Vincenza Armani

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Vincenza Armani (Venice ca 1530 - 11 September 1569), was an Italian actress, singer, poet, musician, lace maker and sculptor. She was one of the most famous Italian actors of the period and known as the "divine Vincenza Armani". She and Barbara Flaminia were the two most famed actresses in Italy in the 1560s and described as great rivals.

Vincenza Armani was from Venice and is first mentioned when she performed the part of a man in the theatre company of Zan Ganassa in Mantua in 1565. She later became the primadonna of the famous commedia dell’arte Gelosi Company of Flaminio Scala. She combined her acting with writing music, poetry and singing, and she also manufactured lace and sculptures of vax. In 1566, Barbara Flaminia is mentioned as her rival of fame, and in 1567, the two performed a famous competition in Mantua.

Armani is the first famous and well documented Italian actress in commedia dell'artre, and the first Italian primadonna. The first Italian actress known by name, however, was the actress Lucrezia of Siena, whose name is on a contract of actors from October 1564.

Vincenza Armani was reportedly poisoned, possibly by a former lover. Her lover and colleague, Adriano Valerini, wrote a famous memorial speech to her memory in 1570. Garzoni called her "Divina" and "A perfect commedienne" and estimated that she by the verbal talent of Cicero laced the art of acting at the same level as the art of speeches.

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