For a first post in this month of love, I am offering a ‘romantic’ excerpt from my published novel, A House Near Luccoli, which imagines an intimacy with the legendary Alessandro Stradella - one of the greatest but most undervalued Baroque composers - during his time in Genoa, Italy.
After Donatella accompanies Stradella to a celebration dinner in honor of the Princess Doria’s brother, Benedetto Pamphilj, being made Cardinal; they return to the house near Luccoli at quite a late hour.
Donatella followed him up one floor too many, their association in public not half so daring as into the late night of his apartment, anticipating her aunt calling her out. Alessandro used the only candle burning to light a few others, the curtains also gesturing her to a window so she might view the bay’s shipshape stage and beaming impresario of a lighthouse. The sky showed stars, some more celebrated than others. But no moon.
He had opened the window enough for his head and shoulders to lean out. “Unless you do this.”
“I’ve got you,” he sang as confidently as she didn’t feel with her upper body in mid-air, yet obedient to his instruction to look sharply left and up where the nearly full moon balanced on a cloud.
“All right. I see it.” She was pulled in like the curtains, on the coolness of the wind and his maneuvers so she thought he might lie down on the couch with her, as ridiculous a notion as falling for the sight of the moon.
“I hope my aunt didn’t hear.” She sat up, crossing her arms.
“You’re your own responsibility.” He removed his coat, folding it on the closed top of the harpsichord, his cravat floating up and down to land there, too.
“She’s like that,” Donatella felt surprisingly satisfied, “when she isn’t listened to.”
“She didn’t want you to go?”
“She didn’t want me asked to go.”
“Ah. I was hoping I’d found a rebel in you. Instead you do as you’re told or asked.”
“I could refuse either.”
“Or negotiate between the two.” He sat at the writing table. “I need more vino.” He stretched his arms out and laid his head down facing her with a brother’s benignity.
“I think she sleeps with the key.”
“You’re light on your feet.”
“If she wakes, you have an excuse.”
“Just letting her know you’re back.”
“She’d be suspicious anyway.”
He jumped up. “Especially if you had something else to tell her.” He went down to his knees, his arms covering hers in white and his hands praying. “What could it be?” They opened and folded around hers. “I know!” His lips bowed and proposed to her fingertips. “Marry me.”
Even a princess would have despaired as he begged Donatella to take him lightly. He sat on the floor propped against her legs, his head tilted into her skirt like a cat in its own space happening to touch upon hers.
Just came upon this new Youtube video of a Stradella aria for soprano & continuo:
E’ pazzia l’innamorarsi
Susanne Rydén soprano, Alessandro Palmeri cello.
CD: Stradella, Italian Arias. Ensemble Harmonices Mundi.
Conductor: Claudio Astronio.
Old View of Genoa, where A House Near Luccoli takes place.
A House Near Luccoli is available at amazon.com in Paperback, Kindle and Audiobook editions.
Also at barnesandnoble in Paperback and NOOK Book editions.
Thank you to all who have already read it and to those who have contributed to some great reviews the novel has received. Of course, more are always welcome!
Visit my amazon.com page for all my publications.
©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.