Carlo Goldoni - 1732
Carlo Goldoni had a life that sounds as if it were taken from a novel. As a young boy he ran away from home to join a band of comic actors and as a teenager he was expelled from his college in Pavia for composing risqué poems about the town’s young noble ladies. He did occasionally, however, manage to find gainful employment and return a little to the straight and narrow. In Chioggia, for instance, where he worked as an assistant court clerk, the future playwright appears to have avoided disgracing himself.
Goldoni found himself in Bergamo by chance on his way from Milan. 25 years old and with dreams of becoming a successful writer, he was exhausted, penniless and starving. But his luck was in: the city just happened to be governed by the very same nobleman he had previously worked for in Chioggia – one Francesco Bonfandini – who together with his wife Andriana Dolfin, welcomed him in like a long lost son.
It was carnival time in Bergamo and the whole city had been transformed into a stage. An extravagant masked procession dedicated to ‘The Triumph of Cybele’ was organized, which wound its way through the town and the borghi down to the Prato della Fiera. At its head was Andriana as Cybele, leading two leopards on a leash (the gods Melanione and Atalanta), while behind followed the city’s nobility, shackled in chains like slaves, and their valets, who tossed sweets to an incredulous crowd.
Years later, Goldoni would dedicate his first hit success “La donna di garbo” (“The Fashionable Woman”) to Andriana Dolfin, thanking her for “the most pleasurable of times” that winter of 1733 in Bergamo.