Friday, July 3, 2015

What's Opera, Victoria? An Interview & Giveaway

I'm so happy to welcome Victoria Hamilton back to the blog today. Victoria writes the Merry Muffin Mystery series, among others. Death of an English Muffin, the third book in the series will be released Tuesday, July 7th. Today Victoria and I talk about a favorite subject of mine: opera!




Kathy: In Death of an English Muffin Merry and her friends decide to put on a show. But no ordinary show, an opera! Why choose an opera, and why Die Zauberflote in particular?

VH: There is much more opportunity for comic scenes with an amateur company putting on an opera than, say, an Arthur Miller play, or even a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. I was looking for an opera that had an aria with a high degree of difficulty; Die Zauberflote fills that bill. And I must admit a fondness for all things German. I am somewhat of a Teutonophile… is that a word?


Kathy: The Queen of the Night sings my favorite aria, one that I studied years ago, " Der Holle Rache" (Hell's Vengeance). Not every soprano is capable of singing this role, as she must reach an F above high C. Are you able to tell us which of Merry's friends has this role? Is she up for the challenge?

VH: I certainly can tell you that it is Janice Grover who performs that exceptionally difficult part. And no… what fun would it be if she was up for it? But I didn’t do it just to have fun at Janice’s expense; it is actually an opportunity for another character’s redemption, in some way. You’ll see. It also introduces a particularly nasty aspect of The Legion of Horrible Ladies, who you will meet in the book.


Kathy: I am a huge opera fan. Are you? If so, how did you come to enjoy it?

VH: Okay, confession time… until recently I knew virtually nothing about opera, and I still know little. But I’ve become fascinated with it lately, and look forward to exploring it more, if only ‘virtually’.


Kathy: Do you have any favorite operas or composers?

VH: Composers, yes. I love Satie, Pachelbel, Rachmaninoff, Mantovani and Copland. This series, the Merry Muffin Series, is the only one that I actually listen to music while I write. I’ve used some music to give me mood, when I write, like Copland’s Hoedown, or Satie’s Gymnopédie.


Kathy: Have you seen any of the more recent operas? (Ones composed in the past 50 years or so) What are your thoughts of those as compared to the more old standbys?

VH: I have to plead resolute ignorance on this topic… maybe you can give me some examples I can look up? What I need is an opera mentor, someone who won’t mind giving me some ideas for a self-guided tour on great opera.


Kathy: Tenors have long been the rage (my favorite opera singer is Jonas Kaufmann) but the Barihunks are staging a takeover! Mariusz Kwiecien is another favorite and he’s my favorite baritone (who is also a hunk!). Do you have any favorite opera singers?

VH: I have an absolute fan girl crush on the sublime Luciano Pavarotti. (I know, I know… he’s passé and passed on. I can still fan girl out) His Nessun Dorma brings tears to my eyes. And I absolutely adore the horribleness of his duets. He went through this phase of singing with anyone and everyone, like John Denver and Celine Dion. Hearing him sing Jingle Bells reduces me to tears, too… of laughter. That august, composed, amazing man singing a silly little jingle is just sublime. Wretchedly hilarious.

But aside from the incomparable Pavarotti, when I was working on Death of an English Muffin I listened over and over again to Diana Damrau’s version of Der Hölle Rache, and she astounds me. I get chills… what a voice! In a completely oppositional way, you have got to listen to Florence Foster Jenkins, who gives chills in a completely different way. She also did the Queen of the Night aria, listen on YouTube: https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=worst+opera+ever&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-001

Utterly amazing! And pretty much like poor Janice Grover’s performance.


Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for this story?

VH: Kinda sorta. I know people who clothe their awfulness in the blanket of frankness. “I’m just being honest,” they’ll bleat, after saying something awful about someone’s looks, weight, or intelligence. It gets my goat. Not everything you think needs to be said. Your meanness is not honesty so much as a reflection of your bitter cruel soul. Think it bugs me? LOL. So… that was the genesis for the story; what if one of those ‘honest’ people… but no, I won’t say. Read on!


Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Merry?

