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Renata Borgatti
(March 2, 1894 - March 8, 1964) Italy

Renata Borgatti

Pianist

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The daughter of the famous Wagnerian tenor Giuseppe Borgatti, Renata made her debut as a ballerina at a very young age; but her inability to wear tight shoes soon caused her to abandon dance. Renata then made a career as a pianist, especially as the most renowned performer of the works of Debussy.

She settled in Capri, the "homosexual paradise" of the 1920s and 1930s, wore her hair short and was recognised forher beautiful face and long eyelashes, her wiry figure, large "masculine" feet, and throaty deep voice. At age 24, she developed an unrequired love for Lica Riola, a heterosexual woman.

In May 1918, in Capri, Renata met Mimì Franchetti, the beautiful daughter of the Venitian baron Franchetti, whose arrival had thrown the lesbian world of Capri into commotion. Renata was easily fascinated by Mimì. Their temptestuous and impassionated relationship lasted about a year.

Renata BorgattiIn 1919 Francesca took up with Romaine Brooks, then aged 45, who painted the intense portrait of "Renata Borgatti at the Piano". However Brooks' interest in Renata was short lived; the year after they met, Brooks was already avoiding meeting Renata.

In 1920 Renata left Capri. She traveled to Rome, Bolgna, Paris and Monaco. She subsequently taught music in Switzerland, until the second half of the 1950s, then again in Rome. In February 1964, in Rome, Francesca fell ill with leukemia and died, while her pupils played for her Bach's St Matthew's Passion, according to her desire.

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Source: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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