Review: ‘Why Vivaldi?’

With piquant eccentricity, doc is less interested in producing a standard bio-portrait than inquiring why people from various walks of life have chosen the subject of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi as the center of their lives. Production values aren't PBS-ready, but video and educational markets will extend the Vivaldi cult.

With piquant eccentricity, “Why Vivaldi?” is less interested in producing a standard bio-portrait than inquiring why people from various walks of life have chosen the subject of Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi as the center of their lives. Making a startling left turn from his poor indie feature, “Jerks,” filmmaker Teddy Grouya asks the question of musicologists, conductors and amateurs, and comes up with some surprises. Production values aren’t PBS-ready, but video and educational markets will extend the Vivaldi cult.

Baroque fan and Jet Propulsion Lab scientist Robert Strvall explains in a brief introduction that he first suggested the composer as a dramatic film subject to Grouya, who then wrote a script draft and carried it further with this docu exploration of Vivaldi devotees. Leading Vivaldi expert Michael Talbot’s scholarly commentary nicely differs from the artistic understanding conveyed by Modo Antiquo ensemble leader Federico Maria Sardelli and the non-academic research of the biggest fan of all, former sports photographer Micky White. Trio forms a complementary of personal responses to Vivaldi, whose devotion to sacred music will surprise those only aware of “The Four Seasons.”

Why Vivaldi?

Production

A Cinema Arts Magic production. Produced by Teddy Grouya. Co-producer, Patrick Sheehan. Directed, written by Teddy Grouya.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Grouya; editor, Andrea Zondler, Grouya; music, Antonio Vivaldi; music performance, Modo Antiquo. Reviewed at Palm Springs Film Festival, Jan. 13, 2004. English, Italian dialogue. Running time: 68 MIN.

With

Micky White, Michael Talbot, Federico Maria Sardelli, Antonio Fauna, Karl Geck, Robert Strvall, Dennis Rooney.
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