Ferrara: Vittorio Baldini, 1584-1585. First Edition. 8vo. Together 3 works in one volume. 1) , 2-31,  ff., signed A-E8, COMPLETE; 2) [40 ff.], signed A-E8, COMPLETE; 3) 31 ff., signed A-C8, D7 (lacking 9 leaves at end: D8, E1-8). Old Italian limp vellum, spine title lettered in ink (now faded). Binding worn, some staining, second and third works somewhat toned. NO ugly stamps or markings. With stated faults, and priced correctly. Good. Item #3776
SAMMELBAND OF THREE 16TH-CENTURY ITALIAN PLAYS, ONE OF WHICH IS STRIKINGLY SIMILAR TO SHAKESPEARE'S "TWELFTH NIGHT," AND YET IT HAS APPARENTLY REMAINED UNKNOWN TO SHAKESPEARE SCHOLARS.
Della Valle's "Gelosi Amanti" (1585) is a play about boy/girl twins who become separated; the girl twin disguises herself as a young man; the twins reconcile; after much confusion the love triangle is resolved, resulting in the creation of two happy couples. How is this not like "Twelfth Night," which incidentally was first performed seventeen years later (February 2, 1602), and first published in the 1623 First Folio?
This play and Della Valle's "Fillide" were dedicated to notable women. Virginia Cox explains their significance in early modern Italy: "Women's role as consumers of literature and as cultural arbiters was also very much celebrated [in Italy] in this period. Most immediately, in this regard, we may cite the frequent appearance of women as the dedicatees of literary works. As we might expect, this was particularly common in the case of works dealing with subjects of perceived 'women's interest.'" (SOURCE: Virginia Cox, Women's Writing in Italy 1400-1600, p. 95). Such dedications as ours acknowledge women's place in Italian cultural conversation which began in the second half of the 16th century.
Ad 1: First edition. In the dedication we learn that the author was urged to publish the play by his friends, especially Giovanni Rindaldini who founded an academy in Ancona (called I Fantastici). The play was reprinted in Venice in 1589 and 1597. Clubb 324. Adams C-2932. EDIT16 13751 (wrong collation, claiming ", 31 c." which is absurd). No copy listed in Rare Book Hub.
Ad 2: Second edition. Dedicated to Signora Lodovica Pepola Poggi by the printer. This was preceded by a very rare 1579 edition for which EDIT16 locates two copies (Vatican and Bibl. Civ. Modena). Clubb 361 with a long bibliographical note. EDIT16 16589). Adams V-198. One copy listed in Rare Book Hub (at Philobiblon Auctions 2015: modern binding, nonetheless realizing EUR 372 including buyer's premium).
Ad 3: First and only edition. Dedicated to Signora Tarquinia Molza by the printer. Paola Lasagna gives a long synopsis of this little-known play, remarking "The very complex pattern of the intertwining derives from the combination of motifs traditionally used in comedy, of the mistaken identity and of the pairs of separated twins" (full synopsis below). Clubb 362. EDIT16 16590 (seven copies in Italian libraries, to which Worldcat adds three elsewhere: Univ. Chicago, Houghton, and BnF). Not in Adams (or any library in the UK apparently). As stated above our copy lacks the final 9 leaves. No copy listed in Rare Book Hub.
NB: Here follows the assessment by Paola Lasagna in the original Italian: "Lo schema dell' intreccio, assai complesso, deriva dalla combinazione dei motivi, tradizionalmente in uso alla commedia, dello scambio di persona e delle coppie di gemelli separati. Nei boschi del Sebeto, Fortunia è in cerca dell' amante Valladio, partito anni addietro dall' Arcadia e non più ritornato. Venuta a conoscenza del suo nuovo amore per Delia, Fortunia, che nel frattempo ha assunto l‟identità del fratello gemello Celio, convince la fanciulla, insensibile a Valladio e fedelmente legata al ricordo di Albanio, a fingere di accettare un incontro con il suo pretendente, per consentirle di presentarsi al suo posto. Ma, quando Delia mette in atto il piano, Albanio, da poco tornato dall' Arabia, assiste alla scena e comprensibilmente cade in equivoco, disperandosi per l‟infedeltà della fanciulla. Nel frattempo, l'arrivonei pressi anche del vero Celio, in cerca della sorella, accresce ulteriormente il complicato viluppo della favola, che procede, in un succedersi di quiproquo, fino all' immancabile agnizione: dopo aver messo alla prova l'amore di Delia, facendole credere di essere morto, Albanio si rivela e si riconcilia con lei, mentre Celio ritrova la sorella, che, a sua volta, può finalmente ricongiungersi con Valladio." (SOURCE: Lasagna, "La pastorale drammatica fra Tasso e Guarini" p. 195).