Fogliazzi

 

Memories tend to blur and intertwine, especially in the case of Fogliazzi and Gabrielli. I can’t say I loved them both dearly, because what I loved was their flair, their way of flaunting their disrespect for morals and conventions, sloughing off any odor of cynicism as they exploited their remarkable beauty to gain the favors of the powerful and gullible. Their hauteur was encapsulated in the definite article “la” that preceded their surnames, as if to say “the one and only.” Both thought they had me wrapped around their little finger, and perhaps they did. Who says there are only three Graces? I’d say there were at least five.

Une danseuse milanaise qui avait de l'esprit, un ton excellent, de la littérature, et, qui plus est, était fort jolie. Elle recevait bonne compagnie, et faisait à merveille les honneurs du salon pour une société étrangement composée, et y mettait une grande aménité, car elle avait beaucoup vu et elle avait aussi beaucoup lu et nous égayait souvent par de belles anecdotes.

She (I shall implode them into one third person singular) spent many hours of each day with me, and showed me all her correspondence, using me to obtain favors and information she then supplied to the agents of powerful friends from home, in exchange for costly gifts, solid gold salt cellars, precious jewels, edible delicacies.

Her scandalous behavior got her expelled from many a city, including Vienna, where she had caused a diplomatic incident between ambassadors who were both her secret lovers. She got kicked out of Milan, and was accused of altering arias to suit her whimsy (yes, she was also a singer, of great accomplishment). They sent her packing in Naples, and in Sicily she was arrested for disrespecting the Viceroy Giovanni Fogliani Sforza d'Aragona. Thrown into jail in Palermo, she managed to organize banquets, cheering up the inmates. Once released, she nobly paid back the sums of money she had borrowed from fellow prisoners.

Inflexible in character, she often ruffled the feathers of influential personages, but her fame was so great that she was nearly invulnerable. Known in the European courts with the nicknames of "coghetta", "cochetta", "cocchetta" and "romanina," for several decades she represented the highest level of the Italian tradition of singing and dance.

Mozart, however, while acknowledging her talents, harshly criticized her in a letter to his father, saying among other things that she "performed with art but without intelligence."


W.A. Kaunitz, omnipotent chancellor of Court and State

with Giacomo Casanova