La Celestina

Definition

Theater

  • A dialogue novel that is the only known work by Fernando deRojas (1465 - 1541); it was first published in about 1499 in 16acts and expanded to 22 acts in 1502. Subtitled "the Tragi-Comedyof Calisto and Melibea", it is usually considered the most importantexample of 15th-century Spanish dramatic writing. La Celestinawas one of the first works to combine romance with an everyday domesticsetting. It has been adapted for the stage in several languages. AnEnglish version was produced in about 1530 by John Rastell, whoseAn interlude of Calisto and Melibea is one of the first Englishcomedies. He gave the story a happy ending. A century later it wastranslated by James Mabbe (1572 - 1642) as The Spanish Bawd(1631). Modern revivals of de Rojas's work include a 1993 productionby the Actors' Touring Company.

    The plot tells how Calisto, a wealthy gentleman, falls inlove with the modest Melibea. To overcome her shyness, he employsthe old procuress Celestina to lure her from her virtuous life. Celestinais later murdered by Calisto's servants, Parmeno and Sempronio, inorder to steal her fee. The play ends with an orgy of death; Parmenoand Sempronio are executed for their crime; and Calisto is killedwhile meeting secretly with Melibea, who thereupon commits suicide.

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