Born Feb. 13, 1803, in Venice; died Feb. 20, 1861, in Turin. Italian actor.
Modena was the son of an actor. He studied law at the University of Padua and in 1824 made his stage debut. He acted in various theater companies and later organized his own company. Modena’s heroic and romantic style was influenced by the Italian national liberation movement of the first half of the 19th century. He took part in the Bologna uprising of 1831 and had close ties with the secret republican society Young Italy and its founder, G. Mazzini. Modena sought to make the theater a weapon in the struggle for Italian freedom and independence. Among Modena’s best roles were Paolo in Pellico’s Francesco da Rimini, and the title roles in Manzoni’s Adelchi, Alfieri’s Brutus, Saul, and Philip, and Voltaire’s Mahomet.
Modena helped create the Italian realistic school of acting; he trained the actors A. Ristori, E. Rossi, and T. Salvini. In 1859 he left the stage. In 1888, Modena’s letters, of interest to the study of the theater, were published.