Venice Vivaldi

Europe - Vivaldi concert in Venice.which church is best? - Hello, Have you heard Vivaldi in Venice? I am looking for a good performance in a great setting.

Composer Antonio Vivaldi In the 18th century, travelers came from all over Europe to hear Anna Maria and Chiara perform in Venice. Neither attained the wealth or the immortal fame of someone like. Vivaldi was born, raised and spent most of his life in Castello, the sestiere, or district, that forms the eastern end of Venice, the part least frequented by visitors. Vivaldi was the most celebrated Venetian violinist and composer of his age and made a fortune from his music. This is a small, private museum, and one needs to make a reservation to see it. Some of the memorabilia is very interesting. Concerts of Vivaldi’s Music. Venice abounds with performances of Vivaldi’s music, especially “The Four Seasons”. But the trick is to know which concerts are of much higher quality than the rest.

Ospedale della Pietà
Venice vivaldi violin

The Ospedale della Pietà was a convent, orphanage, and music school in Venice. Like other Venetian ospedali, the Pietà was first established as a hospice for the needy. A group of Venetian nuns, called the Consorelle di Santa Maria dell’Umiltà, established this charitable institution for orphans and abandoned girls in the fourteenth century. By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the Pietà - along with the three other charitable Ospedali Grandi - was well known for its all-female musical ensembles that attracted tourists and patrons from around Europe.


Musical activity[edit]

Infants could be left at the Pietà via the scaffetta, a window only large enough to admit infants. Not all infants were female, nor were they necessarily orphans. Through the seventeenth century all four of the surviving ospedali gained increasing attention through the performances of sacred music by their female musicians, known as figlie di coro. Formal rules for the training of figlie were carefully drafted and periodically revised.[1] Many of these concerts were given for select audiences consisting of important visitors. The audience was separated from the performers by a metal grill, probably to hide the disfiguration of the girls. As the institution became celebrated, it sometimes received infants related (not always legitimately) to members of the nobility. In the later decades of the Venetian Republic, which collapsed in 1797, it also accepted adolescent music students - called figlie di spese - whose fees were paid by sponsoring foreign courts or dignitaries.[2]

The Pietà produced many virtuose like Chiara della Pietà and at least two composers – Anna Bon and Vincenta Da Ponte. The life of successful figlie was much coveted. Some were given lavish gifts by admirers, and many were offered periods of vacation in villas on the Italian mainland. Most remained there their entire lives, though as the Venetian economy declined in the eighteenth century, some left to make (usually advantageous) marriages. In this instance, the institution provided a future bride with a small dowry.

Each Ospedali Grandi usually had an orchestra of at least thirty to forty elements, all females (La Pietà's orchestra counted up to sixty) and competed with each other by hiring the best musicians in the city, promoting high quality concerts, and through such activities provided countless commissions for violin and other instruments makers to provide for the maintenance and repair of such instruments. These artisans were named 'liuter del loco'.The office of 'liuter del loco' guaranteed a constant flow of income: curating the instruments of an entire orchestra was a burdensome activity which required the work of more than one person; instruments had to be picked up, continuously repaired because of breakage and ungluing from use, and sometimes instruments had to be built. The responsible violin maker also had to supply strings for the entire orchestra, keep an accounting book detailing all operations, and issue semi-annual or annual invoices. These invoices, or ‘policies’ as they were called at the time, were handwritten by the appointed violin maker and had to be approved by the 'maestre del coro' or the maestro di cappella – who would usually be granted a discount – before being paid by the hospital administration. These ‘policies’ are not only a precious source of information for the study of an author (luthier) and his work, but they are also a valid tool to gather more information on the musical practice of the 'sonadori' (players) of the time. There is also much information that can be gleaned from their organological study. For a reading of some of the most interesting invoices, we refer to the appendix of Pio[3] book where some of them (the author has found and catalogued more than 110, totaling 400 pages) are listed in chronological order and cover the years from 1750 to 1810.

The composer Antonio Vivaldi was appointed a violin teacher in 1703 and served in various roles through 1715, and again from 1723 to 1740. Much of Vivaldi's sacred vocal and instrumental music was written for performance at the Pietà.[4]The conservatory of the Pietà hospital was the only hospital to remain active until approximately 1830. All the other hospitals completely closed their musical activity during the first years of the nineteenth century. From an instrument inventory[5] dated 1790 we learn that during that year the Pietà hospital had still “four violins with used bows, four cellos, seventeen violins, two marine trumpets (these may have been violini in tromba marina),[6] six small violas, two viola d’amore, two mandolines, two lutes, one theorbo, four hunting horns with accessories, two psalteries with harmonic box, two cymbals, three flutes, two big cymbals with spinets, six spinets.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's account of 1770 conveys his impressions but has been over-generalized as a description of the institution over an entire century. After describing how the performers were hidden behind metal grilles, he related in his Confessions (1770):

I have not an idea of anything so voluptuous and affecting as this music; the richness of the art, the exquisite taste of the vocal part, the excellence of the voices, the justness of the execution, everything in these delightful concerts concurs to produce an impression which certainly is not the mode, but from which I am of opinion no heart is secure.

