Adelaide RistoriAdelaide Ristori
Italian Tragic Actress
1822 – 1906 A.D.

Adelaide Ristori, a celebrated Italian tragic actress, the daughter of strolling players. As a child she appeared upon the stage, and at fourteen was playing important parts.

After her marriage in 1846 to the Marchese del Grillo (died 1861), she retired for a short time, but soon returned to the stage.

In 1855 she took Paris by storm in the title role of Alferi’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 play-goers fought at gallery-doors over the merits of their respective favorites. The two famous women never actually met, but the French actress seems to have been convinced that Ristori had no feelings towards her but those of admiration and respect. After appearing successfully in Madrid and London, she paid the first of four visits to the United States, where she won much applause, particularly in Giacometti’s Elizabeth, Queen of England. She finally retired from professional life in 1885, and died in Rome at the age of eighty-four.

Her Studies and Memoirs provide a lively account of an interesting career, and are valuable for her psychological explanation of the characters of Mary Stuart, Queen Elizabeth, Myrrha, Phaedra and Lady Macbeth, in her interpretation of which Ristori combined high dramatic instinct with the keenest of intellectual study.


Reference: Famous Women; An Outline of Feminine Achievement Through the Ages With Life Stories of Five Hundred Noted Women By Joseph Adelman. Copyright, 1926 by Ellis M. Lonow Company.

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