Italian academies are well known for their strong interest in spectacle, ritual and visual symbols, drawing on earlier precedents of civic or lay religious associations, student groups and festive companies. According to Amedeo Quondam, a notable proportion of such institutions also had a specific interest in theatre in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (respectively 4.2% and 4.3% of the academies listed by Maylender).1 Indeed, this activity represents one of the most important fields of specialization at a time when academies were often multidisciplinary. Some academies still stand out today for their exceptional role in the history of theatre; most notably, the Intronati (founded between 1525 and 1527) and their local rivals, the Accademia (or Congrega) dei Rozzi of Siena (founded 1530). Later in the century, academies pioneered the building of permanent theatres in Italy, and theoretical and practical experimentation with dramatic genres, including early opera.2 Theatrical production by academies also stimulated critical debates and practical questions regarding performance.3 Such issues were particularly sensitive in the later sixteenth century, when drama — especially if practised by professionals — had come under close scrutiny by theorists, legislators and political bodies, and religious censors. Engagement by academies with theatre, both in performance and in print, publicly and privately, therefore represents an important gauge of their cultural choices, their institutional identity — real and desired — and, importantly, their potential for public self-expression.