Vivaldi’s Virginal Choir

Females seduced, babies took blame,

infant girls lacked needed surname,

at della Pieta discreetly deposited,

orphaned offspring, convent-closeted.


Music mentored, once-undesired,

Vivaldi’s brain melodically inspired:

quick-inscribed score, passion poured out:

hard hearts bow, joyful angels shout.


Venetian audiences deeply moved,

salacious souls briefly soothed

by lively lutes, violin strings bowed,

balconied singers blessing bestowed.


*Figlie di coro, lattice-protected

very eligible girls, half-inspected:

pinafore-plain, hair bundled in bun;

sacred songs about life-giving Son.


Wondrous such words, echo-flung

in Latin language, sweetly sung;

happy the heart that well resonates

In excelsis deo: transferred all weights.


  • Figlie di coro = choir of daughters

The Ospedale della Pietà was a convent, orphanage, and music school in Venice. Much of Vivaldi’s sacred vocal and instrumental music was written for performance at the Pietà, where there was an orchestra of at least thirty to forty elements, all females.


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