not dissatisﬁed with his new contract. He is obliged to deliver two
new productions for the coming winter in Verona, and has
discussed several libretti with his father. For both productions they
want a story that will hold an audience despite the absence of a
Neapolitan castrato in the lead role. Giambattista is only too aware
of the popularity of the modern music coming out of Naples, but
he can’t get used to it. And much the same may be said for his son.
Yet to hang on to old traditions is tantamount to artistic suicide.
Antonio knows he has to move with the times, while his whole
being rebels against the idea of following the common trend in
fashionable ditties. This runs so counter to his artistic conscience
that he has to ask himself seriously for whom he will soon be
composing. Older audiences will, of course, remain faithful to
him, but youngsters no longer have the time or the inclination to
sit through one of his works.
‘Wrap it up in pretty paper,’ suggests Giambattista.
Antonio looks bafﬂed. ‘How do you mean?’
‘What I say. Package it in such a way that you arouse
people’s curiosity. So they get edgy when the ribbon doesn’t come
undone, and have to tear the paper off to get at the gift.’
Antonio scratches at his ear, gazing thoughtfully at his
father. Slowly his meaning dawns on him, and a light comes to
Antonio’s eyes. He begins to laugh, Giambattista joins in, and they
raise their glasses and drink to the future.
The two men work together over the coming days, combing
through Giambattista’s archives for a good idea for the libretto.
The old man smiles at the sight of all the old documents he so
meticulously assembled what seems like centuries ago. Every
manuscript brings back memories, but he resolutely refuses to get
distracted from the task in hand.
‘Tamerlano’, he whispers, blowing dust from the leaﬂet and
opening it at the ﬁrst page. ‘That was a bloody good show.’
‘It certainly was,’ agrees Antonio. ‘Gasparini! That would
have been 1711 at, er… ah, yes, the Teatro San Cassiano.’
‘Right,’ nods Giambattista. ‘Text by Agostino Piovene. That
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