A Night At The Opera…And Other Things

Photo by Prudence Upton

Photo by Prudence Upton

So I went to Melbourne for the long weekend. I went to see The Marriage Of Figaro, while the Hubby went to see Jeff Martin & The Tea Party. It was an eventful weekend, during which I managed to pull a muscle in my neck, sprain my ankle and wrist slightly at the opera, get uncomfortably sunburned….and then see the news, when stopping for lunch in a nearby Hungry Jacks (that’s Burger King for you Americans) that Paris had been attacked by terrorists. That led to a prolonged discussion through most of Sunday with the Hubby, about terrorism, muslims, Christians, and the state of the world. We disagree on quite a few things, and we both have slight difficulty in expressing our thoughts, so it proceeded in stops and starts as we collected our thoughts, came up with new arguments and insights, and went to church.

Since most of my thoughts regarding the situation are reasonably bleak and not at all fun (there are no winners in this kind of war), I’m instead going to concentrate upon the delightful, fun part of the visit.

That being the opera. It was three and a half hours of fun, zany story told in a delightful blending of voices that were as impressive as they were beautiful. Susanna is to marry Figaro. Figaro made a bad contract with Marcellina, who wants to marry Figaro and has the right to marry him. Count Almaviva is in lust with Susanna (and every other girl in the flamin’ castle). Countess Almaviva is in love with her husband, who needs repeated punching in the face with something hard and heavy. Cherubino is in (puppy) love with Countess Almaviva. Count Almaviva, in spite of chasing every woman in the castle (sensing a theme here?) is jealous of Countess Almaviva’s attention to Cherubino. Oh, and then there’s the little maid Barbarina, who is in love with Cherubino and also seems to be playing footsie with the Count.

Sounds confusing, yeah? Well, it wasn’t. Not really. It translates to the stage VERY well. I wasn’t confused for a moment and I loved every bit of it.

Basically, Susanna (the brains of the outfit) spends the opera trying to:

-Fix the count and the countess
-Avoid the count’s attentions
-Get the count’s permission to marry Figaro
-Marry Figaro before Marcellina can get to him
-Fix Cherubino’s romance/life

She is sometimes helped and sometimes hindered by Figaro, who she declares to have not enough wit, but who proves by the end of the opera to know a trick or two. Their romance left me feeling highly satisfied at the conclusion.

Things I loved:

-The subtitles. SUBTITLES, PEOPLE. THE LIVE OPERA HAD SUBTITLES. I can’t express how much that meant to me. I expected not to understand more than one in ten words (if that). Instead, I was able to enjoy not only the excellent singing and delightful acting, but the puns, insults, snark, and at times gorgeous lyrics. I’m never going to stop being excited over the fact that I could see a live Italian opera and enjoy it with perfect understanding.

Cherubino

Photo by Prudence Upton

-The music. I expected to recognise a few of the themes and leitmotifs. I did not expect to recognise one in every three or so. Apparently I’ve heard a heck of a lot more music from The Marriage of Figaro than I ever realised. Not only did I recognise a lot of it, but it was all gorgeous! I’ve always liked Mozart, but this was especially delightful. The orchestra was talented but understated, never overpowering the singers, and they blended beautifully.

-The acting. It’s hard to say the exact things that were so good, because there were just so many. It was tiny little things like the ‘stuff you!’ kind of curtsey Taryn Fiebig (Susanna) gives Shane Lowrencev (Count Almaviva) as she’s very politely putting him in his place. The cringe-inducing way that Count Almaviva manages to run his hands over every flamin’ female he comes into contact with (hint: he makes sure he ‘comes into contact’ with ALL OF THEM). Small and perfect touches all the way through.

-The plot. Oh heck, the plot! So delightfully mad! So wonderfully insane! I will never be sick of massive, elderly female characters who are intent upon marrying the young, handsome male lead. The ones who trade polite (and sometimes not so polite) insults with the heroine, whom the hero really loves and has chosen to marry. And who, upon learning that the male lead is in fact their son, immediately switch courses half way through and are in raptures at their new-found son.

