To us, disoriented members of a waning civilization, it is practically impossible to imagine the sweet and languid atmosphere that reigned in the festivities that the Count of Gergy-ambassador in Venice of His Most Christian Majesty Louis XV the Well-Beloved-organized at the Palais de France for point out, every August 25, the feast of San Luis. And I say practically impossible because at least the music that sounded then in the Fondamenta della Madonna dell'Orto, specifically in the loggia that is currently inside the Grand Hotel dei Dogi, can be heard next Sunday at the National Auditorium with interpretation by the whole Europa Galante directed by Fabio Biondi and with the participation of the mezzo-sopranos Vivica Genaux and Sonia Prina.
It is a rare piece by Antonio Vivaldi: the bridal serenade "Gloria and Imeneo" and the story of how it came to be written by the Venetian musician is full of anecdotes and very entertaining events to tell as it happens with everything related to the Venice of the first half of the eighteenth century, dazzling place as there have been few. The return of the French ambassador after 14 years of diplomatic vacuum between the two States was not a minor event in 1723. The impressive scene (the disembarkation in front of the Ducal Palace) has been preserved for us – surely in a much more spectacular way than in reality – by the providential brush of Cannaletto on a canvas that today is one of the prides of the Hermitage of St. Petersburg. The Count of Gergy had to maneuver artfully to recover the traditional seat of the embassy before the Serenissima republic, the Palace of France, and once it had been installed it began to be felt in the Venetian musical life. Very soon a perfect opportunity was offered to project the cultural prestige emanating already unstoppable from Paris: the wedding of Louis XV with the Polish princess Maria Leszczyska, who would be queen consorte for 42 years and give birth to Louis XVI, the heroic citizen Luis Capetus whose vile assassination years of revolutionary barbarism would conclude more than a thousand years of monarchy in France.
But the tragic events of 1793 were still far away – and unthinkable – in that warm afternoon-night of September 12, 1725. We have a detailed account of the party in the British Library, inserted among the correspondence of Cardinal Filippo Antonio Gualtieri. We also have a review of the great occasion at the "Mercure de France" where it could be read: "After the dance there was a serenade whose lyrics were adapted to the occasion of the festivities and which was praised by the audience. The music was composed by Mr. Vivaldi who is the best composer of Venice ". And above all we have an autograph manuscript of Vivaldi with a music lowered from the sky that keeps, among its frivolous compasses, the breeze of a Venetian autumn with 293 years of antiquity. At the modest price of 15 euros, it is hard to think of a cheaper or more pleasant trip in time.