Since this is a blog about Venice, I won’t be talking about the 1957 film An Affair to Remember starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. No, I wanted to mention the recent production in Venice of A Venetian Affair, the book by Andrea di Robilant, set to music by Johann Adolf Hasse and performed by the Venice Music Project. It ran for four days in October at San Giovanni Evangelista. A Venetian Affair tells the story of the star-crossed love affair between Andrea Memmo and Giustiniana Wynne, of different social classes so that they would not be allowed to marry. Di Robilant put their story together after his father found love letters in the family’s palace attic–for di Robilant is a descendent of the Memmo clan.
I’m sorry to have missed the show–I’m a big fan of di Robilant’s work, and I’ve done extensive reading about Giustiniana Wynne. (There’s a whole chapter on her fascinating life in by book A Beautiful Woman in Venice.) Andrea di Robilant himself read from the letters as part of the performance. He’s a lovely person and was generous in his knowledge when I was researching Wynne. He even treated me to coffee a couple summers ago, probably wanting to see who was this person who kept emailing him with questions.
Liz, the blogger behind DreamDiscoverItalia, posted a detailed description of the show here, a great summary with lots of pics:
Then I heard from my friend Adriano, a Roman and a casanovist, who came up to Venice to see the show. He attended with Nancy Isenberg, a professor in Rome and a premier scholar of Giustiniana Wynne’s life (and also someone very generous with her research to a writer like me). They then attended the after-party with Andrea di Robilant and his wife. It was held at a palazzo and hosted by Princess Caroline Murat, a concert pianist who performed for her guests. Soprano Liesl Odenweller, who had sung Giustiniana’s letters earlier that evening, entertained the partygoers with “La Biondina in Gondoleta,” a song about Marina Querini Benzon. (She’s the one I blogged about previously, who kept steaming polenta in her bosom–see the March 1, 2015 post).
The photos here are by Adriano, with his permission, though I’m not including the ones from the private party. Ah, maybe some day someone will invite me to a palazzo for a party! I’m also hoping that the show A Venetian Affair will be playing closer to home; I’ve heard that it will tour a few US cities, though no dates have been announced yet. Follow it here: http://www.venicemusicproject.it/en/venetian-affair/