Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable

Back in March 2015 Andrea Zuvich hosted me on her beautiful site The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea has long recognized the excellence of the music of Alessandro Stradella, who is, of course, the focus of my novel A House Near Luccoli and, hauntingly, its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

I hope thou will take a few minutes for a little time travel and indulge thyself with a visit to this beautifully designed, intelligent, and entertaining website, and, whilst there, have a read of my post:

Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable: A Guest Post by DM Denton | The Seventeenth Century Lady.

Most of the readers of The Seventeenth Century Lady are not only fans of 17th-century history, but also of the Baroque music of that time. It is therefore my pleasure to have DM Denton here with a guest post about Alessandro Stradella – a commonly (and sadly!) overlooked composer of wonderful Italian Baroque music.

In June of 2002 I found myself expectantly listening to the music of Alessandro Stradella and an engaging encapsulation of his story replete with romance and intrigue, triumph and tragedy, like an opera drawing on the divinity and failings of gods and men. I live in Western New York with access to Canadian TV and radio broadcasts, and in those days, while commuting to work, I often tuned into a fascinating program on CBC Radio 2 called In the Shadow, which highlighted the lives and works of musicians and composers who had been largely ignored or forgotten. That morning the host Tom Allen featured a certain 17th century Italian maestro.

Read entire guest post at The Seventeenth Century Lady …

 

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The azalea flower was suggestive of the new lodger, with a passion for color itself, spraying out from its dramatic center like a cat’s whiskers for effect and purpose, rising stealthily through the shade to reach for the wind as much as the sun. After a nap and persuading her grandmother to try a little broth, Donatella spent the afternoon where buzzing wisteria and honeysuckle blurred the angles of walls also stepping up with budding hibiscus and geraniums to larger terracotta pots of bay and lemon trees surrounding a sunny plateau. A city sky was more available there than in the street, flat baskets drying basil, a rusty ironwork table and several chairs reminding how lunch or supper used to be taken for granted.

***

“There you are. What a mess those trees made here” Her aunt was predictable.

“They should be cut down.”

“No.”

“Well, any overhanging branches at least. But if you keep the path neater I won’t think about it.”

When Despina had gone inside Donatella fetched the broom from the shed near the steps leading down to the cellar.

“Instead you could find me a flower.” Signor Stradella proved he was a master of near misses as well as melody. “A return is a sort of encore and needs ornamento.”

He had grown taller until Donatella realized it was the styling of his wig, the straight length of his blue velvet coat and buttoned vest, his legs posed in barely a glimpse of tasseled breeches but mostly unwrinkled hose of burnished gold, daring heels on his shoes. His positioning with one hand on his hip and the other in mid-air made him look like a funzionario claiming importance, but his pronouncement was a smile anyone would easily agree to.

“So what do you think?” he saw her choice before she made it. “Ah. Perfetto. The colore of the heart.”

His ballooning sleeves twisted an azalea cluster into an also cumbersome cravat. All that creamy lace cascading down his breast accented by the bursting red of his heart was so pretentious she quietly laughed.

He did too, showing his teeth as he probably wouldn’t in the company he was returning to, although there was a sense he didn’t intend to live longer with them in mind. Or maybe it was just the truth when he said, “Così, there’s no cause to flatter you.”

She was offended and relieved, all further exchanges between them decided. He moved through the garden with the flirtatious restlessness of a butterfly.

from A House Near Luccoli

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Illustration by DM Denton Copyright 2015

Thank you for taking the time to visit and read (and listen!)

Can it be four years already? 2 in 1 Book Giveaway!

To celebrate the fourth anniversary of the publication by All Things That Matter Press of my historical fiction A House Near LuccoliI’m running a Goodreads Giveaway!

