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September 14, 2015
Posted at 12:49 pm
 

Castaway - Chapters 7-8

Two more chapters today. They're both pretty important ones to the story. And reasonably long, too; but they kind of go together, so I decided to post both today.
Once again, the real-life comparison I said I'd try to draw between the voices I envisioned for my characters and actual opera singers: it should come as no surprise that I had Anna Moffo in mind when I wrote Camilla. Like Camilla, Moffo was a true lyric soprano; as for beauty, well, Moffo was of course a former beauty contestant-Miss America. I think it was, and I recall that she made it pretty deep into the pageant (though she wasn't a blonde). At the same time, Moffo's voice, while fine enough to get her to the Metropolitan Opera (and most of the other major houses around the world) wasn't quite tops, as I postulate for Camilla. For quality of voice I was thinking more along the lines of Renata Tebaldi, although Tebaldi was more of a spinto (a lyric soprano with echoes of the dramatic) and had little of the flexibility required to handle the coloratura aspects of, say, Gilda in Rigoletto or (as will be important later) Violetta in La Traviata. Still, her voice was a true glory. But Camilla is also a perfectionist in singing technique and characterization; for that I hark back to Maria Callas, although Callas' vocal quality wasn't up to Tebaldi's and Callas did full coloratura roles (with enormous success). So think of Camilla as kind of a hybrid of the three.
Madeleine's voice came from my remembrance of Birgit Nilssen; Nilssen's speaking voice, from what little I heard it, was also as described. Madeleine's avoirdupois (or a lot of it), temperament and predilections, however, are entirely my invention; I never heard (or saw) anything about Nilssen in these regards.
By the way, my description of the baritone roles in Turandot is accurate. Other than the annunciator mandarin, a role usually relegated (as in my story) to a comprimario because it's so brief and unimportant to the overall opera, and who doesn't normally get an Act I curtain call, the only other baritone is a court minister named Ping who consorts for the entire production with two other ministers, Pang and Pong, comprimario tenors. They do a lot of trios, and, while Ping is slightly more important to the opera than the others and is sometimes cast with a singer who also performs lead roles in other operas, the role is not sung by a top-tier baritone.
The end of Act I is as I wrote it. There's a legend that, in a production at Milan's La Scala, tenor Franco Corelli upped the ante on that climactic moment by actually running upstage to ring the gong, singing all the while-a truly remarkable feat, especially considering that the gong was up a short flight of stairs in that set. He didn't, at least in the one performance I saw, really take it quite that far; but I recall that he did move up those steps pretty briskly, if short of an all-out run. Most tenors need to take it more sedately.
For those who grow too impatient with my posting pace, the whole novel is available on Amazon, as I've mentioned before, for a very small price ($3), along with my other long fiction-some posted here, others not.
Lastly, responding to e-mails, yes, I know cats are ordinarily strict carnivores and don't generally ride on your shoulder while curling their tails around you (or parts of you). This particular cat, though, isn't your typical tabby, as you may have already deduced even if my description didn't clue you in.