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But just as hatred of having his work pulled apart is in Antonio’s
character, sensitivity to other people’s feelings is absent from
Gasparini’s. ‘Start again,’ he orders, pointing at a pile of fresh
paper.
More out of respect for the master than internal conviction,
Antonio returns to the psalms. He remembers how years ago he
studied the same texts at the seminary; and how he committed
them to memory by giving each its own melody. The words bring
the same tunes faithfully back to mind. But now they make him
giggle; they’re so childish, such artless devices. Yet one sticks, and
as he starts to play with it he finds himself writing feverishly.
This time around Gasparini seems rather more pleased.
Handing the music back to Antonio, he instructs approvingly, ‘Go
and rehearse it with the choir.’ From now on things begin to flow
and one psalm after another is set to music. ‘I knew you’d get the
hang of it,’ the Maestro tells Antonio one afternoon as the last
member of the choir is leaving the music-room.
The marriage between instrument and voice is a revelation to
Antonio. He listens now with other ears than during previous
theatre productions in former seasons. For the first time he
analyses the tone and colour of each voice. He has never before
realised the degree to which singers differ from one another. And
this new awareness soon equips him to sort the wheat from the
chaff. Some vocalists who enjoy an impressive reputation are, when
you listen carefully to them, not actually so wonderful. This,
however, does not bother the average theatregoer. Well-known
artists are greeted onstage with deafening applause; when it is the
turn of a new or unknown artist they find themselves upstaged by
an audience happily amusing itself, as is its wont, with the many
and colourful diversions practised and perfected by Venetian
culture vultures over generations. And this Vivaldi finds a great
shame, for the least known singers often sing better than the big
stars. His lung problems have always prevented Vivialdi from being
able to sing well, but the techniques of voice training and breathing
105
98-154 Chapter 3.indd 105 22-11-2007 14:09:30
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