On Radio Three Circus Women by Marzia Coronati

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 – at 11.18

On Radio Three Circus Women by Marzia Coronati

Discovery of acrobats and shooters, from 11 June

Rome, June 8 (askanews) – Madame Saqui, Elisa Mantovani, Miss Zaeo, Annie Oakley: four circus performers who have gone through the greatest historical events of the last two centuries. Stars in Life, Forgotten After Death, their biographies, reconstructed by Marzia Coronati through oral testimonies and archival documents, are now found in a radio work entitled Women who split the air, four episodes of the program Know Who Are Not Yours, on 11 December. , 18 and 19 June live at 14.30 on Radio Rai Tre and always in a podcast on Raiplaysound.

For centuries, thousands of women and men have led nomadic but strict lives, traveling the world while following strict rules and strenuous daily exercises. They often live together, together, but their families are fully part of the history and society of their countries of origin. They are circus performers, talented acrobats, talented artists that very little is known about. Among the shelves of Italian bookstores there are very few texts dedicated to the history of the circus, yet this is an ancient and traditional art, which has its roots in a distant past, where cavemen gathered around those who wanted to prove some acrobatic skills and one after one they sat on the ground all around and drew exactly a circus.


Women Who Cleave the Air is a serial radio work that traces the biographies of four circus women who had great success in life, but who are now mostly unknown. To reconstruct their lives, it was necessary to dust off news articles from old newspapers, collect testimonies and anecdotes, browse the only (wonderful) dedicated Italian archive (Cedac of Verona), talk to those who have handed down oral stories and circuses. events for years.

Elisa Volta Mantovani crossed Niagara Falls on a steel cable stretched across the rapids, a feat of which there is virtually no trace, though it did not go unnoticed at the time, so much so that car magnate Henry Ford l ‘he honored with a noble ring studded with diamonds. Unique tightrope walker, she quickly became famous in America, Germany, Holland and England. In 1913, he embarked on a long tour of Russia, but the revolution broke out, and the circus quickly removed the curtains, leaving the country aboard a submarine. Despite the years of fame and success, he will die in solitude in the villa of Bronciliano, the nursing home for the elderly in the traveling show on the outskirts of Florence. Those who attended the funeral, that winter day in 1958, will tell that at the head of the short funeral procession were old men, former equilibrists, acrobats, jumpers, riders and a middle-aged woman with gray and frizzy hair, followed by a pimple dog: it was his favorite student, Maruska, a slender woman from Odessa. Marguerite Saqui experienced a series of regimes, from Louis XVI to Charles X, from the city monarchy to the republic and the second empire. He was born in Occitania in 1786, between the winds of the revolution. She is the daughter of a dancer and an acrobat, she debuts on the team of the great Jean-Baptiste Nicolet as a tightrope walker and will remain on the ropes to the last, in a continuous search for increasingly prestigious scenes. First Napoleon’s treasure, then Louis XVIII, there is no party without her participation, and she relaunches every day with new spectacular feats. One day he goes out on the crossing of the Seine, at the height of the Pont-Royal, walking on a sailor’s rope and uses two flags as pendulums, wearing looted and voluminous hats and eccentric necklaces, which will soon be renamed à la Saqui and the confectioner only sells boxes of candy engraved with his portrait. His success is astonishing and lightning fast, as is his lineage: he opens a theater only 28 years old, but the cholera epidemic slows down his business, and Saqui is forced to give his farewell show on December 23, 1839, the theater will fail. two years later and will be demolished. Nearly seventy, for the feast of Napoleon III on August 15, 1853, she traveled through Campo di Marte, the last performance before dying ten years later in her small rented apartment, forgotten by those who had adored her.


Trieste, it is a day in April 1883. Thousands of people watch the spectacle of an English star, her name is Miss Zaeo and is known for her performances throughout Europe, from Spain to Germany, from France to Portugal. Zaeo always pulls out an unusual number: he climbs a rope up to thirty feet high, throws in a handkerchief, indicates the point where he fell, and throws himself into the void to catch it. It’s the farewell night in Trieste, for the circus, where Zaeo is the spearhead. The woman climbs up the trapezoid attached to the ceiling, and then, in the silence of the room, and as the drums roll, the leap is here. But the artist that day, for the first time in his life, miscalculated the course: Instead of falling into the net, his body ends up on the edge, jumping and falling on a step. She is gathered alive but bleeding in the face, under the horrified gaze of the public. From that day on, she becomes Trieste’s darling, so much so that a stage in the theater is named after her, and a musician will dedicate to her a polka, which for several years will be played during dances and concerts in cafes.

In a 1887 snapshot, 27-year-old Annie Oakley, proud and fresh-faced, docile and determined, wears a fringe skirt with a rose embroidery, wavy hair split in two tufts under the cowboy hat, tight leggings and the inevitable rifle in her right hand . A small, graceful, stubborn girl, coveted by many, especially when she starts appearing on the posters for the Wild West Show, the western outdoor show by Buffalo Bill that she has become the star of, and which will inaugurate her as the first super diva From usa. Annie Oakley shoots from all positions, gallops on a pony, gets on a bike with her back to the target and helps herself with a mirror. In Europe, he appears before Queen Victoria, and they say that at the request of the Prince of Prussia, Emperor Wilhelm II, he will blow the ashes from a cigarette he has in his hands. Someone would later say, in a wild prediction, that if Annie had hit William and not his cigarette, she could have prevented World War I.


The four biographies, reconstructed by Marzia Coronati through oral testimonies and archival documents and skillfully mixed with music thanks to the work of director Cristiana Munzi, can be heard in a radio work entitled Women who split the air, four episodes on the air on Radio Rai Tre as part of the program Lives that are not yours, on June 11, 12, 18 and 19 live at 14.30 and always in podcast on Raiplaysound.

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