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The heroines of Western literature are generally tragic figures, not only because they are loaded with the limitations and the weight of the human condition, just like their male counterparts, but also because, unlike the latter, they are invariably faced with a tragic ending. Unable to strive for the status of founders of tribes or winners of wars that are the reserve of male characters, their death on stage seems to be the only way they can achieve glory. It is a cage that reflects the social conventions that for centuries have relegated women to the roles of mothers, wives or lovers, and death - the bloodier the better - appeared the only sublimation possible for the female gender.

The “Vive!” series of podcasts, produced by and the Piccolo Teatro di Milano in collaboration with the Corriere della Sera newspaper, aims to look back at the stories of some of these characters, imagining a different destiny for them. The first episode is dedicated to Madame Bovary, and is followed by Francesca da Rimini, Dido, Ophelia and lastly Anna Karenina. What would have happened if, at a certain point in their story, they had changed direction and death was no longer their inescapable destiny? These female figures are given a new voice through the words of the writer Alessandra Sarchi and the performance of the actor Federica Fracassi.

The episodes:

  1. Madame Bovary, La penna e l’inchiostro: Gustave Flaubert described Madame Bovary as an avid reader and incurable dreamer, consumed by fantasies and illusions right until her death; here, however, Emma takes her pen and writes a long letter to her author to protest over the injustices that he subjected her to.
  2. Francesca da Rimini, galeotto fu il libro e chi lo scrisse: Francesca da Rimini, the noblewomen that Dante met in his Inferno, where she has been condemned for the sin of lust because of her relationship with Paolo Malatesa, the brother of her husband Gianciotto, is reborn, returning to her own body.
  3. Didone, la regina innamorata: Dido, after being abandoned by Aeneas, instead of killing herself continues to govern Carthage. She watched it grow and prosper and now, as she studies the sea on which her love fled, she gathers her tribe and prepares to wage her revenge on Rome.
  4. Ofelia, o della cura dei fiori: the young woman unwillingly involved in the intrigues of the Danish court, deceived and then abandoned by Hamlet, does not die in the icy waters of a river but rather finds refuge in a convent, and lives a tranquil and secular life there.
  5. Anna Karenina, un altro treno: After the fight with Vronskij and the visit to Dolly’s house, instead of throwing herself under a train Anna Karenina is comforted by her sister-in-law and her sister Kitty, and having found a new identity as a woman, retreats to the countryside with her children.

ALESSANDRA SARCHI was born in Reggio Emilia in 1971 and now lives in Bologna. She studied at the Scuola Normale in Pisa. In 2008 she published a collection of stories called “Segni sottili e clandestini” (Diabasis Editore). 2012 saw the publication by Einaudi Stile Libero of her first novel “Violazione”, winner of the Paolo Volponi award for a debut work. With “L’amore normale”, (Einaudi 2014), she won the international award “Scrivere per Amore”. With “La notte ha la mia voce” (Einaudi, Stile Libero 2017), she won the Mondello opera italiana award, the jury’s award for the Premio  Campiello and the 2018 edition of the Wondy award. 2019 saw the publication by Bompiano of the essay “La felicità delle immagini il peso delle parole. Cinque esercizi di lettura di Moravia, Volponi, Pasolini, Calvino, Celati.” In 2020 the novel “Il dono di Antonia” was published, again by Einaudi. She has translated a number of works from English, the latest of which is the collection of works by Annie Proulx, “Distanza ravvicinata”, published by Minimum Fax in 2019. She collaborates with the magazines Sette and La Lettura published by “Corriere della Sera”.

FEDERICA FRACASSI is an actor with a sensitivity for new dramaturgy, focused on the most visionary, savage and poetic works of recent years, and since the beginning took an independent path through experimental theatre. She trained at a very young age at the Paolo Grassi School of Dramatic Arts and followed the works of Carmello Bene, Luca Ronconi, Thierry Salmon, Romeo Castellucci and Cesare Ronconi. Together with the theatrical director Renzo Martinelli she founded the company Teatro Aperto, now known as Teatro i. Together with Martinelli and Francesca Garolla she manages the Teatro i space in Milan, which serves as a veritable factory of contemporary theatre. She has performed the leading role in countless productions by the company. In theatre, she has worked - among others - with Teatro Valdoca, Valerio Binasco, Valter Malosti, Antonio Latella, Luca Micheletti, Sonia Bergamasco, Motus, Fanny & Alexander and Andrea Chiodi, and has received numerous awards as leading actor: Ristori Award, Olimpici del Teatro Award, the Critics Award, Franco Enriquez Award, the Special Mention and Eleonora Duse Award, the Ubu Award, and the San Ginesio all’arte dell’attore Award. She made her cinematic debut in 2010 in Happy Family by Gabriele Salvatores. This was followed by other collaborations, including with Marco Bellocchio, Giorgio Diritti, Paolo Virzì, Renato De Maria, Francesca Archibugi, Carlo Verdone, Marjane Satrapi, Francesco Fei and Paolo Genovese. She is part of the cast for the television series Luna Nera, produced by Fandango and Netflix.

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