to 1762, yet Goldoni does not mention much about her in his memoirs. To her, he owes his greatest stage success in Venice, La sposa persiana (1753), and two subsequent episodes of the story of the wild slave of Ircana. The aim of this article is to analyse the new typology of a female role, created for her first female performer, as well as to examine the performative traces hidden in the texts that will allow us to recreate the Bresciani style of acting.
THE WORLD TURNED TOPSY-TURVY, OR THE POWER OF WOMEN IN RUSSIA UNDER ELIZABETH PETROVNA AND CATHERINE II
The essay focuses on Carlo Goldoni’s musical drama Il mondo alla roversa put on stage in 1759 in Moscow by the company of Giovanni Battista Locatelli. In particular, it investigates the reasons why the impresario adapted this satirical and misogynist comic opera in his repertoire and the transformations that the libretto underwent to fit into the socio-political context governed by women rulers.
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