This giveaway is for two signed copies—actually, each winner will receive two in one! Whoever wins this giveaway will also be sent a signed copy of the sequel, To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

goodreads-giveaway-sept-oct-2016-pptx-alt

 

Front with Spine and Tilted_pe croppedWhen Alessandro Stradella, the feted Baroque composer, takes up residence in her house, Donatella is drawn to him like a moth to a flame. The minuet of their attraction will keep you reading from the first page to the last. Full of lovely lyrical prose, ‘A House Near Luccoli’ gently transports the reader to 17th century Genoa, Italy to hear the exquisite music, smell the gardens, taste the food and wine, feel the summer heat, see the sunshine glittering on the ocean and the musical notes being carefully transcribed.

Casee Marie Clow, Literary Inklings ‘says’: A House Near Luccoli is as charmingly crafted as Stradella’s compositions, often mirroring their power, beauty, and delicate intricacy. It’s a novel at once intimate and expansive, quickly ushering the reader into the vivid 17th century world of Stradella and exposing the history of a lesser-known genius while enfolding them in a fictitious story of romance, friendship, art, and intrigue. ~

Front and Spine Tilted_pe croppedIn To A Strange Somewhere Fled, after the sudden end to her collaboration with composer Alessandro Stradella, Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents in a small village in Oxfordshire, England. The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets, and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey. Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons, will she rise out of grief and aimlessness? Her father’s friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, who are important figures in the court of Charles II, offers new possibilities, especially as music and its masters ~ including the ‘divine’ Henry Purcell ~ have not finished with her yet.

The Historical Novel Society ‘says’: Music and passionate lyricism inform this book. Denton’s style of writing is poetic and musical itself … the book lingers in the mind like some elusive and beautiful tune heard through open windows on a summer’s day. Denton’s deep understanding and love for the music and musicians of this era are evident on every page and transport the reader. Lovers of poetry and music will enjoy this excursion to Baroque England …

What have you got to lose? If you belong to Goodreads, enter now!
If you don’t, join now (it’s free) and enter immediately after!

Good Luck!

 

To A Strange Somewhere Fled – “Irrevocable in its magic & intrepid in its storytelling”

The reviews have been coming in for To A Strange Somewhere Fled, sequel to A House Near Luccoli! See many of them here.

Thank you to all who have read and are planning to read it. If you have not yet purchased it, I hope the very favorable reviews will be an enticement for you to do so.

Thank you to Casee Marie of Literary Inklings for this BEAUTIFULLY expressed, generous, in-depth, and insightful response to the novel. I feel like she has looked into and validated my soul. You can read the review below, but I strongly urge you to follow the link to Literary Inklings, a showcase for the grace and excellence Casee puts into everything she does, and her dedication and contribution to the promotion of authors and their work, even mostly unknown ones like me!

To a Strange Somewhere Fled by D.M. Denton

Review © Casee Marie, originally published on LiteraryInklings.com.

The Seventeenth Century Lady – Guest Post by DM Denton

Thank you to Andrea Zuvich for hosting me on her beautiful site The Seventeenth Century Lady. Andrea has long recognized the excellence of the music of Alessandro Stradella, who is, of course, the focus of my novel A House Near Luccoli and, hauntingly, its sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

I hope thou will take a few minutes for a little time travel and indulge thyself with a visit to this beautifully designed, intelligent, and entertaining website, and, whilst there, have a read of my post:

Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable: A Guest Post by DM Denton | The Seventeenth Century Lady.

Most of the readers of The Seventeenth Century Lady are not only fans of 17th-century history, but also of the Baroque music of that time. It is therefore my pleasure to have DM Denton here with a guest post about Alessandro Stradella – a commonly (and sadly!) overlooked composer of wonderful Italian Baroque music. Alessandro Stradella: Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven,… Read more

 

 

 

Happy Spring Equinox!

Book Release Day of To A Strange Somewhere Fled

Reading a book is like re-writing it for yourself. You bring to a novel, anything you read, all your experience of the world. You bring your history and you read it in your own terms. ~ Angela Carter (1940 – 1992, English novelist and journalist)

I must express my appreciation to the readers of A House Near Luccoli who believed in my interpretation of the inimitable 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella, his world, music, associates, and the place of a fictional character like Donatella in a crucial part of his story. You encouraged me to continue with the sequel I had begun before A House Near Luccoli’s publication in 2012.

