On the Saturday night Bruce and I went to hear I Musici Veneziani, a group of musicians and singers who perform operatic arias in 18th century costume. The programme was varied, including popular works from Rossini, Verdi, Mozart and others. They performed to an excellent standard in a room with very good acoustics and we managed to get a seat in the front row for an uninterrupted view.
While we had bought tickets in advance, we queued from 7.45 for an 8.30 start. Most of the queue sounded Australian with the couple behind us American. One Aussie couple we spoke with were so keen on the performances that they’d come back after hearing a Vivaldi and Pachelbel concert the evening before, but I was quite glad we had the operatic one.
The small orchestra performed really well, and stayed ‘in role’ with particular mention of the flutist and clarinetist, who seemed to really get into the swing of things, while the cellist performed with such verve that at one point when the tenor was flirting with a female member of the audience and then returned to the stage, she seemed to glare at him to the point that he cowered in mock terror! All part of the fun.
The costumes were absolutely amazing. While the flier handed out to us in advance showed them all ‘wigged up’, they weren’t on the night. Neither would we have wished them to be – I made good use of a cheap Venetian fan I’d bought earlier in the day, and several of the Venetian ladies in our vicinity had pricier versions that they employed to good effect. It must have been hard for the performers in those heavy costumes, never mind wearing wigs into the bargain.
All the pieces were sung (and/or played; some were purely orchestral) with verve and confidence. I absolutely loved the whole thing. The baritone really cut loose in ‘Il factotum della citta’ (aka ‘Figaro, Figaro, Figaro!’) while the soprano nearly had me weeping in ‘O mio babbino caro’. Altogether a magic evening, and in my opinion unmissable if you’re in Venice and of musical inclination.