closely, however, Vivaldi sees it contains no further details and is
not even signed by the emperor in person. Livid, he screws the
sheet of paper into a ball and hurls it at the ﬁre. ‘Shall we begin
packing?’ asks Paolina, breaking the tense silence. She hates to see
Antonio let down like this. He was looking forward so much to
introducing her at court.
The whole affair has had a disastrous effect on Vivaldi’s
self-esteem. Is he not taken seriously? Is his music not up to
standard, has he lost his touch? It is this last possibility that really
concerns him. The notion that he might not be taken seriously as a
composer he merely represses. He can only guess at the true reason
for the emperor’s absence.
The following morning the Venetians take the Herrengasse out of the
city. As for the court, Antonio gives it not a backward glance; he
has had his bellyful of Vienna. Paolina pats his knee encouragingly.
‘Everything will be ﬁne’ she says, using Antonio’s favourite refrain.
The journey is less than enjoyable. Antonio sits whingeing
and whining day after day, poisoning the whole atmosphere in the
carriage. Giambattista, sick and tired of bouncing over cobbles,
announces that whatever else happens, once they reach Prague he
will need a full ten days to recover before he travels a single mile
further. Paolina has arranged that they shall ﬁrst meet Antonio
This many-faceted Venetian both sings and writes libretti,
and for a couple of years has been impresario at the theatre owned
by Franz Anton, Reichsgraf von Sporck. Paolina cherishes very high
hopes for this encounter. Denzi, who about fourteen years
previously played the role of Artabanus in Vivaldi’s opera La costanza
trionfante degli amori e degli odii, has written to say he is looking
forward immensely to meeting the priest.
Her premonition proves correct. Antonio’s face lights up at
once upon seeing his fellow Venetian and the two men embrace
like old friends. Denzio is full of his Prague experience, how he has
taken over as impresario of Peruzzi, the operas he has staged since
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