An Opera—of all things!

A while ago when I was searching for a poetic, suspenseful, action-packed play to put on I came across exactly what I was after. It was a play that Oscar Wilde had bequeathed to this "contemptible" world, but that was, alas, unfinished. As I hate to see good things go down incomplete—a play or a person—I finished the thing and in due time I put it on. (Now it's playable and in print and anybody with guts to spare can stage it. You can read the preface I wrote and download the first few pages by clicking here.)

Time passed and an idea waltzed into my mind. You know how a poem sometimes seems to yearn for a tune to go with it and lo, there's a song. Or sometimes a comedy wants a bit of music and there you have a musical. And sometimes a tragedy cries out to be—an opera! Well, this play, A Florentine Tragedy, should be an opera! It's got illicit love, lovers from different levels of society, lust, suspicion, suspense, violence, death. Opera, opera, I tell you. Like Oscar's Salome that Strauss operasized. Now what do I know about opera? What I know about opera I experienced at our family's Sunday dinners back in Brooklyn. And grand opera it was. So who is out there that can turn this Renaissance tragedy into an opera?

Ah, Nino Pantano! He used to be known as "The Boy Caruso." He used to sing all over the neighborhood. So I approached him but he said he couldn't do it... but he maybe might know somebody... And when I met Philip Salter at the Rhode Island train station with his attache case and weighty walk and high seriousness, and I observed how he devoured the load of sphaghetti and meatballs my wannabe Italian wife spread before him, I knew he was the man for the task.

Now here it is—two maybe three years later—Philip (who is half Italian, thank God) shows up out of the blue with a recording of some of his orchestration—done for piano and string quartet—with a promise of voice recordings soon to follow. Wow! Give a listen.

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