meanwhile also abandoned this earthly life, leaving the letter-
writer alone. Needless to say, he would now continue the business
along the same lines as his father-in-law, and he hoped the
honourable Don Vivaldi would continue to place his trust and his
business with him.
Vivaldi carefully folds away the letter full of tragic
obituaries. He is sorry to hear of the death of Estienne. It seems
odd he had never mentioned his son-in-law, either verbally or by
letter, but Estienne must have had his own reasons for this. With a
sombre sigh Antonio lays the envelope upon the pile of manuscripts
that form the basis for his next piece of work. This is far from
ﬁnished and after today’s letter he wonders whether his Opus VIII
will ever see the light of day. The fact that he has never heard of Le
Cène keeps nagging at him, and he decides to take his time in
answering the letter.
His Excellency Comte Jacques-Vincent Languet de Gergy, new French
ambassador to the Republic of Venice, has summoned Antonio
Vivaldi to the embassy. The ambassador has still to make his ﬁrst
ofﬁcial appearance before the Doge and Senate, but in anticipation
has begun furnishing his palazzo and meeting all kinds of people
recommended to him. On the long list of names appears that of
Vivaldi, also known as Il Prete Rosso, underlined twice. His good
friend Cardinal Ottoboni has emphasised to him the extraordinary
abilities of this priest as virtuoso violinist and composer.
‘Innovative, energetic and full of surprises’ is the description in the
letter from Ottoboni, a lively enough pen-portrait to more than
ignite the curiosity of Comte Languet de Gergy.
In the huge, echoing and still empty hall Antonio watches
the Frenchman. His Excellency stands with eyes closed before the
window, lapping up the last faint rays of autumn sunshine. Arrayed
in a fantastic richly powdered wig and sumptuously embroidered
silk jacket and breeches, and leaning on his gold engraved walking
stick, the count is a statuesque personiﬁcation of all the pomp and
ceremony of the French court.
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