Renee Ryan: Loving Bella…and Opera



Thanks to the fillies for inviting me back, yet again, to guest blog with some of my favorite authors.  It’s always a pleasure to be here.  My head is a bit jumbled lately.  In barely a month from now, I’ll get the opportunity to watch my daughter (my youngest child) graduate high school.  It’s been a surreal few months as I’ve attended her last game as a Varsity cheerleader, her last show choir concert, her last speech and debate competition, her last honors ceremony.  This weekend will be her last prom.  Can you hear me sniffling all the way through cyber space? 


I’m not here to whine about my soon-to-be empty nest.  No, seriously.  With every ending comes a new beginning.  I’m really looking forward to solo-time with my husband.  And more hours in the day to devote to my writing, which also means more time doing my favorite part of the writing process.  Researching. LOVING BELLA

Speaking of which, I had a lot of fun researching my latest release, LOVING BELLA.  My heroine is an opera singer.  And since I know nothing about opera I had the opportunity to delve into a brand new, exciting world. 

You probably already know this already, so bear with me.  Opera, put simply, is an art form in which singers and musicians work together to perform a dramatic story set to a musical score.  Duh, right?  Opera is a form of musical theater in that it has all the common elements of acting, scenery, elaborate costumes and dance.  The modern opera incorporates full orchestras, but this wasn’t always true in its earliest form.  Often, singers performed with no musical accompaniment or very little. 

Opera was born in Italy at the end of the 16th century.  Although England, Germany, and France soon developed their own opera traditions, Italian opera dominated most of Europe for centuries after its birth.  Even Mozart, probably the most renowned opera composer and an Austrian, is famous for his Italian comic operas, The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni.   

The words that are sung in an opera are called libretto.  Some composers often write both the music and the libretto.  Mozart was not one of them.  However, he did work closely with his librettist, a man called Lorenzo Da Ponte.  Traditional operas consist of two types of music/singing—the recitative or passage that drives the plot, and the aria, where the singer gets to express the character’s emotional reaction to an event in the storyline.  My heroine, Bella, is brilliant at arias. Drury Lane Theater

LOVING BELLA is set in late 19th century, during the “golden age” of opera.  Bella loves being an opera singer.  She also loves William Gordon, Lord Crawley.  She believes he’s going to ask her to marry him after one of her more stellar performances.  He proposes all right, suggesting she become his mistress, since he’s already married.  Poor Bella, she’s become (gasp) a tragic heroine in her own life.  Afraid she’ll succumb to the scandalous offer, she runs off. 

She heads straight to her brother’s home in Denver, Colorado.  Her brother is a preacher at a church connected with an unusual orphanage called CHARITY HOUSE, where the children are by-blows of prostitutes and gunslingers.  Bella, feeling as though there’s no turning back for her, tries to earn repentance as a doctor’s assistant.  Shane, the local doctor with his own scandalous past, grows to love Bella and she begins to love him in return.  All is well, until her past comes looking for her.

This book resonated with me on so many levels.  Not on the opera level, but rather by way of solidarity with Bella.  How many of us, women especially, have made a terrible mistake or watched a friend make a terrible mistake because of the unfortunate decision to put a boyfriend ahead of common sense?  How many of us have allowed a past mistake to define who we are in the present?  

I pray we all learn our lesson like Bella did, before it’s too late.

And I bet that’s all you ever wanted to know about opera.  I’ll probably never make it to the Met, but one of these days I plan to watch a performance at my local opera house.  I owe it to Bella. J

Leave a comment and you’ll be eligible to win a copy of LOVING BELLA, book 3 in my CHARITY HOUSE series.

Renee Ryan writes for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired line.  Her fabulous editor is Melissa Endlich.  For more information, you can visit Renee at

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34 thoughts on “Renee Ryan: Loving Bella…and Opera”

  1. Tracey your book sounds wonderful and poor Bella I do to hope some women learn before something terrible happens to them I know some of those women you are talking about and a couple of them are still in the mix not sure what is up but they need to change and get rid of him.
    I didn’t know so much about opera well yes I knew they sang but not all the interesting things I learned on here.
    Good luck with the empty nest, it was strange for me at first and then I got really used to it and then the younger one moved back home and now she is talking of going out East to live to get her Masters I am saying UGH again.
    Nice having you back.

    HAPPY MAY DAY!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hi Renee! It’s always a joy to have you at Petticoats & Pistols. I’ve got “Loving Bella” and am looking forward to it. The “scandalous past” angle is going to be great reading.

    About your soon-to-be-empty nest, congratulations on a job well done! Raising a family is a full-time job. Both my sons are grown and out of the house, and one of them is out of the country. I miss them, but it’s just a delight to relate to them as adults. About more time to write? Yes, but . . . I can’t figure out where the days go!

  3. Oooo I would love to win this even though I know zilch about opera, it will be interesting reading about this heroine…I can tell! 😉

    XOXO~ Renee

  4. Hi Brenda,

    Happy May Day back at ya! I agree, it’s always worse to learn things the hard way. It’s amazing how long it can take us to get rid of a bad influence.

    Thanks for the well-wishes for the empty nest. I’m really looking forward to alone time with the hubby. 😉


  5. Hi Vicki!

    Waving at my LIH buddy. I hope you enjoy LOVING BELLA.

    You know, I’m really looking forward to getting to know my adult daughter. I’m afraid that may be awhile to come. She still has one foot firmly planted in childhood — and all that that imples.


  6. Hi Renee (love, love, love your name!!),

    I really enjoyed the opera angle. I hope you do too. Since LOVING BELLA is set in Denver, Colorado it still has a western feel. I adore this heroine, by the way. She’s one of my favorite of all times. I’ll be interested to see if readers relate to her as well as I did.


