Irene Adler’s no “Soprano”

Because of a feature called “Google Alert,” I can track my books  through the webverse. This can be rewarding (finding good reviews or references to my work), or this can be shocking (finding “torrent” and other sites that offer stolen versions of my books) and sometimes it can be maddening.

Often when I wish to comment on an entry or thank a blogger for a good review, I find I’m not allowed to post because the initial “code” numbers and letters aren’t visible. No technocrat, I haven’t found a way around this barrier.

More frustrating is when I can’t post in response to an error. I was a daily newspaper reporter back when celebrity scandals weren’t Page One material and reporters needed to get every word right. So egregious misstatements more than annoy me; they scream for correction.

Today, I found a site of a reader/writer who’s sampled her first Irene Adler novel, starting with the second, The Adventuress (previously Good Morning, Irene).

http://melannen.dreamwidth.org/79796.html?thread=696244

says a lot of great things about the book, but in reviewing the next book, also says:

“Remember where I was annoyed that Irene Norton in the Carole Nelson Douglas series is a soprano, rather than a contralto?”

The fact is that I knew Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had  described Irene Adler as both a “contralto” and a “prima donna” in error. Like all writers, he was busy 12/7, and didn’t know that contraltos don’t play leading roles in opera, but are usually nursemaids or gypsy fortune tellers or the like.

The issue of Irene finding “suitable” leading roles for her voice is one I addressed through all eight novels. She sings a “trouser role” (plays a man) in one short story. I searched the operatic canon for the few leading roles she as a contralto might stretch to perform. Even the “reviewers” in the novels have trouble categorizing her, and I recall one fiction reviewer used the term “dark soprano.”  But the author and Irene herself never call her a soprano. She has a “difficult to categorize” voice that limits her operatic options.

No one should be “annoyed” by my efforts to make realistic as many details of Doyle’s “A Scandal in Bohemia” story that introduced Irene Adler . . . while embroidering around the original structure to create a new slant on the characters and story.

6 Responses to “Irene Adler’s no “Soprano””

  • Thanks, Kim! I have one Adler novella, The Private Wife of Sherlock Holmes, available in ebook. I have more stories to prepare in ebook AND print. A new novel is possible, but not for a while. I am only one writer!! I do appreciate hearing that readers want more Irene, and will do my best to satisfy you!

    Carole

  • Kim Musumeci:

    I love the Irene Adler series. Will we see any more of the series? It’s my favorite!

    Thank you,

    Kim

  • Hmm, that may be a possibility. Watch this space. :)

  • Bonnie Mitchell:

    Will there be any more Irene Alder books? I’ve read all 8 that have been published to date.

  • Dear Marja,

    It’s great to hear from a musician who understands the error Doyle made in calling Irene Adler both a contralto and a prima donna. Is no such thing. I wanted to remain true to Doyle’s story, so worked hard to find pieces and roles she could realistically sing. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m half-Czech, so the Dvorak sequences were fun. I even know how the name is really pronounced because it’s so difficult it fascinated me as a child.

    What I could get out when the new Holmes movie comes out this fall is an Irene Adler novella or two on Kindle and in other e-book formats. Yes, I think Downey’s dress in the first Holmes film was still channeling Charlie Chaplin in The Little Tramp. And their Irene was the kind of “Victorian bimbo” I wrote the Adler series to counter and reinvent. She’s a cute, conniving minx, but not formidable enough for Sherlock Holmes or for Doyle’s story.

    Thanks for your high praise! I’m tying up some of the continuing subplots now and it is a nice complicated tangle, which mystery readers appreciate.

  • Marja Millard:

    Ha-ha-ha!

    As a “dramatic soprano,” i.e., a mezzo, i.e. a first alto, depending on what the voice teacher decides, I have very much appreciated all your mentions of Irene’s unusual and lovely voice.

    Perhaps she could sing the mezzo in Verdi’s “Requiem” — that takes quite a range, into the “cello” range you mentioned so wonderfully. I really loved when you had Dvorak directing her!

    I hope you find time to write another Irene Adler mystery. (I also enjoy your accurate portrayal of Sherlock Holmes in the books.) Perhaps it could debut around the same time as the next Robert Downey Jr. SH movie (although I had fits with the way Guy Ritchie had “his” Holmes dress, and appear so discourteously scruffy before HM’s government representatives — and nor was I enchanted with their use of Irene Adler as a character).

    I’m also a great fan of Midnight Louie, and wonder at all the plot complications! I stand in awe of your organizational ability — I wonder how you keep all those plot elements straight and on target book after book!

    You are a wonder and your books are a continual delight.

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