Just in time for Mother’s Day! Sign up with the special women in your life. The Istituto Italiano di Cultura is partnering with the Bella Donna Artists Collective to present a one-of-a-kind social event, exploring the lives of controversial women in Italian history and culture and re-telling their stories. As a part of the Female Figures Club, you will receive:

  • A copy of the novel La Brigantessa by Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli (pick up from Istituto Italiano di Cultura).

  • Two tickets to the matinee performance of Bella Donna on Sunday, May 19th at 2:30pm at Tarragon Theatre’s EXTRASPACE (30 Bridgman Ave).

  • A post-performance reception and Q&A with Bella Donna director Anita La Selva.

  • An invitation to a book club discussion of La Brigantessa, led by artists of the Bella Donna Collective. The book club takes place at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura (496 Huron St) on Tuesday, May 21st at 6:30pm.

Proceeds from registration fees go towards supporting the activities of the Bella Donna Artists Collective. Learn more here.


Sign up here for Bella Donna Book Club:

About the novel

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La Brigantessa by Rosanna Micelotta Battigelli

La Brigantessa is based on true events in the aftermath of Italy’s 1861 Unification, a turbulent period known as “The Decade of Fire” (1860-1870), when scores of brigands rebelled against the harsh policies imposed by the new government, which in turn ordered the destruction of these outlaws and anyone harbouring them. Gabriella Falcone is a peasant girl who works for Don Simone, the parish priest. She is forced to flee her hamlet of Camini in Calabria in 1862 after stabbing Alfonso Fantin, a wealthy landowner who sexually assaulted her. Devastated to leave her fiancé Tonino, and knowing her fate will be life imprisonment at best if apprehended, she allows the priest to lead her through the harsh Aspromonte mountain range to seek refuge in an isolated monastery. They soon discover that Fantin has survived and is employing the forces of law to pursue Gabriella and bring her to justice. Gabriella and Don Simone continue their journey to seek yet another safe haven but soon fall into the hands of brigands.

Gabriella is catapulted into a world she has only ever heard about in nervous whispers, a world where right and wrong, justice and vengeance take on new meanings, and where the boundaries between good and evil are blurred. Gabriella is drawn into the role of brigantessa and discovers that the convictions she once held dear no longer have a place in this wild, unlawful territory.

Winner of the IPPY Gold Medal for Historical Fiction

About the play

Passion. Poison. Dirty Politics.

Bella Donna by David Copelin invites audiences into the world of intrigue, politics, sex, and power, all controlled by one of history’s most powerful and misunderstood women: Lucrezia Borgia.

While Renaissance Pope Julius II excommunicates LUCREZIA BORGIA (alleged daughter of his predecessor, Alexander VI) and her husband DUKE ALFONSO D'ESTE of Ferrara,  Alfonso dallies with his young mistress ANGELA DiGHILINI. Disguised, Lucrezia goes to Rome to seek a secret audience with the Pope. There she meets GIOVANNI, a young soldier, who doesn't realize who Lucrezia is and may be evidence of a guilty secret even more devastating to Lucrezia. SISTER BIBIANA, Lucrezia's confidante, arranges for Giovanni to come to Ferrara, where he is adroitly poisoned by Alfonso. As the evidence mounts, so do the dramatic stakes.

Our production of Bella Donna is directed by the Gina Wilkinson award-winning emerging female director, Anita La Selva, and stars Françoise Balthazar, Martha Chaves, Michael Giordano, Paul Hopkins, Chelsea Russell, and Dewy Steward.

WINNER, Best Play: Toronto Fringe Festival, 2005

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