Pietro Aretino,

Pietro Aretino,
The Marescalco

Lodovico Ariosto,

Girolamo Bargagli,
The Female Pilgrim
(La Pellegrina)

Angelo Beolco
La Moschetta

Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
The Impresario

Giordano Bruno,

Giovan Maria Cecchi,
The Horned Owl

Giovan Maria Cecchi,
The Slave Girl

Giambattista Della Porta,
The Sister

Alessandro Piccolomini,

Leone De' Sommi, Ebreo,
The Three Sisters
(Le Tre Sorelle)

La Veniexiana

Carleton Renaissance Plays
in Translation

THESE PLAYS offer the student, scholar, and general reader a selection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces in English translation, most for the first time. The texts have been chosen both for their intrinsic merit and for their importance in the development of the theater.

Each volume is set cleanly, in a handy format, and presents a critical an interpretive introduction and reading notes. These volumes are reasonably priced and are ideal for classroom use, for the student of Renaissance drama, and for reading or performance.

Pietro Aretino, Cortigiana
Edited and translated by
J. Douglas Campbell & Leonard G. Sbrocchi

This is the earlier and racier version of the play, published in 1525. The name suggests a courtesan, but no such figure appears in the play; rather it means “the way of courtiers” or “court affairs.” Such is the case, in fact, because the action is about two foolish men seeking courtier status in the decadent and cynical Rome of the years just before the sack of the city, men who are led to social massacre by their knavish servants. It is an exposé of vanities by the most accomplished and daring satirist of the age of Pasquino.

All along, Aretino indulges in a little settling of scores around his own experiences in the “sacred” city, while placing the courtier under examination, generally, in light of views advanced by Castiglione in his famous book. This is an edition to read and laugh over, and, in conjunction with a wonderfully concise and informative introduction, is the best of all entries to the Rome of the 1520s.

156 pp. Price: $22.00

Pietro Aretino, The Marescalco
Edited and translated by
Leonard G. Sbrocchi & J. Douglas Campbell

Pietro Aretino’s 1533 play, Il Marescalco, is in some ways a thoroughly conventional example of Italian Renaissance theatre.

Aretino’s comedy recounts a practical joke played by the duke of Mantua on his stablemaster, who is led to believe that despite his own sexual orientation toward boys, he must take a wife in order to please his prince. This essay discusses a local historical subtext for the comedy's dark view of marriage and erotic self-determination, and suggests that Il Marescalco is as much about tensions between Pietro Aretino and Federico II Gonzaga as it is about marriage, courtiers, and princely power in the Italian courts of the sixteenth century.
Renaissance Studies.

Edited and translated by Leonard G. Sbrocchi & J. Douglas Campbell

ISBN: 0-919473-57-1
149 pp. Price: $16.00

Ludovico Ariosto, Supposes
Trans. George Gascoigne (1566)
Introduction by Donald Beecher, Edited by John Butler.

Ariosto’s now famous carnival play of 1509 for the Duke of Ferrara was one of the founding works of the Italian learned comedy tradition. Gascoigne, just over a half century later in England, chose the play for translation for a carnival presentation at Gray’s Inn — a fresh Elizabethan, yet highly accurate effort. The play begins in trickery as a student away from home in Ferrara disguises himself as a servant to be close to his beloved by working in her household. He then sets up his own lackey as himself, and encourages him to feign courtship to Polynesta, now pregnant, in order to ward off the courtship of a rich lawyer in the city, seeking a wife to get an heir.

Read on to find out who is his real heir, and what happens when the disguised lover’s real father comes to town and meets a fake one set up to back a dowry pledge. Discover, too, one of the most polished performances in the erudite tradition, its classical balance and economy.

178 pp. Price: $22.00

Girolamo Bargagli, The Female Pilgrim
(La Pellegrina)
Edited and translated by
Bruno Ferraro

The near-tragedy of false appearances and seemingly hopeless fidelity is ultimately resolved in a comedy of reunion.

Girolamo Bargagli (1537–86), the great Sienese humanist, wrote The Female Pilgrim in 1579, but the play was not performed until 1589 on the occasion of the marriage of Ferdinand I de’ Medici, grand-duke of Tuscany, with Christine de Lorraine, granddaughter of the former queen-mother of France, Catherine de’ Medici.

Six prominent Florentine composers contributed to the musical intermedi,or interludes, which included some of the most virtuosic vocal writing of the period. These have been performed more recently by several vocal ensembles.

