Fourteen-year-old Anna Maria, abandoned at the Ospedale della Pietà as an infant, is determined to find out who she is and where she came from. Her quest takes her beyond the cloister walls into the complex tapestry of Venetian society; from the impoverished alleyways of the Jewish Ghetto to a masked ball in the company of a king; from the passionate communal life of adolescent girls competing for their maestro's favor to the larger-than-life world of music and spectacle that kept the citizens of a dying republic in thrall. In this world, where for fully half the year the entire city is masked and cloaked in the anonymity of Carnival, nothing is as it appears to be.
A virtuoso performance in the tradition of Girl with a Pearl Earring, Vivaldi's Virgins is a fascinating glimpse inside the source of Vivaldi's musical legacy, interwoven with the gripping story of a remarkable young woman's coming-of-age in a deliciously evocative time and place.
Based on ethnographic and archival data, this in-depth study of the Venetian island of Burano shows how its inhabitants develop their sense of a distinct identity on the basis of their notions of gender, honor and kinship relations, their common memories, their knowledge and love of their environment and their special skills in fishing and lace making.