4 March 1678 – Birth of Antonio Vivaldi, Italian composer

A large office. Grey, white and polished steel reflective surfaces create a self-referential and sterile space. The only decorations on the wall are 6 gold and 3 platinum records framed and hung behind the massive desk that occupies the focal point of the room. The desk is empty except for a carafe and glass of water. Tommy Mottola (former head of Sony Music, but pre-Sony days) sits in a grey leather chair behind the desk, chuckling quietly as he contemplates a message on his smart phone. Tommy is dressed in mogul chic – suit jacket over black jeans and dark t-shirt. Entering left, Antonio Vivaldi comes into the office. He looks harried, is dressed in pantaloons, doublet and travelling cloak, and is clutching a sheaf of manuscript paper. Mottola looks up, smiles broadly at Vivaldi, glances again at the screen of his phone before placing it face down on the desk.

Mottola: Tony! You’re not returning my calls.

Vivaldi: Antonio. And you – what?

Vivaldi starts fishing in his cloak’s voluminous pocket for his mobile phone.

Vivaldi:  I didn’t see any… Did you leave a message?

Mottola: Nah, I’m just messing with you, Tony –

Vivaldi: – Antonio –

Mottola: A’course I haven’t been calling you. Who has time to make calls to the artists these days? I don’t have a business to run?

Vivaldi: No, I never said –

Mottola: I’m just messing with you, Tony. You’re my guy, right? Gold records 1699 and 1701.  Platinum in 1702. Best-selling artist across two centuries. When you’re happy, I’m happy. When you’re not happy, I’m thinking, ‘Who I got to whack to make Tony happy?’ Right?

Vivaldi: – Antonio –

Mottola: Exactly. Just say the word and he’s history.

Vivaldi: No, I don’t need anybody whacked. It’s –

He urgently places the sheets of paper onto Tommy Mottola’s desk. They spread and cover Mottola’s phone.

Vivaldi: Look. I’ve got this idea. Sketches. Melodies. Instrumentation.

Mottola shuffles the paper around for a moment, nonplussed.

Mottola: Okay. What we got?

Vivaldi: Concertos. Violin. Four violin concertos.

Mottola pauses a moment, looking blankly between Vivaldi and the pages on his desk.

Mottola: You, uh? Concertos. OK. You have brought me concertos.

Vivaldi: What do you mean? You haven’t even looked at –

Mottola: No, it’s just that – I mean, five hundred concertos. You’ve already written five hundred frikkin’ concertos. You don’t think you milked that cow dry? How long can you pull on the same teat, Tony?

Vivaldi: But I –

Mottola stands and begins to mime, badly, playing a violin, at the same time singing in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.

Mottola: Deedle deedle deedle deedle dee.

Vivaldi: No, but –

Mottola strides to the rear of the office and taps emphatically on the framed records.

Mottola: Sure, this one’s for violin, this one’s for oboe. This one’s in A major, this one’s in D. But you know what people are saying, Tony?

Vivaldi: No.

Mottola: That you’ve only really written 50 concertos and that we’ve just remixed and re-released each one ten times.

Vivaldi: I – Who’s saying that?

Mottola: Well, me. I’m saying that.

Vivaldi: What? You’re my manager.

Mottola: I know. That’s how bad it is.

Mottola sits back down.

Mottola: Wait. Is that what I said? I think that what I said was that you’ve only written ten concertos and we’ve remixed each one fifty times.

Vivaldi: You said what?

Mottola: Who remembers? I mean, Louis the frikkin’ Fifteenth, yeah? My God, the parties. I was drinking. Dosed up on xanax like usual to make it through awards season. Someone’s yapping, ‘I like his old stuff better than his new stuff’, and I’m –

Vivaldi: What about Bach then?

Mottola: Bach? What about him?

Vivaldi: He’s doing another twenty-four preludes and fugues for clavier.

Mottola: Oh, I love that one – how does it go? Diddle-iddle-iddle diddle-iddle-iddle diddle-iddle-iddle –

Vivaldi: C Sharp. BWV 848.

Mottola: Yeah, right. Man, he really has to get his people to work on the titles. I know it’s all precision German engineering, but still. BWV 848. What even is that?

Vivaldi: But he’s doing another twenty-four. Same key cycle and everything. Major, minor, chromatic, ascending from C. And nobody’s accusing him of milking a dry cow.

Mottola: I guess. He’s with Stock, Aitken, Waterman now. That’s how they roll.

He takes a sip of water.

Mottola: OK, Tony, you’re right. Who cares, huh? Give ‘em what they want. So, these concertos – what we got?

Vivaldi: The Four Seasons. Each concerto’s a season. Spring, summer, autumn, winter –

Mottola: Yeah, I know how the seasons go. At this point in your career, you really want to do a concept album?

Vivaldi: – with, you know, drunks sleeping it off in the middle of autumn and the music’s all lazy and strung-out. Then the snow and ice in winter is all ‘plink-plink-plink’ –

Mottola: (warming to the idea) OK. OK. I can hear that –

Vivaldi: And there’s a huge thunder storm during summer, “Jink! zhugazhugazhugha Jink! zhuguzhugazhuga Jink! zhugazhughazhuga Jink! zhughazhugazhuga.’

Mottola: ‘Jink! zhugazhuga.’ That could work.

From beneath the manuscript pages, the William Tell overture ringtone on Mottola’s phone sounds. Mottola distractedly shovels pages aside trying to find the phone. 

Vivaldi: So, what do you think?

Finally, Mottola claws the phone out. Checking the the display, he holds one finger up.

Mottola: Tony, I got to take this.

File under: decompositions | baroque production values |

(Image source: wikimedia)


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