Vivaldi through the looking glass: The life and music of the composer

The musical bedrock of the show is very much faithful to Vivaldi’s sheet music.

October 19, 2017 16:13
4 minute read.
‘Vivaldianno – City of Mirrors’ by Michael Dvorak.

‘Vivaldianno – City of Mirrors’ by Michael Dvorak.. (photo credit: MICHAL SHOZDA)

One gets the sense that Vivaldi would have approved. There are those who take their classical music very seriously but there are others who are happy to accommodate the interpretation proffered by the conductor and are even willing to be surprised.

Michael Dvorak certainly goes along with that line of thinking. Dvorak is the creator and producer of Vivaldianno – City of Mirrors, which will be performed on November 3 (1:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.) at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv.

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To describe Vivaldianno as an extravaganza would be tantamount to damning with faint praise. This is a show that hits you hard wherever you look or listen. It is a feast for the eyes and ears and just about every other sense.

Pyrotechnical instrumentation abounds throughout the 90-minute concert, which is based on music written by preeminent Italian Baroque composer, virtuoso violinist and teacher Antonio Vivaldi. And there is no end of visual augmentation patently designed to keep the sensibility ante flying high.

Vivaldianno has been doing the rounds of some of the world’s most glittering venues for nigh on two and a half years and has pulled the crowds in right across the international field. Dvorak is, naturally, enthused by the enduring popularity of his production and feels that the source composer would have approved.

“No one, of course, can really say, but thousands of amazed people who have come to the concert so far think Vivaldi would like it,” he notes.

The musical bedrock of the show is very much faithful to Vivaldi’s sheet music, but Dvorak has brought the sonic side more in line with contemporary vibes by adding synthesizer, bass, drums and guitars to the instrumental lineup. There’s no arguing with the ticket sales statistic.

“Over 100,000 people around the world have come to see the show,” he declares.

Clearly, Dvorak and his colleagues are doing something right. Mind you, as they say, you can’t please all the people all the time.

“There are some who say that Vivaldi wouldn’t like what we’re doing,” Dvorak admits, “but they are in the minority,” he adds happily.

If you’re going to shake something up and proffer a heavily made over product, it helps to have a wellknown and beloved hook as your centerpiece. With Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Dvorak has gone for one of the most popular pieces of classical musical endeavor in the history of Western culture.

The brains behind Vivaldianno has gone whole hog and infused the show with just about every element known to humankind to draw his audiences into the music of the celebrated Baroque figure, and his life story.

As the idea for Vivaldianno began to evolve, Dvorak turned to feted Japanese animator Kosuke Sugimoto, who came up with state-of-the-art visual stage effects that complement the live music and are designed to evoke the sights and spirit of Vivaldi’s hometown of Venice. The second part of the show title, “City of Mirrors,”stems from the fact that while the 17th-century composer may have roamed far and wide with his imagination in producing such a vast and compelling body of work, in practice he stayed put and didn’t venture outside Venice until he was 35 years old. It also references his line of work and the fact that much of Venice is built around the sea and waterways.

“The mirrors are the water in Venice; they reflect things,” Dvorak explains. “And Vivaldi reflected life through his music, even without physically going out into the world. His music is also a mirror for society.”

Dvorak began to visualize the production as the result of a down-to-earth consideration.

“I write movie music, and the budgets for these things are diminishing,” he notes. “So when I had time, I began thinking about a movie music project but without a movie,” he laughs.

He really got down to it and invested 18 months in the writing and planning phase, together with librettist Tomas Belko “We looked for a new concert form, with a story and a little bit of visualization,” he says.

The latter clearly took on a life of its own, and the final Vivaldianno format is suffused with 3D animation and video art that vies with the live music for the audience’s attention. There are also dancers in there and an actor. Veteran Israeli thespian Eli Gornstein will be the incumbent at the Tel Aviv shows.

With so much in the offing on the stage, Dvorak says he and his colleagues took great pains to maintain some degree of sensorial balance.

“Some say there is not enough visualization in the project, and others say there they can’t listen to the music properly because there is too much visualization going on. We tried to find the balance. This is a concert, but there is also a story to tell through the visualization,” he says.

What is for certain is that Vivaldianno packs an entertaining punch.

“I like to think big,” says Dvorak. “It was a bit scary taking on such a big project, and it’s crazy; but it’s amazing to see how far it’s gone.”

And now it’s here.

Vivaldianno – City of Mirrors will be performed on November 3 at 1:30 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. at the Charles Bronfman Auditorium in Tel Aviv. For tickets and more information: *8780;; and

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