Thank you to Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books, and authors Mary Clark and Steve Lindahl for their time and interest in reading and reviewing To A Strange Somewhere Fled before its publication (their reviews are included in the book).

And to my excellent editor Deb Harris who along with Phil Harris, form my very special publisher All Things That Matter Press and have been so generous with their expertise and faith in my literary worth.

And, once again and forever, I must express my heartfelt gratitude to my mom June who has always practically, honestly and lovingly supported my writing aspirations.

The celebration is two fold,
as today is my lovely mom’s birthday!

All Things That Matter Release Announcement

To A Strange Somewhere Fled

NEW RELEASE!

Authored by DM Denton

After the sudden end to her collaboration with composer Alessandro Stradella,
Donatella moves from Genoa to join her parents in a small village in Oxfordshire, England.

The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets, and an irrepressible spirit have stowed away on her journey.

Haunted by whispers and visions, angels and demons, will she rise out of grief and aimlessness? Her father’s friendship with the residents of Wroxton Abbey, who are
important figures in the court of Charles II, offers new possibilities, especially as music and its masters ~ including the ‘divine’ Henry Purcell ~ have not finished with her yet.

About the author:
Writer and artist D.M. (Diane) Denton, a native of Western New York, is inspired by music, art, nature, and the contradictions of the human and creative spirit. Through observation and study, truth and imagination, she loves to wander into the past to discover stories of interest and meaning for the present, writing from her love of language, the nuances of story-telling, and the belief that what is left unsaid is the most affecting of all.

Her educational journey took her to a dream-fulfilling semester at Wroxton College, England, and she remained in the UK for sixteen years surrounded by the quaint villages, beautiful hills, woods and fields of the Oxfordshire countryside, and all kinds of colorful characters. This turned out to be a life-changing experience that continues to resonate in her life to this day.

She returned to the US and Western New York in 1990, and has since resided in a cozy log cabin with her mother and a multitude of cats. Her day jobs have been in retail, manufacturing, media and career consulting, and as a volunteer coordinator for Western New York Public Broadcasting. She is currently secretary for the Zoning and Codes administration in the town where she lives. In addition to writing, music and art, she is passionate about nurturing nature and a consciousness for a more compassionate, inclusive and peaceful world.

Please visit her website, http://www.dmdenton-author-artist.com, and blog,https://bardessdmdenton.wordpress.com where you can contact her. Also, find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google Plus.

BUY NOWhttp://www.amazon.com/Strange-Somewhere-Fled-DM-Denton/dp/0990715868/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1425986827&sr=1-1&keywords=to+a+strange+somewhere+fled

The Novel is now available in Print and Kindle Editions from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. I’ve noticed that the Paperback and Kindle editions are still listed on separate pages – I guess it takes a while for amazon to merge all the formats onto one page.

It may take a little longer for its availability on amazon.com throughout Europe and as a NOOK Book at barnesandnoble.com.

Two Five Star Reviews!

Just to go along with my last post, I want to share a couple of reviews I just received for A House Near Luccoli.

A House Near Luccoli Poster for blog etc

The first is from Lauren Scott, who is a wonderful inspiring poet, who writes from the heart. Thank you so much, Lauren!

I follow Author DM Denton on her blog, so I’m very familiar with her beautiful and poetic writing. Reading A House Near Luccoli was a
romantic and lovely experience. I wasn’t knowledgeable of Alessandro Stradella, but reading this wonderful book gave me a clear window into
his life. What remarkable visuals DM Denton paints with her words, taking us back to the 17th century. Not only was the story compelling, reading of the
the relationship between Stradella and Donatella, but her book was also an interesting cultural experience. If you’re looking for a book
that you simply can’t put down, then I highly recommend this historical novel, A House Near Luccoli.

Here is Lauren’s review at barnesandnoble.com.

Visit Lauren’s beautiful poetry blog: lscottsthoughts. She has a poetry book coming out very soon!

