‘But does Don Vivaldi have enough time left for his real
task?’ This is what really worries the management. ‘What inﬂuence
does it have upon his instrumental work?’ they want to know.
‘Do you notice any change?’ asks Gasparini, slightly
peeved. ‘The oratorium is fuller over recent months than it has ever
been.’ So the management committee sees all its objections
knocked on the head, criticism ceases and the discussion is closed,
much to the regret of Scarponi the singing teacher.
That he has increasing numbers of listeners, and that people come
to him for lessons, reaching deep into their pockets to do so,
caresses the ego of Il Prete Rosso. But it is not enough. Both Antonio
and his father have the feeling there is much yet to be achieved.
They must change course, do the sums all over again. His father
has entirely relinquished the idea that Antonio has to conﬁne
himself to instrumental music. The Stabat Mater is followed by
other work featuring a glittering role for solo vocalist. Antonio is
prevented by pressure of work from personally performing the
Stabat Mater in Brescia but extravagant letters from the family and
Santa Maria della Pace church council abound with praise.
Giambattista reads them through time and again, his heart
swelling with pride. It is on such an evening that Antonio brings
up the matter of the theatre. Gasparini is so ﬁred with enthusiasm
for the possible triumphs awaiting him there that he has swept
Antonio along with him completely. And being so utterly sure of
the chances in store, Vivaldi has little difﬁculty in ﬁnding
arguments to support his wishes. You only had to put your head
into a theatre for ﬁve minutes to hear it. Some compositions were
truly not worth the paper they were printed on and people still
ﬂocked to hear them.
‘The aesthetic lies in the church, my son, but the fortune
in the theatre!’ contends Gasparini time and again. ‘A vespers is for
life, a dramma per musica, or “opera” as they call them, to make a
living from,’ insists the Maestro di Coro with genuine conviction.
‘Nobody’s really the least bit interested in opera, are they? Why else
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