Venice Ghetto
Martino Zanetti

Reflections of Martino Zanetti

Athens, Rome, Venice and London have given rise to great theatre. The “genius” of Shakespeare (whoever he may have been, whether one person or many) is absolutely, characteristically Anglo-Saxon.

My research into this great, intriguing mystery begins in Venice, my homeland, and stretches back to that great period and fascinating place that was Shakespearean London.

The person who inspired the Venetian plays by Shakespeare is the patrician Almorò Barbaro, son of Marco Antonio Barbaro. This man is systematically highlighted in the plays: the young scholar in Padua, whose father is (Marc)Antonio Barbaro. The plays frequently highlight the fraternal dualism that in real life existed between the Cardinal Francesco Barbaro, papist and Cardinal, and Almorò Barbaro, destined to be his successor, but who never appeared as Cardinal, not even on the death of his brother. In fact, he is totally absent on the Venetian scene. Almorò Barbaro died in December 1622, and the Stationers’ Register was published in March 1623.

There are particular and timely connections with the London theatrical events, including the fire at the Globe Theatre, just at the time that Almorò Barbaro would have succeeded his brother Francesco on his death.
The plays always indicate some Venetian elements absolutely out of context such as the typically Venetian term “coragio” in The Tempest, line 260 V.i. (Stephano “Every man shift for all the rest, and let no man take care for himself; for all is but fortune. Coragio, bully-monster, coragio!”) or “Be out of love with your nativity, and almost chide God for making you that countenance you are; Or I will scarce think you have swam in a gondola.” in As You Like, lines 30-40, IV. i.

As regards the Merchant of Venice, Belmonte is Montebelluna, where the Villa di Maser stands, accessible by waterway along the river Brenta, in the direction of Bassano (Bassanio). Here is the reason why the location has always been mistaken, because it has always been imagined as overseas. The Villa di Maser depicts all the images that inspired the imagination of Almorò Barbaro (portrayed here in his youth), then reproduced in the Venetian plays. I obviously agree, based on factual findings that the plays ascribed to Shakespeare are the result of this English genius, but nevertheless believe that they were written and conceived within the courts of Penshurst and Wilton House with the supervision of Mary Sidney, Ben Johnson and Robert Greene (“I will play three myself”). What we read today is a marvellous work, but re-adapted to the times.