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#63 Three Florentine Churches and Their Plays in Renaissance Florence

Updated: May 12, 2023

A Conversation with Prof. Nerida Newbigin, University of Sydney

Saturday, May 13th on Zoom

10am Los Angeles & Phoenix, 1pm NY & Toronto, 6pm London, 7pm Florence

Playful pleasure or devout piety? Why did Florentines invest so much effort in the performance of sacre rappresentazioni, their dramatizations of the life of Christ and the saints, the history of Man’s Salvation from the Creation to the Last Judgement, Old and New Testament stories, and miracles of the Virgin? Australian scholar of Italian Studies, Nerida Newbigin, will take us on a virtual visit to three Florentine churches – The Chiesa di San Felice, Santa Maria del Carmine, and Santo Spirito – and invite us to imagine how they became the scene of Florentine ecclesiastical plays: the Annunciation, the Ascension, and Pentecost. Dr. Newbigin will introduce us to the lay confraternities that built the machinery and acted in the plays, and to the rich record of texts, account books, and iconography that we can use to visualize and experience the plays.

Nerida Newbigin is Emeritus Professor of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney and now divides her time between Sydney and Florence. She taught Italian Language and Literature at the University of Sydney from 1970 until her retirement in 2008 and is now a full-time research scholar. She is the author of Feste d’Oltrarno: Plays in Churches in Fifteenth-Century Florence (Olschki, 1996); Acting on Faith: The Confraternity of the Gonfalone in Renaissance Rome, with Barbara Wisch (Saint Joseph’s University Press, 2013); Making a Play for God: The Sacre Rappresentazioni of Renaissance Florence (Centre for Renaissance and Reformation Studies, 2021); and with Kathleen Olive she prepared the edition of the Codice Rustici (Olschki, 2015), as well as numerous essays, editions and translations.


Minimum suggested donation: $20

This talk is free for Friends of Paola's Studiolo!

Look forward to seeing you on Zoom!

Warmest regards,


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