Sala della Musica dell’OspedalettoThe music room of Ospedaletto (which is part of the convalescent home of Santi Giovanni e Paolo today) was built in 1776-77 at the time when this hospital served as orphanage.
They gathered all orphaned children from a few days old to 12 years old there and they educated them.
Outside the hours of classes, the boys learned woodworking and the girls learned singing; the most gifted gave concerts, the others participated in the domestic tasks of the hospital and learned to care for a house.
Until 18th century, the young orphans sang in the church and the parishioners who appreciated their talents proved to be extremely generous towards Ospedaletto.
Unfortunately economic crisis restricted the number of donors considerably and they decided then to restrict the number of listeners to only the benefactors of the Ospedaletto.
Thus the music room where they gave chamber music concerts was reserved for those who had means to pay, as well as the leading guests of Sérénissime coming on solemn visits.
It also served in the musical education given by very good masters of the 17th and 18th centuries such as Giovanni Legrenzi, Nicolo Porpora, Tommaso Traetta, Antonio Sacchini, Domenico Cimarosa.
One of them, Pasquale Anfossi, is represented in the fresco of the bottom behind two girls who sing at the feet of Apollo who, with a mischievous air, conducts with an iron rod to the merriment of all these young ladies.
Frescoes are by Jacopo Guarana whose work is supplemented, as it was often made in this period, by a trompe l’oeil painting by Agostino Mengozzi Colonna who left his signature on the fresco of the bottom by giving the impression that two of the young residents of the Ospedaletto steal a look with curiosity to notice the visitors better …
It is perhaps what they imagined behind gates and curtains which hid them out of sight from the visitors who also would have liked to see if these girls were as beautiful as their voices!
They were on the upper floor, in a small room which could accept only a dozen singers accompanied with three or four musicians: a small loft without comfort, which contrasted with the room of audition the ceiling of which represents the triumph of music (Trionfo della Musica), was however the only source of all this beauty.
The Englishman Charles Burney left us evidence of a concert in the Church Santa Maria dei Derelitti (six years before is constructed the music room itself).
The one that he most admired that evening was Francesca Adriana Grabrieli, known as “Ferrarese”. Here is the tale of Charles Burney during his visit in Ospedaletto of August 14th, 1770:
“I went to the Ospedaletto, where the music and musicians spoke a different language. The performance was a Latin oratorio; Macchabæorum Mater; the music was by Signor Sacchini; there were six characters in it, the principal was performed by Francesca Gabrieli:
It was divided into two parts: the first was over before I arrived, for which I was very sorry, as what remained delighted me extremely, both as to the composition, which was excellent, and the singing which had infinite merit
When I entered the church the Ferrarese was speaking an admirable accompanied recitative in such a manner as is seldom heard; it was terminated by a Bravura air, with a pathetic second part in Jomelli's oratorio style, but by no means in his passages; there was then a recitative and slow air by Laura Conti, who is possessed of no great power of voice; it is a mere voce di Camera; but she has infinite expression and taste, and charmed me in a different way
[...] The singing which I heard at this hospital tonight would, as well as that of the Incurabili, I am certain, receive great applause in the first opera of Europe.”
Charles Burney - Present State of Music in France and Italy on 1773
Ferrarese made an international career and sang the music of the biggest musicians of period such as Salieri and Mozart.
It was also, in Vienna, the teacher Antonio Da Ponte, famous librettist of Mozart, whom it will leave without regret when this one fell in disfavor nearby the death of Joseph II.
The single regret in this rather emotional visit: they hear no music which would make us appreciate acoustical qualities of Sala della Musica!!!
Visits Ospedaletto - Sala della Musica - Music RoomVisits are only for groups (but you can also visit it alone if you can afford to pay the group price), price is 60€.
Booking first is necessary.
6691, Barbaria de le Tole - Castello
Phone : +39 041 532 29 20 and +39 041 27.19.012
Booking Office opened from Monday to Friday: 9:00-18:00 - Saturday: 9:00-14:00
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