-The lighting. Oh my. I don’t think I can say enough about how good it was. My program says that the lighting was ‘realised’ by David Parsons, and that the lighting designer was David Finn. These blokes need a medal. The lighting proceeded from early morning through to late morning; from thence to afternoon and then late afternoon; and eventually, through evening and even night. It was done elegantly and entirely believably: I could have sworn they had the windows open to the outside world, and that we were rapidly going through one summer’s day.

-The use of a woman as Cherubino. I don’t know if that’s what always happens with this opera, but I’d have to think it’d be a difficult part for a man to sing–even a really good tenor. Be that as it may, I found it a wonderful choice. It emphasised the boyishness of Cherubino, the slim, raw, youthfulness of the character. And Sian Pendry was wonderful in the part: she managed the boy dressing up as a girl bit amazingly well: you would have sworn it was a young boy swaggering in those skirts.

-I’m still squeeing over the fact that Cherubino sings Lizzy Bennett’s song! (Yeah, yeah, technically it’s Lizzy singing Cherubino’s song, but whatever). I’m delighted. It adds so much more meaning to a part of the BBC’s Pride & Prejudice than it already possessed. It’s a song of longing, of surprising and new love being discovered, of uncertainty and novelty. It’s perfect for that part of the movie and whoever chose it is a genius.

Things I didn’t like so much:

-It wasn’t as loud as I expected. I suppose I’m just used to having the telly turned up ridiculously loud when I’m watching G&S operettas (so I can sing at the top of my lungs), but although the opera was a pleasing loudness, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations of flamboyantly crashing loudness. I was just a smidge disappointed at that.

-Nope, that’s it. It was an awesome opera, and I now need to find a dvd version to show the Sis.

So that’s it. My night at the opera. Hopefully the first of very, very many. I highly recommend it.

NaNOOOOOOOOO! Why did I do it?!?

I must be crazy. I did it. I actually signed up. I was gonna DO it, of course; just from the comfort of my own computer and no tallies and accountability and stuff. I wasn’t going to bother with making it official. Then I got excited and sort of accidentally signed up.

I’m talking about NaNoWriMo, of course. I went and signed up to the official site (come and see me and be my writing buddy–WRGingell is my Buddy Name); title and everything. Soon there’ll even be a cover for THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN, my NaNoWriMo novella.

NaNoWriMoFace

MY FACE WHEN I REALISED WHAT I’D LET MYSELF IN FOR…

I did all this before it occurred to me that I would be at the stage of editing FIRE IN THE BLOOD at the same time as writing my NaNoWriMo novella…
It helps that they’re in the same trilogy (2nd and 3rd, respectively), but I’m still trying to tell myself, like Jones from Dad’s Army, “DON’T PANIC! DON’T PANIC!”

I’ll most likely end up in a frothing, quivering heap by the end of the month, but what’s that between friends? It’s all good fun, and let’s face it, I only have to write 1667 words per day. I’ve been routinely doing more than that each day for the last month or two. There’s absolutely no need to panic.

But what would a writer be without a side-serving of worry, eh?

Let The Games Begin! (Aka, Masque Is On Tour, And So Am I)

Let the games begin! The book blog tour for Masque has kicked off at The Indy Book Fairy, where you can read an excerpt and enter to win a paperback copy of Masque. Come on along and say Hi!

Further stops will be:

15th- I Heart Reading (Starter Party)

17th- Nat’s Book Nook (Promo Post)

18th- Books, Books, and More Books (Promo + Excerpt)

20th- Howling Turtle (Promo Post)

22nd- Mystical Books (Guest Post)

24th-100 Pages a Day (Book Review)

25th- Tea Talks (Promo Post)

26th- Jooniel Obsesses Over Stories (Book Review)

28th- Literary Musings (Book Excerpt)

28th- Dreams Come True Through Reading (Promo + Excerpt)

29th- C.J. Anaya’s Blog (Book Review and Character Interview)

So follow along with me as I traipse merrily across the blogosphere: and don’t forget to enter into the rafflecopter draw to win a paperback copy of Masque!

