Gelosi (the Zealous Ones) 1568 – 1604

Gelosi was the most famous of the Commedia dell’Arte companies of the time, the superstars of their time. They had a crest, a Janus head, and a motto: Virtù, fama ed honor ne fèr gelosi (Virtue, fame and honor made us zealous).
They played all sorts of theatre: comedies, tragedies, tragicomedies, intermezzi, and pastorals, using both Scenari and scripts. For instance are they involved in the first performance of Torquato Tasso’s pastoral Aminata. They used advanced stage technique and scenography, professional costumes and a very developed ensemble work.

1568 is the first time we meet them, in Milan.
They play in Paris the first time 1571, invited by the Duke of Nevers, Luigi Gonzaga.
When they play in Venice 1574 is seems like Vittoria Piisimi is their primadonna. In any case it is what Alvisio Mocenigo say in a letter where he ask them to come to Venice.
In 1575 Henri III of France traveled to Venice, on his way from Poland, just to see Gelosi. When he came back to Paris he sent a message to the Dodge of Venice asking him to let him invite them to his court. The Republic of Venice immediately sent for Gelosi, who were playing in Milan, and sent them to Paris.
We don’t know when Francesco and Isabella Andreini joined the group, but they were not with the Gelosi could continue. They played in Blois, at the court in Paris and publicly in Salle de Bourbon. The last shows were an outstanding success despite expensive ticket.
They came back to Italy in 1578 and toured there. They have been seen in Florence, Ferrara, Genoa, Mantua and Venice. The might also have been back in France, but there is no evidence of that. There are also those who think they went on a short tour to England.
1578 was also the year when Francesco Andreini married a 16 year old Isabella Canali, later Andreini. It is possible that it was then when she joined the company.

The Duke of Mantua banished Gelosi in Maj 1579, for reasons we don’t know. In July 1582 they were in conflict with him again.
1579 they also play Venice and Genoa. They play Milano in 1580 and at the Carnival in Venice 1581 and 1583.
In 1586 it seems like Gelosi and the Duke of Mantua when Prince Vincenzo Gonzaga accepts Isabella’s and Francesco’s daughter as godchild.
1588 are they back in Paris, but the all actors gets forbidden to play comedies, acrobatics or other refinements, neither in French or Italian.
The same year Isabella Andreini publishes her pastoral Mirtilla.
In 1589 they play at one of Europe’s grandest event – the wedding between Princesses Christine of Lorraine and the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinand Medici I in Florence. They played intermezzi in between other shows, like La Pellegrina by Girolamo Bargagli. This is also when Isabella Andreini and Vittoria Piissimi, the two prima donnas of Gelosi, quarrels about who’s dash performance should be played, La Pazzia d’Isabella or La Zignana.
1590 they plat in Milano for two months, where they seek help to pay the rent of their stanze by the Duke. They also play for the Duke of Manuta just after Vittoria have been there playing La Zingana with Confidenti.
1561 Isabella Andreini publish her book Rime.
During the winter and the spring 1603 and 1604 Gelosi goes back to Paris and play the French court, this time invited by Henri IV. When they return to Italy they are equipped with expensive gifts, a letter of insurance and a letter praising their skill by Catherine de’ Medici. When they stopped in Lyon Isabella Andreini died in miscarriage 11 of June 1604. It was an enormous funeral with princes and celebrities from near and far. Francesco Andreini quite acting and dissolved the company and the actors spread to other companies. Instead he sat down to write and publish his performances and Isabella’s letters.

See also:
Prolog or opening in Commedia dell’Arte
Stage strategies
Morens fånge (The Prisoner of the Moor)

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