Pedro Calderón de la Barca
Born in Madrid, Spain, on January 17, 1600, Pedro Calderón de la Barca would eventually become one of Spain’s most important dramatists. Along with the older playwright Lope De Vega, Calderón would dominate Spain’s Golden Age of theatre. Educated at the Jesuit Colegio Imperial, Calderón studied law at the University of Alcalá (1614 – 15) and the University of Salamanca (1615 – 21), but did not earn a degree. In 1621, he entered the household of the Constable of Castille, Don Bernardino Fernández de Velasco. Two years later, in 1623, he began writing plays for the court. Calderón’s most famous play, LIFE IS A DREAM, explores the conflict between free will and predestination. Aside from LIFE IS A DREAM, Calderón is perhaps best known for his plays of honor and revenge like THE MAYOR OF ZALEME, THE PHYSICIAN OF HIS HONOR, SECRET INSULT, SECRET VENGEANCE, and THE PAINTER OF HIS OWN DISHONOR. Calderón became a priest in 1651, but continued to write plays as the court dramatist for Philip IV. He also wrote two autos sacramentales each year for the city of Madrid. In his later years, he developed a series of elaborate mythological themes that reflected the tastes and interests of the Spanish Court during the waning years of the Golden Age. He died in Madrid on May 25, 1681. Of his 120 surviving works, approximately eighty are autos sacramentales, morality plays celebrating the mystery of the Eucharist on Corpus Christi day.