Sounds from Shylock’s Venice. Program in Honor of 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.  Projections 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…

8 – 11 performers: Enrico Fink: voice, narrator, Gloria Moretti, Anna Pia Capurso, (Lior Leibovici): voice; Avery Gosfield, Marco Ferrari: Renaissance Winds, Francis Biggi: lute, colascione, viola da mano, Massimiliano Dragoni: percussion, hammer dulcimer; Élodie Poirier: ‘cello, nychelarpa (Amandine Lesne: viola da gamba)
Silvia Fabiani: video artist

5 marzo 2017 Programs


  1. […] The Lucidarium ensemble, “Sounds from Shylock’s Venice,” October […]

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Lucidarium is an irresistibly fun group, a light-hearted collection of friends out to relish each other’s company by making music together. That unbuttoned ethos is a welcome intrusion in the concert hall, one that will hopefully infect other performers.

Basler Zeitung

Next to their stylistic confidence and saddle-sure historical interpretation, Ensemble Lucidarium shows us just how contagiously vivacious the reconstruction of medieval sounds can be.

The six members of Lucidarium let their listeners dive into a completely enchanting world… The musical poetry of the Middle Ages was brought back to life in the most beautiful way possible

New York Times

… The Ensemble Lucidarium, an Italian group, in a program of vocal works (and a couple of high-energy saltarellos) on Wednesday afternoon, performed in a style free of vibrato and other forms of modern polish but plentifully adorned with florid vocal embellishments…

American Recorder Society Magazine

Anyone who arrived thinking of Medieval repertoire as “minor” or as music that ‘all sounds alike’ left with changed ideas.

The Arts Desk

There was a naturalness and relaxedness to their performance that was immensely pleasing.

Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace

… it was enough to be swept away, by the refinement and conviction of the performers, to a place where magic reigns.