Mozart’s Blood Background and Other Notes of Interest

The magnificent singing actress Renee Fleming provided a model and a list of repertoire for my character.   Ms. Fleming, with whom I once had the great pleasure of working, is a magnificent Donna Anna.    Take a few moments to listen and watch:  \”Non mi dir\” from Don Giovanni, sung by Renee Fleming

This historical novel covers the musical periods of the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Classical, and the Romantic.  The very early scenes take place in Rome, where a brand new art form called “musical drama” was just being introduced.  For quick details on the birth of opera, visit John Howell’s very brief summary of opera history.


This is Mozart as Teresa Saporiti would have known him.  The most passionate Mozart devotees still mourn his untimely death, and long to hear the music he would have written.  The Requiem, which he was working on at the time of his passing, was completed by a student of his, Sussmeyer.  The contrast between the music of Mozart and the music of Sussmeyer is a painful reminder of what the world lost when it lost Mozart.  Listen to a bit of the sublime Requiem.


In addition to touring the Metropolitan Opera House and the historic La Scala Theater in Milan, the following resources were immensely valuable–and a whole lot of fun:

Mozart, a Biography, by Piero Melograni

Marrying Mozart, a delightful novel by Stephanie Cowell

The Inner Voice, by Renee Fleming

The Costume Exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

The listserve MozartForum and its helpful scholars

Disaster by the Bay, H. Paul Jeffers

The Great San Francisco Earthquake & Fire, Helen Hillyer Brown

Great Singers on Great Singing, Jerome Hines


An unusual vintage video of San Francisco, 2006

The Brahms Deception: Background and Other Notes of Interest

Clara Schumann is remembered principally as the widow of the great and tragic composer Robert Schumann, who died in an asylum at a young age, leaving Clara with seven children to raise.  Clara was, in fact, one of the most celebrated concert pianists of the nineteenth century, and her career, beginning when she was only nine, spanned sixty-one years.  She was known as a great beauty, and she supported herself and her family solely with her income as a performer for all that time, no easy feat in a century in which women were expected to stay at home and out of the public eye.  She also left behind a lovely, but small, collection of her compositions.

There are some lovely pictures of Clara and samples of her music here, and do listen to Stella Doufexis’s gorgeous recording of her Lied, “Liebst du um Schonheit.”

Here’s a gorgeous instrumental recording of Brahms’s famous lullaby, which wasn’t completed until well after the time period of the novel:  Brahms Lullaby.

Benedict Hall: Background and Other Notes of Interest

Visit to find out more about Benedict Hall’s background and inspiration.

Hall of Secrets: Background and Other Notes of Interest

Visit to find out more about Hall of Secret’s background and inspiration.

The Glass Butterfly: Background and Other Notes of Interest

The genesis of The Glass Butterfly was a thought that came to me while I was shopping in an antiques store–in Cannon Beach, as it happens, where this novel is set.  There were such fascinating things there, and I was intrigued by how many stories they represented. China, glassware, linens, old books and records–and photographs.  Framed family photographs, which must once have represented a family’s history, and which now–through some twist of events I could only imagine–were offered for sale to strangers.  It occurred to me that a person could reinvent her life completely with such things, invent an entire history for herself, and start anew.  This is what Tory Lake does, and does successfully–except that she brought one item of her own real life with her on her journey, and that changes everything.


Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon, becomes Tory Lake’s cathedral, a place she retreats to for solace.  She dreams of another place and another time, the source of the music she loves, like this exquisite aria from Turandot, “Nessun dorma”:

Giacomo Puccini had a very special home in Torre del Lago, on Lake Massaciuccoli, where he retreated to work and where a number of the great singers of the day–Enrico Caruso among them–came to rehearse with him.  The villa was a renovated tower, known as Villa Puccini.  Puccini and his friends filled the tiny village with glorious music, like this famous aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi, “O mio babbino caro”:

Villa Puccini is now a museum run by the granddaughter of the composer.  Music plays as you tour the villa, seeing where Puccini composed, where the family took their meals, and how the little balcony on the second floor looks out over a garden Puccini himself designed.

Imagine the music that must have poured from this house!  Perhaps even this lovely aria from La Boheme, “Mi chiamano Mimi”:

Tory dreams of two very different worlds, and neither one is her own: