Wine, Opera & Ballet
When it comes to entertainment, few cities can rival Venice. So much to do and see, it is a place that always rewards repeat visits. But if time is short on this occasion, then make sure you are in the sestiere of Castello to attend Musica in Maschera’s Wine, Opera & Ballet, an event that succeeds in combining several of Italy’s greatest gifts to the world.
Performed in the exquisite surroundings of the Winter Garden in the renovated Serra dei Giardini, Wine, Opera & Ballet is a wonderful excursion through some of the most famous melodies in Italian music. The programme, to name just a few of the selections chosen by Musica in Maschera, includes “Musetta’s Waltz” from Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème, “Va Pensiero” from Giuseppe Verdi’s Nabucco, and “La Danza”, a Neapolitan tarantella from Gioachino Rossini’s song cycle, Les soirées musicales.
Attention to detail is the hallmark of Musica in Maschera’s presentations; the company recreates the Venice of both the past and of people’s dreams. Wine, Opera & Ballet features a soprano singer, harpist and ballerina who hide their faces from us with traditional Venetian masks. Indeed, they could be guests at a masquerade themselves.
The origins of Venetian masks, in all their different forms, are a little uncertain. The first written document with any reference to them, which set out certain restrictions as to their use, dates back to the thirteenth century. Wearing a mask was a practice of everyday life and allowed its wearer to hide their identity and true place in society; an essential accessory for an egalitarian, prosperous city. The masks became more and more elaborate and were later adopted by the stock characters of Commedia dell'arte. Nowadays, these and new masks whose design is limited only by the imagination of those who create them, are seen all over the city during the Carnival of Venice, Europe's most distinctive and colourful mardi gras.
In the concert, by wearing masks, the artists create an air of mystery that helps the audience to lose itself in another time. Masks were not just used to conceal one's status from others but for liaisons of a more licentious nature too. In Wine, Opera & Ballet, a complimentary glass of prosecco along with finger food adds a not-quite-as-guilty pleasure to an experience that every lover of music and culture should enjoy.