Edited and translated by Bruno Ferraro

ISBN: 0-919473-77-6
154 pp. Price: $22.00

Angelo Beolco (Ruzzante), La Moschetta
Edited and translated by
Antonio Franceschetti & Kenneth R. Bartlett

Angelo Beolco (1502?-1542) is generally known as Ruzzante, after the character he played on stage. “Writing largely in his native Paduan dialect, Beolco reflected the difficult lives of those living under the Venetian Republic during a period of great social upheaval and personal danger. Today, the racy plays of Paduan town and country life are considered among the most significant in Italian Renaissance theatre; and La Moschetta is recognized as his masterpiece….

The action of La Moschetta centres on three men and women: a foolish, bragging husband who is not aware of what is happening in his own house (Ruzzante), his licentious wife, a close friend of the couple who has been the wife’s lover and wishes to regain her affections, and a bullying soldier who desires the wife but underestimates the difficulties involved in achieving his goal.” — from the editors’ Introduction

Edited and translated by Antonio Franceschetti & Kenneth R. Bartlett

ISBN: 1-895537-22-3
123 pp. Price: $18.00

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Impresario
Edited and translated by
Donald Beecher & Massimo Ciavolella

“Perhaps the least known aspect of Gianlorenzo Bernini’s artistic endeavours is his work as a scenographer and playwright. His contributions to the Barberini court spectacles have been the subject of several recent studies, many of them dealing with the tricky problem of distinguishing the work of Bernini from that of his contemporaries. That he was one of the most admired impresarios of his day is a received idea, but the ephemerality of the medium has deprived modern critics of actual works for study. John Evelyn, following his trip to Rome in 1644, celebrated Bernini's versatility in his Diary, stating that he gave a ‘Publique Opera ... where in he painted the scenes, cut the Statues, invented the Engines, composed the Musique, writ the Comedy and built the Theatre all himselfe.’” — Donald A. Beecher

Bernini’s only surviving play focuses on the theater as an intellectual game; full of insights worthy of Bernini’s genius.

Edited and translated by Donald S. Beecher & Massimo Ciavolella

ISBN: 0-919473-49-0
69 pp. Price: $17.00

Giordano Bruno, Candlebearer
Edited and translated by
Gino Moliterno

Ebullient and excessive, wilfully obscene and provocative at every turn, Bruno’s Candelaio brings up the rear of Italian renaissance comedy, appearing as effectively the last great masterpiece of the genre. Printed in Paris in 1582 when Bruno was already on the run from charges of heresy, the play takes up again the familiar figures and stock situations of the theatrical repertoire built up over the preceding century and develops them to their limit to produce what is perhaps the darkest but also the funniest of satires on the vanity of human wishes and the futility of misdirected desire. The lustful lover, the sordid miser, the insufferable pedant are all allowed here to sink to new depths of foolishness as they pursue their selfish ends in the shadowy streets of Naples to ineluctably bring on their own complete destruction.

A highly philosophical work in spite of its lewdness and scurrility, the play exemplifies Bruno’s inimitable gift for using strong, and often grotesque, imagery to express difficult notions and abstract ideas.

ISBN: 1-895537-51-7
204 pp. Price: $24.00

Giovan Maria Cecchi, The Horned Owl
Edited and translated by
Konrad Eisenbichler

Giovan Maria Cecchi (1517–87) was the most prolific and popular of sixteenth-century Florentine dramatists. His best-known play, L’Assiuolo (The Horned Owl, brings to the stage the amorous adventure of two students at the University of Pisa who fall in love with the same married woman.

Through a servant’s ruse they both succeed in gratifying their senses and in establishing a love affair that will see them through their undergraduate career.

Edited and translated by Konrad Eisenbichler

ISBN: 0-88920-116-1
80 pp. Price: $14.00

Giovan Maria Cecchi, The Slave Girl
Edited and translated by
Bruno Ferraro

A father and son become rivals for the love of a beautiful slave girl whom the father abducts and hides out with a neighbor until the neighbor’s wife comes home.…

This play was published in 1550 with the first group of six plays (written in prose and called commedie osservate) by the prolific Florentine playwright G.M. Cecchi (1518-1587); it was performed, soon after its composition in 1546, by the Compagnia di San Bastiano de’ Fanciulli. Though Cecchi is greatly indebted to classical models for structure, plot and characterisation, he draws not only upon his observation of everyday activities and social encounters for the note of contemporaneity and originality, but also upon the idiomatic and colorful Florentine language.

