Marie-Thérèse’s Playlist from ‘Overture’

The Opéra Comique in Paris, where Marie-Thérèse hears her idol Emma Calvé (a real-life opera singer) for the first time

Overture, my latest novel, is all about music: a young woman’s struggle against her humble origins and lack of formal training to become a professional singer. I am very fond of listening to, playing and singing music, and so it was a treat for me to write a book in which music is a key theme.

Marie-Thérèse Vernhes, the main character, is brought up in the late 19th century in deeply rural Aveyron in Southwest France, where one’s chances of becoming an opera singer are akin to those of a snowball in a certain place. It’s an unusual ambition for a girl who is destined to become a farmer’s wife. But her singing voice is remarkable, and local people nickname her “l’Alouette” (the lark), hence the title of the trilogy, of which Overture is Book 1.

Naturally, a number of pieces of music are mentioned in the book, ranging from traditional Aveyron songs, through classical pieces and opera to popular songs in France in the 1900s.

My friend and fellow writing group member, Evelyn, had the great idea to put together a playlist of all of these pieces. It’s not easy to describe music in writing, and so I thought this was a fantastic opportunity to add extra depth to the novel’s background. I spent many happy hours (wonderful displacement activity!) on YouTube selecting the recordings.

The result is a playlist of 24 pieces. Not all of them get a mention in the novel, but I have included them to provide period colour. Several come from Mozart’s wonderful opera, ‘Don Giovanni’. This is my favourite opera, and by a strange coincidence it’s Marie-Thérèse’s, too!

I hope you’ll enjoy this selection. You can dip in and out according to your tastes. Please feel free to share the link with your friends.

Book 2 of the trilogy, Intermezzo, is in preparation. In the meantime, you can buy Overture from all branches of Amazon in ebook and paperback formats.

You might also like:

From Rural France to Paris: Les Bougnats

Marie-Thérèse Spills the Beans!

Marie-Thérèse’s France 1: Rural Aveyron

Copyright © Vanessa Couchman 2019. All rights reserved

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