Tom Minter's Off The Stoop Blog

a playwright's journey, creating, connecting, and conversing.

Summer discoveries..

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..well, there was the glut of dust bunnies under my books, in the living room.

..there were the carton of ‘good intentions’ and projects itemized for attempt, on my desktop..

-there was the joy of immersion in a particular book: Verdi’s Aida; The History of an Opera, in Letters and Documents, by Hans Busch, which detailed the gestation, creation, collaboration and first years of performance of that seminal opera.

Incredible story.. And an amazing trove of documents, many unseen before the publication of this book; first drafts of the libretto, with Verdi’s markings sculpting the prose into the shape we know the opera; contracts; letters and telegrams- flying between the composer, Verdi, his librettist, Antonio Ghislanzoni, and Giulio Ricordi, Verdi’s cunning publicist, producer and representative –as well as a circus of others, from the Highest in Egypt, to various and sundry scoundrel impresarios; from desperate divas, to decrepit theatres.. The book, needless to say at this point, was spellbinding, and gave full texture to the tapestry of ‘creating’!

Let’s see.. Other summer discoveries..

..there’s the vat of ice cream that shouldn’t be in my freezer in the first place!

..there’s surprise at the somewhat savage commentary on Michael Phelps, and his Olympic performance..

..there’s also little surprise, at the vitriol in the political summer campaigning ..

But then, two days ago, came a true surprise, as I finally attempted one of my summer ‘to-do’ items: filing (oh joy)!

Going through loose stacks of papers, I found a collection of writing that I’d accomplished in 2007 – unjustly fobbed into an anonymous manila envelope.. In its way, the writing resonated greatly with the comprehension of the Verdi book..

I started working for Washington National Opera, in the Marketing department, in 2005; doing small pieces in the Playbill on various operas, and their composers. 2007 proved to be an accomplished year for me in that department. It was the year of WNO’s production of Bill Bolcom’s A View From The Bridge, and I was engaged to create, a first time, on-line ‘Journal’ of the journey, from initial rehearsal to production.

I remember many things: the camaraderie, and professionalism of the cast; I remember my introduction to the composer, Bill Bolcom; I remember my astonishment at the jazz qualities of the score..

Most of all, I remember my wide eyed adventure in being a ‘writer-in-the-room’, witnessing this assembly of talent to stand an opera on its feet..

..but now, rescued from the obscurity of my filing system, the notes from those incredible sessions.. bring the experience vividly back to mind..

So, as the summer lopes into the dog days of August, I think I’ll post these episodes, to pin the memories to these ‘pages’..

To be clear that I’m speaking of that experience, I’ll head my entries with: A View From The Bridgeand the particular ‘episode’ of the experience..

-because, as I’ve realized, chronicles are important, and you never know who’ll come across them in the future..


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