Venice, that unique city, the home of the carnival, in which there is a constant swing between the real and unreal, is a natural setting for disguise, mask and masquerade. The scene of pomp and splendour, its pageantry and processions are recorded in the panel paintings of Carpaccio and the Bellini brothers, and the music that developed in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries reached its climax in the compositions of Claudio Merulo 1 and the two Gabrieli. 2 These composers conveyed in their music the sense of vivid colour that distinguishes the works of the great Venetian painters. In 1612, the year before Monteverdi arrived in Venice, Giovanni Gabrieli died. This marked the end of an era, and the beginning of a new fashion in taste and entertainment. All preceding musical traditions were superseded by the melodrama, which captured the interest of the people and the patricians alike, and marked a shift in taste from the sacred to the profane.