Music for a Merchant:
Sounds from Shylock’s Venice
What would Shylock have heard as he walked the streets of La Serenissima? Probably a lively mishmash of songs in Italian, Yiddish, Hebrew and Spanish, mixed with music that Jews and Gentiles alike would have enjoyed while celebrating baptisms, circumcisions and weddings. Perhaps he would have known Elias Bachur Levita, the exuberant Yiddish scholar, or maybe Leon Modena, the alchemist, poet, Rabbi, musician and pathological gambler. In this concert commemorating the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venetian Ghetto and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, music from the Jewish Italian liturgy – Venetian laudi, sung poems by Elias Bachur Levita, dances, villanelle ebraiche and other carnival pieces join with readings from contemporary Venetian documents to conjure a colourful corner of the 16th-century world.