VH: You know the saying, the path of true love ne’er does run smooth? Nothing in Merry’s life ever runs smooth, not love or life. She may think she’s got her life sorted out at the end of this book, but of course she doesn’t.


Kathy: Will you share any other upcoming books?

VH: I’m always happy to share more about my books. In November, Book #5 of my Vintage Kitchen Mysteries, White Colander Crime is coming out. And in February of 2016 Book #3 of my Teapot Collector Mysteries, The Grim Steeper (written as Amanda Cooper). I’m starting now writing book #4 of the Merry Muffin Mysteries… there will actually be a #4 and #5, I’m grateful to say.

Thanks you so much, Kathy, for having me. I don’t get a chance to talk about opera often, certainly with no one I know!


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From the national bestselling author of Muffin but Murder, baker Merry Wynter returns with a fresh tray of muffins and a case that has authorities stumped…

They say one’s home is one’s castle, but when it comes to Wynter Castle, Merry would like it to belong to someone else. But until a buyer bites, she could use some extra dough, so she decides to take in renters. The idea pans out, and Merry’s able to find a handful of tenants eager to live in a real castle. The only problem is most of them are crumby, tea-swilling old biddies.

The Legion of Horrible Ladies, as Merry calls them, is led by the terribly nasty—and fabulously wealthy—Cleta Sanson. The abrasive Englishwoman keeps everyone whipped into a frenzy—until she meets an embarrassing end behind a locked door. Evidence reveals that Cleta was murdered, yet no one is privy to how the deed was done. Merry knows she must quickly find the killer before another of her guests gets greased…

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Victoria Hamilton is the national bestselling author of three bestselling series, the Vintage Kitchen Mysteries and Merry Muffin Mysteries as Victoria, and the Teapot Collector Mysteries as Amanda Cooper. She is also the bestselling author of Regency and historical romance as Donna Lea Simpson.

Victoria loves to cook and collects vintage kitchen paraphernalia, teacups and teapots, and almost anything that catches her fancy! She loves to read, especially mystery novels, and enjoys good tea and cheap wine, the company of friends, and has a newfound appreciation for opera. She enjoys crocheting and beading, but a good book can tempt her away from almost anything… except writing!


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorVictoriaHamilton

Merry Muffin Mysteries Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MerrysMuffinsMysterySeries

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/vintagekitchenm/merry-muffin-mysteries/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MysteryVictoria


Title: Death of an English Muffin
Author: Victoria Hamilton
Series: Merry Muffin Mysteries
Release Date: July 7th, 2015
Website: http://www.victoriahamiltonmysteries.com
Email: Victoria@victoriahamiltonmysteries.com

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Do we have a prize pack for you! Victoria Hamilton has generously donated an incredible prize pack. One lucky reader will win a copy of Death of an English Muffin, a copy of Shadow of a Spout, and some Wynter Castle Blend teabags! To be eligible simply leave a comment on this blog post about opera and I'll use random.org to pick the winning comment. Please leave an e-mail address so that I may contact you, should you win and leave your comment no later than 11:59 EDT on Sunday, July 5th 2015. 

99 comments:

  1. This sounds like so much fun! Thanks for the opportunity!
    angelhwk68@yahoo.com

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  2. Great interview. Love cozy mysteries.
    xzjh04@ Gmail.com

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  3. I enjoyed the interview! It is a wonderful way to learn more (about the author). Death of a English Muffin sounds brilliant, and I am looking forward to reading both books. Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

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  4. I confess that I don't know much about opera but this interview makes me want to check it out! Thanks for the very nice giveaway!
    sharonbabyme@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Do give opera a change. Make sure your first opera is a "friendly" one. Some are more daunting for those just starting to appreciate opera!

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  5. I enjoy this series and can't wait to read this next mystery. Thanks for the great giveaway. Kuzlin at AOL.com

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  6. Thanks for the great giveaway and interview!
    Bski92@gmail.com

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  7. Great interview, and I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win. Dnrocker@yahoo.com

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  8. Thanks for the amazing interview. I do not know a lot about opera and I have never seen a live opera. Thanks for the chance to win the giveaway.
    lorimkilbride@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. It's never too late to see an opera!

