Angelo Beolco
Angelo Beolco better known by the nickname Il Ruzzante or el Ruzante, was a Venetian actor
An actor is a person who acts in a dramatic production and who works in film, television, theatre, or radio in that capacity...

 and playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...


He is known by his rustic comedies in the Venetian language
Venetian language
Venetian or Venetan is a Romance language spoken as a native language by over two million people, mostly in the Veneto region of Italy, where of five million inhabitants almost all can understand it. It is sometimes spoken and often well understood outside Veneto, in Trentino, Friuli, Venezia...

 of Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, featuring a peasant called "Ruzzante". Those plays paint a vivid picture of Paduan country life in the 16th century.


Born in Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

, Beolco was the illegitimate son of Giovan Francesco Beolco, a physician who occasionally worked at the University
University of Padua
The University of Padua is a premier Italian university located in the city of Padua, Italy. The University of Padua was founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second...

, and a certain Maria, possibly a maid. (It has been suggested, however, that his real name was Ruzzante, and that Beolco was a local corruption of bifolco, meaning "ploughman" — by extension, "country simpleton".) Some claim that he was born in Pernumia
Pernumia is a comune in the Province of Padua in the Italian region Veneto, located about 45 km southwest of Venice and about 20 km southwest of Padua. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 3,756 and an area of 13.2 km².Pernumia borders the following municipalities:...

, a town near Padua.

Angelo was raised in his father's household and there he received a good education. After Giovan Francesco's death in 1524, Angelo became manager of the family's estate, and later (1529) also of the farm of Alvise Cornaro
Alvise Cornaro
Alvise Cornaro was an Italian patron of arts, also remembered for his four books of Discorsi about the secrets to living long and well with measure and sobriety....

, a nobleman who had retired to the Paduan countryside and who became his friend and protector.

He developed his theatrical vocation by associating with contemporary Padua intellectuals, such as Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo
Pietro Bembo was an Italian scholar, poet, literary theorist, and cardinal. He was an influential figure in the development of the Italian language, specifically Tuscan, as a literary medium, and his writings assisted in the 16th-century revival of interest in the works of Petrarch...

 and Sperone Speroni
Sperone Speroni
Sperone Speroni degli Alvarotti was an Italian Renaissance humanist, scholar and dramatist. He was one of the central members of Padua's literary academy Accademia degli Infiammati and wrote on both moral and literary matters.-Biography:...

. His first stints as an author and actor may have been mariazi, impromptu sketches delivered at marriage parties. In 1520, already known as il Ruzzante, he played a role in a peasant play at the Foscari Palace in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

. Soon afterwards he put together his own theater troupe. His plays were staged first at Ferrara
Ferrara is a city and comune in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, capital city of the Province of Ferrara. It is situated 50 km north-northeast of Bologna, on the Po di Volano, a branch channel of the main stream of the Po River, located 5 km north...

 (1529–1532) and then at Padua, in Cornaro's residence. He died in 1542, while preparing to stage Speroni's play Canace, for the Accademia degli Infiammati
Accademia degli Infiammati
The Accademia degli Infiammati was a short-lived but influential philosophical and literary academy in Padua...


In spite of his success as an actor, he was very poor through most of his life. His friend Speroni remarked that while Angelo had unsurpassed understanding of comedy, he was unable to perceive his own tragedy.

His work

In his first printed play, La Pastoral, labeled "a rural comedy", he contrasts Arcadian shepherd
A shepherd is a person who tends, feeds or guards flocks of sheep.- Origins :Shepherding is one of the oldest occupations, beginning some 6,000 years ago in Asia Minor. Sheep were kept for their milk, meat and especially their wool...

s who tell of their frustrated loves in affected tercet
A tercet is composed of three lines of poetry, forming a stanza or a complete poem. English-language haiku is an example of an unrhymed tercet poem...

s, with the peasants Ruzzante and Zilio, who deliver rustic verses in Venetian, generously spiced with vulgarities and obscenities (starting with Ruzante's very first word in the play). Much of the play's comical effect comes from the contrast between the two languages, which provides the occasion for many misunderstandings and wordplays. Featured is also a physician, who earns the gratitude of Ruzzante for prescribing a fatal medicine to his stingy father and thus uniting the lad with his long-awaited inheritance.

In his later plays and monologues he shifts to the Venetian language almost exclusively, while keeping up with his social satire. In the Oratione, a welcome speech for Bishop Marco Cornaro
Marco Cornaro
Marco Cornaro , also known as Marco Corner, was the 59th doge of Venice, ruling between 1365 and 1368. His brief reign saw the loss of Venetian territory to Genoa and the Ottoman Empire, though Venice was to enjoy economic growth during this time.-Biography:The Cornaro family to which the future...

, he suggests several measures that the new prelate should consider for improving the peasants' life; such as either castrating the priests, or forcing them to marry — for the peace of mind of the local men and their wives.

Because of his "lascivious" themes and abundant use of "very dirty words" (in the evaluation of his contemporary critics), Beolco's plays were often considered unfit for educated audiences, and sometimes led to performances being canceled. On the other hand, his plays seem to have been well received by those rural nobles which had opposed the metropolitan nobility of Venice in the Cambraic Wars. Perhaps for that reason, none of his plays was staged at Venice after 1526.

One of his best-known pieces is the short dialogue Il Parlamento de Ruzante, where the character tells of his return from the Venetian war front, only to find that he had lost his wife, land, and honor. Again, Ruzante's speech begins with his favorite expletive: Cancaro ai campi e à la guera e ai soldè, e ai soldè e à la guera! ("Rotten be the front and the war and the soldiers, and the soldiers and the war!")

Modern studies have concluded that Ruzante's speech was not a linguistically accurate record of the local Paduan dialect of Venetian, but was to some extent a "theatrical dialect" created by Beolco himself.

Italian playwright and 1997 Nobel laureate Dario Fo
Dario Fo
Dario Fo is an Italian satirist, playwright, theater director, actor and composer. His dramatic work employs comedic methods of the ancient Italian commedia dell'arte, a theatrical style popular with the working classes. He currently owns and operates a theatre company with his wife, actress...

 puts Ruzzante on the same level as Molière
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature...

, claiming that he is the true father of the Venetian comic theater (Commedia dell'Arte
Commedia dell'arte
Commedia dell'arte is a form of theatre characterized by masked "types" which began in Italy in the 16th century, and was responsible for the advent of the actress and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios. The closest translation of the name is "comedy of craft"; it is shortened...

) and the most significant influence on his own work.

Plays and monologues

  • La Pastoral (1518–1520).
  • La Betia (1524–1525).
  • Bilora (pre-1528).
  • I Dialoghi (1528–1529).
  • Il Parlamento de Ruzante che iera vegnú de campo (1529–1530).
  • La Moscheta (1529)
  • La Fiorina (1531–1532).
  • La Piovana (1532).
  • La Vaccaria (1533).
  • Oratione.

External links

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