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.”


“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 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 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.

Musing Music for the Season

     Excerpt from my novel, A House Near Luccoli©

(Fictional performance of
Alessandro Stradella’s Christmas Cantata
Ah, Troppo è ver
at t
he church of Santa Maria Maddalena
Genoa, 24 December, 1681.)

     Travelers through her life had spoken of il Presepi Viventi* in Roma or Napoli, staged elaborately like an opera or simply when peasants gathered in a town or village marketplace. Santa Maria Maddalena displayed a nativity in front of its main altar,  still life figures in satiny marble, the holy family ignoring who had arrived once more to bow and marvel, offer gifts already given and point to unseen stars, donkey and sheep neither tethered nor free. Alessandro had the idea for Lidia to replace the stature of Mary, draped in white, her lovely hair tumbling from her veil to frame a tranquil expression the worshippers unaware of her breathing until the soprano had sung Sovrano Mio Bene. The priest finally agreed when he met the girl’s pale eyes, closed lips and immature body,  and she was willing–if she had a choice–because her humility would be on display as someone else’s. 
     Lidia played her part well, even as the church filling with the Christmas Eve congregation breezed through her costume. The altar tapers flickered,  smoke floating downwards to assist her performance and any concern that la prima soprano wasn’t the prettiest Alessandro had ever employed.
     For the Mass’ entrance procession violins dueled without contest in Sinfonia, the hunchback Lonati soloing unrecognizably with emotion and grace, Alessandro running off with the notes on obbligato harpsichord. His musical if not physical challenger inveigled him back with such fine expression it must be imitated, a perfect opportunity for Alessandro’s virtuosity with the ease of a hawk flying high and low and landing on a pause. Lonati let down his guard, his face gloomy and shoulders sinking. But after a few bars the duo matched their humors again, Lonati’s self-pitying relieved by Alessandro’s company, connecting their past differences for a chordal if short-term agreement.
     After the Liturgy of the Word the Cantata resumed, introducing the cast and their story. First the devil in protest and fury then the concertino per un angelo and concerto grosso with Alessandro taking the part of un pastore, Lonati’s strings only encouraging the thoughts of the tenor in arpeggios e adagios.
     The soprano at the heart of the performance also rose to the violin’s challenge, her breath strung along on Lonati’s long phrasing and jumping to follow Alessandro’s rapid handling of the keys. As always he enjoyed such alternation and certainly the success of Lidia lifting her head and la Gesùs Bambino from the crib. After the Blessing of the Sacrament, there was Communion and the mass’ last rituals, the congregation still on their knees, the madrigal singers standing first . Bells rang from the tower and interplay of their voices, envisioning and extolling. Belief was sustained in countering ways yet harmonization reached out through the nave and ascended the dome, proclaiming that at least for the life of such music heaven was within reach.

*Presepi Viventi–Living nativity. It is believed that the first living nativity  was the work of St Francis of Assisi, in 1223.

 Aria from “Ah! Troppo è ver” (1670-1676c.)

 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.