He goes on to describe meeting the musicians.[7]

The original building (shown above) is currently a hotel-restaurant complex (the Metropole). The nearby church of the Pietà was completed in 1761, two decades after the death of Antonio Vivaldi. The facade of the church was only completed in the early 20th century. An early childhood education center is still housed in the rear of the building complex behind the church. Most of this complex was donated to the Ospedale in the 1720s, enabling it to expand its activities. Some of Vivaldi's premiere pupils, such as Anna Maria del Violino, were given individual rooms in these newly acquired buildings. It is possible that in the salon of one of them the famous concert for 'i conti del Nord', celebrated in a painting by Francesco Guardi,[8] took place on January 22, 1782.[citation needed] Guardi's painting is mistitled[citation needed] 'The Dinner and Ball in the Teatro San Benedetto'.

Gala Concert in Old Procuratory for Czar's Daughter-in-Law (1780) by Guardi.

Musicians who studied in the Ospedale[edit]

Composers who held posts at the Ospedale della Pietà[edit]

References in Fiction[edit]

  • Vivaldi's Virgins, first published in 2007 and translated into 12 languages, is a novel by Barbara Quick set in the Ospedale della Pietà during the lifetime of Anna Maria della Pietà, one of Vivaldi's favorite students there. The novel was released as an audio title in December 2019.
  • The Ospedale della Pieta is the main setting of Rosalind Laker's [pen name of Barbara Ovstedal] The Venetian Mask (1992)
  • Corona, L. The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice. is a romanticized history of the women who were abandoned and studied in the Ospedale della Pietà.


  1. ^Baldauf-Berdes, Jane (1993). Women Musicians of Venice: Musical Foundations, 1525-1855. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  2. ^Porta, Giovanni (1 January 1995). Selected sacred music from the Ospedale della Pietà. A-R Editions, Inc. pp. 7–8. ISBN978-0-89579-318-8.
  3. ^Stefano Pio book pp.322 – 403
  4. ^Heller, Karl (1997). Antonio Vivaldi: The Red Priest of Venice. Hal Leonard Corporation. pp. 51–54. ISBN978-1-57467-015-8.
  5. ^Pio Stefano book
  6. ^Chandler, Adrian; Recreating Vivaldi's violino in tromba marina; The Strad, 15 April 2015: Retrieved 1 March 2021
  7. ^'Jean-Jacques Rousseau - Wikiquote'. Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  8. ^'Francesco Guardi (1712-1793)'. Retrieved 2016-12-15.


Venice Vivaldi Violin

  • Jane L. Baldauf-Berdes: Women Musicians of Venice. Musical Foundations, 1525–1855. Rev. ed. Oxford 1996; ISBN0-19-816604-4
  • Fernyhough, Clare (12 February 2006). 'Revealed: Vivaldi's life with a whole orchestra of women'. Independent on Sunday (UK national title). p. 32. Retrieved 19 September 2010.
  • André Romijn. Hidden Harmonies: The Secret Life of Antonio Vivaldi (2008); ISBN978-0-9554100-1-7
  • Eleanor Selfridge-Field. A New Chronology of Venetian Opera and Related Genres, 1660–1760 (2007); ISBN978-0-8047-4437-9
  • E. Selfridge-Field. Venetian Instrumental Music from Gabrieli to Vivaldi, 3rd rev. edn., 1994; ISBN0-486-28151-5
  • E. Selfridge-Field. Pallade Veneta: Writings on Music in Venetian Society, 1650–1750. Venice (1985); ISBN9788875520069
  • Vivaldi's Violins: the Accounts of Ospedale della Pietà; retrieved 20 February 2006; archived from the original on 2006-12-05.
  • Vanessa Tonelli. 'Women and music in the Venetian Ospedali.' Thesis. Michigan State University 2013.

External links[edit]

  • 45°26′03″N12°20′41″E / 45.4341°N 12.3446°ECoordinates: 45°26′03″N12°20′41″E / 45.4341°N 12.3446°E
Venice vivaldi concert church
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Joyce Didonato had the public of the Concertgebouw wrapped around her finger from the moment she entered the Great Hall and jokingly said that Venice had nothing on Amsterdam. The comment struck a chord: we, proud Amsterdammers, secretly want to believe so. As a source of inspiration to poets and musicians, the Serenissima however wins hands down. This invitation to journey through three centuries of music inspired by Venice was simply irresistible and it is with palpable delight that this chauvinistic Amsterdammer, and some fifteen hundred others, followed our guide.

