A Soprano in Venice

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LIESL ODENWELLER
Cofounder Venice Music Project St. Georges Anglican Church

“I’M IN AN old stone church with heavy, patinated bronze doors in front of a small audience of about 50.They take their seats, and the room quiets as I make an introduction about the piece in English, French and Italian. When you give a little background on the music, people listen differently. Then I sing while the rest of our Baroque ensemble performs on period instruments. It’s the first time anyone has heard this music since the 1700s, and that’s exciting.

I’m originally from New Jersey, and my husband is from Pennsylvania. We met in Rome while I was studying there, fell in love withVenice, and moved here in 1998. We have a 16-year-old daughter. Before this, I had toured all over -I was a soloist at Carnegie Hall several times but- I wanted to stay home while she was in school, so I cofounded the Venice Music Project in 2012. We wanted to do something positive to give back to the city. We didn’t want to just be regurgitating Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. People don’t realize that once Mozart came along, a lot of Venetian composers, such as Claudio Monteverdi and Francesco Cavalli, who wrote some of the first operas, were forgotten. So we thought it would be wonderful to put on these high-level concerts of music that had been lost in the archives —hidden treasures, really— and donate a portion of the proceeds to support the restoration of places where we perform. We’ve contributed more than €40,000 [$45,000] for St. George’s Anglican Church, our home for the past four seasons.

I love the European lifestyle. I go running in the morning. My husband, daughter, and I have lunch together in the afternoon. There are no cars in Venice, so we have a boat. I commute to the church by taking a water bus —everyone from the countess to the trash man is on it. Venice is a big city,

but it’s a small town.”

—MARA REINSTEIN

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