The Cat and the Fiddle: In the Spirit of ‘Carnevale’

Carnival occurs before the liturgical season of Lent. The main events typically occur during February or early March, during the period historically known as Shrovetide (or Pre-Lent).

Carnevale di Venezia 2017 runs February 11th through February 28th. Click here for a list of for top 10 Italian towns that celebrate carnival.

“Life will show you masks that are worth all your carnivals”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

This week I go to Genoa, invited by some gentlemen of that city, where I will spend carnival …
from a letter Alessandro Stradella, protagonist of my novel A House Near Luccoli, wrote to Polo Michiel (one of his patrons), dated Turin, 16 December, 1677

117305

It was actually a few weeks later that one of the most legendary, talented, and yet long undervalued Baroque composers arrived in Genoa, highly welcomed despite the scandals and even crimes that forced him to flee Rome, Venice and Turin. It would be where he would not only spend Carnevale 1678, but also make his home and more masterpieces and messes for the next four years.

View+of+Genoa0003fb (2)

Old Painting of Genoa

I arrived in Genoa safe and sound already last week, where I was favored by many gentlemen who vied to have me in their homes … And from the moment of my arrival till now, I have always had to spend my time with ladies and gentlemen, all greatly interested in me, and actually they favour me with so many kindnesses and so much applause that I do not know what more I could desire, and in every way they show very great pleasure in my inadequate talent.
stradellwide~ from a letter Alessandro Stradella wrote to
Polo Michiel, dated Genoa, 8 January 1678

 

According to the Christian calendar, Carnevale occurs between January 6th (Epiphany/Three Kings Day) and the day before Ash Wednesday. Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday) is the final and often most excessive festival of Carnevale—a last opportunity to make merry and even immoral before Lenten prohibitions.

The Italian carnival that usually comes to mind has taken place in Venice since the eleventh century. In the seventeenth century these “Baroque celebrations” were “a way to save the prestigious image of Venice in the world” (Wikipedia), and it became even more popular and licentious in the 1700s until outlawed in 1797 when Venice was ruled by the King of Austria who also forbade the wearing of masks at any time. It reappeared during the nineteenth century, primarily for private celebrations and artistic expression. Carnevale di Venezia was revived in 1979 as an annual cultural event pronouncing Venice as even more magical and surreal with actors, acrobats, musicians, residents and visitors disguised in extravagant masks and costumes while enjoying themselves to the extreme.

Old Illustration of Carnival in Venice. Created by Janet-Lange

Carnevale found popularity in the city of Rome in the seventeenth century, a rider-less horse race down the Via del Corso eventually abandoned for slightly less dangerous activities. Viareggio a city on the Ligurian Sea is known for putting on one of the longest celebration, holding parades with elaborate floats.

Carnevale is about being there,” the face of the disguise was surprisingly soft against hers, its ribbons tied at the back of her head, “as anyone but yourself.”
~ A House Near Luccoli

To this day every town in Italy, even the smallest, has its Carnevale parade along with dancing, masquerading and feasting.

Traditionally, Carnevale offered the opportunity for role reversals: between men and women, nobility and commoners. A key element was the class hierarchy set upside-down, so those that normally didn’t have power might temporarily take on the identities of those that did.

Pierrot was at his own pace ahead. Alessandro never expected his servant to behave dutifully and wouldn’t have enjoyed him as much if he had, making fun and opportunity of his negligence.

“Hey, Maestro. I’m higher than you.” Golone’s voice was victorious at the top of the tower Alessandro had failed to conquer.

 “Yet I have farther to fall.”

~ A House Near Luccoli

There are a few theories on where the name Carnevale originated, the most popular put to verse by Lord Bryon:

This feast is named the Carnival, which being
Interpreted, implies “farewell to flesh”:
So call’d, because the name and thing agreeing,
Through Lent they live on fish, both salt and fresh. 

With roots in the Latin phrase carnem levare, “put away flesh” (carnem: flesh – levare: put away), the name evolved into carnelevare in Old Italian, then carnelevale, then carnevale, and, finally, carne, vale!—“Farewell, meat!”— appropriately referencing the Catholic tradition of giving up meat-eating from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

The origins of Carnevale itself can be traced to ancient pagan rites involving face and body painting for dancing and chanting in honor of the transition from winter to spring. The Egyptians enjoyed similar revelries held in honor of Isis. In Italy Carnevale hearkens back to the practices of the ancient Greeks in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, and the Roman Empire’s homage of Saturn, the god of agriculture and the harvest. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church’s attempts to eradicate the festival were unsuccessful and, eventually, it was assimilated into the Christian calendar as a last celebration before Lent. To this day, many local customs are based on pre-Christian rituals as well as medieval folk culture.