It is of course quite impossible not to be charmed by Ms. DiDonato’s endearing stage presence and consummate acting skills. What makes her performance most exceptional however is the way she is able to breathe life into a scene or text, just by vocal prowess. The total control she appears to have of her instrument, the complex palette of colours and dynamics make her storytelling nothing less than captivating. In a varied program of arias and art songs covering such different styles and moods as the one she sang last Monday, this artistry is invaluable.

The program started with Antonio Vivaldi, one of Venice’s most celebrated children. The Red Priest certainly wrote enough flamboyantly virtuosic pieces from which to pick an easy jaw-dropping affect at the start, but Ms. DiDonato was bold enough to open with two more subtle numbers from a little-known opera, Ercole su’l Termodonte. The whispering ripples of “Onde chiare che sussurrate” were the occasion for refined ornamentations.

Gabriel Fauré’s Cinq mélodies de Venise were partially composed during a stay in Venice and reflect his fascination for the city. The French language does not perhaps come to Ms. DiDonato as naturally as Italian - or even the Venetian dialect if we judge from later parts in the program. Her diction and phrasing, initially clear and precise at the beginning of the cycle appeared to somewhat blur in later parts. Still, the way she brought colour to each of Verlaine’s verses, or even word, to convey mood and meaning was admirable.

Rossini’s music is, together with the baroque repertoire, what propelled the American mezzo to stardom. She made a delectable showpiece of La Regata Veneziana, one of the composer’s most famous péchés de vieillesse. As Anzoleta, the coquettish and self-conscious belle who cheers at Momolo, her gondolier lover, during the city’s famous boat race, she sparkled. The public of the Concertgebouw just could not refrain their enthusiasm and started clapping between numbers of the set.

The mood changed dramatically with a heart-rendering willow songfrom Rossini’s Otello: the way she shaded the last stanza left no doubt in the listener’s mind that this Desdemona knows too well that the tragedy is imminent. David Zobel, an excellent accompanist throughout the evening, accomplished a real tour de force during this aria, conveying at the piano the atmosphere of this aria which normally requires harp and orchestra.

Michael Head, a composer unknown to me, wrote Three Songs of Venice in 1974 for Dame Janet Baker. Ms DiDonato told the audience how discovering this cycle as a young college student who had never travelled out of the Mid-West was a revelation. Full of the sounds of water rippling against keels, gondoliers’s echoing calls and pigeons’wings flapping on Saint Mark’s Square, these simple melodious songs proved pleasantly atmospheric.

From there, we were transported to the world of Reynaldo Hahn’s Venezia, a cycle that, in spite of being composed on verses in the Venetian dialect, has an unmistakably belle époque feel: Ms DiDonato’s vivid interpretation of “L’avertimento” (“the warning”) and “Che pecà” (“What a shame”) made one think that these salon pieces wouldn’t have been totally out of place in a Parisian cabaret of the turn of the century.

The encores were demonstrative of the generosity of the artist: a virtuosic final rondo from La Donna del Lago that sent the public roaring, a breathtaking “Morgen!” that left some teary-eyed, and finally, “Over the rainbow”: an invitation to Kansas. “You don’t have to stay long !”, joked the American star mezzo. With DiDonato as a guide, we’d gladly follow anywhere.

See full listing
“she is able to breathe life into a scene or text, just by vocal prowess”
Reviewed at Concertgebouw: Main Hall, Amsterdam on 11 April 2016
Vivaldi, Ercole su'l Termodonte, RV 710: Onde chiare che sussurrate
Vivaldi, Ercole su'l Termodonte, RV 710: Amato ben
Rossini, La Regata Veneziana
Head, Three songs of Venice
Hahn, Venezia, no.3: L'avertimento
Hahn, Venezia, no.6: La primavera
Rossini, La donna del lago: Tanti affetti in tal momento! (encore)
Arlen, Over the Rainbow (encore)
David Zobel, Piano
DiDonato returns to Carnegie Hall
Though Joyce DiDonato is an incredibly versatile artist, her performance at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday evening reaffirmed that she is, above all, one of the leading interpreters of Rossini today.
Joyce DiDonato and David Zobel at the Wigmore Hall: Recital on a theme of Venice
Venexia, Venise, Venedig: city of singing gondoliers, loved-up couples and pigeons. That was the picture painted last night at the sold-out recital by Joyce DiDonato and her accompanist David Zobel at the Wigmore Hall.
Joyce DiDonato Performs in Kennedy Center, Washington DC
On February 15th, Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington DC proudly hosted a recital of the internationally acclaimed mezzo soprano Joyce DiDonato and famous pianist David Zobel. Part of this season’s Star Series, the recital presented by Washington Performing Arts Society, was given in honor of Vocal Arts 20th Anniversary.

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DiDonato sees Winterreise through Charlotte's eyes
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Nicolas is a French Amsterdammer, e-commerce professional and a bit of an opera buff. His experience in the area of music is that of a dilettante. His passion for the opera and vocal music comes from his love for both music and languages which are so perfectly combined in these art forms.

Vivaldi Venice Concerts

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