Fanny Cerrito and her patriotic “Sicilienne”

The Risorgimento in ballet – Episodes between chronicle and legend from the world of the dance – 1st instalment 

A column by Rita Zambon about Italian ballet in the years of the patriotic movement, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Italian Unification

From the Gazzetta di Venezia: on the evening of  february 6th 1848 Fanny Cerrito, while playing in La Vivandiera e il Postiglione at the Teatro la Fenice, inserts a Sicilienne as a homage to the  sicilian revolutionary movement, unleashing the ardour of the audience that shout «Viva la Sicilia! Viva i Siciliani!». Delirious applause ensues for Cerrito when she «appears onstage shrouded in a white, red and green voile».
Beyond the newspaper reports, in those year many were the anecdotes – sometimes confusing the historical periods – regarding anti-Austrian behaviour by the romantic ballet stars. Among these is a legendary episode attributed from time to time to the same Cerrito, to Caterina Beretta Viena, and also erroneously to Carolina Pochini: the dancer, in collusion with the patriots, appears onstage dressed in white. Red and green flowers are thrown at her and, held on her bosom, form the tricolore. The next day the Austrian police, having discovered the trick, orders her not to pick up any flower: she submits. On the same evening,  yellow flowers bound with a black ribbon (the colours of Austria) are purposely thrown and she, abiding by the rules, leaves them on the boards, without even deigning to glance at them, among the  scorn of the authorities and the exultation of the audience.  (R.Z.)

About ritazambon

Degree in Greek literature. Dancer (ballet, contemporary dance, dance of renaissance and barock). Scholar of Dance History. Archival Research.

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