‘But my father also plays in the orchestra of San Marco.
He would not even be granted permission to leave Venice.’
Filippo marches over to the window and resolutely turns
on his heels to face them again. ‘My request is simple enough,’ he
states ﬁrmly and categorically. ‘I ask you to be my choirmaster, and
what do I hear? Problems, problems and more problems! I think
I am correct in believing that you are a man famous all over Europe,
and yet treated with contempt here in Venice. I am offering you a
chance, let us say a podium, upon which to arise from the marshy
depths of this lagoon. An orchestra awaits you of more than twenty
musicians. You shall become more closely acquainted with the
Habsburg Empire and I shall introduce you to personages of note,
of inﬂuence. Of course, there will be no objection to your fulﬁlling
commissions for other people. And if your father is refused
permission to abandon Venice altogether and for all time, then let
him commute back and forth between the two cities. Walter shall
arrange this. You may bring with you your musicians and singers,
for the choice of artistes will remain entirely your own. My only
demand is that you give me music that will be talked about. I want
Mantua restored to the cultural centre it once was. Or greater!’
Silence reigns. Giambattista feels his moment has arrived.
‘What are your conditions?’
‘Ah, now we are beginning to understand one another!’
booms Filippo with a clap of his hands.
Two hours later the prince feels as if nothing would be
ﬁner than to be back facing the armies of Louis the Fourteenth
again. At least he knows where he is when he’s on the battleﬁeld.
Never before has he done business with a Venetian and after today
he never will again.
To his astonishment, Vivaldi the elder produces a list
to work through point by point. He has clearly seriously under-
estimated this ﬁlial partnership and deliberations sometimes very
nearly get out of hand. Each time Filippo seems disinclined to give
in, father and son threaten to walk out on the negotiations and
Walter has to intervene.
197-248 Chapter 5.indd 199 22-11-2007 14:11:14