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‘La Vittoria Navale?’ repeats Vivaldi reflectively. ‘What a
remarkable title.’
‘Yes, don’t ask me what it’s about. There was no libretto
enclosed with the letter, but I gather the piece describes the battle
near Lepanto and the angel Saint Pius sings the main part of the
story. Doesn’t really matter much apart from that. I know you’ll
make something of it.’
‘Thanks, Maestro. Thank you for all your advice and help up
until now. Without you I would never have got this far.’
‘Rubbish!’ Gasparini glowers, trumpeting as he blows his
nose. ‘Oh how happy I shall be to be back in the hills. Away from
this lagoon and all her swampy canals. A fire blazing in the hearth
and a glass of good wine. You watch me, I’ll be my old self again in
no time!’
‘When do you leave?’ asks Antonio softly. He already
knows how he is going to miss the Maestro.
‘I’m as good as ready for off, Vivaldi. I hope to celebrate
Easter at home this year.’
Once Gasparini has got the management to agree to a month’s
sabbatical for Antonio Vivaldi, the Maestro starts packing. He does
so as discreetly as possible. Each day a small load of household
items and books is dispatched to the mainland. A good week before
Vivaldi is due to leave for Vicenza, the Maestro di Coro reports sick.
Given his years of service, it’s not difficult for him to get special
leave of absence; and the management grants him six months off
to rest. His farewell is brief. Gasparini has brought up to date all
his accounts with the administrators of the Pietà and does not even
take the time to say goodbye to the Figlie di Coro. They may not
suspect the truth, but he knows he will never see them again and
he cannot bring himself to tell them to their faces. He is leaving in
the knowledge that as long as Vivaldi is attached to the Pietà he
need have no worries about musical standards falling there.
Father and son Vivaldi are the only persons to accompany
him to the quay that afternoon. Pale spring sunshine silvers the
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98-154 Chapter 3.indd 151 22-11-2007 14:09:36
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