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Discovery in Italy
by Debra Bokur

The Forum slips in and out of view in the Roman starlight. The surface of the ancient stone is damp from a late rain, and the light reflected on its uneven exterior seems to shift and glow.

Lovely as it is, my attention is sidetracked by what I find to be a far more compelling sight: my son’s face as he takes in the crumbled, majestic scene. We haven’t traveled alone together since he was a teenager. Now 28, he’s allowed me to coax him away from his life as a hospitality professional in Manhattan’s luxury hotel industry for a few weeks of rest and rejuvenation in Italy.

Rome has been my favorite city since the moment decades ago when I first surrendered to its ageless splendor, standing in this spot. I smile in contentment as my son turns slightly, perhaps feeling my gaze on the back of his head. He grins, then slips his arm through mine and leads me in the direction of a café where a small wooden sign carved with a wine glass and vines hangs above the entrance.

For the next few days, we tour the Vatican, climb the Spanish Steps, gaze at the Trevi Fountain and haggle with vendors at street markets, allowing the days to unfold at their own pace. We’re staying at the Hotel Mediterraneo, an Art Deco masterpiece I adore for its marvelous service. It’s also perfect for walking, with an excellent location on Via Cavour, a long street anchored on one end by the Forum and on the other by the main train station.

On our last day in the city, we linger over breakfast at the rooftop restaurant. Beyond the glassed walls, lovely Rome is spread out below. Together, we enjoy the view while deconstructing jam-filled croissants and sipping our tea and coffee. James sets off for a last day of sightseeing on his own while I pack. We meet up at Caffé Greco, famed for being the oldest bar in the city and the former haunt of literary and musical icons Lord Byron, Keats, Wagner and Liszt. Legends surrounding the long, narrow space include stories of Casanova, and we salute their ghosts with a Bellini and an amaretto.

A late train takes us north to Florence for a day to peruse the vast collections at the Uffizi Gallery. To maximize our time, we’ve booked a guide from Audley Travel, the same company we’d chosen for our tour of the Vatican in Rome. Our guide already arranged for tickets, allowing us to bypass the long queue and to head straight for some of our favorite paintings: Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus,” Lippi’s “Madonna with Child and Two Angels,” Caravaggio’s “Bacchus.” My son lingers in front of Fabriano’s “Adoration of the Magi,” and the rich tempura colors swirl in front of me. I’m feeling sentimental, of course; determined to remember every moment of this journey.

Later, in search of dinner, I walk beside my only child through the narrow streets along the river. We settle on a trattoria with outdoor seating and a good menu of local handmade egg pasta dishes. For dessert, there’s a slice of the city’s famous schiacciata alla fiorentina cake, served dusted with lemony sugar.

The next day arrives on a warm breeze. We move from the city to the countryside just outside Florence for a night at a renovated estate called Villa le Maschere. It’s a surprise for James, who adores history — especially when it’s wrapped up in an exquisite setting. The estate and its terraced gardens deliver on all counts, and I leave my son in the lobby chatting with the general manager about the five-year restoration process that gave new life to hidden frescoes, murals and statuary. They embark on a tour of passageways and suite 901, where Pope Pius IX once slept and where the surfaces are covered in glorious 18th-century frescoes. I head to the spa to relax in a watery haven of pools and steam baths.

The last part of our Italian journey takes place in Venice. It’s autumn, and the crowds have thinned along the canal path leading to Piazza San Marco. We’re taking a private launch for a night at the San Clemente Palace Kempinski property located on its own small island within the lagoon, but make time first for a coffee in the tiled piazza where a trio of musicians plays. The excellent vocalist is crooning old Sinatra tunes, and we position ourselves with a view of the historic Basilica’s spires and carvings.

Music proves to be a theme of the days in Venice. The next evening, we attend a performance given by Venetia Antiqua as part of the Venice Music Project. The setting is the intimate, resonant space within St. George’s Anglican Church, and we follow the meandering streets to the church’s door facing a small square near the Accademia Bridge. We listen, rapt, as the haunting voice of soprano Liesl Odenweller fills the space and a small orchestra plays on both original and exact replica instruments from the Baroque era. James, who plays several stringed instruments himself, unconsciously moves his fingers on the wooden pew, keeping time, his expression reflecting the beauty of the music.

