Midsummer Nights

April 2, 2009

In 2009, the Glyndebourne Festival of Opera reached its 75th year.

In commemoration of this event, Jeanette Winterson brought together some of the best loved and most critically acclaimed authors writing today to pen stories inspired by opera.

Opera has always needed a story. Some inspirations are direct – like Britten’s Turn of the Screw, or Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde, and others, like Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, or Verdi’s Rigoletto, take a story and shift it. Why not take an opera and shift it?

This specially commissioned collection of comedies, tragedies and tales of love won or lost is contemporary British fiction at its very finest.

Each story is by one of today’s most acclaimed writers, taking their inspiration from an opera of their choice. The result is a book as broad in content as it is deep in atmosphere. The characters are from all walks of life, all parts of the world and are driven by all motivations. All the stories are rich with emotion and written to inspire. And in the midst of the book are brand new illustrations from Posy Simmonds.

Written for lovers of fiction and opera alike, Midsummer Nights includes notes explaining on which opera each story is based, with a brief synopsis and a history of where and when it was first performed.

Publication: 2nd April 2009

Publisher: Quercus

Do you love opera? Do you hate opera?

Plenty of operas have been inspired by stories – the idea here was to inspire stories via the operas.

I adore opera. Came to it for the first time when I was 30 and fell in love. First opera I saw was Turnandot (Puccini) and I vowed to see everything. I have. I do.

I love the drama, the extravagance, the scale, the insanity or opera. And the music. I always cry.

My girlfriend doesn’t like opera. She holds my hand dry-eyed as I weep into my hanky. Doesn’t matter. There’s room for us all in this world.

Anyway – Glyndebourne Opera approached me with the idea for this book – find some writers you like and get them to choose an opera they like, and write a story around it. Simple as that.

This is a fun collection. Keep it in the loo or the garden shed.

My story here is from my favourite Puccini opera. A cowboy opera. Yes you read that right. The Girl Of the Golden West.

I had broken up with my partner at the time of writing. She is an opera director. I was remembering when we got together and how miraculous it was. That helped me.

What’s the point of writing or reading if it is no help?