Seven Days of Winter Solstice Giveaways-Day 5

As seen in True Colors, the Elder Races have their own Christmas celebration called the Masque of the Gods, which culminates in The Festival of the Masque, a masked ball on the winter solstice. For the next week, join us in celebrating the Masque with seven days of winter solstice giveaways. Every day you’ll have a chance to enter to win a gift pack that includes one copy of Lord’s Fall, a bookmark, dragon soap made by Thea Harrison, a coupon for 30% off the Elder Race novellas, and a holiday card from Thea. To enter, just comment on the daily posts and then enter your information via the Rafflecopter form (embedded in the post or click on the link). You can gain extra entries by signing up for Thea Harrison’s newsletter and tweeting about the giveaway.

Once again, thank you all for your interest in Thea’s novels and happy holidays!

The Heartbeat of Carnival: Music

The Venetian Carnevale was famous for its art and indulgences, in particular music. Venice is said to be the birthplace of opera, and the first opera house was built there in the seventeenth century. Opera was arguably the perfect Venetian art, combining all the elements of Carnevale that Venetians lived with for months at a time: costume, play, theatricality, music, dancing, sumptuousness, and the commedia dell’arte. As Peter Ackroyd writes in Venice: Pure City, “It was an art of the scenic and spectacular, in a city filled with the energetic display of festival and carnival.” Not only operas, but all public events and festivals were accompanied by music. Gondoliers sang the poetry of Torquato Tasso, men sang sonatas to balconies à la Romeo and Juliet, and Charles Burney (18th-century writer and father of Fanny Burney) wrote that Venetians seemed to converse in song. The order of music represented the order of the heavens and Venice’s control over the elements of the earth. Just like music, Venetian society strived–or at the very least fancied itself to be striving–for harmony and balance. Nietzsche wrote, “when I seek another word for music, I always find only the word Venice.”

Venice was famous for its music schools: the male singing school in St. Mark’s and orphanages for young girls where they were trained in musical arts. Nearly every notable European composer traveled to Venice, including Mozart, Handel, Stravinsky, and Mendelssohn.

The most famous composer of Venice was Vivaldi, a red-haired, mercurial priest who taught at one of the orphanage schools and wrote hundreds of compositions, as well as produced his own operas. He wrote with exuberance and spontaneity, and haggled prices like Pantalone.

Of course, what is music without dancing? Diaries of Venetians from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries suggest there was constant dancing in squares, on barges, at parties and in the street. There were specific dances for women and men, for specific days and dress. Like music, the order and repetition of dancing reflected the order and repetition of Venice and its politics–an idea the state of Venice took care to foster and encourage.

How far does all this go back into Venice’s history? Like Venice, Troy was famous for its labyrinthine streets as well as the dances of its citizens; and Venetians often traced the history of their music and dancing back to Troy. In any case, music was the heartbeat of Venice. As they used to say, Venice will survive while the music lasts.

Tomorrow we’ll look at carnivale in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. Today, to enter the giveaway, please comment on this post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember, you must enter using the Rafflecopter form. Winners will be randomly selected and notified December 23rd. All contest entries close December 22nd at 11:59 MST. This contest is open internationally.

45 Responses

  1. Myranda says:

    I never knew that Venice could trace some of their history and traditions back to Troy!

  2. Linda Thum says:

    How romantic to be serenaded while riding on a gondola! I picture people spontaneously bursting out in song any & everywhere.

  3. Chris B says:

    Music can touch the soul. And it can speak to anyone regardless of wealth or status. I can imagine the wonderful music and dances

  4. Renate says:

    I’ve never been much into serenading and romantic gonodola rides. But singing and dancing sounds just like my kind of fun.

  5. Viki S. says:

    I’m really loving these posts because I’m leaning so much new info about Venice. The Troy connection is totally new to me. Thank you.

  6. Irene says:

    I’m afraid my main view of opera is just a load of screeching women , soprano makes my head hurt and any mention of a violin concerto and I’m out the door 🙂

  7. Mimi says:

    Oh, Venice! Can you believe I’ve been to Venice and missed the carnival by about 3 days. Just not lucky, I guess.
    Great post

  8. Mimi says:

    Oh, Venice! Can you believe I’ve been to Venice and missed the carnival by about 3 days. Just not lucky, I guess.
    Great post I’m a huge fan!