The second review is from Sam, who is a Goodreads Librarian and lives in the UK (Wales). She won a paperback copy of the novel in the last Goodreads giveaway contest I ran. Thank you so much Sam!

A House Near Luccoli is a poetic and thought-provoking historical novel. At times joyous, at others melancholy, it tells the story of Donatella, when the composer Alessandro Stradella moves into the house she shares with her aunt and bed-ridden grandmother. Stradella takes over the top floor and soon becomes a central part of Donatella’s life.

The book is not a long one, but it’s not a fast read. There is so much detail in virtually every sentence that it’s something to linger over and savour. I often found myself rereading passages just to be sure I’d caught every last nuance.

The book is set in late seventeenth century Genoa, and the descriptions of the house, the city as a whole, and some of the places within it are a delight to read. You get a real sense of the place and the people who lived there, and can join Donatella on one of her rare trips out of the house, experiencing what she does along the way.

The characters are exquisitely painted. Alessandro Stradella himself was a real person, a composer who has all but been forgotten today, but who was the equivalent of a rock star in his time. His life was quite the scandal at times, and he moved around Italy to escape those scandals, finally ending up in Genoa in his middle age. There are hints of his past in some of the stories and references made to happenings in other cities, but Genoa seems to have accepted him, and he composes, conducts and performs his music in a variety of settings. His character was certainly fascinating enough that I’m going to find out a bit more about the real man, and listen to some of his music.

Donatella is a lovely, loving woman. She clearly adores her grandmother, Nonna, who was an opera singer when she was younger. Although Nonna never leaves her bed, she comes to life through her conversation. It is Nonna who persuades Donatella to become a copyist for Stradella, although Donatella’s aunt, Despina, is bound to disapprove. The three women are a wonderful contrast. Nonna pushes at the boundaries of respectability. Donatella, who is in her thirties, has resigned herself to being unmarried and has settled into a drab existence revolving around her home, although she does have occasional flashes of rebellion. Despina is strict, disapproving of many things, and anxious to maintain propriety at all times. Add the flamboyant Stradella and his disrespectful manservant to the household, along with the ladies’ housemaid and the cook, and a few supporting characters, and the whole becomes a wonderful contrast of characterisation.

This was a truly beautiful story and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. The combination of period and location was one I wasn’t particularly familiar with, and it was a joy to read of a place and time that were unknown to me before.

This book was won in a Goodreads giveaway. My thanks to the author for making it available, and for posting it all the way over here, and for the thoughtful inclusion of two beautiful bookmarks and a card—thanks D.M.! The author has no input to, or preview of, this review.

Here is Sam’s review at Goodreads.

It means so much to have one’s writing appreciated and understood, as I know many of you feel.

Hope everyone is enjoying the start of autumn. We are having a spell of beautiful bright sunny days and crisp nights. Blessings!

Autumn Crocus Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Autumn Crocus
Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

img002©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.

New Review

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

I know … yet another self-promotion. But I had to share this beautifully written and satisfying review of A House Near Luccoli on Goodreads by Barbara Rodgers.

Review of
A House Near Luccoli

4 of 5 stars false

November 11, 2012

“She might have found comfort in making the most of it, like her cats sharing the day’s last sunlight, one small splash from the sea’s horizon to the edge of the carpet’s shore.”

A House Near Luccoli is full of such lovely and lyrical prose which gently transports the reader to 17th century Genoa, Italy.  Taking in the author’s wonderful words, one can almost smell the gardens and sachets, taste the food and wine, feel the summer heat, see the musical notes being carefully transcribed, the sunshine glittering on the ocean, and hear the exquisite music.  About a year ago we went to a concert, The Passion of the Italian Baroque, at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and heard beautiful performances with various combinations of the viol, violin, violone, recorder, flute, two oboes, cello, and three harpsichords.  And a soprano sang along on a couple of pieces.  Memories of the sound of that baroque music made reading the story of the colorful composer Alessandro Stradella and the restless Donatella all the more vivid in my mind.

Thank you, Barbara!

Please visit Barbara’s beautiful blog, “By the Sea’.