Masked ball is the social highlight of the Venice Carnival

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. sumptuous / ˈsʌmp tʃu əs / (adj.) – rich, impressive, and high-quality, often referring to something that looks or feels expensive

    The royal feast included a sumptuous spread of delicious dishes, with expensive meat and rare seafood.

  2. deck out / dɛk aʊt / (phrasal v.) – to dress in a fancy way, often for a special occasion or event

    The women were decked out in designer gowns and expensive jewelry for the party.

  3. masquerade / ˌmæs kəˈreɪd / (n.) – a party or social gathering where guests wear masks and costumes, often to hide their identity or as part of the event

    At the masquerade, people wore colorful masks and danced to lively music.

  4. extravagant / ɪkˈstræv ə gənt / (adj.) – very fancy or expensive

    The wealthy man lived in an extravagant mansion with a huge garden.

  5. gala / ˈgeɪ lə / (n.) – a celebration or social event, often involving special entertainment, performances, or ceremonies

    The school organized a gala to celebrate the end of the academic year.


Read the text below.

Take a peek at a night of lavish fantasy in Venice: the city’s masked carnival ball. Il Ballo del Doge (Doge’s Ball) attracts visitors from around the world who want to dress up in stunning costumes and enjoy top-class entertainment. It’s the most sumptuous event of the Venice Carnival.

Guests in elegant 18th-century costumes are ready to party at the Doge’s Ball. Performers in towering wigs entertain the crowds. And even the guests dress up for the night, all decked out in elaborate costumes.

“This is the third time I’ve come back because it’s a fantastic event, it’s absolutely one of the most beautiful events I’ve ever been to and in my opinion, it makes the Carnival in Venice an unforgettable and fantastic thing. I find it fantastic in every detail,” says Adriana Mele, who is from Naples. Others have traveled even further to be here.

“It’s magical. My godmother came because she saw this on the news in America and decided we were coming,” says Julia Pishko from Colorado.

Organized by costume designer Antonia Sautter, the Doge’s Ball is a festive all-night masquerade ball attended by guests in extravagant tailored period costumes and wearing typical Venetian masks.

“The Doge’s Ball is a dream, it’s a dream where time is suspended, where you can find a little bit of yourself wearing a costume and living your own fairytale,” explains Sautter.

With a different theme each year, the party does not come cheap. Guests spend between 800 and 5,000 euros to attend a gala dinner and be entertained by various shows and a fantasy movie set.

This year, the title is ‘Carnival Obsession.’

Sautter’s first ball took place 30 years ago in 1994. The Venetian decided to go beyond her job as a costume designer and create a ball that would attract people from all over the world eager to realize their dreams. She wanted the event to promote Venetian arts, culture, and traditions.

Sautter works with a staff of around 400 throughout the year to create a show that draws on Italian and Venetian traditions, such as opera and the use of commedia dell‘arte characters, and involves around 100 international performers.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Antonia Sautter designed a ball that would attract people, hoping that the event would promote Venetian arts, culture, and traditions. What do you think are the advantages of promoting one’s arts, culture, and traditions to foreign people? Discuss.
  • What events does your country hold that showcase your own culture and arts? Do you see foreign people supporting these events? Why do you think this is so? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The Doge’s Ball is a perfect event for guests to “realize their dreams” and “live in their own fairytales.” In your opinion, why is it significant for individuals to have moments where they can immerse themselves in a fantasy world, such as at the Doge’s Ball (ex. to escape from the pressures of life, to experience something different)? Are you also enticed by this idea? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Guests spend 800 and 5,000 euros to experience the Venice Carnival. Would you also be willing to spend this much for that kind of experience? Why or why not? Discuss.