Our last night in Italy, I stand on the balcony of our rooms at the Sina Centurion Palace Hotel overlooking the Grand Canal. Below, gondola pilots shout good-naturedly at one another as the lights of Venice slowly come on, glinting in the mist rising from the water. While traveling is always an eye-opening experience, exploring the world with our loved ones at different phases in our lives and relationships enriches the journey in ways impossible to predict.

Taking risks, I believe, is essential to the expansion of the soul. Journeying with my adult son to my favorite destination was that, and so much more. Watching this gracious, intelligent man as he embraced the wild world has proven to be one of the most rewarding journeys I’ve ever embarked upon.

For the complete article, please click here

Dialogue Between True Discipline and the Genius

Dialogue Between True Discipline and the Genius

Festa da Camera a 2 voci

Libretto by Giovanni Claudio Pasquini
Music by Antonio Caldara

(Transcription and revision by Carlo Steno Rossi)

The realization of the modern score, in the transcription and revision by Carlo Steno Rossi, of Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius by Antonio Caldara (Venice, 1670 – Vienna, 1736) is another milestone for the project of rediscovery, transcription and musical execution of unreleased works by composers from the 1600s and 1700s (never performed in modern times) launched by Venice Music Project and its orchestra in residence, Venetia Antiqua Ensemble.

Already in 2015 Venice Music Project started incorporate into its concert seasons dramatic compositions like Amor Prigioniero by Luca Antonio Predieri (Bologna, 1688 – 1767) and by Giuseppe Bonno (Vienna, 1711 – 1788) on the libretto of Pietro Metastasio (Rome, 1698 – Vienna, 1782), both in the modern edition realized and directed by Carlo Steno Rossi.

The project entails conducting research in the most prestigious musical libraries in Italy and Europe to track down handwritten scores by important composers, mainly Italian and specifically from the Veneto region, who may not be as well known today, but were once applauded in Courts and European theaters. The second step entails the realization of a modern edition along with a philological approach to the musical execution.

Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius, on libretto by Giovanni Claudio Pasquini (Siena, 1695 – 1763) and music by Antonio Caldara, is included in the theatrical Festas, which are musical compositions consisting of few scenes and up to two acts, with 2 or 3 characters. The compositions were created to celebrate court events like births, weddings, Saint’s days and birthdays, military victories, etc… The compositions had an allegorical-mythological quality (metaphors and references perfectly understood by the aristocratic and cultural elite of the time, but totally undecipherable to most of us today).

These theatrical Festas were very popular and appreciated especially by the Vienna court and by various courts of the Italian States during the 17th and 18th centuries and became an integral part of the ceremonial protocol of the courts, representing one of the privileged rituals of the repraesentatio maiestatis, an occasion for pure entertainment as well as political and moral representation, mirroring the hierarchical structure and model of behavior used by the court.

In the specific case of Dialogue between True Discipline and the Genius, the musical manuscript in the subtitle defines the musical composition as “Festa di camera,” in one act, with roles limited to two people, namely the Discipline (soprano) and the Genius (contralto).

The musical material is entrusted to the traditional string quintet (2 violins, viola, cello and violone) with the basso continuo entrusted to the harpsichord. The internal articulation of the score calls for an introductive Symphony in three tempos, 4 Arias in total, each preceded by its own recitative (2 for the role of the Discipline, soprano, and 2 for the role of the Genius, contralto) and a final Duet.

The score was composed by the Venetian Antonio Caldara, vice choir maestro at the imperial Viennese Court from 1717 to his death in 1736, on libretto by the abbot Giovanni Claudio Pasquini, first court and then imperial poet. The work was meant to celebrate the Saint Name of the archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria and was presented precisely on October 15, 1730 at the Favorita Theater in Vienna, in the Palace chosen by the imperial family as summer residence.

VMP – Intimemagazine.com


by Elena Longo


A small concert series is investing in Venice and fighting the odds to bring her hidden musical heritage back to life.


The world has heard the Four Seasons played to death. Why not hear Vivaldi’s other masterpieces? And what about the other composers who lived and worked in Venice?

