Music between your fingers

Opera aficionados are going to be singing praises of the latest offering from Montegrappa, the Italian luxury pen manufacturer. The company, based in the birthplace of the musical tradition, has come out with a collection of fine writing instruments dedicated to great operas that have touched hearts of millions the world over.

The first of this limited edition Emozioni in Musica collection is the writing jewel Invito a La Traviata, named after the most staged opera in the world. The beauty of opera is skillfully captured in every detail of the Invito a La Traviata.

In this pen the uniqueness of the lyric performance is given voice by reproducing the leading character, Violetta Valery, on the shaft in beautiful details.

As a background to the portrait is a pattern of camellias, homage to the main character that inspired Giuseppe Verdi for his Violetta, the Lady of the Camellias, from the novel by A Dumas Fils.

The red celluloid brings the opera's haunting emotions to mind, and the clip processed with a precision casting technique reminds one of the interior decoration of the 19th century. And the monogram of Violetta Valery is engraved on the 18 carat gold twin-coloured nib.

Montegrappa's vice-president of sales and marketing, Roberta Facciano, told Emirates Business: "Invito a La Traviata comes in three different versions. Silver, gold and gold and diamond versions. The gold and diamond version has been priced at Dh105,114.

"While in the silver version Violetta's portrait has been made using the burin engraving technique, in the gold and gold and diamond versions Violetta's portrait has been brought to life with the age-old stove enamelling technique.

"The first miniatures accomplished with the age-old technique of stove enamelling date back to the 14th century. The pioneers of this technique were the artisans of Limoges, who then specialised in the manufacture of pottery. However, the master silversmiths of Venice and Florence have always been the ones to surpass all others in this art.

"Stove enamelling calls for hours of extensive workmanship and wide-ranging artistry because of the several operations of enamelling that the miniature requires. Wholly painted by hand with a pine marten bristle brush [the thickness of the brush ranges from one single bristle to a maximum of 10], the miniatures are accomplished on a metal background on which mixtures of crystal dust and essential oils are applied.

"Each layer of enamel is kilned at a temperature of 700-800°C in order to dissolve the dust and, consequently, is cooled down to set the colour, which changes with every kilning. Therefore, the experience of the craftsman does not only lie in the accuracy of details on a surface of such reduced dimensions but comes out even during the kilning stages, where only workmanship succeeds in blending the different coloured crystal dust – a range of about 200 hues is made use of – and in singling out the right kilning point for each stage.

"When the miniature is ready and the expert eye of the craftsman has achieved the desired chromatic effect, a further layer of transparent enamel is applied to it and treated like crystal, and is subsequently faced, kilned and, in the end, polished. In all, the procedure for each single miniature requires about seven to eight hours."

As this is a limited edition pen, only 1,965 of these pens will be made. While the company will make 1,912 silver fountain pens to correspond with the year the brand came into existence, it will produce only 16 gold fountain pens studded with 32 princess cut diamonds and two brilliant cut diamonds and 37 fountain pens in gold to honour the year 1637, when the first public performance of an opera took place.
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