They might have flown down to the street, trailing the parade less and less distinct from the crowd swollen like a woman with child who couldn’t avoid shame whether legitimate or not. Suddenly Alessandro’s handling of street songs in his confident tenor drew more attention and applause.

“Sing. As I know you can,” he demanded of her.

She couldn’t refuse him anything, not even the embarrassment of singing in the midst of more people than she had seen in her entire life. There was nothing familiar about the songs everyone else seemed to know, the dialect one she had rarely heard and barely understood.

Bravo my gattino.” Alessandro’s carnival face leaned close to hers.

Before she could be pleased he gave into his proclivity for trying to seduce all the ladies open to him, which seemed to be the youngest and prettiest, although painted masks, high feathers, and low dresses might have made them more attractive than they were. It was amazing she didn’t lose him there and then, the surge even more chaotic on its way back towards the ducal palace and into its square that embraced everyone and anyone on Martedi Grasso
~ A House Near Luccoli

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, many Italian cities had a tradition of mask-wearing, enabling questionable behavior among those needing to protect their reputations, laws passed to restrict masquerading to certain times of the year like Carnevale. Besides serving as subterfuge for inquisitors, spies, high officials and nobility who couldn’t resist behaving badly, donning masks presented an opportunity for covert defiance by those on the lower levels of society.

Art Comedia

Commedia dell’ Arte: Improvisational Theatre

The Commedia dell’ Arte masks were popular from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, traveling troupes setting up a stage to perform improvisational plays that touched upon political and social issues, often by satirizing the human frailties of adultery, jealousy, old age, and love. The masks used in these performances have become part of the Carnevale tradition.

Bravo! Bravo! All the city is a stage.” He directed common chaos with more investment than a cantata, enjoying the artlessness in the strumming, plucking, piping and cranking, banging on pots, and singing from throats. He was even more excited by jugglers, acrobats, stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, monkeys, magicians, pickpockets, and pimps keeping a close eye on their harlots but also virgins with crowns and bouquets of flowers.

 arlecchino

capitano

pierrot

pulcinella

zanni

dottore-peste

Nothing personified the spirit of Carnevale more than the Commedia dell’Arte characters of Pulcinella, Zanni, and Arlechino like puppets on strings.

“I should’ve brought my violino. Then we would be the cat and the fiddle.”
~ A House Near Luccoli

 

blue_cat_mask

She was like a cat that had fallen from an open window, suddenly finding herself where she both longed and was afraid to be, feeling the hardness of pavement and softness of air. Alessandro insisted she put on her mask again.

“And practice on the way.”

“Practice what?”

“Walking like a cat, purring like a cat.

“Really.” She wasn’t averse to doing so. “I’ve never seen a blue one.”

“You’ll see others turning green.”

Although her face was immovable and pale, she couldn’t hide her pleasure.

“All that’s left is for you to rub against my legs.” Alessandro was all in white, as if he had absorbed winter from his hat like a boat with one wind-torn sail to frill topped hose and overly flapped boots. He was wimpled in lacy layers to his shoulders, tightly short coated and cavalier, out of fashion but not style, laddered rows of braid with buttons unfastened to the shine of his shirt also showing through gaping slashes on his sleeves. It would have been a perfect disguise but for the distinctiveness of his stride and attitude of his head exaggerated by a duckbill mask, the shine of his lower lip appearing when his expressive, unmistakable voice did.
~ A House Near Luccoli

venice-carnival-history-masks-auto-europe

There is a saying:

A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale.”

“Anything goes at Carnival.”

Carnevale is a time for letting down one’s guard, for mischief and pranks, for Fare uno scherzo (pull a joke on someone). In A House Near Luccoli, the reckless composer Alessandro Stradella discovers that even in disguise during the playful mania of Martedi Grasso, ridiculing the wrong person creates consequences.

