Vivaldi Unmasked (Vivaldi and the Four Seasons) BBC Documentary
In 2002, BBC ONE commissioned a major new music film about the mysterious and passionate Antonio Vivaldi.
A mix of documentary and music video, the film contextualises Vivaldi’s life through The Four Seasons, the most recorded and popular classical music ever written. Yet until 50 years ago it was forgotten, and remarkably little is known about the man who wrote it.
Presented by the dynamic young conductor Charles Hazlewood, the story of how Antonio Vivaldi’s extraordinary life and work were rediscovered is one of the most intriguing musical detective investigations of our time.
Charles Hazlewood travels to Venice in search of Vivaldi and his Four Seasons. The composer’s own life falls into Four Seasons.
Vivaldi’s Spring sees him in Venice and a violin child prodigy, at 15 ordained as a priest, and at 25 he was teaching at an all-girls’ orphanage.
Summer finds Vivaldi a star composer at the height of his creativity, but dangerously entering into a scandalous relationship with Anna Giro, a singer young enough to be his daughter.
In Autumn he branches out into the role of opera impresario, extravagantly spending way beyond his means, and threatened with excommunication for his disreputable relationship with Anna Giro.
By Winter he is penniless, far from home, and buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.
As well as the documentary footage, each season is rehearsed and performed by Charles with violin soloist Clio Gould (the virtuoso leader of the contemporary music group the London Sinfonietta) and The Red Megaphones – Charles’ hand-picked band of musicians.
Through the rehearsal process they show how Vivaldi creates a whole series of stories in the music of The Four Seasons, and why they are the world’s only “programme” concertos – concertos that tell a story.
He puts them in a contemporary context, demonstrating how much they have in common with Pink Floyd and Wyclef Jean.
The violinist Clio Gould has performed as a soloist all over the world. Apart from her busy career as soloist and orchestral leader, she has recently presented a television documentary on the Royalist composer William Lawes for BBC FOUR.
A woman of the 21st century, Clio has a lively and engaging television presence, for Vivaldi Unmasked she is playing a Stradivarius violin made 14 years after Vivaldi’s birth.