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GIACONDA!

THE MUSICAL       



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Leonardo Da Vinci and the Mona Lisa  -  probably the most famous combination in the history of art.

Five hundred years after his death Leonardo is still celebrated as one of the greatest geniuses that ever lived. The Mona Lisa, if not the greatest, certainly must qualify as the most famous painted work of art in the world.

 

And yet...  there is still a degree of mystery surrounding the painting. Five hundred years is a long time and history is an imprecise science. We rely on accounts often written many years after the event, and scholars still debate many basic details generally assumed to be fact.

 

GIACONDA!    is a story of intrigue, clandestine affairs, blackmail and betrayal which attempts to explain events surrounding the production of the masterpiece. The dates, characters and locations are as accurate as history will allow. It is, however, first and foremost a dramatic interpretation, woven around the known facts.

Set in Florence in 1503, the central characters are:

Leonardo da Vinci   -   Salai, his apprentice   -   Aragona Orsini, Salai's 'sponsor'    -    and Lisa Gherardini, the Mona Lisa.

The villains of the piece are Bastiano, a former state spy, and Totto, Niccolò Machiavelli’s brother .

Leonardo has strong feelings for Salai but can never show it - although he is fiercely protective of the boy. Salai is a free spirit. He is already having an affair with Aragona, but when Leonardo agrees to let Salai work with him on the Mona Lisa he and Lisa fall in love.

In the Prologue we learned why, thirty years earlier, Bastiano was jailed and banished from Florence - swearing revenge on Aragona - and how Aragona became indebted to Lisa‘s mother.
When Bastiano returns and threatens to reveal their affair Salai and Aragona hurriedly make plans to leave Florence. When Leonardo finds out he asks Niccolò Machiavelli for help. Bastiano is murdered - seemingly solving the problem.
 

 

However Totto has discovered Lisa’s romance with Salai and attempts to blackmail her. So, Salai hastily changes the plan - arranging to leave with Lisa instead! The ever well-informed Totto finds out and tells Aragona  -  and Lisa’s husband.

At the appointed hour, as Salai and Lisa are waiting to go, they all meet at Leonardo's studio. As the truth is about to be revealed Aragona, suddenly realising whose daughter Lisa is, repays her debt to the family and saves her, denouncing Totto - with tragic consequences.
..

 

What we can be sure of is that the painting was never delivered to the man who commissioned it. It was kept by Leonardo and bequeathed to his favourite apprentice and close companion Salai, who had it with him at the time of his death.

In his will it was valued at 505 Florentine lire – probably the equivalent of a year’s income, and an exceptional price for what is after all a quite small painting on a thin sheet of poplar wood...

 

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PHILIP HAMPSON