Command as much as invitation hurried them across a marbled floor and up a double staircase, at the top a privileged and premeditated Carnevale custom-made in the finest fabricated layers, cock feathers and conceit sweeping and strutting and posing. The loggias were crowded with an entitled few increased by association. Shamelessness was bulging and dazzling, hedonism heightened and ambivalent in hair and shoes and sexuality, thin laughter and heavy scents. Music was a background to drinking and talking and dancing. There were even more daring activities in public rooms where heads lifted, shoulders turned, masks stared gorgeous and grotesque; a sense all the underhandedness of the city was there.
~ A House Near Luccoli

 carnevale-Copia-744x445

 

Wander through this brief moment in Italian Baroque musical history and let the author and Alessandro Stradella, Donatella, and a whole host of wonderful characters give you the “spirit of Carnevale“.
~  Martin Shone, author of Silence Happens and Being Human: Little Thoughts of Love, Nature, Peace, Freedom, and Love

january-2-17-violin-and-stradella-cameo-image-jpg-with-text-1

 

It doesn’t end there!
The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets,
and an irrepressible spirit
stow away on Donatella’s journey
To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

abbey-front-with-gamba-purcell-image-with-books-and-texture-jpg-with-picmonkey-text-2 

donatellasmallest© 2017 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.

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The Cat and the Fiddle: In the Spirit of ‘Carnevale’

“Life will show you masks that are worth all your carnivals”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

This week I go to Genoa, invited by some gentlemen of that city, where I will spend carnival …
from a letter Alessandro Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel (one of his patrons), dated Turin, 16 December, 1677

117305

It was actually a few weeks later that one of the most legendary, talented, and yet long undervalued Baroque composers arrived in Genoa, highly welcomed despite the scandals and even crimes that forced him to flee Rome, Venice and Turin. It would be where he would not only spend Carnevale 1678, but also make his home and more masterpieces and messes for the next four years.

View+of+Genoa0003fb (2)

Old Painting of Genoa

I arrived in Genoa safe and sound already last week, where I was favored by many gentlemen who vied to have me in their homes … And from the moment of my arrival till now, I have always had to spend my time with ladies and gentlemen, all greatly interested in me, and actually they favour me with so many kindnesses and so much applause that I do not know what more I could desire, and in every way they show very great pleasure in my inadequate talent.
stradellwide~ from a letter Alessandro Stradella wrote to
Polo Michiel, dated Genoa, 8 January 1678

 

According to the Christian calendar, Carnevale occurs between January 6th (Epiphany/Three Kings Day) and the day before Ash Wednesday. Martedi Grasso (Fat Tuesday) is the final and often most excessive festival of Carnevale—a last opportunity to make merry and even immoral before Lenten prohibitions.

The Italian carnival that usually comes to mind has taken place in Venice since the eleventh century. In the seventeenth century these “Baroque celebrations” were “a way to save the prestigious image of Venice in the world” (Wikipedia), and it became even more popular and licentious in the 1700s until outlawed in 1797 when Venice was ruled by the King of Austria who also forbade the wearing of masks at any time. It reappeared during the nineteenth century, primarily for private celebrations and artistic expression. Carnevale di Venezia was revived in 1979 as an annual cultural event pronouncing Venice as even more magical and surreal with actors, acrobats, musicians, residents and visitors disguised in extravagant masks and costumes while enjoying themselves to the extreme.

Old Illustration of Carnival in Venice. Created by Janet-Lange

Carnevale found popularity in the city of Rome in the seventeenth century, a rider-less horse race down the Via del Corso eventually abandoned for slightly less dangerous activities. Viareggio a city on the Ligurian Sea is known for putting on one of the longest celebration, holding parades with elaborate floats.

Carnevale is about being there,” the face of the disguise was surprisingly soft against hers, its ribbons tied at the back of her head, “as anyone but yourself.”
~ A House Near Luccoli

To this day every town in Italy, even the smallest, has its Carnevale parade along with dancing, masquerading and feasting.

Traditionally, Carnevale offered the opportunity for role reversals: between men and women, nobility and commoners. A key element was the class hierarchy set upside-down, so those that normally didn’t have power might temporarily take on the identities of those that did.

Pierrot was at his own pace ahead. Alessandro never expected his servant to behave dutifully and wouldn’t have enjoyed him as much if he had, making fun and opportunity of his negligence.

