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  • Writer's pictureSerena Piccoli

Stabat Mater - the novel

Updated: May 8

Tiziano Scarpa's Stabat Mater is a novel that won the prestigious Premio Strega - Italy's Strega Award for narrative in 2009.

It is not a long book and you can find it translated in English.

It is set among the orphaned musicians of Venice's Ospedale della Pietà, where young girls were abandoned and then educated by nuns.

The 16-year old Cecilia is a troubled young girl who cannot sleep and appears to have an eating disorder. At night she creeps to a hidden place to write 'letters' to her unknown mother even though these are never sent. She plays the dull and repetitive music of a worn-out composer, who - as usual - is a priest. Hidden behind a metal grille when they perform in church, the girls are "buried alive in a delicate coffin of music".

But something changes when - half way through the novel - a new composer appears and through his music Cecilia finds her escape. The new priest is Don Antonio Vivaldi, a young musician who composes his music for the girls and who then will become the great Vivaldi of the Four seasons.


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