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!
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.