paula here: My last blog celebrated a Spanish lesbian and now I turn my attention to Italy. I feel so honoured to mention these women. Many of them lived at a time when loving women would have cancelled a career, meant the loss of family and friends – wait a minute, these things still exist today!
To the Land of Amore
Renata Borgatti was an incredibly talented classical musician who performed in Europe and the United States. She was born in 1894 and died in 1964 at the age of 70. Her father was the great Wagnerian tenor Giuseppe Borgatti. Renata trained as a ballerina but abandoned dance to become a concert pianist.
Not in the Closet Lesbian
In her late teens/early twenties, Renata settled on the island of Capri off the coast of Naples, Italy. Never ashamed of loving women, Renata raised fewer eyebrows than did she in the rest of Europe.
In 1918, at the age of 24, Renata had an affair with an Italian Baroness, Mimi Franchetti and it lasted for just over a year. The Baroness left Capri and began an affair with Romaine Brooks (an American painter).
In 1918, she entered into a lesbian affair with an Italian socialite (and baroness) Mimì Franchetti. The two remained together for just over a year, until Franchetti left Capri and linked with the prominent American artist Romaine Brooks.
Reneta found a new love in Faith MacKenzie whose husband wrote of Capri’s lesbian resident in a 1928 satirical piece called “Extraordinary Women). He set it on a fictional island but everyone knew it was about the lesbians of Capri.
Restless Reneta Leaves Capri
Reneta is now 26 years old in 1920 when she sets off to pursue her classical career on the European mainland. Now, if you remember when Reneta broke up with the Baroness, this titled lady began an affair with Romaine Brooks the painter. Now, Romaine comes into Reneta’s life as her lover. (Small group of intimate friends LOL). Now, Romaine was interested in the famous Natalie Barney, so it was a difficult relationship.
(Romaine and Barney were able to have an unconventional relationship that spanned 50 years. Barney kept a literary Parisiene Literary salon for 50 years). In what appears to be a relationship triangle, Reneta and Romaine managed an on and off again relationship for about three years.
O.K – Next Lover
I am sure it really wasn’t a case of “next lover” with Reneta, but she toured and perhaps keeping a steady relationship was impossible. Nevertheless, Reneta liked affairs and after Romaine Brooks, she became involved with Winnaretta Singer, heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune.
Reneta took her career seriously and was acclaimed in Europe and the USA. She performed on state with the famous violinist Olga Rudge. Olga was the lover of poet Ezra Pound who was also a music critic. He disliked Reneta’s playing, but maybe he disliked Reneta personally for her ability to obtain and become involved with women. Who knows?
There is little information as to Reneta’s lovers towards the end of her life. In her later years, she taught music. She died in Rome of leukaemia in 1964.