The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice
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In glittering 18th-century Venice, music and love are prized above all else--and for two sisters coming of age, the city's passions blend in intoxicating ways.
Chiaretta and Maddalena are as different as night and day. The two sisters were abandoned as babies on the steps of the Ospedale della Pietß, Venice's world-famous foundling hospital and musical academy. High-spirited and rebellious, Chiaretta marries into a great aristocratic Venetian family and eventually becomes one of the most powerful women in Venice. Maddalena becomes a violin virtuoso and Antonio Vivaldi's muse. The Four Seasons is a rich, literary imagination of the world of 18th-century Venice and the lives and loves of two extraordinary women.
was outside, Chiaretta thought. I saw ducks, and people painted on ceilings, and I rode across the Grand Canal, not in a felce but out in the open. And I got to sing with the people in the boat. Most of the time I wasn’t scared, I was happy. She took in a breath as if she wanted to explain, but when she saw the grim faces of Geltruda and the priora, she decided they wouldn’t understand. “Yes,” she said. “God and the Blessed Virgin too.” Part Two A BOW FOR MADDALENA ROSSA 1703–1709 FOUR A
to teach me—” He was trying to teach me not to feel small. “I don’t care. You know I have never approved of this special little arrangement.” Luciana’s snort echoed through the room, loud as a horse. “Apparently, I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear, Maestro Vivaldi has been successful at explaining himself to the priora and the Congregazione. They have, in their superior judgment, not found it necessary to fire him, or to stop his current lessons. And they have decided you are not to blame, and that
“Just sitting here thinking.” “I came to practice on the organ. Do you mind?” “No.” Maddalena sighed and sat back down. By rote, she crossed herself, but no prayers came, only a blankness as dark as the chapel itself. Maddalena heard the bench scrape as Anna Maria sat down, and then the first wheezy notes broke through the silence. She rested her elbows on her knees and put her face in her hands. The oppressive sound of the organ grated on her nerves like a tongue exploring a toothache. She
in agreement. “That’s when the money starts adding up.” “And later it’s part of your dowry,” Alegreza said, “and if you don’t get married, you can buy a nicer cell in a convent with your savings.” Alegreza’s tone was so matter-of-fact it seemed to Maddalena that she saw both of these as excellent and practical goals to work toward, but Maddalena did not see how thinking about becoming a nun or a wife could make anyone’s fingers fly any faster or better. “Well,” Francesca said. “I’m not
“What about people who don’t make money?” Francesca looked puzzled, as if she had never considered this. “I don’t know. I guess they don’t pay.” “They say we’re learning about money because we might need to know.” Alegreza had come back with her cushion and sat down. “Zenobia told me it’s part of being a good wife. This is almost as good as being in the coro, if you want to get married.” “But not if you want to make money,” Veronica said. “The figlie di coro get paid every time they perform.”