From 1703 to 1739, Vivaldi composed a large number of religious works for the Ospedale Santa Maria della Pieta. The Ospedale’s mission was to give young girls a perfect education; its vocation was above all musical, and they formed an elite orchestra and choir and a talent pool of soloists that all Venice came to hear.

Far from the austerity and pomp of Venice’s large “official” churches, during the period of Christ’s Passion, the Ospedales of the Doges’ city gave the opportunity to hear particularly modern and brilliant works, sung by young prodigies, with the most famous composers as masters…While the city operas were closed, Vivaldi’s music moved to these religious environments to celebrate, with equal drama, the grief of Christ’s mother before her son’s crucifixion.

Venetian sacred compositions of the time gave the main roles to soprano and contralto voices, which were perfectly adapted to the Ospedales’ singers, whereas in Naples or Rome, these parts were given to castrati or countertenors, as in operas. Vivaldi created small miracles for the singers he admired and whose exceptional capacities he knew (the virtuoso Nisi Dominus!). Which contralto created the Stabat Mater in 1712, the year before Vivaldi’s first opera? Cecilia was then 35, Geltruda 27, Madalena 33, Michielina 27… Which one inspired Vivaldi? In the voices of the Venetian orphans, one already perceives all the Red Haired Priest’s charm; his mastery of rhythms and his science still touches us today.



Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)
Stabat Mater
Nisi Dominus



  • David DQ Lee Counter-tenor
  • David Hansen Counter-tenor
  • Ensemble Matheus
  • Jean Christophe Spinosi Conductor


practical information

Royal Chapel

Friday 16th June 2017 – 8pm


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