Vivaldi in Venice

As a ‘cellist, I was so excited for this concert. Earlier in the week we had wandered in to a musical instrument museum that displayed some stunning instruments that were up to 400 years old! I asked the lady behind the desk in very broken Italian whether the instruments ever got played or whether they lived behind the protection of their glass cabinets. She explained (in English!) that the instruments were played by a local Orchestra who were in fact using some of them at a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons later that week! Well, that was it, I was in – asked her for two tickets and she handed them over, charging us student prices! We must have looked particularly young but I wasn’t going to quibble!

Vivaldi was a Venetian and so it was going to be a particular treat. I suppose they may perform Vivaldi’s pieces regularly as it would always draw a crowd, but I didn’t mind – gimmick or not, I was going to enjoy every minute of the performance.

The venue was the Chiesa di San Vidal: beautiful, intimate, ornate. We queued up down the street, despite arriving 45 minutes early. The venue offers free seating so I guess people turned up early for good seats. As it was late December, we were wrapped up warm and didn’t mind waiting as it was cold but dry and added to the sense of occasion. My anticipation for the concert built as we entered the stunning marble church. As it filled up with a sold out audience, the hall remained peaceful and there was a buzz of excitement around the place. There were some marble statues that flanked the stage area. One of them was of a lady in a veil – the attention to detail was incredible and the veil looked soft across her face.

Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece, the Four Seasons was written for string orchestra and harpsichord. We experienced it with the Interpreti Veneziani who seem to have become the Chiesa di San Vidal’s resident orchestra. The ‘cellist was particularly animated, expressively playing without using sheets, knowing every note, feeling the emotion that Vivaldi put in to his music. I was beaming like the music dweeb I am, loving the fact that I was in Venice, listening to Vivaldi.

If you are ever in Venice, please take the opportunity to experience this. It was something very special, not just for a musician like myself, but my wife who isn’t a music enthusiast loved the evening too. This is not to be missed!

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