just like a dry sponge, greedy to mop up every word you say.’
Gasparini nods, laughing. But the Maestro di Coro has other things
on his mind. ‘What are your plans, priest?’ he asks.
Antonio is wary. He likes Gasparini, but he also knows
how calculating the old bear can be and he’s not absolutely sure
what the motive is behind his being lured up here today. If it’s only
about work, then why couldn’t they have discussed it downstairs?
‘I’d like to concentrate on technique. There are one or two things
that need polishing up,’ says Antonio, formulating his reply with
diplomatic care. He doesn’t want to rush into criticising the string
players of the choir.
‘Ha!’ Gasparini roars with laughter. ‘I can well believe it!
But what I meant was, what are your personal plans? What do you
mean to achieve over the coming years? Last year you wanted to
come back to the Pietà. Voilà, here you are back. But what’s your
next goal? Or are you going to spend the rest of your life showing
people how to hold their bow properly?’ The visage with its huge,
bristling eyebrows glowers challengingly into Antonio’s face.
Momentarily dumbstruck, Vivaldi takes a sip of wine and directs
his gaze over the balustrade out towards the horizon. ‘I’m not really
sure as yet,’ he admits. ‘I know I’m good at teaching, and the Figlie
are rewarding students. But I ﬁnd the success of L’Estro Armonico
stimulating me to go on composing concerti. According to my
publisher there is an increasing demand for them. Monsieur Roger
even wants to reprint new editions of my ﬁrst two works, you know.
They may not be concerti, but they’re still works by Vivaldi!’ he adds
with pride. ‘I’ve started on a new collection, but I’m also very busy
with smaller compositions; I get asked for more and more.’
Gasparini nods approvingly. ‘I’m glad to hear all is going well with
you. You’re obviously making a name for yourself instrumentally.
But how are things with vocal work? I think I advised you once
before to explore the possibilities in this area. Of course it’s all
very ﬁne that Monsieur Roger is selling so much of your work,
but where’s it getting you? And naturally it’s wonderful to be
worldfamous, but you also have to earn your bread and butter.’
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