Music Book Review: Gondola by Donna Leon, with CD of Venetian Barcarole, as Baroque Era Title #3

by DerdriuMarriner

Gondola by mystery writer Donna Leon brings together a CD of Venetian folk music and pages of informative text on gondola origins and uses and relevant 14th to 18th century art.

Gondolas accommodate Venice's marshy waters and vice versa

Gondola accepts the position in 2013 of title #3 in the book and CD series by Donna Leon, world-famous ideator of the Guido Brunetti mystery novels, on creations and inventions contemporaneous with the Baroque era’s music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The series begins in 2011 and 2012 with the respective releases of:
• Handel’s Bestiary; and
• Venetian Curiosities.

The two previous titles respectively consider select classical music compositions by:
• George Frideric Handel (February 23, 1685 – April 14, 1759); and
• Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (March 4, 1678 – July 28, 1741).

The third publication contrastingly deals with:
• the folk culture of Venice’s hallmark water transport, the gondola; and
• the related traditions of Venice’s signature folk music, the barcarole.

*****

Website: http://www.donnaleon.net/

*****

"En Gondol" (A Gondola): ca. 1859 genre painting by Johan Julius Exner (November 30, 1825 - November 15, 1910)

Primarily depicting Denmark's landscapes, Julius visited Venice via travel grant from Royal Danish Academy of Art.
Primarily depicting Denmark's landscapes, Julius visited Venice via travel grant from Royal Danish Academy of Art.

Gondolas claim as historical customer bases high-ranking Venetians

 

The gondola exists as an enduring link between Venetian art, history, music, and transportation. Art historians indeed find the progression in design and use recorded over the passage of four centuries in paintings by:

  • Jacopo de’ Barbari (1460? – 1516?);
  • Gabriele Bella (1730 – 1799);
  • Gentile Bellini (1429? – February 23, 1507);
  • Giovanni Antonio Canal (October 17/18, 1697 – April 19, 1768);
  • Vittore Carpaccio (1465 – 1525/1536);
  • Francesco Guardi (October 5, 1712 – January 1, 1793);
  • Joseph Heintz il Giovane (1600? – September 1678);
  • Giovanni di Niccolò Mansueti (1465? – March 26, 1527); and
  • Michele Marieschi (December 1, 1710 – January 18, 1744).

Venice’s folklore gives musicians and music historians similar track records for classical and provincial music set barcarole-styled at moderate tempo in 6/8 meter.

 

"A Gondola on the Grand Canal": 1881 oil on canvas by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (February 25, 1841 – December 3, 1919)

in private collection
in private collection

Gondolas do not function commercially, defensively, or militarily

 

Gondola has as barcarole to hear when in Venice:

  • Cara la mia Ninetta (My Darling Ninetta);
  • Con Checca, Betta e Catte;
  • Con stuffo morto (I’m Sick to the Teeth);
  • Confesso el vero (I Must Confess);
  • Farev’ la ritrosetta (You Play the Shy One);
  • La biondina in gondoletta (The Blonde in a Gondola);
  • La luna mi ghò suso (I’m Glum As the Moon);
  • Madam carissima (Oh Sweetest Madam);
  • Mai se patisce freddo (You’ll Never Feel Cold at Night);
  • Mi credeva d’esser sola (I Thought I Was the Only One);
  • Molti rogna (So Many Men Complain);
  • Per mi aver (Oh Yes, Cattina);
  • Se imparar la vuol patrona (You Want to Learn My Lady); and
  • Tanti dise (Though Many Say).

 

Donna Leon, crime writer and resident of Venice with passion for Baroque music

Donna Leon: November 1, 2010
Donna Leon: November 1, 2010

Gondolas ferry locals and tourists without polluting environments

 

The gondola’s ancestry is as obscure as its artistry and musicality are clear. Specialists judge as:

  • etymologically possible the Greek kóndy (cup) or Latin concula (small shell) or cymbula (little ship); and
  • historically proven gondulam’s pioneer usage by Doge Vitale Falier (died December 1095/1096).

They know gondolas as:

  • built blade-hulled, flat-bottomed, metal-decorated, right-heavy, 36.09 feet (11 meters) long, with cherry, elm, fir, larch, lime, mahogany, oak, walnut;
  • caulked with resin outside, pitch inside;
  • gondolier-driven with beech-hewn, 13.78-foot (4.2-meter) oar;
  • painted black; and
  • weighing 771.62 pounds (350 kilos).

So Gondola links cultural enrichment with educational entertainment, through:

  • Cecilia Bartoli’s, Vincenzo Capezzuto’s, Riccardo Minasi’s, and Il Pomo d’Oro’s performances;
  • Shaul Bassi’s and Philip Morre’s translations; and
  • Donna Leon’s authorship.

 

Gondola by Donna Leon

Of all the trademarks of Venice, none is more ubiquitous than the gondola. In this beautifully illustrated collection, internationally bestselling author Donna Leon tells fascinating stories about this famous boat.
Donna Leon writings

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

 

"Venetian Gondola Scene": ca. 1880 oil on canvas by Fanny Carlini

Fanny, daughter of Venetian artist Giulio Carlini, married one of her father's pupils, Raffaele Mainella (1856 - 1941)
Fanny, daughter of Venetian artist Giulio Carlini, married one of her father's pupils, Raffaele Mainella (1856 - 1941)

Sources Consulted

 

Leon, Donna. 2013. Gondola, With a CD of Venetian Barcarole Performed by Il Pomo d'Oro, Conducted by Riccardo Minasi, Featuring Vincenzo Capezzuto and Cecilia Bartoli. New York, NY: Atlantic Monthly Press.

 

gondolas in sanctuary on Venetian Lagoon in view of Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore

San Giorgio Maggiore, south of main islands of Venezia (Venice), northeastern Italy
San Giorgio Maggiore, south of main islands of Venezia (Venice), northeastern Italy
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

Fireworks in Venice: black t-shirt ~ available via AllPosters

illustration by George Barbier (October 10, 1882 - March 16, 1932) for Fêtes Galantes by Paul Verlaine (March 30, 1844 – January 8, 1896)
Fireworks in Venice, Illustration for "Fetes Galantes" by Paul Verlaine 1924
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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 04/11/2015, DerdriuMarriner
 
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