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Isabella Andreini: 1562-1604

Acclaimed Actress Publishes Book of Poems

After joining the traveling troupe of actors, Compagnia dei Comici Gelosi, at the age of 16, Isabella was soon improvising the group's scripts, and was writing sonnets which, by 1587, had found publication in various Italian anthologies. La Mirtilla appeared in 1588, and she continued to write and correspond with scholars on classical themes while still traveling and acting with the Gelosi.

The Gelosie company performed for the highest social circles of Italy and France. In her own performances, Isabella Andreini revolutionized the Italian stage. In 1589, she performed the leading role in Pazzia d' Isabella (Isabella's madness) for the Florentine court during a royal wedding. She tailored her role to highlight her own skills, such as speaking several languages, singing in French, and imitating the dialects of other characters in the play. In 1599 she performed before Henry IV, King of France, and his wife Maria de Medici.

In 1601 Isabella was elected to the Accademia degli Intenti, a male-dominated Pavian intellectual association. She published a collection of 359 poems entitled Rime, illustrating her range of style, mastery of diverse genres, and not least, her views on court society.

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