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imposing, but she cannot touch Venice for sheer dynamism, or for
loveliness as each change of light robes her in new splendour. The
sounds and smells of her, mm! He shuts his eyes and sniffs the
briny air interwoven with other unfamiliar, foreign scents. The
smell of eastern spices escaping from the piles of bales and boxes
on the quay; tar and sawdust from the Arsenale; freshly baked bread,
fish, charcoal, fruit… and, well, even the stench of rubbish floating
in the canals. Yes, this is home!
It is to be one of the most peaceful years in Vivaldi’s life. The need
he once felt to prove himself in respect of the Veneti Nobili is all but
gone. Everyone has heard of his success in Rome, and of course
Antonio is not backward in letting people know what a kind man
the deceased Pope was, and how His Holiness appreciated the
finest virtuoso violinist he had ever heard play. There is no end to
the stream of commissions pouring in, and Antonio works calmly
through them one by one. As the pressure on him eases, he also
begins to invest more time in Anna. She has quickly absorbed the
arias brought back from Rome and impresses Antonio with her
interpretation of a role, bringing to it just the right element of
drama. The more he thinks about it, the more Antonio believes she
performs better than Ossi, for all his prima donna pretentiousness.
He asks his father what he thinks of Anna.
‘Splendid! Where does she get it from?’ applauds
Giambattista with enthusiasm. ‘On you go with the next aria,’ he
prompts the girl eagerly.
‘She undoubtedly has talent,’ Antonio tells Paolina later.
‘But if she wants to go on the stage she has to work on her
technique and volume.’
Anna, however, can’t wait to steal the show this very evening; she
disputes Antonio’s view that she needs more volume and reckons
it’s more a matter of presentation. She understands as well as
anyone that she will never have the power and projection of a
castrato, but how many vocalists are there who just stand there
286
249-304 Chapter 6.indd 286 22-11-2007 14:11:39
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