Season’s ripe for Vivaldi pix

Indie tunes up musician biopic

NEW YORK — Indie production company Mechaniks is developing an Antonio Vivaldi biopic based on a script by journalist Jeffrey Freedman, who has spent two decades researching the eccentric 18th century Catholic priest-cum-Baroque composer.

Announcement sets the stage for two possible films centering on the tempestuous life of Vivaldi, whose most famous composition is “The Four Seasons.”

Last fall, Imagine Entertainment and Columbia announced that “Lords of Dogtown” director Catherine Hardwicke would develop and helm “Vivaldi.” It appears she’s no longer attached to the project, however, even while “Vivaldi” remains in active development.

Mechaniks’ “Antonio Vivaldi” has a start date of May 1 and will shoot on location in Italy and Austria. No director is yet attached.

Mechaniks has approached dynamic folk-rock fiddler Ashley MacIsaac about playing Vivaldi. MacIsaac’s debut album in 1995 sold half a million copies worldwide.

Boris Damast, president of Mechaniks, said “Vivaldi” has been in development for two years and that he’s undaunted by the Imagine/Columbia project.

“Jeff’s screenplay avoids the predictable cliches that often dress up ‘Hollywood’ biopics. Vivaldi was such an amazing man, it isn’t necessary to try and ‘improve’ his story,” Damast said.

Freedman’s script follows Vivaldi as the young priest is assigned to serve as a music master of a school for the abandoned, illegitimate daughters of Venice’s courtesans. He is plagued by debilitating bouts of asthma — as well as by doubts about the hypocrisy of the Catholic church.

Vivaldi wins the trust and affection of the girls, and his bond with them leads to a concert of his music before the pope.

Freedman describes Vivaldi as a revolutionary “Baroque rock star” who changed the face of music in his day.

When announcing their project in October 2004, Imagine and Columbia said “Vivaldi” would follow the forbidden romance between the young composer and his muse Anna that inspired “The Four Seasons.”

Hardwicke, who directed “Thirteen,” has spent much of her time since then focused on “Lords of Dogtown,” which Col opened earlier this month.

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