admin On novembre - 8 - 2014

by Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

The Serenissima has always been of great inspiration to poets, artists, musicians and all individuals who were in the wandering state of mind. The lagoon, the fishy vapours of the Adriatic sea, the fog and narrow streets of Venice transport to a dreamlike world.

On this premise, renown Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, accompanied on the piano by David Zobel, delivered an exquisite repertoire at her performance at Carnegie Hall on November 4th, ‘A Journey Through Venice.’

Vivaldi’s Onde chiare che sussurate, from Ercole su’l Termodonte, showcases the glories of the city’s operatic style during the Baroque era. The Labours of Hercules thus commence the journey of life, of accomplishment, of love seeking and the moments of mismatched infatuation, as attested by the mythological Amazonian Queen, Ippolita.

The journey continues with Cinq mélodies “de Venise” by French composer, organist, pianist and teacher, Gabriel Fauré. Op. 58 is a song cycle of five mélodies based on the poems by Paul Verlaine, the poet associated with the Symbolist movement whose writings often weld with music. He was the one to inspire Debussy’s 1890 Suite bergamasque, Clair de lune. Fauré’s Venetian melodies are mesmerising and enthralling. The Mandoline seduces with gallant serenades, En sourdine allows particles of our souls to mingle lusciously, Green makes the dream of dear moments soothe the heartache, À Clymèn pervades your entire being, leading you to the explosion of the senses with C’est l’extase, the very languorous rapture of the warbling experience.

Gioacchino Rossini displays the Venetian Regatta through a triptych of Sins of Old Age, “Péchés de vieillesse,” almost to account the crucial steps in every challenge, eventually savoured when we are elderly. The chosen extracts of La regata veneziana are truly celestial, since we are angelically escorted in the stages of the boat-race by taking part before, Anzoleta avanti la regata, during, Anzoleta co passa la regata, and after, Anzoleta dopo la regata.


The Italian composer mostly loved for his operas is tributed also with reference to his very Opera set in Venice: Othello. The chosen aria is Assisa al piè d’un salice…Deh, calma, where Gioacchino Rossini leads us behind the curtain of a willow tree to deliver heartbroken sighs, shielded by the swaying of the branches, as the breeze echoes the lament.

British composer of the 20th century, Michael Head, charms with some landmarks of La Serenissima, in his Three Songs of Venice. Hence we envision high on the prow a man of bronze, riding the summer light, as bridges and walls of golden stone behind him move and glide from sight: The Gondolier. Meanwhile, a shower of pigeons arches in the sky to stare at the domes and gape the tower of St.Mark’s Square, to finally be refreshed by the purifying Rain Storm,that envelops in a drowning tide a city more beautiful than any other.

Venezuelan, naturalised French composer, conductor, music critic, diarist, theatre director and salon singer concludes the orgiastic Venetian experience with his Selections from Venezia. Reynaldo Hahn’s Sopra l’acqua indormenzada recommends that melancholic thoughts should not distress, as long as the water of the lagoon can instil tranquil enchantment. La barcheta progressively transports to bliss, while L’avertimento warns not to rush so eagerly in the witchery of magnetism. Yet, Che pecà looks back in time nostalgically, putting things into perspective, grasping regrets for what ifs and remorses for so whats. Then comes the reblossoming in the circle of life with La primavera, that decks the earth with friends of good cheer.

Thus was the reverie diffused by Joyce DiDonato’s nightingale voice, echoing at Carnegie Hall, transporting the audience, through the power of music, in the utmost musing berth, that of Venezia.

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