Giraldi, G. B. Books1996 0-7734-8749-2
Epizia is a stage adaptation of Ecatommiti, VIII.5, Giraldi's tale of an errant Governor of Innsbruck, who gets the virginal heroine to his bed with a false offer of marriage and an equally false promise to let her imprisoned brother out of gaol. He is sentenced to death by the Emperor for abusing his authority, but the magnanimous intercession of the peerless Epizia saves him from this fate and brings about the happy ending. The play will be of particular interest to students of English literature because of Shakespeare's elaboration of the Epizia story in Measure for Measure. The text of the novella is reproduced as an appendix. Italianists will recognize in Epizia the author's tireless search for theatrical innovation. Giraldi breaks new ground by setting his play in the administrative center of a 15th-century provincial town, abandoning the courtly milieu that is the norm in his other tragedies. Another unusual feature of the play is amount of dialogue given up to discussions of the legal issues arising from the Governor's conduct. The significance of these debates and the historical circumstances that gave rise to them are discussed in the Introduction, as are other ideological implications of the play.
Among Giraldi’s later plays not published since the 16th century is Eufimia, which the playwright adapted for the stage from one of his own short stories, in a new style. It combines lavish stage spectacle with a plot incorporating romantic episodes based on the poems of chivalry and resembling some of the stock ingredients of the modern Western: flight, pursuit, rescue, combat and duel. The volumes includes explanatory notes on the text and a glossary of archaic words and word-forms. The first part of the Introduction places Giraldi’s tragedy in the context of the dispute with his literary rival, Giambattista Pigna, correcting in the process some persistent misunderstandings about the chronology of events. The second part discusses the innovative aspects of the tragedy and its place in the evolution of Giraldi’s compositions for the stage
As critics have long acknowledged, Gli Antivalomeni occupies a special place in the repertoire of Giraldi's tragedies with a happy ending. The playwright's unremitting quest for a modern form of tragedy led him to a bold mixture of the genres in a play which has been hailed as one of the forerunners of modern tragicomedy. The title of the play, usually translated as ‘The Changelings', refers to the all-important mechanism which provides the drama with its happy conclusion: the deceitful interchange of two pairs of children in their infancy. This was probably the first use of the changeling motif in Italian literature. It is an exceptionally good illustration of Giraldi's method of crafting a play to meet the requirements of a particular occasion, in this case Anna d'Este's marriage by proxy to Francis of Lorraine, son of the Duke of Guise.
This is the first reliable version of Giraldi's sole comedy, Gli Eudemoni (The Lucky Ones), completed in 1549. A comedy after the manner of Terence, this edition reproduces the text of the autograph manuscript preserved in the Biblioteca Communale at Ferrara. The five Acts of the play proper are preceded by a prologue, showing that, in all probability, it was intended for public performance; but there is some doubt as to whether the author ever in fact mounted a production of it. An interesting feature of this comedy is that it has some striking features in common with Gli Antivalomeni, one of Giraldi's tragedies with a happy ending, performed at the court of Ferrara the previous year. However, the chief interest of the Eudemoni for the literary historians of today is the extent to which it illustrates the theories on comedy enunciated by the author in the contemporary Discorso intorno al comporre delle comedie e delle tragedie, first published in 1554.
Selene is quintessential court theater, written by a courtier, performed before courtiers, and depicting events at a fictitious court. This volume proposes that after 1546, when he entered the service of the Duke of Ferrara as Secretary, Giraldi the playwright had more practical and pressing concerns than the pursuit of literary fame. Charged with the organization of dramatic entertainment, his prime obligation was to devise lively theatrical spectacles for the enjoyment and edification of his peers at court, and he used the theater as an instrument of moral and religious persuasion and as a vehicle for dynastic propaganda. In 1546 Giampaolo Manfrone had been convicted of two assassination attempts against Duke Ercole; it was politically apt, therefore, that Giraldi's choice of plot for the cautionary drama Selene should have been the downfall of a power-hungry noble intent upon murdering his sovereign. The introduction discusses personal experiences and cultural influences at work in Selene. Chapter I examines Giraldi's exposé of court life written for the guidance of an aspiring young courtier and based on his knowledge of the Ferrarese court. Chapter II illustrates his close rapport, as dramatist, with the Duke. Chapter III sets the play in the context of the burgeoning contemporary literature concerning the excellence of women. The Notes to the play comment on its ideological content, resolve syntactical problems, and clarify the movements of the actors on stage. The Glossary lists all word-forms found in the text not represented in modern Italian.