“Hey, Maestro. I’m higher than you.” Golone’s voice was victorious at the top of the tower Alessandro had failed to conquer.

 “Yet I have farther to fall.”

~ A House Near Luccoli

There are a few theories on where the name Carnevale originated, the most popular put to verse by Lord Bryon:

This feast is named the Carnival, which being
Interpreted, implies “farewell to flesh”:
So call’d, because the name and thing agreeing,
Through Lent they live on fish, both salt and fresh. 

With roots in the Latin phrase carnem levare, “put away flesh” (carnem: flesh – levare: put away), the name evolved into carnelevare in Old Italian, then carnelevale, then carnevale, and, finally, carne, vale!—“Farewell, meat!”— appropriately referencing the Catholic tradition of giving up meat-eating from Ash Wednesday to Easter.

The origins of Carnevale itself can be traced to ancient pagan rites involving face and body painting for dancing and chanting in honor of the transition from winter to spring. The Egyptians enjoyed similar revelries held in honor of Isis. In Italy Carnevale hearkens back to the practices of the ancient Greeks in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine, and the Roman Empire’s homage of Saturn, the god of agriculture and the harvest. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church’s attempts to eradicate the festival were unsuccessful and, eventually, it was assimilated into the Christian calendar as a last celebration before Lent. To this day, many local customs are based on pre-Christian rituals as well as medieval folk culture.

They might have flown down to the street, trailing the parade less and less distinct from the crowd swollen like a woman with child who couldn’t avoid shame whether legitimate or not. Suddenly Alessandro’s handling of street songs in his confident tenor drew more attention and applause.

“Sing. As I know you can.” he demanded of her.

She couldn’t refuse him anything, not even the embarrassment of singing in the midst of more people than she had seen in her entire life. There was nothing familiar about the songs everyone else seemed to know, the dialect one she had rarely heard and barely understood.

Bravo my gattino.” Alessandro’s carnival face leaned close to hers.

Before she could be pleased he gave into his proclivity for trying to seduce all the ladies open to him, which seemed to be the youngest and prettiest, although painted masks, high feathers, and low dresses might have made them more attractive than they were. It was amazing she didn’t lose him there and then, the surge even more chaotic on its way back towards the ducal palace and into its square that embraced everyone and anyone on Martedi Grasso
~ A House Near Luccoli

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, many Italian cities had a tradition of mask-wearing, enabling questionable behavior among those needing to protect their reputations, laws passed to restrict masquerading to certain times of the year like Carnevale. Besides serving as subterfuge for inquisitors, spies, high officials and nobility who couldn’t resist behaving badly, donning masks presented an opportunity for covert defiance by those on the lower levels of society.

Art Comedia

Commedia dell’ Arte: Improvisational Theatre

The Commedia dell’ Arte masks were popular from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, traveling troupes setting up a stage to perform improvisational plays that touched upon political and social issues, often by satirizing the human frailties of adultery, jealousy, old age, and love. The masks used in these performances have become part of the Carnevale tradition.

Bravo! Bravo! All the city is a stage.” He directed common chaos with more investment than a cantata, enjoying the artlessness in the strumming, plucking, piping and cranking, banging on pots, and singing from throats. He was even more excited by jugglers, acrobats, stilt-walkers, fire-eaters, monkeys, magicians, pickpockets, and pimps keeping a close eye on their harlots but also virgins with crowns and bouquets of flowers.

 arlecchino

capitano

pierrot

pulcinella

zanni

dottore-peste

Nothing personified the spirit of Carnevale more than the Commedia dell’Arte characters of Pulcinella, Zanni, and Arlechino like puppets on strings.

“I should’ve brought my violino. Then we would be the cat and the fiddle.”
~ A House Near Luccoli

 

blue_cat_mask

She was like a cat that had fallen from an open window, suddenly finding herself where she both longed and was afraid to be, feeling the hardness of pavement and softness of air. Alessandro insisted she put on her mask again.

“And practice on the way.”

“Practice what?”

“Walking like a cat, purring like a cat.

“Really.” She wasn’t averse to doing so. “I’ve never seen a blue one.”

“You’ll see others turning green.”

Although her face was immovable and pale, she couldn’t hide her pleasure.