  9. Yami says:

    Venice seems like an extraordinary place, I’m loving the history with it.

  10. Elizabeth H. says:

    Beautiful! Just beautiful! I love the dress and the dress of this time period! Thank you for sharing!

  11. sheryl nyary says:

    I am dying to take a trip to Venice now. Thanks for all the great info

  12. Sumiyati E Monoarfa says:

    I love these stories about Venice. Really looking forward to the Rio de Janiero stories…a plave I have always wanted to visit.~

  13. mandy says:

    I love Vivaldi! I like “WInter” best out of his Four Seasons!

  14. Marianne says:

    Music is important in all of life. I really enjoy it when an author gives a “soundtrack” of songs that she either listened to while writing or that she thinks work well with her book.

  15. Kristina Parmenter says:

    I love reading about Venice. It is so neat to be able to tell my husband of the things I have learned(he is a know-it-all)

    I love music-it is a passion that I have passed down to all of my children 🙂

  16. rachel says:

    Such a cool and different historically-based giveaway you’re doing. Like learning about different time periods and aspects.

  17. bn100 says:

    Fascinating all those composers visited Venice.

  18. Joanne B says:

    I’ve been to Italy but not Venice. Can’t wait to go back. Music is an important part of any city’s history.

  19. Danielle E says:

    That sounds wonderful. It is amazing how far back some traditions go.

  20. Katrina says:

    I love Vivaldi, even though it’s not traditional I have the 4 seasons songs on as part of my Christmas music rotation this time of the year.

  21. Jackie Nicholson-Woodland says:

    Wonderful giveaway, It’s great that dancing and music go back that far!!!

  22. Aly P says:

    Thea thank you for the great posts and all the research you put into them! I love reading about it’s history.

  23. April Rankin says:

    I love Venice. Always wanted to go for Carnivale. Each year we go to New Orleans Mardi Gras since I live so close. Actually planning on ringing in the New Year there.

  24. Alaina says:

    Man i wish i was travelling right now! lol..
    this is so much more exciting then my snow…

    thanks for the chance to win!

  25. Sabine W. says:

    I never have been to Italy but reading all this wonderful researched history/music/dance stuff, I would love to go to Venice. It is also amazing how far back some traditions go. I love that they are related to Troy, because I like the story of Helena, Paris etc.

  26. SharonS says:

    What a beautiful history Venice has! I didn’t know it was the birth place of opera. Thanks for the history lesson 🙂

  27. Gonza says:

    The four seasons are one of my favorite music piece!

  28. Samantha R says:

    Sadly, mentioning Venice and music in the same sentence just reminds me of the Corentto adverts. Gondolier, Cornetto and the signing of the immortal line: “Just one Cornetto, from Walls ice cream!”.

    They don’t make TV (adverts) like that any more…


  29. Elizabeth Z says:

    Thank you for putting so much effort into making these posts about Venice and Carnivale fascinating!

  30. I’ve been a piano player and a singer for most of my life and I love this post!!!

  31. hilly says:

    Venice = music? I did not know that! Thank you, Thea!

  32. Damaris says:

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  33. Diane says:

    I didn’t realize how old Venice was, or if I did it just never computed.

  34. Fedora says:

    How very cool, Thea! Thanks for such an incredible week of posts!

  35. Chelsea B. says:

    Oh, Venice. Oh, music. Le sigh.

  36. Timitra says:

    I am loving these history lessons!

  37. JenM says:

    Now I’m picturing Venetians wandering the streets and canals, singing their hearts out.

  38. I’m not an opera person but to hear it in that setting must have been amazing.

  39. DBReynolds says:

    There’s nothing more beautiful than the sound of a human voice raised in song.

  40. Pam P says:

    I knew some of the history of Venice and Music but not about Troy. Such interesting posts.

  41. Michelle K says:

    I do love Venice!

  42. ne-knopka says:

    I love Venice

  43. Keslynn says:

    I love Vivaldi! I also love learning more about Venice and Carnevale.