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February 2014
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Antonio Vivaldi: Beyond Four Seasons

Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice

Tuesday Night Opera, 8:00 PM

Can you imagine a time when Vivaldi wasn’t the world’s most popular composer; before the wine commercials, yoga CDs, and Classical hits records?

Venetian composer Antonio Vivaldi was utterly obscure after his death. His revival began with a 19th century revival of J.S. Bach (due in part to the work of Felix Mendelssohn). A few scholars wanted to know more about the Italian composer who had been so influential on the German master. Later Edward Elgar looked to Vivaldi scores to learn Baroque techniques—but even into the 1900s, most people had never heard of him. It was in the 1930s when poet Ezra Pound and his mistress, violinist Olga Rudge, began holding concerts of Vivaldi’s music near Pound’s home in Rapallo, Italy. Rudge found over 300 unpublished works of Vivaldi in the National Library at Turin, and continued to play them. His reputation took off.

Today the “red priest” (Vivaldi’s nickname owing to his red hair, and the fact that he was an ordained priest) is best known for his concertos. He wrote over 500 of them, which is a lot of music for an audience to learn, even for a well-established composer. Vivaldi’s 46 operas, are still virtually unknown.

On the Tuesday night opera, get to know another facet of the fascinating figure Antonio Vivaldi. The opera is Tito Manlio.

As a primer, see Cecilia Bartoli singing an aria from Tito Manlio:

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