February 17, 2015 is Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) of Carnevale, a final celebration before Ash Wednesday and Lent.
It’s the main day of Carnival … The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea. Ivrea has the characteristic “Battle of Oranges” that finds its roots in medieval times. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, having its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.
For those of you who have read my historical fiction A House Near Luccoli, you will know that Martedi Grasso offers some pivotal scenes. Although the novel begins a few years after the 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella‘s arrival in Genoa, Carnevale was initially his reason for going (well, there might have been one or two other reasons …) and then he was encouraged to stay.
This week I go to Genoa, invited by some gentlemen of that city, where I will spend carnival …
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel (one of his patrons), dated Turin, 16 December, 1677
I arrived in Genoa safe and sound already last week, where I was favored by many gentlemen who vied to have me in their homes … And from the moment of my arrival till now, I have always had to spend my time with ladies and gentlemen, all greatly interested in me, and actually they favour me with so many kindnesses and so much applause that I do not know what more I could desire, and in every way they show very great pleasure in my inadequate talent.
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel, dated Genoa, 8 January 1678
Sleep well tonight. She wished she had taken his advice, but she couldn’t stop looking at the explicitly elegant gown hanging on the wardrobe. Nonna would have enjoyed the sight. It was silk and pearl buttoned, curving and billowing white, beribboned in sapphire and trimmed in bronze. Also warm and cold, tight and loose, depending on what the weather and outcome would be. A few hours later she was like a cat that had fallen from an open window, suddenly finding herself where she both longed and was afraid to be, feeling the hardness of pavement and softness of air.
Alessandro insisted she put on her mask again. “And practice on the way.”
“Walking like a cat, purring like a cat.”
“Really.” She wasn’t averse to doing so. “I’ve never seen a blue one.”
“You’ll see others turning green.”
Although her face was immovable and pale, she couldn’t hide her pleasure.
“All that’s left is for you to rub against my legs.”
Alessandro was all in white, as if he had absorbed winter from his hat like a boat with one wind-torn sail to frill topped hose and overly flapped boots. He was wimpled in lacy layers to his shoulders, tightly short coated and cavalier, out of fashion but not style, laddered rows of braid with buttons unfastened to the shine of his shirt also showing through gaping slashes on his sleeves. It would have been a perfect disguise but for the distinctiveness of his stride and attitude of his head exaggerated by a duckbill mask, the shine of his lower lip appearing when his expressive, unmistakable voice did.
~ Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli
Wander through this brief moment in Italian Baroque musical history and let the author and Alessandro Stradella, Donatella, and a whole host of wonderful characters give you the “spirit of Carnevale”. ~ From a review by author Martin Shone.
Watch this space.
The sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled is coming VERY soon.
Hope all are well and those who are enduring
a long snowy frigid winter (as I am)
are keeping the faith that spring is on its way.
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.
Thanks for the link, Diane, and I’m reaching the final chapters of To A Strange Somewhere Fled and very much enjoying it 🙂 x
I’m so glad you are enjoying the novel, Martin! That means so much to me. Thank you! XO
I’ve finished the book and left a review on Goodreads and Amazon 🙂
Thank you so much, Martin, for reading and writing such a lovely review that speaks to the essence of the novel so well! How this has brightened my day. Could I ask a little favor – when you get a chance, could you put your review on amazon.com (US), too? Those put on amazon.uk don’t show up on the us site, as is the case visa-versa. Thank you again. XO
Yes of course 🙂 I didn’t realise about Amazon I thought it went on all sites.
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Thanks – but I know you are busy, so when you have the time. 🙂
All done 🙂
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Oh, thank you so much, Martin! 🙂
I’m waiting in earnest Diane. Exciting times for you too and a wonderful achievement ❤️ Xxx
Thank you, Christine! Just proofing the final copy and then, as my publisher ‘says, it will be a book! Just finished a “Coming Soon” book trailer that I put on Facebook, and, although I know many are sick of my promos, I will probably be posting it today or tomorrow here, too. Blessings and hope you’re recovery from that nasty virus. XO ❤