Paolo and Francesca
Paolo Malatesta and Francesca da Polenta are two figures of lovers who became part of the popular sentimental imagination, even though they also belonged to history and literature . A part of the V canto of the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is dedicated to them. In the Commedia , the two young people of Rimini (even if born in Ravenna ), of the nearby Verucchio him – represent the main souls condemned to the Dante hell , in the circle of the lustful.
In life they were brothers (Francesca was in fact married to Gianciotto, brother of Paolo) and this love led them to death at the hands of Francesca’s husband. Francesca explains to the poet how it all happened: reading the book that explained the love between Lancelot and Geneva , the two found warmth in the trembling kiss that eventually exchange and that characterizes the beginning of their passion.
The tragic love affair of Paolo and Francesca has been re-enacted on other occasions, always in literature but also in opera . Particularly known, appreciated and loved is the version that gave it in 1914 the Italiancomposer Riccardo Zandonai in his Francesca da Rimini . The commotion “defense” made by Boccaccio (see below) will not go unmentioned, which tells us that at the base of the marriage between Gianciotto and Francesca da Polenta there was a terrible ambiguity encouraged if not designed by the elders of the two families. Francesca, says Boccaccio, was made to believe that she would marry the beautiful and elegant Paolo. Boccaccian observation (defined by Torraca “last novel by Boccaccio”) is tender and sentimental, but does not stand up to a minimum of historical criticism.