Peter Innocent Bon
Peter Innocent Bon, a cardinal of the Roman Catholic church who yearns to have a nephew, though all of his sisters are in holy orders and his brothers have fathered only daughters. In his naïveté, he asks a glassblower friend to make him a glass nephew and bring the creation to life.
Virginio (veer-JEE-nee-oh), the cardinal’s nephew, formed of Venetian glass and given life. He is a handsome young man with a translucent complexion and golden hair. He is baptized Virginio by the cardinal and sent to receive an education at the hands of Angelo Querini, a scholar and philosopher. He falls in love with Rosalba Berni and marries her, though the marriage to a glass man is difficult for a flesh-and-blood young woman.
Rosalba Berni (roh-ZAHL-bah BEHR-nee), known as Sappho the Younger because she is a splendid poet and a woman of learning. She is the ward of Angelo Querini, at whose home she meets Virginio and falls in love, despite her engrossment in the classics and philosophy. Upon knowing love, she becomes an active girl, even a hoyden, and her marriage to a glass husband has complications. After she attempts suicide in her unhappiness, her friends permit her to be transformed into Sèvres porcelain so that she can be a more suitable wife for her beloved. Rosalba, it is discovered, is the illegitimate child of Cardinal de Bernis.
M. de Chastelneuf
M. de Chastelneuf, Chevalier de Langeist, a strange man from Bohemia who has supernatural powers. His interest in Rosalba stems from having loved her mother before the woman became Cardinal de Bernis’ mistress.
Caterina (kah-teh-REE-nah), Rosalba’s mother, the mistress of Cardinal de Bernis.
Alvise Luna (ahl-VEE-seh LEW-nah), a famous glassblower of Murano who works with M. de Chastelneuf. He is accused of being a sorcerer.
Count Carlo Gozzi
Count Carlo Gozzi (KAHR-loh GOH-zee), a longtime friend of Cardinal Innocent Bon. He is a writer of fairy tales.
Angelo Querini (kweh-REE-nee), a scholar and philosopher, formerly the friend of Voltaire. As a man of great learning, he is the guardian of Rosalba and the tutor of Virginio.