Monday, January 19, 2009

Laurel Corona's "The Four Seasons"

Laurel Corona is a professor of English and Humanities at San Diego City College and the author of more than a dozen middle school books and Until Our Last Breath: A Holocaust Story of Love and Partisan Resistance.

Her latest novel, The Four Seasons, is set in "glittering 18th-century Venice, [where] music and love are prized above all else—and for two sisters coming of age, the city’s passions blend in intoxicating ways."

Here she shares some ideas for the principal cast in a film adaptation of the novel:
Writing The Four Seasons, I quickly realized how much of a challenge it was going to bring to life the sensual extravaganza that was Venice in the early eighteenth century. I think every writer comes up against the sobering fact that in our culture we shortchange our sensory experiences, so that we really can’t, for example, describe with any great degree of specificity the way a rose smells or butter tastes. I am old enough to remember American Bandstand, where cute teenagers, when asked whether they liked a new record, would almost inevitably say they did, with no more explanation than “it has a good beat and I can dance to it.” Novels based on paintings, such as those by Tracy Chevalier and Susan Vreeland, get a visual boost from their covers, but alas, there’s no such help for the poor soul writing a novel about music.

I often joked with my friends about how I was writing “Amadeus Meets Girl with the Pearl Earring,” realizing early on that for The Four Seasons to come to full life it needed to be experienced with Vivaldi’s music backing it up. I won’t be bashful about saying that I really, truly hope it will become a movie. In addition to the two main characters that can’t be cast—Venice and Vivaldi’s music--here are some ideas for first-rate actors who could bring The Four Seasons to life on screen.

For Vivaldi, Elijah Wood and Tobey Maguire bear a pretty good resemblance, but I have it on good authority (my son Ivan) that Daniel Bruhl is perfect, and after a peek at some photos on IMDb, I concur!

Chiaretta, the younger of the two sisters, is the epitome of fair beauty, inner strength, and grace, and these qualities are abundant in Kristen Stewart and Sienna Miller.

Maddalena, the older sister, is an auburn haired woman of quiet charisma, arising out of the passion with which she plays the violin. Her face becomes beautiful by knowing the person. Rose Byrne, Emmy Rossum, and Alexa Davalos are all prettier than I envision Maddalena, but right on target for how I hope she will be cast.

As for the men in Chiaretta’s life, I picture Claudio as looking something like Joaquin Phoenix. (Someone tell him not to retire—there’s another great role for him here!) A bit of world-weary intensity is essential for Andrea, and Christian Bale, Ethan Hawke, and Paul Bettany fit the look quite nicely.

And because The Four Seasons is about capable women, I would love to see a woman producer—perhaps someone who could take a smaller role, such as the Priora or one of the soloists in the choir. Madonna—are you interested?
Read an excerpt from The Four Seasons, and learn more about the book and author at Laurel Corona's website and blog.

The Page 69 Test: The Four Seasons.

--Marshal Zeringue