L’attrice come immagine pubblica: Le strategie di tre attrici del xvi e xvii secolo
Martell, Laura Jean
This thesis explores the self-promotional strategies undertaken by the Italian performers Isabella Canali Andreini (1562-1604), Adriana Basile (1580-1640), and Giulia De Caro (1646 – 1697), as well as the public personae that they created in order to achieve fame, professional success and social mobility. Each of these performers lived and worked in a time when the figure of actress-singer was denigrated by society and associated with prostitution. They each had to maintain public personae and self-promotional strategies which reflected societal expectations of women as private and domestic figures while confronting the stigma associated with life on the stage. Andreini was the first ‘diva’ of the Commedia dell’Arte who adopted the public persona of being an incomparable actress, a published author of poetry, and the pastoral play La Mirtilla, as well as that of an ideal wife and mother at the head of the ‘first family’ of the Commedia dell’Arte – The Andreinis. Adriana Basile, was among the first generation of female court singers who were contracted specifically as musicians and not as ladies in waiting. Basile used her talent as a singer in order to gain prominence at the Gonzaga court of Mantova where she developed and maintained relationships of patronage that eventually led to her receiving the title of Baroness of Piancerreto in Monferrato. Like Andreini, Basile projected and image of ideal womanhood maintaining a balance between the image of a pious wife and mother and a sensual singer. Giulia De Caro became one of the first divas of Neapolitan opera and the impresario of the operatic theater of San Bartolomeo (the main Neapolitan venue before the San Carlo). She began her career as a prostitute and street performer who used her sexuality and musical talent to promote herself by gaining a series of powerful and aristocratic lovers and patrons. Unlike Andreini and Basile, De Caro did not have the option of creating a public image of herself as an honorable wife and mother, she therefore exploited her sexuality in order to create the public image as a sex-symbol. The lives and careers of Isabella Canali Andreini, Adriana Basile and Giulia De Caro demonstrate how female performers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had to confront societal ideals of womanhood in order to create public personae that endeared them to their public and differentiated them from their peers.
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