The Hollywood elite must have tired to portraying ever Catholic Priests as a paedophile. So they have come out with a new twist, lets see how many "historical" priests we can trash in the movies. Gone are the days when Bing Crosby made memorable films such as "Going my Way", and "The Bells of St Mary's" of John Wayne's film "The Quiet Man". we are presented with their latest spectacular, "The Red Priest". No I ma not talking about a commie, I speak of Fr Antonio Vivaldi, 1678 - 1741. I reprint an article from the London Times, "The Red priest Unfrocked". I reprint it in full, except the picture at the header.

To me I think this is just a matter of projection. The Hollywood types have no self control so they naturally believe that good Catholics have none either. I believe also that salacious films are just a way for them to expose them selves on film. In that way they can say they are "serious" actors and actresses and not porn stars. The porn stars know they are sinning, the "serious" actors and actresses have rationalized their sin away all in the name of freedom. I ever tire of being told by politicians, actors, sports figures, and rock stars how I need to believe. What condescension. What hubris.

de Brantigny


The Red Priest Unfrocked
Amanda Holloway

First they did it to Mozart, then it was Beethoven’s turn. The Baroque genius Antonio Vivaldi is the latest composer to receive more attention for his sex life than his music. Known mainly for The Four Seasonsand the Gloria, Vivaldi is now the inspiration for a movie and a rash of lurid novels based on (highly speculative) versions of his life. In addition, an all-women choir that tries to reproduce the sound of Vivaldi’s original choristers will give concerts in London and Bristol next week.

Vivaldi’s Virgins, by Barbara Quick, paints the composer as “tarnished with scandal”, while Hidden Harmonies: the Secret Life of Antonio Vivaldi, by André Romijn, offers an insight into the personal life of the “priest, lover, composer”. Now a Hollywood biopic is in the pipeline, with Joseph Fiennes as Vivaldi and Gérard Depardieu and Jacqueline Bissett as co-stars. One paper heralded the film as “Vivaldi, the sex-obsessed rock star”, giving some idea of the tone of this likely bonkbuster.

Trying to hold back this tide of hype is a lone English researcher, Micky White. She was a Wimbledon photographer when she came across a biography of Vivaldi and immediately fell for his eccentric charm. “He was just like John McEnroe – an unconventional genius.” White moved to Venice and devoted herself to translating the 18th-century record-books of the Pietà, where Vivaldi had been employed for nearly 40 years. She intends to produce a definitive biography next year.

It makes a much better story to suggest that “the red priest”, a flame-haired musical genius living in the licentious city-state of Venice, must have been sleeping with his female pupils. But White insists that there’s no evidence to show that Vivaldi, who lived with his parents, had sex with anyone. It’s true that he worked with teenage girls – between 1703 and 1740 he taught the violin and conducted the choir and orchestra at the Ospedale della Pietà, a foundation for illegitimate children. These unwanted babies, shoved like parcels through a hatch in the wall of the Pietà, were brought up at the city’s expense. The most musical girls were groomed for the elite Figlie del Choro, who performed the daily services in the church.

Vivaldi’s name has been linked to two women outside the Pietà, his personal assistant at the Venice Opera, Paulina Tessiere, and her half-sister or possibly daughter, Anna Giró, who was one of his singing pupils at the opera. Although there’s much speculation about his fondness for Anna, White says it’s ludicrous to suggest that anything improper took place between a priest and a girl 32 years his junior. “He would have been called a paedophile and thrown out of Venice. And he’d never have been able to continue teaching at the Pietà for 38 years.”

“Vivaldi was very respectful of the women at the Pietà,” White continues, “and they respected him. That’s why the music worked so well, because he wrote it with these girls in mind.” From the names on the scores we can tell which virtuoso arias were written for Appolonia dal Sopran, who had a spectacular voice and fiery temper (records show she was punished for punching someone in the face). There was also Cecilia dal Contralto, Paulina dal Tenor and Anna dal Basso.

Based on White’s findings, Richard Vendome, an Oxford musicologist, started a project to reproduce the sound of Vivaldi’s choir for the first time in 250 years, with women singing tenor and bass lines at pitch. Vendome’s choir and orchestra, known as Schola Pietatis Antonio Vivaldi (SPAV), also reflects the age range of the original musicians, with women from 14 to 60 plus. Where Vivaldi had Anna dal Basso, Vendome has a retired civil servant called Margaret Jackson-Roberts, along with three others. Their low notes are impressive – accurate, but with a much softer timbre than male basses. Next week, as part of the Southbank’s Luigi Nono festival, Fragments of Venice, Schola Pietatis join the OAE to recreate a Pietà concert in London, at St John’s Smith Square.

Attending Mass in the Pietà church was one of the highlights of the 18th-century Grand Tour. What was it like to be in the congregation when Vivaldi’s foundling choir was singing? Up in the choir lofts the girls were hidden from curious eyes by a metal grille. The philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes what happened when he finally wangled an introduction: “M. le Blond introduced me to one after another of those famous singers whose voices and names were all that were known to me. ‘Come, Sophie,’ – she was horrible. ‘Come, Cattina,’ – she was blind in one eye. ‘Come, Bettina,’ – the smallpox had disfigured her. Scarcely one was without some considerable blemish . . . I was desolate.” However, by the end of the meal he was won over by their charm. “My way of looking at them changed so much that I left nearly in love with all these ugly girls.”

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