Italian Jews and Theatre in Early Modern Italy


  • Fabrizio Lelli University of Salento



At the turn of the sixteenth century, Italian Jews usually adapted some of the most common motifs cherished by non-Jewish Renaissance scholars to their speculative, scientific, and literary productions. This phenomenon may explain the development of the specific interest by Italian Jews in theatre over the following centuries. While tragedies, comedies, and other dramatic forms inspired by the revival of classical theatre were composed and performed in Italian by Jewish authors for both a Jewish and a non-Jewish audience, more traditional Jewish theatrical genres, such as the Purimspiel, were now reinterpreted, in both Hebrew and the local Judaeo-languages, to suit the new stylistic standards current among non-Jews. The growing involvement of Jews in staging activities brought to their wide renown as actors and impresarios, and to the establishment of Jewish dramatic societies.

Keywords: Renaissance theatre; Hebrew literature; Jews in Italy; Purimspielen; Leone de’ Sommi; Leon Modena






Monographic Section