  7. Hi Renee! Interesting that that’s your name. my best friend is also named Renee and she just happens to love opera. Is nuts about it, in fact, and goes to shows whenever she can. I do like some of the arias, such as Un Bel Di from Madama Butterfly but I tend towards the big Wagnerian operas, such as The Flying Dutchman and Tannhauser. Sounds like a good read and wishing your daughter all the best in her future.

  8. Have not attend an opera in person, but have watched several on PBS. I really enjoy the music from several of them.
    I like your comment on making poor decisions and letting a mistake rule your life. If one makes a mistake because of a man (or anything els for that matter) acknowledge it and move on. Learn from that mistake and correct the detour your life took. Like Bella, you may have to remove yourself from where the mistake happened (or almost happened) and start anew. New beginnings are possible. Forgive yourself and try again.
    This sounds like a good story. Denver is a favorite place of ours. A good place for new beginnings.

  9. Renee, I love the idea of an opera singer in the old west. I enjoy opera, go when there’s something special and tend to get hooked when a good one comes on PBS. Singers like Enrico Caruso and Jenny Lind were idolized in the late 1800s-early 1900s, so it really is a natural for your story. Good luck with your book, it sounds lovely!

  10. Hi Debbie,

    I like your friend!!! By the way, I’m a big Wagner fan now. He’s considered a groundbreaker in modern opera (which I’m sure you already knew). Anyway, thanks for the cheers for my daughter. It’s exciting to see what sort of adult she’ll become.


  11. Hi Patricia,

    GREAT advice. You’re so right. Admit the mistake and move on. I always say, God is the God of second chances. Grace is such a gift.

    Our local movie theater offers an opportunity every so often to watch a live performance of the Met. I MUST take advantage of that.


  12. Hi Elizabeth,

    Yes, Jenny Lind was quite the Rock Star of her day. I would have loved to see her in her prime. Thanks for your well wishes!


  13. so true, forgive yourself and move on. I still have work to do on that one. I’d love to read this book and see how Bella overcomes


  14. My youngest is away at college but I am thrilled that my oldest moved back home after college and a few years of being away – she is now married and they are currently looking at a home here – woohoo. Now I have my fingers crossed my youngest will do the same.

    I love Italian opera because I think the language is so beautiful.

  15. Hi Renee,

    Loving Bella sounds great. It is on my must read list. I do not know much about opera myself so thank your for this post.

    I feel your pain for your children are the most important thing in life but it will be good to have it just you and your husband for awhile To have more time for yourself and your husband.

    Well Renee again thank you for sharing

    Walk in harmony,

  16. Looking forward to reading this book. I love all kinds of music but have never been to an Opra performance.

    My oldest grand-daughter also graduates this May. I work at the school she attends and I am really going to miss her whole class of 22 when they are not in school as they get out before the rest of us. I will miss the good morning hugs and the whole class group hug that I got on occasion.

  17. Hi RobynL,

    Don’t we all. 😉

    Jeanne, how much fun it must be to watch them grow up and return mature and ready to start their own family. I’m really looking forward to the day.


  18. Hi Melinda,

    Welcome! And, yes, alone time with the hubby is top of the CAN’T WAIT list. Tee hee!

    Connie, there’s only 22 in your daughter’s class??? WOW! My daughter’s class has over 400 students. I know about half on sight and maybe 60 by name. I wish it was more. I’ll miss her friends as much as her.


  19. Hi Renee, welcome back! Your books sound fantastic and I would love to read it!

    Congrats on you daughter graduating high school she has a lot ahead of her. My son is away at college right now but comes home next week! So I have empty nest too! Its really not that much different when he is away but I do miss him! I will also be glad when he is home for the summer! He still has a lot of growing up to do, but he will get there.

  20. Oh your book sounds truly wonderful… Looking forward to reading it! Congrats on your daughter’s upcoming graduation! 😀

  21. Renee,thanks so much for stopping by with such a interesting post,cant wait to read the book,thanks so much

  22. Hi to all the newcomers. I’m getting ready to help my daughter with her makeup then it’s off to take pictures before Prom starts. I’ll be back to check in later…


  23. hi renee!
    thanks for coming by! very interesting post…i have not been to an opera (why do my hands keep typing oprah?) myself..but i think part of your research should have entitled you and your daughter to a trip somewhere to see one 🙂
    your story sounds very interested…i’ve not read about any opera singers yet!

    big hugs to you for the upcoming empty nest…a very bittersweet time

  24. Interesting post. I’ve never been to the opera, but would love to go someday. Your book looks fantastic.

  25. This story sounds great can’t wait to read it.

    I would love to see an opera, I think it would be awesome.

  26. I like some opera’s especially Carmen.. And I love the orginal Three Tenor’s and the rest that have followed in their foot steps.. I had my first taste of opereatic singing listening and watching Deanna Durbin movies.. So I like most light opera…
    Good luck with your book..

  27. Renee – Your book really sounds interesting. I like to read about the reseach that author’s put into their books.

  28. Oh, I would really love to win this book. I use to think (when I was young) that opera was just for the rich & famous but after going to my first opera I was hooked. Please enter me.

    Cindy W.


  29. Wow, it’s so cool to see all these opera fans. Who knew??? I just woke up — 11:00 AM. I do have an excuse. Didn’t make it to bed until after 4:00 AM, thanks to the Prom and Post Prom festivities. I worked the Post Prom event. What a hoot!!! I think the kids enjoy this event more than they do Prom itself. Anything that keeps the kids off the streets (and out of the hotels) on Prom night has my vote for BEST EVENT EVER!!!

    Tabitha, you might want to check your local movie theaters. A lot are starting to show the Met performances. It’s a great way to see phenomnal opera in your hometown.

    ~Renee~the exhausted.

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