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  9. what a generous giveaway!!! thank you!!!
    congrats & continued success to Victoria!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

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  10. I have seen opera on TV. Thanks for the giveaway! Raquel36m@gmail.com

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  11. Great interview! I am not really an opera fan but I am looking forward to reading the book...love this series. cking78503@aol.com

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  12. Great interview and giveaway. Thanks so much.
    jawdance@yahoo.com

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  13. Wonderful interview, thank you for the chance.

    debbiec1313@yahoo.com

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  14. I love this series. I also love music, even Opera. I have to agree with Victoria, Pavarotti was amazing. dr.oldsmobileaticlouddotcom

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  15. I plead ignorance when it comes to opera too. I like it, but know little about it. I always remember the scene at the end of the movie The Mirror Has Two Faces when Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges are dancing in the street. That opera song is playing in the background.
    Lauigl [at] carolina [dot] rr [dot] com

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    Replies
    1. Opera is everywhere, movies, commercials, cartoons, even Gilligan's Island!

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  16. I took my husband to an opera once and he didn't fall asleep or complain. We haven't been to another one though. I love this series and thanks for chance
    lhxp73@yahoo.com

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    Replies
    1. Not falling asleep is always a good thing!

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  17. I took my husband to an opera once and he didn't fall asleep or complain. We haven't been to another one though. I love this series and thanks for chance
    lhxp73@yahoo.com

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  18. I took my husband to an opera once and he didn't fall asleep or complain. We haven't been to another one though. I love this series and thanks for chance
    lhxp73@yahoo.com

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  19. I would love to win this fabulous gift.

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  20. Victoria, your musical favorites are much the same as mine, Satie's Gymnopedies being right at the top! Your books sound so appealing, I want to even re-read those I've already read, and can't wait for the ones I haven't. Thanks, Kathy!

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  21. Love Mysteries books so much would love a chance to win just one, thanks for this amazing Giveaway. My email is lindamay4852@yahoo.com. Will keep my fingers crossed. Linda May

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  22. Cozy mysteries are the best and who could ask for more when tea and English muffins are included. Thanks for the wonderful giveaway. robeader53@yahoo.com

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  23. My boss took me to a restaurant where the waiters sang opera. That was a fun experience. bobbipad@gmail.com

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  24. I've never seen an opera, but now I'm curious. I'll have to check out my TV listings. Thanks for the opportunity. UkiMama3@aol.com

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    Replies
    1. PBS often shows opera performances. You can even go to certain cinemas and watch streaming performances from the MET!

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  25. It took me many years to like and understand exactly what opera really was. Now I'm hooked!

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  26. I would love to win this giveaway.
    angelbear19662000@yahoo.com

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  27. I must admit that I know nothing about opera. Therefore I was a little muttled while read that party of the interview. I do know who Pavarotti is so it made me feel slightly knowledgeable. Thanks for such a wonderful giveaway.

    Bettyjo.English@gmail.com

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  28. I must admit that I know nothing about opera. Therefore I was a little muttled while read that party of the interview. I do know who Pavarotti is so it made me feel slightly knowledgeable. Thanks for such a wonderful giveaway.

    Bettyjo.English@gmail.com

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  29. Humorous opera is appealing. Ditto operetta. I saw wonderful productions years ago at the vintage Central City Opera in Colorado. Everything it takes to compose, plot, produce and perform opera is genius (and difficult). hharra at BSU dot edu.

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    Replies
    1. Staging an opera is a monumental task!

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  30. Opera, my daughter and I were the only people to see Pavarotti at the Pittsburgh PA Opera. Absolutely wonderful. wpbelf@comcast.net

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  31. I love the opera , enjoyed the interview also.
    brownshannon74401@Yahoo.com

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  32. What a lovely interview and giveaway! Being a light lyric coloratura (who is losing the coloratura and some of the high notes with age), I have always enjoyed singing anything by Handel and Purcell, but La Boheme, Madame Butterfly, and The Magic Flute are my favorite works. dmskrug3 at Hotmail dot com

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    1. Greetings to a fellow coloratura! Due to lack of use and age I've sadly lost my entire upper register.

