‘Old wine in new bottles’ is Giambattista’s laconic label for
the reworked operas they put on, mostly with success. His artistic
conscience being somewhat less well developed than that of his
son, he doesn’t really mind.
This autumn brings with it an amazing opportunity. The Vivaldis
are offered the chance to stage the carnevale programme at Teatro
San Moise. After some hesitation Giambattista has ﬁnally agreed to
put on a new production by Antonio. It’s not hard to ﬁnd a libretto.
Venice is full of writers and poets like Lalli, determined before they
die to have their story put to music and performed somewhere in
the city. But Antonio has no desire to work with amateurs. It does
occur to him to ask Lalli, but Vivaldi has seen neither hide nor hair
of him since their last meeting. To be on the safe side he at last
approaches Antonio Marchi, a man who has written several
successful librettos for Tomaso Albinoni. And this time even
Antonio’s father is happy, feeling conﬁdent the music will be
familiar to the public.
That’s something that deserves repeating, Giambattista
ruminates, closing the ledger with a more than satisﬁed clap.
Everything is going well. Perhaps too well, for suddenly Antonio is
told his contract with the Pietà is to be terminated. No clear reason
is given and neither can anybody imagine one. Especially not when
at the next vote, in spring, the decision is revoked. A sigh of relief
sweeps through the choir and Don Vivaldi is able to resume his
activities as Maestro di Concerti as if nothing has happened.
Thanks to his enormous workload the whole episode has
more or less passed Antonio by. But when he is lying in bed at night
it begins to nag at him. What was the real reason for the dismissal?
Does his work at San Angelo and San Moise pose too much of a threat
to the Grimani theatres? Vivaldi knows better than to underestimate
the power of the Veneti Nobili. These families that have inhabited
the lagoon since the earliest days of the Republic have by centuries
of intermarriage and alliances forged themselves into a single,
strongly uniﬁed federation of patricians. It is impossible for
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