Songs from Shylock’s Venice

The establishment of the Venice Ghetto in 1516, although undoubtedly a repressive, segregationist act on the part of the Venetian authorities, did not cut the Jews off from the world: during the day, they were free to roam the city. In the sixteenth century, the Ghetto was a place whose residents spoke over a dozen different languages. Cooking smells from three continents wafted through the air, blending with the sounds of songs, dances and liturgical melodies of the native Italians, German immigrants, and Jews from Spain, Portugal, Turkey, Russia, Greece, and beyond. However, although we know that the Ghetto was a place that resounded with music, before Solomon Rossi, no notated music by a Jewish composer or associated with the Jewish community survives. Working from poems written in Hebrew, Yiddish, Jewish-Italian and Ladino, Sounds from Shylock’s Venice features Lucidarium’s painstaking reconstructions of Renaissance Jewish songs, texts, and the “mainstream” music that any Venetian, Jew or Gentile would have used for celebrations, conjuring up the sounds that Shylock might have heard as he wandered in and out of the Jewish quarter, in the vibrant, colorful world that was 16th century Venice. On demand, the program can be presented with projections that combine translations with distinctive Jewish artworks of the era.


Carla Nahadi Babelegoto, Enrico Fink – voice

Avery Gosfield – recorder, pipe and tabor

Élodie Poirier – nyckelharpa

Fabio Accurso – lute

Massimiliano Dragoni – percussion, hammer dulcimer