Throughout the centuries, Venice has always been an open port for freedom of thought, different traditions and languages. Cultural exchanges, trading with different countries, both from the Mediterranean and the East, have made it a destination for more and more visitors, merchants, poets, pilgrims and noblemen.
In this cosmopolitan society, it is not surprising that the role of women was essential, courtesans above all. In Venice they had a very important role and they were accepted because, as well as lower class courtesans, there were enlightened courtesans such as Veronica Franco.
An independent and well-educated woman, my beloved Veronica belonged to the middle classes, she used to write poetry, she supported women that needed protection and she dated powerful men. In 16th century Venice, she boasted important friendships and noble suitors, such as the son of Caterina de Medici and the future king of France, Henry of Valois.
Elegant in her refined clothing and renowned for her blonde-ginger hair (the famous Tiziano red), she was a “Dangerous Beauty”, just like the title of the movie based on her life, which I highly recommend, where Veronica is played by the beautiful Catherine McCormack and directed by the talented Marshall Herskovitz.
Style icons and polyglots, in more than a public event courtesans accompanied their important patrons, who gave them independence with gifts, money and houses in the heart of Venice.
The presence of Veronica Franco amongst the characters of my Ballo del Doge is of course because of her interesting story but also because of my desire to make people familiar with these characters, to celebrate and to liberate them from the label given to them from a past and present misconception that simply doesn’t truly do them justice.
A strong woman, an independent and brave woman, she is a role model for everyone. A radiant light in the darkness of prejudice and inequality, a light that we need nowadays more than ever.
All hail to Veronica Franco and to all the queens of the soul and mind!