My Introduction to Opera

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My Introduction to Opera

When I was in high school, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City hosted special matinees for high school students. My school organized annual field trips to these performances, but I was blissfully unaware of them until my senior year, when the featured opera was La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (I’ve posted about this before).

It was the perfect introduction to opera. The story is a classic, stolen borrowed from La Dame aux Camélias, a novel by Alexandre Dumas. In a nutshell, courtesan Violetta loves Alfredo, but his parents think she’s not good enough for him, so she breaks it off. At a party, he confronts her and accuses her of loving someone else, but he doesn’t learn the truth until Act III, when she dies of consumption (tuberculosis) in his arms.

 

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Painting of party scene in Act I of La Traviata, by Carl d’Unker, circa 1855.

 

Verdi’s music is heavenly. Here is the drinking song, Libiamo:

And Violetta’s first reaction to Alfredo’s declaration of love (the voice she hears in the background is Alfredo’s), Sempre Libera (Always Free):

 

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Maria Callas as Violetta in the Royal Opera House production of La Traviata, 1958. Photograph by Houston Rogers.

The version I saw was not quite so contemporary; instead, it was set in the late 1800s.

 

Soon after the field trip, I bought a record of the opera’s highlights, and wore it out through repeated playings. It remains one of my favorite operas.

When I transferred to Glassboro State College (now called Rowan University) in my junior year, I met a student who had been to that very same performance (also his first opera), and it convinced him he wanted to be a musician. Music has the power to change lives. At very least, it helps us to escape our world and our troubles for a while.

What was the first opera you ever saw? Did you think you’d be bored? Did the experience meet or exceed your expectations? Please share in the comments below.

 

 

Inktober Day 13

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Inktober Day 13

For my Inktober drawing today, I chose the #InktoberTangles prompt: printemps.

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Creative Juice #63

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Creative Juice #63

Sharing twelve artsy articles to juice up your creativity:

  1. Street art.
  2. A sculptor turns a fallen tree into a sculpture.
  3. Super Converse kicks!
  4. The truth about corsets.
  5. What happens when Helen Keller goes to a dance studio? No, I’m not making a tasteless joke. Martha Graham was a friend of Keller’s.
  6. This one might make you cry. It’s about the death of a mother. Skip it if you must.
  7. Amazing award-winning quilts.
  8. If you have the ability to snap a picture of your pet doing something silly, you may want to enter this contest next year. If not, you can still enjoy this year’s finalists.
  9. Pages from a Zentangle sketchbook.
  10. Shipping containers never looked so good.
  11. How a unicorn makes music. (Because I’m dedicated to bringing you all the unicorn stories I can.)
  12. Quirky ceramics and a podcast.

In the Meme Time: Next Victim

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In the Meme Time: Next Victim

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Guest Post: The Apprehension Engine

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Thanks to Donna at MyOBT for this guest post. I usually avoid horror movies, but I am so intrigued by this instrument, I may just go see The Witch. Or maybe I’ll just watch these videos again.

My OBT

apprehension Mark Korven

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Video of the Week #119: Good Use for Empty Bottles

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Video of the Week #119: Good Use for Empty Bottles

Wordless Wednesday: Flower of the Day

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Wordless Wednesday: Flower of the Day

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Cape honeysuckle. Doing double duty today with Cee’s Flower of the Day.

Rainbow Bridge

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For my Inktober drawing today, I chose to go with Zentangle All Around‘s (a Facebook group) prompt: rainbow bridge. I featured it in a quarter mandala.

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inktoberStarting at the upper left-hand corner, the Zentangle patterns used are: fracas, Dutch hourglass, flux, dessus-dessous, rainbow bridge, and dragonair. Thanks to Alice Herndon for being a source of inspiration.

Writing Books on my Kindle

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Writing Books on my Kindle

I’ve written about the writing books on my bookshelves here and here. But I also have a collection of writing books on my Kindle. I’ve reviewed several of these on ARHtistic License; click the highlighted titles to read.

  1. The Audacity to be a Writer: 50 Inspiring Articles on Writing that Could Change Your Life compiled by Bryan Hutchinson.
  2. Crank it outCrank It Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer by C.S. Lakin.
  3. Creating Character Arcs: The Masterful Author’s Guide to Uniting Story Structure, Plot, and Character Development by K.M. Weiland. I haven’t read this yet, but I love this author’s work.
  4. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi. This is one of the best resources a fiction writer can have. It lists the physical manifestations of various emotions which you can use to make your readers viscerally experience what’s going on inside your character. (If you want, you can try out the abbreviated version, Emotional Amplifiers, for free.)
  5. Growing Gills: How to Find Creative Focus when You’re Drowning in your Daily Life by Jessica Abel. I’m reading this now, and it’s excellent, but you really have to do the steps. This is the manual for professional cartoonist and graphic novelist Abel’s Creative Focus Workshop. Not strictly a writing book, it’s useful for all kinds of creative endeavors.
  6. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good by Bryan Cohen. I haven’t read this yet.
  7. Inspired Writer: How to Create Magic with Your Words by Bryan Hutchinson. I haven’t read this yet.
  8. Jumpstart Your Creativity: 10 Jolts to Get Creative and Stay Creative by Shawn Doyle and Steven Rowell.Outlining
  9. Outlining Your Novel Workbook: Step-by-Step Exercises for Planning Your Best Book by K.M. Weiland. I’d recommend getting this in hard copy.
  10. Productivity for Creative People: How to get Creative Work Done in an “Always On” World by Mark McGuiness. I haven’t read this yet.
  11. Publishing Poetry & Prose in Literary Journals by Writer’s Relief, Inc. I haven’t read this yet, but I find lots of good information on their website.
  12. Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pansters, and Everyone in Between Write Your Novel From the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pansters, and Everyone in Between by James Scott Bell. I have to read this—I’ve heard such good things about it.
  13. Writing in Obedience: A Primer for Christian Fiction Writers by Terry Burns and Linda W. Yezak. I think I read this and was underwhelmed. It might be a good place for a beginning Christian writer to start.
  14. Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels by Rayne Hall. I haven’t read this yet.writing the heart
  15. Writing the Heart of Your Story: The Secret to Crafting an Unforgettable Novel by C.S. Lakin. One of the best books I’ve ever read on the art of the novel, which I will probably reread every year.
  16. You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins. A nice little motivational book when you need a kick to get going.
  17. The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin.
  18. The 15-Minute Writer: How to Write Your Book in Only 15 Minutes a Day by Jennifer Blanchard.
  19. 5 Secrets of Story Structure: How to Write a Novel That Stands Out by K.M. Weiland. I can’t remember if I’ve read this yet. Weiland often gives it away free.

Of all the above books that I’ve already read, my two favorites are #4 and #15.

Did you find this article helpful? Please hit the Like button. Have you read any of these? Or do you have a writing book to recommend? Write your comment below.

Monday Morning Wisdom #123

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Monday Morning Wisdom #123

Practice any art, however well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to find out what’s inside you. ~Kurt VonnegutMMW