Perricholi, La (1739–1819)

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Perricholi, La (1739–1819)

La Perricholi (Micaela Villegas, Miqueta; b. 1739; d. 17 May 1819), actress. Immortalized in legend, opera, and film, and reputed for her great beauty, La Perricholi was born in Peru and began her career on the Lima stage in 1760 as a comic actress. The next year she caught the attention of the newly arrived viceroy, Manuel de Amat y Junient, then over sixty, who brought her to court and provided her with a palatial residence on the Lima Alameda. In 1773, however, they had a falling out. One story is that La Perricholi accepted an offer from a Lima theater manager to return to the stage, but when he criticized her for not learning her lines properly, she stabbed him in a violent rage, scandalizing residents of Lima and forcing Amat to break with her. Another version is that she appeared at the ceremony inducting the viceroy into Charles III's Order of San Jénaro in a golden coach that was exclusively reserved for titled nobility, creating an outcry that forced Amat to give her up. In 1775, however, a year before the viceroy left his post, they reconciled. According to legend, La Perricholi went through a religious change about this time, spending most of the rest of her life until her death dispensing alms and assisting the Carmelites.

Versions of her life story constitute the basis of Jacques Offenbach's opera La Périchole and Jean Renoir's film The Golden Coach.

See alsoTheater .


Manuel De Mendiburu, ed., Apéndice al diccionario histórico-biográfico del Perú, vol. 4 (1938), pp. 488-494.

Ricardo Palma, Tradiciones peruanas completas (1961), pp. 616-620.

Additional Bibliography

Bacacorzo, Gustavo. La Perricholi: Da. Micaela Villegas: Nulidad y reposición históricas. Lima: G. Herrera Editores, 1994.

Moraña, Mabel. Mujer y cultura en la colonia hispanoamerican. Pittsburgh: Instituto Internacional de Literatura Iberoamericana, University of Pittsburgh, 1996.

                                     John Jay TePaske