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JMI Online: Lucidarium – Sounds From Shylocks Venice

Wednesday 12th May 2021 | 7:30 pm 9:00 pm


Programme marking the 500-Year Anniversary of the Establishment of the Venice Ghetto

16th century Venice was a place where Jews were largely able to live according to their beliefs and traditions, at the same time as they carried out an intense, continuous exchange with their Gentile neighbors in the piazze where everyone gathered, regardless of class or religion. It was a place full of real-life characters so incredible they could easily have leapt out of one of the bard’s plays, such as Elias Bachur Levita, a German Jew who made Italy his adoptive home, author of dictionaries, psalm translations and Bible commentaries, as well as epic poems in Yiddish written in that most Italian of poetic forms, the ottava rima; or Leon Modena: scholar, poet, playwright and compulsive gambler.

Music for a Merchant attempts to recreate the sights and sounds of a day in the life of Shylock, as he wanders in and out of the Jewish quarter in the vibrant, colorful world that was Renaissance Venice: the structure of the program is inspired by Leopold Bloom’s wanderings in early 20th century Dublin as recounted in James Joyce’s Ulysses

Repertoire: Songs in Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish and Spanish, (the languages used by the various nationi d’ebrei when Northern Italy was a magnet for Jewish immigration) are combined with the dances that Jew and Gentile alike would have enjoyed while celebrating a baptism, circumcision, or wedding – whether it took place under a chuppah or inside of a church – as well as canti carnascialeschi, songs for Purim; and the villanelle ebraiche that give a glimpse of how Jews were viewed by their neighbors.  Texts drawn from contemporary Italian sources – Leon Modena’s autobiography and Venetian archives – round out the program.

The program is also available with projections by Swiss-Italian video artist Silvia Fabiani which mix images with translations of sung and spoken texts in a multimedia program designed to make 21st century audiences experience the sounds and sights of Shylock’s world.


Ensemble Lucidarium

Giulia Valentini, Carla Nahadi Babelegoto: voice, Enrico Fink: voice and narration

Avery Gosfield: recorder, pipe and tabor,
Élodie Poirier: nyckelharpa,

Fabio Accurso: lute
Massimiliano Dragoni: hammer dulcimer and percussion