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photo of Adelaide Ristori
Art, History & Politics, Literature, Theater & Dance

Adelaide Ristori, the Traveling Diva

with Laura Caparrotti

March 10, 2022
4:00 pm

Zoom Lecture Series

On the Italian Stage is a series of encounters conceived and led by Laura Caparrotti (Artistic Director, Kairos Italy Theater) that journeys into the history of Italian Theater to explore its language, and its contribution to Italian society and world theater.
Participation is free. RSVP is MANDATORY. The Zoom link will be provided on the day of the event.
Please note: Casa Italiana hosts but does not interfere with the programming choices of the lectures. For all information, please contact the coordinator of the lecture series, Laura Caparrotti, at

Adelaide Ristori (29 January 1822 – 9 October 1906) was the first real Italian Diva known and venerated worldwide. She was a producer, director, and actor, simultaneously saving many lives and helping the revolution. A celebrated Italian tragic actress, she was the daughter of strolling players. She first appeared on stage as a child, and by the age of fourteen was playing important parts. After her marriage in 1846 to the Marchese del Grillo (who died in 1861), she retired for a short time, but soon returned to the stage.

In 1855, she took Paris by storm in the title role of Alfieri’s Myrrha. Furious partisanship was aroused by the appearance of a rival to the great Mademoiselle Rachel. Paris was divided into two camps of opinion with humble play-goers fighting at the gallery-doors over the merits of their respective favorite. The two famous women never actually met, but the French actress seems to have been convinced that Ristori had felt admiration and respect towards her. After appearing successfully in Madrid and London, Ristori made the first of four visits to the United States, where she was met with much applause, particularly in Giacometti’s Elizabeth, Queen of England. She eventually retired from professional life in 1885, and died in Rome at the age of eighty-four.