On December 27th, Composer Gerard Chiusano and Librettists Bob Cutrofello and Mary Hochman-Chiusano joined my husband Wayne and me in Connecticut with their marvelous families. We feasted and worked and feasted some more. Bob has written the Prologue and two scenes: the first a comic interchange between the married and pregnant Beatrice and her soon-to-be-sister-in-law, the virgin Caterina; the second a rollicking sea chantey (celebrating bridegroom Lorenzo’s return to Venice from a lucrative voyage on the galley he captains) that quits and shifts genres when Lorenzo witnesses an infant’s being purposely flung into the lagoon. Meanwhile, Mary has penned a poignant aria for the usually formidable and wicked Abbess Vittoria Ubaldi, sung by the nun when she is in private and mourning an unspeakable loss that figures as one of the major secrets of the story. Matching his incipient notes with particular lines as well as the contextual atmosphere that is Venice, Jerry questioned and commented as we went. I still hear myself saying “Lapping, Venice is always lapping. It is reflection–reflected light, reflected stone structures, reflected cloaked figures, reflected boats. And church bells, footsteps, shadows, echoes.”
…is a joy. I love the veritable “thrill of the chase” for facts I’m sure my novel-in-progress needs and–even more exciting–of those I discover unexpectedly. Weaving the surprises sensibly into plot is delightfully satisfying . At present, I’m wading in deep waters beyond the Venetian lagoon in 1401. While the long reach of Venice’s official stato da mar comprises the contextual geography of the story thus far, individual decisions and actions onboard one of the republic’s own galleys fill the boat with secrets, suspense, and human suffering .
December 27th promises to be a musical day at our house. Joining us for a work session and dinner will be composer Gerard Chiusano and librettists Bob Cutrofello and Mary Hochman-Chiusano. We’ll be continuing our summer’s work, transforming my historical novel THIRST from page to stage.
It is a fascinating experience to hear one’s words interpreted and set to evocative music and lyrics. I am thrilled and grateful that this talented trio are joining their crafts with mine. Grazie mille to them, each and every one!
I’ll keep you posted about our progress as two 1613 Venetian families grapple with the eternal clash between sin and redemption.
…due to his column (appropriately named “The Awesome Column” ) in TIME Magazine’s Dec. 10, 2012, issue.
In his piece, Stein takes issue with the trend toward eliminating much fiction from American schools’ English classes by 2014, when an initiative known as Common Core Standards will likely take effect. All public schools are urged to “comply,” and other types of schools are also discussing the value of such a shift.
Stein certainly spoke for me when he wrote the following: “Sure, some nonfiction is beautifully written, …, but no nonfiction writer can teach you how to use language like William Faulkner or James Joyce can. Fiction also teaches you how to tell a story, which is how we express and remember nearly everything. … School isn’t merely training for work; it’s training to communicate throughout our lives.”
See what you make of Stein’s piece.
All I know is that, should a big-government, mass-market approach to learning fall into place across both our red and blue states, I’ll be as upset as I first was and always am when I read that “Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of a true, wise friend called Piggy.”