Le donne ingannate (1591) ("The Deceived Women")

by Alberto di Nuccio (b. 1555 Napoli d. 1617 Milan) Actor, singer, author

A one-act Commedia dell'Arte play and precursor to the Cosi fan tutte libretto of 1780. A copy of a rare early English translation was discovered in the archives of the Pasadena Playhouse in 1941 by Hayne Williams. He adapted the play for use with hand puppets.


I Innamorati (The Lovers)
Fiora and Drusina, two upper-class sisters
Tristano and Francesco, two aristocratic young men
I Zanni (The Servants)
Colombina, the ladies' maid
Arlecchino, the servant to the men


Tristano and Francesco are in love with two sisters, Fiora and Drusina.

Scene One: the two men are in conversation with their servant, Arlecchino, who implies to them that their true loves would be untrue if they had an opportunity. The two men are offended, and they accept Arlecchino's proposal of a wager: if the women are untrue, the men will lose the bet. The men leave and Arlecchino is joined by the ladies' maid, Colombina. Together they plot to fool the women and win the bet.

Scene Two: the women profess their love for Tristano and Francesco. The men announce they must go off on a long journey, and the two sisters weep and are lonely.

Scene Three: the two men return disguised as foreigners and each man romances the other's girlfriend. The two men almost succeed, but at the last moment they are unmasked and their true identities revealed. The four lovers are all embarrassed but reconciled, and the clever servants Colombina and Arlecchino have the last laugh as they split the winnings.

Compagnia dei Gelosi

Compagnia dei Gelosi, one of the earliest and most famous of the commedia dell'arte companies of 16th-century Italy.

Formed in Milan c. 1568 under the leadership of Flaminio Scala, the Gelosi were popular throughout Italy. They were the first troupe to be patronized by nobility and in 1574 they gave a command performance for visiting French king, Henry III, in Venice. They were invited by King Henry to perform before his court in 1577, and their fame spread throughout Europe. They performed in France, Poland, Spain, and Germany.

The performers included

Flaminio Scala, leading actor and a founder of the group

Francesco Andreini, leading actor and a founder of the group

Isabella Canali, a famous actresses of the age (Andreini's wife)

Other members included:
Alberto di Nuccio
Giulio Pasquati  
Lodovico de Bianchi
Gabriele delle Haste
Silvia Roncagli