Giovan Maria Cecchi, Five Plays for the Archangel Raphael

Translated, with introduction & notes, by Konrad Eisenbichler - TT14

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Florence in the sixteenth century was a dynamic laboratory for theatrical experimentation. Not only a plethora of new plays, but also a variety of new theatrical genres were constantly being staged. Someone who significantly contributed to this experimentation and profusion of theatre in Florence was Giovan Maria Cecchi (1518–1587), the most prolific and versatile dramatist in all of sixteenth-century Italy. The five plays in this collection are representative of the variety of religious theatre he composed for performance by youths in confraternities. They are also an indication of where theatre was heading as the sixteenth century was drawing to a close and new forms, such as opera and the oratorio, were beginning to appear on the horizon.

Konrad Eisenbichler, FRSC, teaches Italian Renaissance theatre at the University of Toronto. A prize-winning translator, he is also a prize-winning scholar who has published on early modern Italian theatre, confraternities, literature, and history, and on such figures as Feo Belcari, Agnolo Bronzino, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Giovanni Della Casa, Agnolo Firenzuola, Laudomia Forteguerra, Niccolò Machiavelli, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Angelo Poliziano, Virginia Martini Salvi, and Girolamo Savonarola.

237 pp. + 7 colour illustrations.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-2488-5 softcover, 978-0-7727-2490-8 hardcover
Published: 2020


"Earthly Beauty and Penance, Magdalene and Christ, Pride and Parasite are among the evocative and revealing characters in the five plays written by Giovan Maria Cecchi for the Youth Confraternity of the Archangel Raphael now masterfully rendered into English for the first time by Konrad Eisenbichler. These new translations will reshape the way we think of religious theatre and performance in sixteenth-century Italy." — Laura Gianneti, University of Miami

"Although the commedia erudita and the commedia dell’arte have long dominated discussion of sixteenth-century Italian theatre, the spiritual dramas of Giovan Maria Cecchi far surpassed the works of his contemporaries in number and popularity and found renewed favour in the nineteenth century as a model for pure Tuscan. Konrad Eisenbichler draws on his long research on Cecchi and confraternal drama to provide lively annotated translations of five plays written for the confraternity of the Archangel Raphael, and locate their performance in the company’s devotional and physical space." — Nerida Newbigin, University of Sydney

"Eisenbichler’s translations offer an accurate rendition of Cecchi’s texts and his introduction contextualizes them within sixteenth-century Florentine theatrical experimentation, thus making this volume an excellent sourcebook not only for scholars but also for students of early modern theatre." — Gianni CicaliGeorgetown University


Giovan Maria Cecchi
The Youth Confraternity of the Archangel Raphael
Theatre at the Arcangelo Raffaello
Stages and Staging
The Liturgical Year and its Plays
Notes on the Plays
An Act Suitable for Recitation in Front of the Nativity Scene
Cleopas and Luke
Contempt for Love and Earthly Beauty
Duel of Active and Contemplative Life
Other Plays at the Arcangelo Raffaello
Works Cited

An Act Suitable for Recitation in Front of the Nativity Scene
Cleopas and Luke
Contempt for Love and Earthly Beauty
Duel of Active and Contemplative Life