The play provides particular points of reference to the influence that Terence and Plautus had on the commedia erudita and highlights how sixteenth-century playwrights reveled in the challenge to distinguish themselves from their contemporaries and from the Latin models by creating (and then resolving) extremely complicated schemes, by introducing polemical or topical arguments, and by privileging (and this is the case with Cecchi’s The Slave Girl) a very entertaining and enjoyable sequel of events and repartees. Cecchi was indeed aware of the spectacular and instructive dimension of the theater as is borne out by the composition of a great number of plays ranging from moral to spiritual dramas, from farces to plays especially commissioned by convents and confraternities.

ISBN: 1-895537-29-0
118 pp. Price: $18.00

Giambattista Della Porta, The Sister
Translated with Introduction and Notes
by Donald Beecher and Bruno Ferraro

What cathartic-like experience is in store for the reader or spectator who is led into a plot of deceptions and intrigues only to discover that the young lovers who hold our sympathy are discovered to be brother and sister? It is a pity to anticipate even this much of the plot in order to say that the play turns around the age-old crisis of incest. Della Porta had been thinking about Aristotle’s Poetics, about the structure of the Oedipus plot, about peripety or dramatic reversal of fortune, and how to incorporate such elements into his own “essay” in surprise comic plotting.

There are two sets of lovers, greedy domineering fathers, a mother and daughter abducted by the Turks, and sudden reappearances that alter fortunes. The play is simultaneously punctuated by the compulsive antics of a braggart soldier and a parasite glutton. The playwright achieves a brilliant recombination of these familiar characters, while making a clever contribution to the entire debate over the nature and potential of the erudite theater, by then 80 years after the inaugural plays of the genre had appeared.

ISBN: 1-895537-55-X
162 pp. Price: $22.00

Alessandro Piccolomini, Alessandro
Edited and translated by Rita Belladonna

Edited and translated
by Rita Belladonna

Alessandro Piccolomini (1508–79) was a Sienese humanist and philosopher. Among his early works are Il Dialogo della bella creanza delle donne, o Raffaella (1539) and the comedies Amor costante, and Alessandro, sponsored and produced by the Sienese Accademia degl’Intronati, of which he was a member.

Alessandro is an intricate work of disguises, romantic adventures, and startling epiphanies.

George Chapman later adapted the play as May Day (published in 1611).

ISBN: 0-919473-47-4
99 pp. Price: $16.00

Leone De’ Sommi, Ebreo, The Three Sisters
(Le Tre Sorelle)
Edited and translated by
Donald Beecher & Massimo Ciavolella

The Jewish playwright Leone de’ Sommi (c.1525–c.1590) was a resident of Mantua and wrote most of his poetic dramas in Italian in the service of the Gonzaga dukes. His only surviving works are a treatise of stage design, an Italian pastoral, a poetic defense of women and a Hebrew play, A Comedy of Betrothal.

Borrowing from Publio Filippo Mantovani’s Formicone of 1503 and Machiavelli’s La Mandragola of 1519, Le tre sorelle “is not only a tale of three sisters, but three complete fables simultaneously related in a way that permits a sufficient leakage from plot to plot to allow for a coordination of crises and resolutions and a three-in-one denouement. That strategy of design was born from the idea of the play. More openly than ever before, the play is a witty contrivance of the ingenious maker, a practical manipulation of the resources of the theatre to accommodate a plot which is, itself, designed to test those resources in the extreme.…” — from the Introduction

Edited and translated by
Donald Beecher & Massimo Ciavolella

ISBN: 0-919473-81-4
131 pp. Price: $18.00

La Veniexiana
Translated by Carolyn Feleppa Balducci
Introduction & Notes by Martin W. Walsh

Non fabula, non comedia, ma vera istoria (“neither tale nor comedy, but true story”) reads part of the Latin inscription attached to an anonymous comedy of the early sixteenth century known as La Veniexiana, the Venetian title sometimes alternating with its standard Italian spelling, La Venexiana. The play’s title is virtually untranslatable, for the feminine singular La Veniexiana refers to neither of the female “leads” but to things “typically Venetian,” specifically to the patrician, cosmopolitan yet dangerous sensuality which the word “Venetian” axiomatically evokes.

Claiming to be an authentic slice of Venetian life is only one of the play’s many unusual features. A prose comedy written mostly in Venetian dialect and consisting of five very short acts, it has an unusual cast of four female to only two male characters and presents some of the most beautifully erotic scenes ever imagined on the Western stage.

ISBN: 1-895537-57-6
83 pp. Price: $16.00

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