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  33. Love opera's. My fav is "Madame Butterfly". I love the upbeat musical scores. linbutler@att.net

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  34. Love opera's. My fav is "Madame Butterfly". I love the upbeat musical scores. linbutler@att.net

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  35. I haven't seen an opera in years. When I was a child in Canada, we were taken to see one. I don't remember the name of it. I was quite impressed with the costumes & singing although I couldn't understand the language!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    bpwoodfield@gmail.com

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  36. Great interview. Don't know a lot about opera.
    Thanks for the opportunity!
    Littleone AT shaw DoT ca

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  37. I enjoyed the interview. I have never been to an opera but would love to go.

    Kit3247(at)aol(dot)com

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    Replies
    1. Going to the opera is great fun, just make sure you start with an approachable one!

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  38. Have never seen an opera live, but would love to. Singing is one of my favorite things to do. I used to be able to hit a D above high C when I was younger, but never an F. Won't ever happen. The book sounds terrific. choirlady27@hotmail.com

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    1. Do you sing in a choir currently? Kudos if you do!

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  39. Carmen is a very good opera as well as Madam Butterfly. I don't know a lot about opera's but these two are my favorites. Now I have heard a lot of opera singers that were wonderful. I can't wait to read Death of an English Muffin. This is an awesome give a way. Thank you so much for offering it. jillybeans41@ gmail.com

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    1. Both are great. I use Carmen as a great introductory opera!

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  40. I know nothing about opera but am intrigued !

    Follow via email
    Drakebdog at gmail dot com

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    Replies
    1. I'm glad I was able to pique your interest in opera!

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  41. Opera is emotional, beautiful, memorable and wonderful. This is an experience which I enjoy. Thanks for this great feature and giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

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  42. I'm not into opera, I'm more of a country girl. However, some of the music is really awesome.

    kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

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    Replies
    1. There is some country in opera...there's an opera about Anna Nicole Smith that has some country to it!

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  43. I listen to my old 78 opera records which my father listened to every Saturday afternoon and treasure them greatly. I love opera since it is meaningful and I cherish this beauty. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  44. Of all the music forms, opera is probably the one with which I am least familiar. I hope to learn a few things about it while reading your book.
    suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

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    Replies
    1. Learning about opera is fun!

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    2. Sue, you WILL learn how an amateur troupe ought not to try Die Zauberflote!

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  45. I LOVE all of your series! My first experience going to an opera was when I was 11. It was completely in Italian. I didn't understand a word of it. The main thing I remember was trying to keep my grandfather awake. He kept falling asleep & would start snoring. It's one of those precious memories! Thanks for the giveaway! Fingers crossed!
    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

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    1. How funny! What a wonderful memory.

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  46. Your write up has made me want to start this series. I really enjoy opera. Wanted to sing opera at one time, but the highest note I can sing is a high C. I went to youtube to listen to an F above high C. Wow! I can only sing a high C. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. I'd love to win.

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    1. I'm so glad to introduce you to this series! Back in the day I was able to sing that F above high C...but no longer!

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  47. Wonderful interview. Now, re operas...you simply must read Hugh Vickers "Great Operatic Disasters" if you've not come across it before. Be prepared to be rendered breathless, speechless and sore ribs/stomach from laughing!

    Kathleen Bylsma h5apby@yahoo.com

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    1. I'll put that on my TBR pile!

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    2. Sounds fascinating! I'll make a note...

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  48. Forgot to include my email
    6186pep(at)msn(dot)com

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  49. I have read the first two Merry Muffin Mysteries - and loved them! I can't wait to read this third installment [and am delighted that there will be #4 & #5 as well]. If I do not win this prize including a copy of the book, I will be ordering one.
    I actually like Operettas better I think, mostly because there's spoken words as well as the singing. And I never really know what the opera is saying -- but I do love music, and the singing voice, so I have enjoyed the very few operas I've attended.

    donna (dot) durnell (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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    1. I enjoy operettas as well. I discovered that some operas do have spoken parts as well, referred to as "Singspiel". Die Zauberflote uses it, and, if I remember correctly, so does Carmen.

