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Manfred Boetzkes

[Bernardo delle Girandole ]

(b Florence, c1531; d Florence, June 6, 1608). Italian architect, stage designer, engineer and painter. He studied with Vasari and in 1574 succeeded him as director of all the elaborate productions staged at the Florentine court; the theatre that he built in 1586 in a hall in the Uffizi became the centre of all such festivities. For the Medicis he designed palaces, villas (including Pratolino, outside Florence), fortresses, canals and harbour installations in Florence and Tuscany.

Buontalenti had worked for the court before his appointment as director, designing costumes and special machines for transformation scenes in intermedi directed by Vasari in 1565 and Lanci in 1569. He gave the new theatre in the Uffizi an advanced system of revolving periaktoi that were a great improvement on the clumsy machinery of his predecessors, enabling the scenery to be changed virtually as often as wanted. The capabilities of the stage were demonstrated by the productions of the comedies ...