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Isabella Andreini (1562–1604)

Author of La Mirtilla : a pastoral

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In 1578, Isabella Canali, an Italian writer and actress, married Francesco Andreini, who would become the director of the Compagnia dei Comici Gelosi, an important touring theatre company that performed for the highest social circles of Italy and France. Isabella became both the leading lady and an important voice within the Gelosi company. Together with her husband she managed the troupe's activities and negotiated with possible patrons. Isabella was famed in her time for her beauty and wit as well as for her acting -- the Isabella role of the Commedia dell'arte was named after her. Her pastoral fable Mirtilla (1588) went through several editions over three decades. In a poetry contest held by Cardinal Aldobrandini in Rome, Isabella won second prize behind the famous Renaissance poet Tasso. She performed before royalty, and appeared in her comic play La Pazzia di Isabella in Florence (1589) to celebrate the marriage of the Medici Grand Duke of Florence Ferdinando I and Christina of Lorraine. She died in childbirth at age 42.
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