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In their new BaRock opera, the composer Christian Kolonovits and his librettist Angelika Messner tell the life story of Antonio Vivaldi, the superstar of the Baroque era. An all-girl rock band finds their idol’s diary through which Vivaldi’s life unfolds like a colourful tapestry of truth, imagination and invention. The new opera musically combines Baroque elements with the distinct power of rock music.
PrologueKarlsplatz in Vienna, the present time. Clara, Loni, Cati and Toni, four girls who are in a rock band called “Vivaldi”, have come to Vienna to look for music from the last year of their idol’s life. They are greatly disappointed to find there is only a plaque to commemorate the fact that Antonio Vivaldi died here. But Toni finds a diary kept by Paolina Girò, who accompanied Vivaldi on his last journey to Vienna. The girls plunge back into the past …Venice, 1740. Paolina is making preparations for Vivaldi’s journey to Vienna. Vivaldi is depressed. His mistress Annina, Paolina’s sister, has left him. He has written no music for months.SpringVivaldi pays a visit to Goldoni and asks him to write a libretto for him. He wants to offer the new opera to the Emperor in Vienna. The subject of the opera is to be Vivaldi’s life. Goldoni agrees. When Vivaldi complains that his memories are fading, Goldoni encourages him to reinvent his life.Vivaldi’s father was a barber and a musician. As far as his mother was concerned, music was unprofitable art. The best customer in the barber’s salon was the man who was subsequently to become Cardinal Ruffo. He made advances to Antonio and suggested to his mother that she should let her son be trained as a priest. Antonio is sold and betrayed. Again and again he tries to run away and becomes embroiled in the hectic life of his home city of Venezia.In the Ridotto casino, he witnesses a quarrel: the orphan girls of the Ospedale della Pietà, who are supposed to play in their orchestra at the casino, are refusing to perform hidden behind a screen. Gasparini, the girls’ director, tries to placate them. Vivaldi becomes involved in the dispute and promises the girls that he will make them famous far beyond the bounds of Venice. Finally he performs with them in public.Ruffo appears with a team of guardians of public morals and puts an end to the frivolous goings-on in the Ridotto. He takes Vivaldi away with him. The next day, Vivaldi is ordained as a priest. But Vivaldi is soon able to get out of celebrating Mass, for he is allergic to incense. Ruffo feels betrayed by Vivaldi.Goldoni is delighted at this ruse by which Vivaldi has escaped from the duties of the priestly office.SummerVivaldi has got a position as violin teacher at the Pietà. The girls are very enthusiastic about their new teacher. Each of them wants to play the leading role in his new piece. The sisters Annina and Paolina Girò appear. Annina is wearing extravagant make-up which makes her look like a caricature of a diva. She wants to have lessons with Vivaldi, but Vivaldi makes it clear to her that true artistry has nothing to do with ostentatious style.Annina gets the main part in Vivaldi’s new piece. At the premiere party, the nobility of Venice gossip viciously about the priest and his muse. Vivaldi is at the height of his fame: the Emperor invites him to come to Vienna and requests as a memento a lock of hair for the Emperor. Only Ruffo observes Vivaldi’s successes with envy.AutumnVivaldi’s star is on the wane, his concerts are cancelled and he is banned from appearing on stage. Goldoni states the reason: Vivaldi has been too bold in laughing at the Church. Paolina advises Vivaldi to try his luck in Rome. Annina sees no opportunities for her as a female singer in Rome and has bad premonitions. Paolina observes Vivaldi and her sister. Once in a lifetime she would like someone to look at her and love her, like Annina.In order to be able to appear in Rome with the girls from the Pietà, Vivaldi has to obtain the consent of the cardinals. He meets them in the Turkish baths. The broad-minded Cardinal Ottoboni organises a concert in his palace at which the orphan girls are to appear as a choir and Annina is to be a soloist. Ruffo tries to ban the concert. Ottoboni proposes a singing contest between Annina and the castrato Caffarelli. Annina feels betrayed by Vivaldi.Vivaldi wants to stop working with Goldoni, for his memories are becoming too painful. But Goldoni encourages him to go on: his music is his legacy.WinterOn Karlsplatz, the girls read the last few pages of the diary: Vivaldi is writing his piece, but his hopes are destroyed by news of the death of the Emperor. A year later, Vivaldi too is dead.For the girls of the present, there remains the knowledge that his music lives on through them: The Fifth Season.
In German language.