“All that’s left is for you to rub against my legs.” Alessandro was all in white, as if he had absorbed winter from his hat like a boat with one wind-torn sail to frill topped hose and overly flapped boots. He was wimpled in lacy layers to his shoulders, tightly short coated and cavalier, out of fashion but not style, laddered rows of braid with buttons unfastened to the shine of his shirt also showing through gaping slashes on his sleeves. It would have been a perfect disguise but for the distinctiveness of his stride and attitude of his head exaggerated by a duckbill mask, the shine of his lower lip appearing when his expressive, unmistakable voice did.
~ A House Near Luccoli

venice-carnival-history-masks-auto-europe

There is a saying:

A Carnevale ogni scherzo vale.”

“Anything goes at Carnival.”

Carnevale is a time for letting down one’s guard, for mischief and pranks, for Fare uno scherzo (pull a joke on someone). In A House Near Luccoli, the reckless composer Alessandro Stradella discovers that even in disguise during the playful mania of Martedi Grasso, ridiculing the wrong person creates consequences.

Command as much as invitation hurried them across a marbled floor and up a double staircase, at the top a privileged and premeditated Carnevale custom-made in the finest fabricated layers, cock feathers and conceit sweeping and strutting and posing. The loggias were crowded with an entitled few increased by association. Shamelessness was bulging and dazzling, hedonism heightened and ambivalent in hair and shoes and sexuality, thin laughter and heavy scents. Music was a background to drinking and talking and dancing. There were even more daring activities in public rooms where heads lifted, shoulders turned, masks stared gorgeous and grotesque; a sense all the underhandedness of the city was there.
~ A House Near Luccoli

 carnevale-Copia-744x445

 

Wander through this brief moment in Italian Baroque musical history and let the author and Alessandro Stradella, Donatella, and a whole host of wonderful characters give you the “spirit of Carnevale“.
~  Martin Shone, author of Silence Happens and Being Human: Little Thoughts of Love, Nature, Peace, Freedom, and Love

 

Three Books with Genoa and Water with text a

It doesn’t end there!
The gift of a sonnet, ‘stolen’ music, inexpressible secrets,
and an irrepressible spirit
stow away on Donatella’s journey
To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

 

donatellasmallest© 2016 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.

Beribboned in Sapphire, Trimmed in Bronze

February 17, 2015 is Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) of Carnevalea final celebration before Ash Wednesday and Lent.

It’s the main day of Carnival … The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea. Ivrea has the characteristic “Battle of Oranges” that finds its roots in medieval times. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, having its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia.
~ Wikipedia

For those of you who have read my historical fiction A House Near Luccoli, you will know that Martedi Grasso offers some pivotal scenes. Although the novel begins a few years after the 17th century composer Alessandro Stradella‘s arrival in Genoa, Carnevale was initially his reason for going (well, there might have been one or two other reasons …) and then he was encouraged to stay.

This week I go to Genoa, invited by some gentlemen of that city, where I will spend carnival …
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel (one of his patrons), dated Turin, 16 December, 1677

I arrived in Genoa safe and sound already last week, where I was favored by many gentlemen who vied to have me in their homes … And from the moment of my arrival till now, I have always had to spend my time with ladies and gentlemen, all greatly interested in me, and actually they favour me with so many kindnesses and so much applause that I do not know what more I could desire, and in every way they show very great pleasure in my inadequate talent.
~ from a letter Stradella wrote to Polo Michiel, dated Genoa, 8 January 1678

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Copyright by DM Denton 2015

Sleep well tonight. She wished she had taken his advice, but she couldn’t stop looking at the explicitly elegant gown hanging on the wardrobe. Nonna would have enjoyed the sight. It was silk and pearl buttoned, curving and billowing white, beribboned in sapphire and trimmed in bronze. Also warm and cold, tight and loose, depending on what the weather and outcome would be. A few hours later she was like a cat that had fallen from an open window, suddenly finding herself where she both longed and was afraid to be, feeling the hardness of pavement and softness of air.

Alessandro insisted she put on her mask again. “And practice on the way.”

“Practice what?”

“Walking like a cat, purring like a cat.”

“Really.” She wasn’t averse to doing so. “I’ve never seen a blue one.”

“You’ll see others turning green.”

Although her face was immovable and pale, she couldn’t hide her pleasure.

“All that’s left is for you to rub against my legs.”

