Daughters of the Chorus
March 3, 2015 1:03 PM Subscribe
Unwanted babies had perhaps the best opportunities of all. If carefully placed in a basket in the portico of the Ospedale della Pietà on the Riva degli Schiavoni, they would be taken in, fed, clothed and educated ‘at enormous expense both public and private’. ‘Their prioress is appointed by the Doge himself,’ wrote the Venetian historiographer Francesco Sansovino in 1581. More than this, they would also learn singing or a musical instrument..."Venice's Ospedale della Pietà was one of the 18th century's greatest centers of musical instruction and development, and the foundling girls who lived there were counted among the finest musicians of the age. Antonio Vivaldi taught and conducted at the Pietà for 36 years, and the vast majority of his work was written expressly for performance there. The documentary Vivaldi's Women follows a modern attempt to understand and recreate the original context of that music—with women playing every instrument and singing every part, from soprano to bass.
The Figlie di Choro produced composers of their own, Anna Bon among them. Her recorded works can be found on YouTube.
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