Can you see the flames leaping out of my head? My head is exploding!
Last night I attended the sagra, the neighborhood festival at Campo San Giovanni in Bragora. Part of the entertainment included “singing from the balconies,” a short presentation by a group of women. One woman told a story from one balcony, and in between the episodes, the other group of women sang from their own balcony. The whole thing was in Venetian dialect, so I started to zone out a bit until I heard…
… Hermonia Vivarini!
I turned to my friend B and asked, “Did she just say Hermonia Vivarini?!”
You see, Hermonia was a glassmaker on Murano, one of the only women ever mentioned in any records of glassmaking. She designed a navicella, a delicate water pitcher that looked like a boat. I wrote a chapter about her in my book A Beautiful Woman in Venice. There’s not a lot of information out there about her; in fact, when I visited the glass museum a few years ago, one of the employees there had not even heard of her.
So I was astonished that here was a woman on a balcony telling her story!
When the story finished, the other women sang. Then the first woman began a new story, also in dialect, and I heard the name…
… Marietta Barovier!
She’s the other amazing woman glassmaker from the 16th century. She is better known because her family’s glass factor still lives on to this day. She invented the rosetta bead, too, which was used as currency throughout Europe and even parts of Africa.
This was when my head began to explode, sparks popping out my ears.
So of course I waited until the performance ended and the singers came out of the building. I approached the storyteller and introduced myself. But before I could finish she said, “But we know each other.”
“No…,” I said.
So now the top of my head went flying off into the sky.
“Meetings like this are not an accident,” she said. “They are meant to be.” She then introduced me to her colleague who did the research on the women glassmakers and wrote this script. My new friend is both an actress and a glassmaker on Murano, so she was the perfect person to play this part in the festa entertainment.
Now remember, my head had just exploded, so you must forgive me my lapse. I gave them both my business card, but they did not give me theirs, and I didn’t even get their names. So I’m hoping they will indeed contact me so I can find out more about their work and maybe even collaborate in the future.
(Click on the names in blue to see the YouTube videos.)