- Juan Bautista Diamante
Juan Bautista Diamante (?
29 August 1625- 2 November 1687), minor Spanish dramatist of the school of Calderón, was the son of a Portuguese mother and a Sicilian merchant of Greek parentage who came to Madrid some time before 1631. He began writing for the stage in the early 1650s, gained favour at the courts of Philip IV and Charles II, and became a knight of St. John (of Malta) in 1660. It has been suggested [R V Pringle: [http://www.rvpmp.talktalk.net/diamante/NewLight.html "New Light on Juan Bautista Diamante"] ] that Juan Bautista may have been of Jewish stock, and that the Diamante family, including the playwright's half-brothers Pablo and Francisco Diamante who also achieved success in their different spheres, falsified public records of marriage, baptism, etc. in order to obscure their " marrano" origins.
Thirty-nine plays were published in his lifetime, twenty-four of them as "Comedias de Fr. Don Iuan Bautista Diamante" . . . in two parts in 1670 and 1674; the remainder appeared between 1656 and 1672 in the series "Comedias escogidas de los mejores de España" . . . . Many plays (some of doubtful attribution, such as "La devoción del rosario", "La Magdalena de Roma" [R V Pringle: [http://www.rvpmp.talktalk.net/magdalena/MagdalenaIntro1.html "La Magdalena de Roma" (edited version based on the 1713 Zaragoza MS) - authorship and date] ] and "La Judía de Toledo" - see below) were printed or reprinted as "sueltas" in the eighteenth century.
Diamante collaborated with other playwrights and poets of the time, eg Matos Fragoso, Moreto, Vélez de Guevara, Villaviciosa, Lanini y Sagredo and
Francisco de Avellaneda. In all, including works of collaboration, he produced around forty-five plays, plus two "autos", a number of "zarzuelas", and a handful of minor pieces ("loas", "bailes" and "entremeses").
According to Valbuena Prat [Ángel Valbuena Prat, "Historia del teatro español" (Barcelona, 1956), pp. 413, 452.] , Diamante is historically interesting as the introducer of French dramatic methods into Spain. The originality of his work has however been questioned by critics [George Ticknor, "History of Spanish Literature" (3rd ed. Boston, 1864), II, 330, n. 12.] . Much of his output is essentially a reworking or "refundición" of other dramatists' material. "La Judía de Toledo", which was long considered his best play, is really Mira de Amescua's "La Desgraciada Raquel" under another title; and "El Honrador de su padre" (1658), is little more than a free translation (up to the end of the second act, at least) of Corneille's "
His more successful plays [E. Cotarelo y Mori, 'Don Juan Bautista Diamante y sus comedias', in "Boletín de la Real Academia Española", vol. 3 (1916), pp. 272-97 and 454-97.] were historical dramas such as "El hércules de Ocaña", on the fearless
Alonso de Céspedes, 'el Alcides castellano', and "La reina María Estuarda", on the life (and death) of Mary Queen of Scots.
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