Serpent’s Tail £7.99
Stabat Mater, By Tiziano Scarpa (trs Shaun Whiteside)
Staring death in the face...in Venice
Sunday 04 September 2011
Tiziano Scarpa won Italy's 2009 Strega prize with this highly unusual tale of a young orphaned novice, Cecilia, who, along with some of 17th-century Venice's other orphaned and abandoned girls, earns her keep in the convent by playing violin in the nuns' orchestra.
Scarpa captures the sense of a girl being driven slowly mad by her confinement and lack of knowledge about her birth, as Cecilia both romanticises and denigrates her possible origins. Birth is a dirty matter as well as a beautiful one, and they exist side by side until the arrival of a new music master. Based on the story of Vivaldi and his teaching of convent orphans, this is a muscular fairytale that stares death in the face.
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