Adelaide Ristori

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Adelaide Ristori
Born(1822-01-29)29 January 1822
Died9 October 1906(1906-10-09) (aged 84)

Adelaide Ristori (29 January 1822 – 9 October 1906)[1][2] was a distinguished Italian tragedienne, who was often referred to as the Marquise.[3]


She was born in Cividale del Friuli, the daughter of strolling players and appeared as a child on the stage. At fourteen she made her first success as Francesca da Rimini in Silvio Pellico's tragedy of the same name. At eighteen she was playing Mary Stuart in an Italian version of Friedrich Schiller's play of the same name. She had been a member of the Sardinian company and also of the Ducal company at Parma for some years before her marriage to the marchese Giuliano Capranica del Grillo in 1846. After a short retirement from her career, she returned to the stage and played regularly in Turin and the provinces.[4]

It was not until 1855 that she paid her first professional visit to Paris, where the part of Francesca was chosen for her début. In this she was rather coldly received, but 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 Rachel. Paris was divided into two camps of opinion. Humble playgoers fought at gallery doors over the merits of their respective favourites. The two famous women never actually met, but the French actress seems to have been convinced that Ristori had no ill feelings towards her, only admiration and respect.[4]

Photograph of Adelaide Ristori, 1860s

A tour in other countries was followed (1856) by a fresh visit to Paris, when Ristori appeared in Montanelli's Italian translation of Legouvé's Medea. She repeated her success in this in London. In 1857 she visited Madrid, playing in Spanish to enthusiastic audiences, and in 1866 she paid the first of four visits to the United States, where she won much applause, particularly in Paolo Giacometti's Elisabeth, an Italian study of the English sovereign.[4] In a letter to The Daily Alta California, humorist Mark Twain attributed Ristori's popularity in America in this later phase of her career to "determined newspapers and shrewd managers".[5]

In 1875, after one of the United States visits, she toured to Australia, performing the roles of Medea (Euripides) Mary Stuart, and the title role in Elizabeth, Queen of England, written especially for her by Paolo Giacometti.[6] Ristori's niece Giulia Tessero and her husband Eduardo Majeroni joined Ristori’s world tour, later settling in Australia and working as actors and theatre managers.[7] Of her 1878 tour to Spain, Ristori said, "[It] was not a great pleasure to me, because I already knew the country; and also, with the exception of Madrid and Barcelona, which are still flourishing, I found all the towns much changed in every way, politically and otherwise, for the worse", but a tour to Scandinavia the following year, "on the contrary, was a great delight to me—the seeing [of] entirely new and charming countries, and the making [of] acquaintances with a most enthusiastic public, who lauded me to the seventh heaven!"[8]

In Victoria, Australia, a company working several gold mines on the rich Berry Lead near Allendale was named Ristori after her, which led to a part of Allendale being known as Ristori town:

"...the villages of Allendale (with its suburbs, Ristori Town and Broomfield)...the Ristori group owed their names to the original Adelaide Ristori, the Italian actress.[9]

She finally retired from professional life in 1885, and died on the 9 October 1906 in Rome. She left a son, the marchese Giorgio Capranica del Grillo.[4]

In 2022 on the occasion of the bicentenary of the actress Adelaide Ristori, the Museo Biblioteca dell'Attore of Genoa (which owns the Ristori legacy) organized a series of celebrations with the National Theater of Genoa, the University and the Municipality of Genoa, including one theatrical show with Lady Macbeth from Ristori directed by David Livermore, an exhibition of Ristori costumes at Palazzo Lomellino (Palazzo dei Rolli) and an international university conference on the actress to be held at the University of Genoa and Milan. This celebration has become one of the two UNESCO events entrusted to Italy for 22-23, the other being the centenary of Pasolini

On the stage[edit]

Studies and Memoirs[edit]

Her publication, Studies and Memoirs (1888), provides a lively account of an interesting career, and is particularly valuable for the chapters devoted to the psychological explanation of the characters of Mary Stuart, Elizabeth, Myrrha, Phaedra and Lady Macbeth, in her interpretation of which, Ristori combined high dramatic instinct with the keenest and most critical intellectual study.[4]

Madame Ristori's Etudes et Souvenirs is one of the most delightful books on the stage that has appeared since Lady Martin's charming volume on the Shakespearian heroines.[10]


  1. ^ New York Times RISTORI THE ACTRESS DIES AT THE AGE OF 84; Had Lived in Retirement at Rome since 1884...(Wednesday October 10, 1906)
  2. ^ "RISTORI, Madame". Who's Who. 59: 1489. 1907.
  3. ^ Naldini, Liliana. (2000). Adelaide Ristori : la marchesa del Grillo, un'attrice del Risorgimento. Cassisi, Mirella. Pinerolo: Alzani. ISBN 88-8170-137-5. OCLC 50124791.
  4. ^ a b c d e  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ristori, Adelaide". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 23 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 367.
  5. ^ Twain, Mark (16 June 1867). "Ristori". The Daily Alta California. San Francisco.
  6. ^ “The Opera-House—First Appearance of Madame Ristori”, The Argus, 30 Aug. 1875, p. 6. See also “Plesentation [sic] to Madame Ristori”, The Queenslander, 27 Nov. 1875, p. 26.
  7. ^ Barker, Geoff (2012). "Edoardo [sic] Majeroni – Italian 'red shirt' and Australian actor". MAAS (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences). Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  8. ^ "Madame Ristori", The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 Mar. 1880, p. 5.
  9. ^ "VICTORIAN MINING". Daily Mercury. Vol. 60, no. 4732. Queensland, Australia. 30 December 1927. p. 11. Retrieved 26 December 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  10. ^ Wilde, Oscar (January 1888). "Review of Etudes et Souvenirs by Adelaide Ristori". Woman's World.

External links[edit]

Media related to Adelaide Ristori at Wikimedia Commons