Alessandro was all in white, as if he had absorbed winter from his hat like a boat with one wind-torn sail to frill topped hose and overly flapped boots. He was wimpled in lacy layers to his shoulders, tightly short coated and cavalier, out of fashion but not style, laddered rows of braid with buttons unfastened to the shine of his shirt also showing through gaping slashes on his sleeves. It would have been a perfect disguise but for the distinctiveness of his stride and attitude of his head exaggerated by a duckbill mask, the shine of his lower lip appearing when his expressive, unmistakable voice did.
~ Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli

 

Wander through this brief moment in Italian Baroque musical history and let the author and Alessandro Stradella, Donatella, and a whole host of wonderful characters give you the “spirit of Carnevale”. ~ From a review by author Martin Shone.

Watch this space.

The sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled is coming VERY soon.

Hope all are well and those who are enduring
a long snowy frigid winter (as I am)
are keeping the faith that spring is on its way.

donatellasmallest©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.

As a Moth to a Flame

New 5 Star Review of my novel, A House Near Luccoli:

Full Cover ImageImagine yourself a woman caring for a beloved grandmother and under the thumb of a domineering aunt. Imagine yourself in Genoa in the late seventeenth century, a woman circumscribed by being a woman in an era when women’s single role was to get married and have children. One of the most reliable story plots begins like this: A stranger comes to town. And so begins Diane Denton’s novel. The stranger is Stradella, famed Baroque composer, a roue driven from other towns and settling here, in a house with three women and a sexy young servant. Which one will bed him? Will he seduce rich women and make himself persona non grata here as well? Or has he come her to make, not mischief, but music? Will the sound of that music spill down into the grandmother’s bedroom, a private concert, and will Stradella somehow come to know that Donatella, the thirtiesh spinster, is musically trained and could be of great help to her?

I love historical novels and any story that features a genius and the person who stands behind the genius: a muse, an amanuesis, a lover. Back in late seventeenth century Genoa, inevitably, that person would have been a woman. When Stradella, the feted Baroque composer, takes up residence in her house, Donatella is drawn to him as a moth to flame. The minuet of their attraction and our curiosity about whether the famous Stradella will recognize her gifts kept me reading from the first page to the last. The sentences in this poetic and evocative novel will echo long after you finish the story, but like poetry, you may find yourself slowing down to savor the whispers and stand, for just a minute, at the open window. If you like THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING (book or movie), you will love this book.

~ Marylee MacDonald, author of Montpelier Tomorrow and other publications.

Read review on Goodreads

Thank you, Marylee, for this beautifully written review!

Every day is one closer to the release of the sequel,

 To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

In the meantime, my imagination is my memory.

My writing moves forwards and backwards

to explore past lives,

Anne Brontë,

the nature of things,

and my endless love of cats …

 

donatellasmallest©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.

The Maiden’s Court – Author Interview with DM Denton

Thank you to Heather Rieseck who recently did an interview with me on her blog, The Maiden’s Court.

 

The questions:

1. The bio on your website indicates that the writing bug bit you in your childhood and then life happened.  What brought you back to writing in earnest?

2. What is the writing process like for you?  Are you a planner or a spontaneous writer?

Alessandro Stradella 1639-16823. In your novel, A House Near Luccoli, the composer Alessandro Stradella is your focal point.  I have never heard of this man before.  What can you tell us about him?  Why choose to write about him?

4. Is there a tidbit that didn’t make it into your novel that you would want to share with us?

5. Your novel is set in Genoa, Italy – have you ever had the chance to go to the area where your novel is set?

6. You are working on a sequel to A House Near Luccoli.  How is that process going?  Did you always intend for a sequel or was it something that developed organically?

 

I hope you will take a few moments to visit Heather’s blog and read my answers here!

 

And, if you haven’t already, please visit the page on this blog about the sequel, To A Strange Somewhere Fled, and scroll down for a form you can fill out and send to ensure you’re on the email list for notification of its release.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled Header with cover image circle-cropped resized

 

 

 Thank you all – new friends and old – for your visits, encouragement and support! It means so much to me.

donatellasmallest©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 tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.

In Sight of the Moon – Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli

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.

A House Near Luccoli Poster for blog etc

Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli – Chapter Fourteen

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.”

“Please, don’t.”

“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.”

“No.”

“If she wakes, you have an excuse.”

“I do?”

“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.

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.

donatellawquillunshaded©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.

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.