Book Launch: Flaminio Scala’s il finto marito/ The Fake Husband (1618)

When and Where

Thursday, November 19, 2020 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Online via Zoom - see event description for further information.


Rosalind Kerr (Goggio Visiting Professor)


A recording of the event can be viewed on YouTube.

Goggio Visiting Professor Dr Rosalind Kerr is delighted to announce the publication of her edited translation of Flaminio Scala’s The Fake Husband: A Comedy (The Other Voice in Early Modern Europe, 2020).  First produced in 1618-19, this famous full-length commedia dell’arte play features a lesbian marriage and all sorts of other transvestite stage tricks.  The Department of Italian Studies and the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies are teaming up to host this virtual launch of Kerr’s up-to-date colloquial English version of the play.  It will appeal to theatre scholars, actors, directors, etc. who believe that acting techniques developed in the past don’t have to stay in the museum. Covering the arc of the commedia dell’arte as it adapts its improvisational magic to scripted texts, it’s funny and satirical!  At the launch, Kerr will present some sample readings and talk about her book.

Rosalind Kerr’s volume is the first English translation of Flaminio Scala’s Il finto marito (the Fake Husband). She provides a tremendous service to scholars and students of commedia dell’arte by adding this important attempt by Scala at a Baroque play that raises the topics of female-to-female love and cross-dressing, as well as issues important for the first and second generations of female professional actresses. Playwright Scala greatly valued commedia dell’ arte as a “living, breathing, imitation of life” capable of moving the audience emotionally, yet he lived in a period of tremendous print activity. Understanding the importance of literary forms in creating a lasting legacy for the achievements of theatrical performance, Scala turned again and again to publication, so that the expressive power of commedia dell’arte might be conveyed to a widening audience and preserved in print. 

Scala’s The Fake Husband offers readers and performers a very accessible English script which captures the comic brilliance of the commedia dell’arte in a tour de force piece combining great intrigue and outlandish plot twists with appropriate punishments and rewards. Expanded from an earlier scenario, Il marito (The Husband) from his Il teatro delle favole rappresentative (Theatre of the Tales for Performance, 1611), the play presents characters originally created by members of the famous travelling Gelosi troupe, in particular the stars Isabella Andreini in the role of the innamorata, and Sylvia Roncagli as the maidservant who takes on a male disguise and marries her to save her from an unwanted liaison. Scala’s ability to capture the individual artistry of these women makes this script especially exciting and shows his ultimate respect for the towering contribution made by the female performers who joined the troupes in the 1560s. Also included is a comprehensive study of Scala’s place in the theatrical world and beyond. English theatre scholars should find the inclusion of his two prologues helpful for locating Scala’s dramatic theory.

Rosalind Kerr is a graduate of the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies and has returned from the University of Alberta to Toronto.  She is a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, and the Goggio Visiting Professor in Italian Studies for the Fall 2020 semester.  She has published The Rise of the Diva on the Sixteenth-Century Commedia dell’Arte Stage (University of Toronto Press, 2015), as well as numerous articles on actresses and their contribution to the shaping of the Early Modern European Stage, including one comparing Lady Gaga to Isabella Andreini.  Her most recent is “` Boying their greatness’: transnational effects of the Italian divas on the Shakespearean Stage” in The Routledge Research Companion to Anglo-Italian Renaissance and Culture (London: Routledge, 2019). She recently presented a paper in California on The Fake Husband as an early voice for the #MeToo movement. She hopes to see some performances of The Fake Husband!

To attend this event, please register in advance.  After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the event.


All times stated in Eastern Time.

Contact Information


Emilio Goggio Chair in Italian Studies - University of Toronto