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Annina first falls under the spell of the fiery and intriguing prete rosso red-haired priest at a young age, when Vivaldi is resident composer at the court of Mantua, her hometown. Stifled by the problems of her dysfunctional family, she has long dreamed of pursuing operatic stardom, and her attraction to the enchanting Venetian maestro soon becomes inseparable from that dream.

Published first published June 18th To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Vivaldi's Muse , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Apr 18, June Ahern rated it it was amazing. It is more than a love between a man and woman. It is also the love of the man and the woman for the operatic music they create together.

Since I enjoy historical novels I was pleased from the very start of this well written novel.

"The Art of Storytelling": The Muse - Jessie Burton interview

The story begins in in Vienna where we meet Annina Giro, the woman who the story is about. She is in St.

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Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. To my reading delight, from page one, Ms. Kelly's vivid visual creation of a place and time is quickly established. The reader must know more about this woman and therefore Kelly takes us back in history of Annina to Northern Italy where a nine-year-old Annina first meets Father Vivaldi who will become her music and voice teacher. He is a young intriguing priest and is referred to by many as "prete rosso" - the red-haired priest.

I do appreciate how the author uses Italian words and phrases with a quick translation following. Not only does it bring life to a place and people, but one can practice her Italian for future use. Father Vivaldi is the resident composer at the court of Mantua, Annina's home town.

The young girl is ripe for a person such as Father in her life. The problems at home are repressing for the budding singer. Her father is weak in comparison to the overbearing unhappy mother, her much older sister tries to keep the household going and the two young adult step-brothers are partying animals still dependent upon the father financially and draining the coffers quickly. A true dysfunctional father and a operatic tragedy in itself.

Nothing stops the young girl to dream of one day becoming an operatic star. When Father Vivaldi meets Annina and is smitten as he hears her sing and recognizes great possibility for her future in music. Soon the duo, the Venetian maestro and the star struck talented girl become inseparable to create a story of passion, trial and error and many challenges. Jealousy surrounds Annina as she struggles in Venice where she must travel to be schooled.

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Divas everywhere and soon she and Father are victims to vicious rumors and gossip. Is he more than a teacher? Has Father stepped out of his vows of chastity for the every-growing beauty? Kelly writes, "He wore a priest's collar, but the rest of clothing was like any other man's. Or, does the attraction for Father take her off course as she struggles to take main roles in Italy's opera scene. It is a very difficult road for the two. Annina suffers from bullying of the worst kind and all alone without her family in Venice where she is sent to music school. It is sadly irritating how the adults in charge don't come to her help except for the Father.

His belief in her singing encourages his own goal, to write beautiful and memorable operatic music. Money and power surround the music scene - just like today. Annina must have rich sponsors if she is to continue her dream. An older member of the court becomes her sponsor and in return he believes the young teen will grant him "favors".

She sidesteps him for as long as she can until he demands his rewards for his money gifts. This changes the course of her life in Venice as she knew it. The author's descriptions of her characters is as enticing as the ones of Italy's most enticing places - Venice - during an historical time of music and art. Kelly's tour weaved into the story is colorfully intriguing to me. I haven't been to Venice - yet- and I do love to read about the great city. A man peddling roast pumpkins hawked his offering to a melody that pulled at her heartstrings.

I recommend reading Vivaldi's Muse. View all 3 comments. Feb 18, Lisl rated it it was amazing. Picture yourself a time traveller, having been removed from your 21st century comfort and familiarity to be placed alone in the middle of enchanting but unaccustomed surroundings: An 18th century Venetian street scene, rife with sensory stimulation in the song and smell of roast pumpkin hawked by one vendor, while another creates the captivating image and mouth-watering sensation of pear juice dripping down your chin, and the fiery melon hearts you long to reach out for.

Later you may recall the Picture yourself a time traveller, having been removed from your 21st century comfort and familiarity to be placed alone in the middle of enchanting but unaccustomed surroundings: Later you may recall the sumptuous smell of roast chicken as you settle into a hungry sleep and the outside chill seeps into your bones. You remember the gondolieri-filled canal, their bravado and charm as you were swept by the magnificence of a life in which all people, coarse and refined alike, appreciate opera as easily as they would the Carnivale introduced to you by the sweeping arm of the gondolier who piloted you to your destination.


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Magnificent and marvelous it all is, though you are periodically reminded by circumstance of your aloneness in the midst of strangers and their coldness—and the ways of one whose singular goal appears to be your failure. Having at an early age been mesmerized by the great maestro Vivaldi, Annina determines her own destiny: It is perhaps this growing awareness, as well as her love for priest and maestro Antonio Vivaldi that saves Annina from the darker side of this world, though to be sure she is required to develop clever management skills to avoid the pitfalls and traps, without falling foul of those she needs to avoid offending.

Her refusal to part ways with him and endure the vicious slander surrounding her relationship with her mentor creates a support of its own as the two learn to trust each other despite the larger attachment they can never have. At various points in the novel Kelly approaches the topic of sexuality with a method this reviewer wishes were employed more often: Young adults will be able to relate to what the characters endure because many of them, too, are just beginning to approach the emotions and questions of this nature presented in the novel.

It must be stated clearly that opera as a backdrop should not frighten those unfamiliar with the topic or any of the players, many of whom really lived. In a way this is a new sort of shame following how history nearly forgot him until the discovery of many of his original manuscripts because making the connection between the music and the man disposes of many of the operatic memes that tend to turn people away. Listening to Four Seasons just once brings on recognition and even a sort of joy that we have been part of this world all along.

Further, the book indeed is a novel, and tells a story with a cast of characters that rivals most Hollywood movies. People in all cultures and throughout history have always wanted to hear stories; it is one reason opera itself developed.

Vivaldi’s Muse

Given the powerful effect music tends to have on human emotion, adding that element creates a greater strength to the story. Having said this, it should be added that while it is a novel, the book presents a journey, and not just a story, which always makes for a more rewarding read. Meticulously researched, she has brought her expertise to bear on the lives of people who lived and loved, and who likely wanted to be remembered, as do we, amongst the creations we leave behind for progeny. Annina knew this as well. It would outlive them all.

In the late s, as Kelly also addresses in her Afterward, following two decades of searching for this part of a music library hidden during the Napoleonic wars, the works were found. The painstaking efforts of Gentili and others brought Vivaldi and his works back into the public consciousness, and there they stay. Apr 27, Stephanie rated it it was amazing Shelves: A wealthy count becomes her sponsor and she travels to Vienna to study music. Amid this somewhat sordid but glittering world, where music reigned supreme, Kelly offers a balanced portrait of a man who was a priest but has a physical ailment that does not allow him the strength to stand and perform Mass so instead he composes operas, and of a young woman who becomes his friend but never his lover.

While others, including a cardinal, insinuate that an improper relationship exists between Antonio Vivaldi and Anna, the relationship never slips into a romantic or licentious one, and Kelly, who has thoroughly done her research, knows how to tie together pieces of the true story, filling in holes with plausible fictional moments, including why the cardinal later changes his tune. While Anna and Vivaldi are both well-drawn, I have to admit my favorite character was Chiara, a young singer who is jealous of Anna and immediately upon meeting her is determined to put her in her place.

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