«Appare una camera adorna […] nell’angolo, è un letto nascosto da cortine ricchissime […] in fondo, una finestra che guarda il Mare Adriatico […] Presso la finestra è un leggio con suvvi aperto il libro della Historia di Lancillotto […] e dal mezzo del pavimento sporge il maniglio di una cateratta, per la quale di questa camera si può scendere in un’altra».
Gabriele D’Annunzio, Francesca da Rimini, 1901
With the restoration undertaken between 1921 and 1923 by the engineer Umberto Zanvettori, the Rocca di Gradara took on a theatrical and scenic appearance, the result of a synthesis of various stylistic elements that were very popular in Italy in the early 1900s.
On 9 December 1901, Francesca da Rimini by Gabriele D’Annunzio was staged at the Teatro Costanzi in Rome, a tragedy which the author dedicated “To the divine Eleonora Duse”. While it was not a great success, the work was highly praised for its great scenic and visual impact.
Francesca da Polenta and Eleonora Duse was a perfect combination, as noted by D’Annunzio himself: “Love you now and forever”: a subtle allusion to the twofold love that bound, on one hand, Dante’s couple, and the other, publicly celebrating the love between the poet and the actress, bound not only by love, but also by intellectual and artistic affinities.
When in the summer of 1901 D’Annunzio finished writing the tragedy, the work to be done was enormous, the sets monumental and the costumes very rich. Initially the poet entrusted the work to Mariano Fortuny y Madraso, at the time one of the major set and costume designers, but given the great task to be carried out he was obliged to refuse, also because at the same time he was performing experiments on indirect theatrical lighting, which would take the name “Fortuny’s Dome”.
D’Annunzio wanted to stage his Francesca, so he contacted the most important personalities of the period: Luigi Sapelli also known as Caramba for his rich costumes, Antonio Rovescalli for the sets, while Adolfo De Carolis took care of the staging.
From a direct comparison with the script it was evident that Francesca’s Bedroom was furnished precisely according to D’Annunzio’s tragedy. In fact, there are many elements in common: the lectern with two adjacent seats, the bed in a corner position, the decorations and the iron candelabra. Today the Bedroom is further enriched by the presence of the costume reproduced and made by Alberta Ferretti based on the original drawings of the one worn by Duse in the tragedy.
Alberta Ferretti reproduction of the dress worn by Eleonora Duse in the D’Annunzio tragedy Francesca da Rimini, 2006