Massimo Ciavolella - The Renaissance Prince and the Political Use of Theatre

February 20, 2013

The Power of Luxury: Art and Culture at the Italian Courts in Machiavelli’s Lifetime
The Australian Institute of Art History
The University of Melbourne
19 and 20 February, 2013

Session Three - About Principalities and Courts
Wednesday 20 February 12.00 pm

Massimo Ciavolella
The Renaissance Prince and the Political Use of Theatre

In my presentation I will consider the following question: why is it that, whenever we attempt to stage some of even the best plays the Italian Renaissance has to offer – or when we consider the evidence provided by a close critical reading of the mechanisms found in such texts – we must almost invariably conclude that the majority of these plays do not function on stage, and ask whether or not they ever did? Is it licit to affirm that the vast majority of “erudite” comic plays were not written with the objective to being presented on stage? If this is the case, then which criteria determined the success of a 16th century comedic performance? For my discussion I will consider the first staging of Ludovico Ariosto’s I suppositi in 1509, Annibal Caro's 1544 play Gli straccioni and Leone de' Sommi's 1588 Le tre sorelle.


Massimo Ciavolella studied at the Universities of Bologna, Rome, and British Columbia, where he received his Ph.D. in classical, medieval and Renaissance studies. He taught for many years at Carleton University (Ottawa) and at the University of Toronto before coming to his present positions as Director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies and Professor of Comparative Literature in the Departments of Italian and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. Over the years, he has won academic fellowships and grants, has organized and read papers at a great number of international conferences, and served on the board of several academic books, journals and series.

He was the co-founder and co-editor (1970-1991) of Quaderni d'italianistica (the official journal of the Canadian Society for Italian Studies), and he is currently co-editor with Professor Luigi Ballerini of the University of Toronto Press’ “Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library,” a collection that will include 100 Italian major texts in English translation. Author of a broad stream of articles, reviews, encyclopaedia and dictionary entries, etc., he has also written and co-edited several books, including La malattia d'amore dall'antichit√† al Medioevo (Rome: Bulzoni, 1976); Saturn from Antiquity to the Renaissance (Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1992); Eros and Anteros: Medicine and the Literary Traditions of Love in the Renaissance (Ottawa: Dovehouse, 1993); Scrittori, tendenze letterarie e conflitto delle poetiche in Italia (1960-1990). (Ravenna: Longo, 1993); Italian Studies in North America (Ottawa, Dovehouse, 1994); La lotta con Proteo, 2 volumes (Florence: Cadmo, 2001); Ariosto Today. Contemporary Perspectives (Toronto University Press, 2003); and Culture and Authority in the Baroque (Toronto University Press, 2005).

Image notes
Front page of Aristop's i Suppositi. adapted from source at wikimedia commons link.

nb. Entry created May 5 2013. Dated to Feb 20 (date of presentation) for indexing purposes


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