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Nancy Dersofi

(Ruzante]

(b Padua c1496; d Padua, March 17, 1542). Italian playwright, actor, singer and poet. His plays are remarkable for their innovative use of popular Paduan genres combined with pastoral eclogue and learned comedy in imitation of antiquity. In the plays 52 songs, mentioned or sung, divide scenes or carry the action, as in L’Anconitana, where a Paduan servant named Ruzante holds a song contest with his Venetian master. Speaking the dialect of the Paduan countryside, Ruzante appears in most of Beolco’s plays. The playwright-actor performed Ruzante’s role and adopted his character’s name. Modern critics have identified the author with his character, whose polemics against the rustics’ historical antagonists, whether Venetian merchants, Paduan noblemen or proponents of a Tuscanizing academic culture, inform Ruzante’s theatre. Not least, Ruzante satirizes the country figure he impersonates.

Ruzante was also renowned for his singing voice. In addition to the songs in the plays, nine extant canzoni are attributed to him. Settings by Willaert of ...

Article

[Giovan, Gian, Gianleonardo]

(b Naples, c1530; d Naples, Jan 1602). Italian harpist, singer, composer and actor. He was generally known as ‘dell’Arpa’ because of his outstanding playing of the double harp. His improvisatory skills were praised by several Neapolitan writers, among them Giovan Battista del Tufo (Ritratto … della nobilissima città di Napoli, 1588) and Giulio Cesare Cortese (Viaggio di Parnaso, c 1610), Scipione Cerreto (Della prattica musica vocale, et strumentale, 1601) and Giambattista Basile (Le muse napoletane, 1635). In the dedication to his Tempio Armonico (RISM 15996), Giovenale Ancina revealed that Arpa sang laude to harp accompaniment, probably in the oratories of Naples and Rome. A favourite entertainer in aristocratic circles, he attracted the patronage of Giovanna d’Aragona (see Luigi Dentice, Duo Dialoghi della musica, 1552) and her children. As musician-actor he played the role of servant in comedies staged in Neapolitan palaces of the Prince of Salerno (...