Adelaide Ristori

Biography of Adelaide Ristori

Adelaide Ristori (29 January 1822 – 9 October 1906) was a distinguished Italian tragedienne, who was often referred to as the Marquise.

She was born in Cividale del Friuli, the daughter of strolling players and appeared as a child on the stage. At fourteen she made her first success as Francesca da Rimini in Silvio Pellico's tragedy. At eighteen she was playing Mary Stuart in an Italian version of Friedrich Schiller's play of the same name. She had been a member of the Sardinian company and also of the Ducal company at Parma for some years before her marriage to the marchese Giuliano Capranica del Grillo. After a short retirement for her career, she returned to the stage and played regularly in Turin and the provinces.

It was not until 1855 that she paid her first professional visit to Paris, where the part of Francesca was chosen for her début. In this she was rather coldly received, but she took Paris by storm in the title role of Alfieri's Myrrha. Furious partisanship was aroused by the appearance of a rival to the great Rachel. Paris was divided into two camps of opinion. Humble playgoers fought at gallery doors over the merits of their respective favourites. The two famous women never actually met, but the French actress seems to have been convinced that Ristori had no ill feelings towards her, only admiration and respect.

A tour in other countries was followed (1856) by a fresh visit to Paris, when Ristori appeared in Montanelli's Italian translation of Legouvé's Medea. She repeated her success in this in London. In 1857 she visited Madrid, playing in Spanish to enthusiastic audiences, and in 1866 she paid the first of four visits to the United States, where she won much applause, particularly in Paolo Giacometti's Elisabeth, an Italian study of the English sovereign. She finally retired from professional life in 1885, and died on the 9 October 1906 in Rome. She left a son, the marchese Giorgio Capranica del Grillo.

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