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Francesca da Rimini


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A: Gabriele D'Annunzio Pf: Rome, 1901 Pb: 1902 Tr: 1902 G: Trag. in 5 acts; Italian blank verse S: Ravenna and Rimini, 13th c. C: 3m, 1fIn the hope of putting an end to the long feud between two warring families, Francesca of Ravenna is to marry Giovanni (Gianciotto) of Rimini, unaware that he is an ugly cripple. Gianciotto's handsome brother Paolo is sent to fetch Francesca, and she and her women assume that he is the intended bridegroom. When she later discovers her mistake, she blames Paolo for misleading her. The feuding has begun again, and Paolo's youngest brother Malatestino is brought in with his eye gouged out. When Paolo enters the battle, Francesca declares that whether he survives will be a test of the judgement of God. Paolo returns safely, and Francesca gives him her love, feeling little guilt about her adultery. When Francesca rejects the advances of Malatestino, he betrays her secret to Gianciotto. Gianciotto surprises Paolo and Francesca together and stabs them to death.

A: Gabriele D'Annunzio Pf: Rome, 1901 Pb: 1902 Tr: 1902 G: Trag. in 5 acts; Italian blank verse S: Ravenna and Rimini, 13th c. C: 3m, 1f

Based on the lovers in the fifth canto of Hell in Dante's Divine Comedy, this was the most successful of D'Annunzio's 16 romantic and lyrical plays. Its premiere was inauspicious: written as a vehicle for Eleanora Duse and directed by the inexperienced D'Annunzio, it ran for six hours and the battle scenes filled the theatre with smoke. In a shortened version, its spectacular staging guaranteed its popularity, but it belonged to the 19th rather than the 20th century. Indeed the same story, dramatized by George Henry Boker in 1855, was to become a staple of the American repertory. D'Annunzio's version was made into an opera by Riccardo Zandonai in 1914.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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