Sunday, April 20, 2014

Nancy Storace Sings Handel's Messiah

In the spring of 1787, just after Nancy's arrival back in London from Vienna, she was engaged in a performance of the annual Handel Commemoration Festival at Westminster Abbey in which a large group of musicians gathered to sing the very popular oratorio, Messiah. She was to sing the popular soprano solo, I know that my Redeemer liveth. It was written by several of London's music critics, that in this particular setting, Nancy's voice was never more beautiful and that the acoustical conditions at Westminster provided a perfect atmosphere for her warm voice quality. One critic wrote, "She sung to best effect: in my opinion she rarely appeared to greater advantage, for in that space the harshness of her voice was lost, while its power and clearness filled the whole of it".

It was during a performance in another year at the Three Choirs Festival in Salisbury when a female Quaker heckler, who was disgruntled with the fact that a "sinful" theater actress was engaged to sing the sacred work, stood in the middle of Nancy's performance and shouted "O fie on thee! Shame! Shame! It is rank idolatry!" The woman was escorted out of the church and the performance continued.

Featured here is soprano, Lynne Dawson, singing I know that my redeemer liveth, from Messiah in a very similar setting as that in which Nancy Storace sang this same piece two-hundred years before.

Monday, April 7, 2014

So Faithful a Heart: Book III, A Prequel

When I finished the second book of the So Faithful a Heart series, I thought the story was finished, until someone came to me recently and asked when I was going to write the book about Nancy's childhood. The first book began in 1783, when Nancy was seventeen years old and getting ready to go to Vienna, where she had been hired as the prima buffa of Emperor Joseph II's new Italian Opera company. It wasn't long after I published it, that a friend came to me and asked if I was going to write a second book about the rest of Nancy's life. Out of that was born book II, When Love Won't Die, and I believed then, that it was truly finished.

Now I have been challenged to write a prequel, turning the two-book series into a trilogy. I've decided that it will begin in the summer of 1765, just before the Mozarts, who traveled to London in 1764 with young Wolfgang and his sister, Nannerl, leave to return to their home in Salzburg. Eight-year-old Wolfgang meets Stefano Storace who gives him lessons in the bass violin and is so impressed with the Mozart children that he decides that he will raise three-year-old Stephen and his then unborn child (Ann), in the same manner as Leopold Mozart raised his two "wonder children". The story will follow Nancy through her early years and her first Italian tour up until 1783, just before she leaves for Vienna, as well as following Mozart through his travels in Italy as an adolescent, his courtship and breakup with Aloysia Weber, and his courtship with Aloysia's younger sister, Constanze. All of this will serve as a lead-up to their meeting upon Nancy's arrival in the Austrian capital city and Mozart's desire to compose an opera for her that will make the Viennese stand up and take notice.

In this book I will introduce several new characters including, the young English musical prodigy, Thomas Linley, Stephen and Nancy Storace's Italian father, Stefano, Mozart's older sister, Nannerl, and their father, Leopold Mozart, as well as reintroduce the reader to Nancy's dear friend, Michael Kelly.

I'll keep you up with the developments! This may prove to be the most challenging and exciting book yet!