(I’ll even sign it for you. Hmm, draw or put-off . . . ?)

masqueblogtourbanner

Behold The Beauteous Cover Art!

I’ve been very busy these last few days, finishing final edits of my MS Masque. Likewise busy has been the very talented Joleene Naylor, finishing up the cover of Masque for me.

Happy mortals, feast your eyes on the beauteous cover art! Then go ahead and preorder Masque from Amazon or Kobo. Publication date is set for 1st February, 2015. Two months, guys!

MASQUE - 2500

And if you’re like me and need a blurb to read, scroll down. Adieu. I’m off to gloat a little more over my cover art.

 

    Beauty met the Beast, and there was . . . bloody murder?

            It’s the Annual Ambassadorial Ball in Glause, and Lady Isabella Farrah, the daughter of New Civet’s Ambassador, is feeling pleasantly scintillated. 

In the library is Lord Pecus, a charming gentleman whose double mask hides a beastly face, and who has decided that Isabella is the very person to break the Pecus curse. 

In the ball-room is young Lord Topher, who is rapidly falling in love with an older woman. 

And in the card-room, lying in a pool of his own blood, is the body of one of Isabella’s oldest friends: Raoul, Civet’s Head Guardsman.  The papers sewn into his sash seem to suggest espionage gone wrong, but Isabella is not so certain.

Lord Pecus, as Commander of the Watch, is of the opinion that Isabella should keep out of the investigation and out of danger.  Isabella is of the opinion that it is her murder to investigate, and that what a certain Beast-Lord doesn’t know won’t hurt him.  . . .    

Will Isabella find the murderer before Lord Pecus does, or will she end her investigation as a bloody spatter on the parlour floor?

 

Note: I’m currently sending Masque out for review, so if you’re interested in getting your hot little hands on a free review copy, email me at gingellwrites (AT) gmail.com. I’ll send a digital or physical copy of Masque to you for the purposes of a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, etc. All honest reviews are welcomed, and I understand that not everyone is going to love me and my books. (Odd, but there it is . . .)

Getting An ITIN

Well, I’ve been gathering together all the paperwork for my ITIN application. For those who don’t know what an ITIN is, the acronym stands for Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, and it will mean that I only have to pay 5% tax in the US instead of 30%. A moot point, you may say, since I have not in fact sold any books yet. I counter by declaring that I haven’t published any books yet, so yah boo. (As a matter of fact, I have a short story on Kindle at the moment, but I don’t count that because I like to set it as free, and I can’t really claim ‘sales’ for that.)

I’m choosing to Indie-Publish my first book with Kindle, Kobo, the iBookstore, and perhaps in time CreateSpace, with a publication date of October 1st. Naturally, I wanted to make sure that I had the ITIN before then. Because, yanno- more money. I’m beginning to doubt it’ll be done quite by then (though I think it’ll be close) since I hadn’t really considered how long it takes to research the how to, get a passport notorized, find and download the appropriate forms, fill them in correctly . . .

You get the idea. Admittedly, half the time has been due to sheer laziness and the idea that ‘Oh, I’ve filled out the form. That’s enough for today. I’ll rest until next week.’

Now, at length, I have my apostille’d passport. I have my W-7 form, filled out in blue ink. I have my letter from Amazon. I even know where to send it all, and I know better than to send it express post with signature required. I think I’m about ready to go. Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you want to read a really good blog post on how to obtain an ITIN in Australia, read MummyK‘s account. There are others, but this one was really helpful to me. 

Clipping From ‘The Margaree Moocher’

Kez and Marx seem to have popped up on Seventh World, in the small township of Margaree . . .

Clipping from The Margaree Moocher, Community Column.

 

Law Enforcement in the community

Robbery at Margaree Downtown Drive-through Grocer.

