Columbine, in 1683 by Maurice Sand
Harlequin dancing with Columbine

Columbine[1] (in Italian, Colombina, "little dove"; in French, Colombine) is a fictional character in the Commedia dell'Arte. She is Harlequin's mistress,[1] a comic servant playing the tricky slave type, and wife of Pierrot. Rudlin and Crick use the Italian spelling Colombina in Commedia dell'arte: a handbook for troupes.[2]

She is dressed in a ragged and patched dress appropriate to a hired servant. Occasionally, under the name Arlecchina she would wear a motley similar to her counterpart Arlecchino (or Harlequin). She was also known to wear heavy makeup around her eyes and carry a tambourine which she could use to fend off the amorous advances of Pantalone.

She was often the only functional intellect on the stage. Columbina aided her mistress, the innamorata, to gain the affections of her one true love by manipulating Arlecchino and counter-plotting against Pantalone while simultaneously managing the whereabouts of the innamorato. She may be a flirtatious and impudent character, indeed a soubrette, but without losing her judgment.

In the verismo opera Pagliacci by Ruggiero Leoncavallo, the head troup's wife, Nedda, plays as Colombina, cheating on her husband both onstage with Arlecchino, and offstage with Silvio.

Although Columbina became the dominant name (known as Columbine in France and England) other names under which the same character is played in Commidian performances include: fantesca (maid), servetta (female servant), Franceschina, Smeraldina, Oliva, Nespola, Spinetta, Ricciolina, Corallina, Diamantina and Lisetta.

See also


  1. ^ a b Coulson, J.; C. T. Carr; Lucy Hutchinson; Dorothy Eagle; Joyce Hawkins (1976). The Oxford Illustrated Dictionary (Second ed.). Great Britain: Book Club Associates. pp. 167. "Columbine, Character in Italian comedy, the mistress of Harlequin (Arlecchino)" 
  2. ^ Rudlin, John; Oliver Crick (2001). Commedia dell'arte: a handbook for troupes. Routledge. p. xiii. ISBN 0415204097, 9780415204095. Retrieved 2010-02-10. "certainly not 'Columbina' - who never existed anywhere" 

External links

Media related to Colombina at Wikimedia Commons Media related to Columbine at Wikimedia Commons

 Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Columbine (pantomime)". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Columbina, SS. (1) — 1SS. Columbina et Soc. MM. (22. Mai). Die hhl. Columbina (eine Jungfrau), Leucianus (ein König), die zwei Bischöfe Martialts (Martianus) und Valentinianus (Valentianus), dann Romanus, Columbanus und Simplicius starben als Martyrer in Portugal …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

  • Columbina, S. (2) — 2S. Columbina, (21. Oct.), eine Jungfrau und Martyrin aus der Gesellschaft der hl. Ursula, deren Leib sich zu Popleto in Spanien befinden soll. (El., Mg.) …   Vollständiges Heiligen-Lexikon

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