The Prime Minister and the Ballerina: the «liaison criminelle» between Bianca Ronzani and Camillo Benso di Cavour

The Risorgimento in ballet – Episodes between chronicle and legend from the world of the dance – 5th instalment

Bianca Ronzani CavourThe 1857 carnival season at the Teatro Regio in Turin had proved a financial fiasco for the impresario and choreographer Domenico Ronzani. So, pressed by creditors, he played his last trump card by sending his wife Bianca, also a dancer, to beg Count Camillo Benso di Cavour – who was Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Sardinia, as well as Minister of Finance – for a bailout. Bianca Berta Valentino Sevierz Ymar – this was the maiden name of Ronzani’s second wife – managed the assignment so well that as a result she not only secured some assistance for the theatre enterprise but also became Cavour’s mistress, subsequently parting from Ronzani who ended his career in the United States.

Camillo regularly wrote love letters to Bianca and bought her a villa on the hills of Turin where he used to take refuge, defying the wrath of his family. This “liaison criminelle” – as Cavour’s brother Gustavo called it – proved however to be solid and lasting. In fact Bianca remained at the statesman’s side until his death in 1861.

Camillo Benso Cavour
Italian politicians dance to the tune played by Cavour, 19th century cartoon – Musei Civici, raccolta Bertarelli – Milan

The letters by Cavour to his lover have been recently published as Amami e credimi. Lettere a Bianca Ronzani (1856-1861), preface by Lucio Villari, Milano, Archinto, 2011. (R.Z.)

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