the Secret Life of Antonio Vivaldi – February 2008
It only took a few pages, to discover that this book is serious, well-researched, and a good read into the bargain (= it's difficult to put down!).
The author has indeed gathered all the factual information on Vivaldi currently available. But it is in the background detail that he excels. His descriptions of cold Venice winter mists, the cramped often window-less living conditions, the odour of the canals at low tides serve to create an authentic backdrop. Add to this descriptions and relevant historical detail of the aristocrats, ambassadors, cardinals and patrons Vivaldi meets as his reputation grows, details of his journeys, the economic background and environment of the cities visited all of which would satisfy the most ardent historian. And yes, Antonio's love life figures too, but credibly, and never disproportionately.
The wealth of historical detail, as well as the dearth of material on Vivaldi, recommend this book to libraries and colleges, while its very readability make it a very acceptable gift for any music-lover.
MM, editor – January 2008
I must admit to not approaching this book with high expectations. The racy title, the small publisher, and not least beginning to read and finding it written in the present tense - like an annoying American TV documentary -  all these factors conspired against it on first impression. But to say that these thoughts were soon overturned is a sore understatement: they were pushed to the ground, beaten senseless and dumped in a canal. The book begins with an episode crucial to Vivaldi's rediscovery in the 20th Century and then slips back to the 18th Century and the man himself, as he staggers drunk back from a party and an encounter with a mystery woman (and Handel) and ends up unconscious under a bridge on a frozen canal. But as the book progresses more, and fascinating, attention is paid to Vivaldi's musical life than to the naughty stuff suggested by the title. This romantic element is kept afloat throughout, but never drowns out the music, as it were.  The story is firmly based on the real events of the composer's life, but obviously a fair amount of fleshing out is needed, and it's all done in a warmly believable and involving way. The composer is painted as pretty insecure and self-centred, but then again we artists usually are aren't we? There's poetic license involved, of course, with the Anna Giro enigma explained in a way which sweetly swaps one sin for another. Anna Maria, one of Vivaldi's star pupils at the Pieta is in here too. I'm not sure if you need to be a Vivaldi fan to be gripped, I think that the story is eventful and well told enough that you don't. And the Venetian atmosphere and detailing is spot on.  In short - a Venetian and musical treat.

Italia -
January 200
The Italian Magazine -
January 2008