Isabella d`Este - American Public Television

Isabella d’Este: First Lady of the Renaissance
Starring Emma Kirkby as Isabella d’Este
Featuring the Consort of Musick
Anthony Rooley, Director
Ellen Dryden, Narrator
Produced and Directed by Eugene Enrico
Script based of the research of William Prizer
Joseph J. Friedman, Director of Photography
James Yoch, Associate Producer
David Smeal, Associate Director
Costumes by Martha Ferrara
Based on portraits of Isabella d’Este by Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and
(Attached is a portrait of Isabella d’Este by Leonardo da Vinci.)
NOLA Code: IDRL 000 K1
Feed: Sunday, September 15, 2002; 0900-1000ET /511
American Public Television will present a special program on stations this fall.
Isabella d’Este: First Lady of the Renaissance features the soprano Emma Kirkby as
Isabella d’Este.
American presidents and first ladies have long used their patronage of music and
the other arts in ways advantageous both to their domestic politics and to foreign policy.
Today in Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Center commemorates the patronage of Jack
and Jackie. These “princes” of our democratic society have followed the venerable
tradition of Italian princes during the Renaissance. According to Niccolo Machiavelli,
the father of modern political science,”A prince must always show himself a lover of
virtue and be quick to honor those who excel in the various arts” (The Prince, 1513).
Isabella d’Este was the Jackie Kennedy of her time. Such great artists as
Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and Rubens painted famous portraits of her. She was a
personal friend of kings, popes and distinguished writers such as Machiavelli, Castiglione
and Ariosto. She was eyewitness to the French invasion of Italy, the sack of Rome, the
coronation of Emperor Charles V and numerous royal weddings. She was also a prolific
letter writer: about 12,000 of her letters are still preserved at Mantua. This program tells
her story in her own voice, based on her letters, and through her own eyes.
Filmed in Italian palaces and monuments, this program illuminates the
connections between the political posturing of Italian renaissance princes and their
patronage of the arts, especially music. Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), daughter of the
Duke of Ferrara, was known in her own time as “First Lady of the World.” She was
particularly skillful in using her patronage of the arts to project an image of glamour,
sophistication, liberality and magnanimity. In 1490, at the age of 16, she married the
military hero, Francesco Gonzaga (1466-1519). The Gonzagas of Mantua also were
brilliant in their use of the arts for political advantage. This program traces their
patronage through two generations: those of Francesco and Isabella, and of their sons
Federico (1500-1540), who became the first Duke of Mantua, and Cardinal Ercole (15051563), who almost became Pope. Original recordings of renaissance music were made in
London. Emma Kirkby, the world’s most celebrated singer of early music, plays the role
of Isabella.
For 40 years, American Public Television (APT), located in Boston has been a major
source of programming for the nation's public television stations. APT has more than
10,000 hours of available programming including Discovering the Real World of Harry
Potter, Globe Trekker, Muhammad Ali: Through the Eyes of the World, Nightly Business
Report, Rick Steves' Europe, Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Ballykissangel, Brian
Jacques' Redwall and The Three Tenors Christmas. APT is known for identifying
innovative programs and developing creative distribution techniques for producers. In
four decades, it has established a tradition of providing public television stations
nationwide with program choices that enable them to strengthen and customize their
schedules. Press should contact Donna Hardwick at 617-338-4455 ext. 129 or via email
to For more information about APT's programs and
services, log on to