In the commedia, the function of the dramatic foil usually fell to the servants who played in opposition to the master characters. Most of the male servant roles were zanni, who ridiculed their masters much to the delight of the commedia dellâ€™arte audience. These zanni were legion in their number â€“ besides Arlecchino, Brighella, Pulcinella, and Pedrolino, the most common male zanni, the chroniclers of the commedia dellâ€™arte tradition include mention of Trivellino, Truffeldino, Fritellino, not to mention Tortellino, Polpettino, Bertolino, Tabarrino, Temolino, and , Zaccanino. And this only covers about half the list!
There were female zanne in the commedia dellâ€™arte troupes, but most often these were men playing women. Other than the soubrette roles of Franceschina and Columbine, no other distinctive female characters evolved. The question is â€“ if women players had been part of the evolution of the original commedia dellâ€™arte and had created zanni themselves â€“ who might they have been?
Every comedy has the best friend, Constantia. Her loyalty is both her strength and her undoing, as she is often short-sighted in the long term consequences of things. She is an active go-between in the drama as Columbine. However, she is usually not as favored by the opposite sex, and is characteristically unlucky in love. â€“
Elenora, the innocent is a role most ideally embodied as a female. She is the one whose inner core of purity reveals all other players to themselves, the results not always to their liking.
Then there is the zanne, Vivetta, who can only be described as the funny girl. She embodies that sparkling quintessence of fun unique to the female adolescent which is simultaneously silly, sweet, and sincere.