Shiff, Jonathan

Venetian State Theater and the Games of Siena, 1595-1605 the Grimani Banquet Plays
1994 0-7734-9424-3
This study examines for the first time the thirty-eight anonymous plays performed at the state banquets that Doge Marino Grimani was required by law to offer four times a year for the leading senators and magistrates of the Venetian Republic. Explores the patronage, audience, site, performers, and music of the first performances, and places their ideological content in the context of the Venice of 1600. It finds that their most unusual feature is a ludic use of rhetoric which betrays the influence of the Sienese veglia games. These games, which called for wit, verbal skill, and variety of response, had recently penetrated Venice by means of Girolamo Bargagli's Dialogo de' Giuochi. They inspired the creation of a new theatrical form. A stylistic analysis of the Grimani plays suggests that all but one are the work of a single author, most likely Enea Piccolomini, a figure hitherto unknown to scholarship, and to whom one of the plays has traditionally been attributed.