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  50. I love opera, but I admit I don't understand it as well as I wish ! I love the merry muffin mysteries, I can't wait to read the latest installment ! kathambre@yahoo.com

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  51. I have never an opera but am very familiar with many songs from them. Growing up and until I married, I spent all my time in a dance studio and many songs were used in our ballet classes.

    Peg ( phalley@woh.rr.com)

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  52. Great interview! Thanks for the giveaway! mrsnoah6@aol.com

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  53. My favorite opera is Norma ( depressing and dark) and my favorite tenor is probably Placido Domingo. lateia.sandifer "at" Gmail "dot" com.

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  54. What a generous prize pack. Thank you for this opportunity.

    The first opera I went to was Phantom of the Opera (on Broadway) ... what an awesome experience.
    peggyhyndman(at)att(dot)net

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  55. I have attended a couple of operas, and enjoyed the experience...dressing up to the "nines," watching the crowd, having a glass of Chardonnay at intermission, ending with a light meal at a romantic bistro. I'd love to live like this all the time! kat8762@aol.com

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  56. I like the arias, the pretty songs Most of the time an aria is sung by only one person and the pieces are about what the person is feeling. The action (what action there is) on stage stops and we get sucked into their emotions. servedogmom@yahoo.com

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  57. Wow, spectacular! Thanks for the opportunity!
    vgeslak@yahoo.com

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  58. Great opportunity!!! Thank You!!!

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  59. I really don't know anything about opera although I have tried to listen to it a few times. I suppose I need to persevere and give it more of a chance. Speaking of chances, I appreciate the chance to win these great prizes! Thank you for a wonderful post and contest! Also, I agree wholeheartedly with Victoria about people who say horrible things but "they're just being honest"! I don't need that kind of "honesty" in my life and I would venture to say, no one does.

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    1. Merry has some very stern things to say about it, channeling me, of course!

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  60. Great interview. The book sounds wonderful thanks for the chance to win. poohwine1217@gmail.com

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  61. I've never been to the opera, but some pieces I have heard have been incredibly beautiful.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  62. I really enjoy all Victoria's series so need to read this book. Great interview - and funny title! Thanks for the giveaway.
    sallycootie@gmail.com

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  63. I would love to go to the Opera someday! It is so beautiful to listen to.
    njcar22@aol.com

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  64. Die Zauberflote is one of my favorite operas. I was first exposed to it at Oberlin College, my alma mater, when the Conservatory of Music put on a production. (A very good one, too!) My student voice teacher was Papageno, several friends were in the chorus or had small roles, and I had worked on the costumes a bit, as part of my costume shop practicum. Everyone was terrific, and the young woman who sang the Queen of the Night was amazing (as was Papageno.) But I can't imagine a truly amateur group putting it on - that could be hilarious. I would have to read the book for that alone, even if I didn't already love the series!

    As for my favorite opera singers, I've always loved Placido Domingo's voice. I honestly prefer him to Pavarotti.

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    1. Oops, forgot my email: lark AT bookwyrmshoard DOT com

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    2. Also forgot to say, I'm a lyric soprano, so Queen of the Night is out of my range for performance - but it's fun to sing anyway!

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    3. So great to hear from folks who love opera... I'm a new fan. I hope readers clicked on the link of Florence Jenkins singing Der Holle Rache... WOW! Awesome in a whole 'nother way.

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    4. Jenkins is hysterical to listen to. Ouch.

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  65. Not interested in opera but love this series.
    dotkel50@comcast.net

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  66. I have to admit that although I absolutely loved Phantom of the Opera, I am not a fan of opera in general. I am, however, a huge fan of cozy mysteries!

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    1. Oh, and btw I am meeshpsych@aol.com :-)

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  67. Congratulations Daniele K.! Random.org chose your comment to win! Look our for an e-mail from me.

    Thanks to everyone for stopping by and commenting-I hope you enjoyed our opera talk and will see an opera soon.

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