“I am constantly overwhelmed by the musical treasures that I find in archives, of Venetian composers who were incredibly famous in their time, but were completely forgotten once the world went mad for Mozart”, shares Liesl Odenweller, co-founder of Venice Music Project.

“Vivaldi, Galuppi, and Marcello were the rock stars of their time”, adds co-Founder Nicola Favaro, who started his career as a founding member of Venice’s most famous band, Venice Baroque Orchestra. “If someone was having a party, they would commission Vivaldi to write a piece. It is 18th-century pop music!”.

In 2013, Liesl, Nicola, and a group of internationally recognized musicians, tired of traveling the world, decided to create a new musical reality in Venice. Performing on period instruments or exact copies, in exactly the manner of Vivaldi’s time, they spend extensive time on their “musical archaeology”, finding manuscripts of music in archives and libraries, and performing them for the first time in 200-300 years.

Venice Music Project’s resident ensemble, Venetia Antiqua, performs over fifty concerts per season of breathtaking Venetian masterpieces, varying from wellknown and beloved pieces to forgotten works that are equally beautiful. Programs like those in their autumn lineup, which features Venetian Gondola Songs and the first performance in modern times of a short opera composed by Antonio Caldara, are just the tip of the iceberg. Their ambitious program for 2018 is already in the works.

Venice Music Project Accessibility

Access for travelers with disabilities:
With its 435 bridges Venice may seem like an unreachable destination for people with disabilities, but fortunately this is not the case. The city is accessible to mothers with strollers, to the elderly, to tourists with suitcases and to visitors in wheelchairs. Therefore, Venice Music Project has also increased its accessibility with a ramp at the main entrance of St. George’s Anglican Church.

How to reach us:
The jetties for all public transportation are accessible to people with disabilities. The main 1 and 2 lines on the Grand Canal can accommodate up to 4 wheelchairs at the same time. Furthermore, Actv and the city of Venice have a reduced fare of €1.50 reserved to people in wheelchairs while the chaperon rides for free. Once the ticket is validated it can be used for 75 minutes on all the ACTV boat lines (excluding Alilaguna, Actv 16, 19 and Casinò lines).

For information and updated fares, click here.

You can easily get off:
at the “Salute” stop with the 1 line
at the “Zattere” stop with the 2, 6, 8, 5.1 and 5.2 lines

For more details on the Accessible Venice map, click here. (available just in Italian)


Vivaldi, Vivaldi, Vivaldi!

With Venice Music Project in the St. George’s Anglican church
23, 25, 30 September and 2 October


– A. VIVALDI (1678-1741)
Concerto in mi min. RV 133
per archi e basso continuo
Allegro moderato-Andante-Presto

Concerto in Do magg. RV 451
per oboe, archi e basso continuo
Allegro molto-Largo-Allegro
Nicola Favaro, oboe

dal mottetto
“In Furore Jiustissimae Irae” RV 626
per soprano, archi e basso continuo
Liesl Odenweller, soprano

Concerto in Do magg. RV 113
per archi e basso continuo

da Tito Manlio,
aria “Non ti lusinghi la crudeltà”
per soprano, oboe e basso continuo
Liesl Odenweller, soprano

Concerto in Fa magg. RV 455
per oboe, archi e basso continuo
Allegro giusto-Grave-Allegro
Nicola Favaro, oboe

da Griselda
aria “Agitata da due venti”
per soprano, archi e basso continuo
Liesl Odenweller, soprano

Venetia Antiqua
soprano — Liesl Odenweller
oboe — Nicola Favaro
violino — Maria Luisa Barbon
violino — Stefano Bruno
viola — Francesca Levorato
violoncello — Anna Grendene
violone — Luigi Baccega
cembalo — Marija Jovanovic

– For the full article in Italian please click here –

Canzoni da Battello – Gondola Songs

Did you know that “La Biondina in gondoleta” was written for this lady? Gondola Songs J.J. Rousseau, a French philosopher and writer from the 18th century, described in his Dictionary of Music how traditional boat songs, barcarolles, were originally sung by Venetian gondoliers who would listen to popular arias in the many theaters throughout the […]

36 Hours in Venice – The New York Times

Vivaldi – The Four Seasons