At 3.57pm local time, officers were called to the scene of a robbery at the Margaree Downtown Drive-through Grocer. The offenders broke into the secure back room via the bolted back door, using a welding laser to cut through the 3-inch steel, and kicked free the safebox in the back room.

Fellow staff say that when a female staff member went to investigate the noise, the robbers held an industrial saw to her throat and threatened to decapitate her if she did not produce the key to the grocer’s strongbox.

According to witness statements, it was at this point that a small girl wriggled out the window of the next vehicle in line and through the drive-through window. Her co-passenger, described as a small, angry man, fell out the vehicle’s window while attempting to restrain her, and entered the grocer by kicking in the drive-through window.

The level of noise at this point became so great that surrounding houses as well as waiting customers pinged the Margaree Law Enforcement Office on their emergency frequency. Officers arrived on the scene to find a female staff member in hysterics on the floor, two bloodied and battered offenders handcuffed to the cool-room door, and several other staff members in the process of emptying a bottle of scotch between them.

The uninjured female employee was transferred to Margaree Medical Centre without comment, but other staff members were heard to comment: “She hit him in the head with a spanner. She hit him in the ******* head with a ******* spanner.”

Margaree Law Enforcement has taken custody of the offenders, though the rescuers were not found in the vicinity.

Anyone with information regarding these two persons of interest should comment on the Law Enforcement community board or ping the Office directly. The individuals are described as a short, sandy-haired male in his early forties, and a young, dark-haired female of ten to twelve years old.

Incident at the Margaree Local Library.

An incident at the Margaree Local Library has resulted in the re-appearance of several ancient book-form readers once catalogued as lost in the fire of 3069. The book-form readers have since been burned for safety reasons. Residents are reminded that travelling to points in time before the advent of time-travel is strictly prohibited and will be investigated by the Time Corp as a serious crime. Any information welcomed by the Margaree Law Enforcement Office and Time Corp.

Community Interest

*The Margaree Dramatic Society’s production of The Fall of Fourth World will be playing in Donovan’s Dimensions Playhouse all week. Attendees are reminded that outside snacks and drinks are not permitted, and that any devices interfering with the stage effects will be promptly confiscated.

*Enquiring minds wish to know if the overflow of stage effects in last night’s performance of the above was an attempt to make the performance more real to the audience, or if there was a malfunction with stage equipment. Complaints are already flowing in from Margaree’s leading ladies, who complain of ruined frocks and soggy shoes in the wake of an unexpected flood that deluged the audience.

Shorts & Excerpts!

Well, as promised, I have begun a new page.  It can be found at the top of my main blog page, and is entitled ‘Shorts & Excerpts’.  Despite this title, it has nothing to do with clothing or newspaper clippings, and is in fact the place to look for bits and pieces of my writing from upcoming books.  The first short is ‘A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend’, uploaded in the hope of whetting your appetite for ‘A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend: The Complete Adventures’, which is loosely scheduled for release on Kindle October 1, 2014. 

Enjoy.  More excerpts should follow in the weeks to come.

Oh, and if you’re too lazy/can’t find the main button, here is the link: Shorts & Excerpts

Don’t hesitate to comment, good or bad.  I can take it.  Really.  And if you see someone weeping messily in the corner IT’S NOT ME.

New Thing!

I have a New Thing.  It started out as a short story about two time-travellers, Kez and Marx, who travel through time and space in a stolen craft.  Then Kez clawed her way out and demanded another story.  Marx backed her up, of course.  

So I wrote them another story.  Then another.  Now excerpts and reports are popping up everywhere around the galaxy as my characters tinker with time, steal stuff from the Time Corp, and just basically cause annoyance around the galaxy.

Now I’m going to share some of those excerpts on my blog.  Yeah, that’s right, you’re all just THAT FLAMIN’ LUCKY.  

Words are being polished, the ebook cover is getting its (hopefully) final touches, and there will be an immense amount of formatting underway shortly: which all means that it will be at least a month before The Complete Time-Traveller’s Best Friend appears on Amazon Kindle.  But in the meantime, look out for excerpts and other fun stuff that will be popping up on my blog.