Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Concert for the Dead

Concert for the Dead image

Story by Dawn Pisturino

Artwork by Job van Gelder

Ariel knelt before the marble niche holding the remains of her dead older brother and placed a bouquet of roses in the stone vase. Six months had passed since the horrible night a drunk driver had taken Jonathan’s life. She would never forget.

“Coach Willis still talks about you, Jonathan,” Ariel said, tracing the carved letters of his name with trembling fingers. “Nobody’s beaten your track record. You were the best. You always will be.”

She pulled some sheet music from her backpack. “The opera club is doing Purcell this year. I got the lead role. I’m so excited!” She began to sing:

“When I am laid, am laid in earth, may my wrongs create

No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;

Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate . . .”*

The haunting elegy echoed through the halls of the Great Mausoleum, bringing tears to Ariel’s eyes. As the last melancholy note faded away, the mausoleum doors slammed shut. The lights flickered and dimmed.

Icy panic clawed at Ariel’s chest. She could hardly breathe. Then a long, agonizing scream tore from her throat.

She ran to the entrance and pushed against the heavy metal doors. Locked.  She searched for an intercom or emergency button. Nothing.

“Let me out!” she cried, pounding on the door. “It’s not closing time!”

Voices whispered all around her.

“No!” she howled, throwing her weight against the unyielding door.

The whispers grew louder. “We’ll let you out when the concert is over.”

 “W-what c-concert?” Ariel stammered, searching the empty air.

“The Concert for the Dead.”

And then she saw them, gliding down the dark corridors, the eerie inhabitants of this condominium for the dead.

They crowded into the main hall, hundreds of them, the ghastly and the beautiful.

Men dressed in military uniforms soaked with blood, arms ripped away, legs shredded at the knees, and heads split open, eyeballs dangling from their sockets.

Women gowned in rustling silk, faded and torn, ringlets framing faces eaten away by worms. Pale young mothers with tragic eyes, carrying shriveled up babies in their arms.

Dead children glared at Ariel with menacing faces, their transparent fingers clutching moth-eaten ragdolls and time-worn teddy bears.

An orchestra appeared. Skeletons with shreds of rotting flesh hanging from their bones. The conductor raised his baton, and the slow, plaintive strains of a violin filled the air. He

turned and looked at Ariel with one putrid eye, motioning her to begin.

I know this song. I can do it. Shaking with fear, she dug her fingernails into her palms and began to sing:

“None but the lonely heart can know my sadness

Alone and parted far from joy and gladness . . .”**

She sang until the sun disappeared and the stained glass windows lost their color. She sang until the moon ran its course and the stars began to fade. Finally, her throat too parched and raw to continue, she pleaded:

“The concert’s over. Please let me go.”

Hushed whispers rippled through the audience. Then a lone figure broke through the crowd.

“Jonathan!” Ariel cried, grateful to see a familiar face.

Smiling, he extended his arms to her. “We don’t want you to leave,” Jonathan said, drawing her close. “We want you to sing for us forever and ever and ever . . .”

Cold waxy fingers tightened around her throat. In the background, the orchestra played a quiet requiem.

* * *

When the groundskeeper found Ariel’s body the next morning, he noticed two peculiar things. Her throat was purple with finger marks, and her hair had turned completely white.

Copyright 2011-2014 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

This story is dedicated to my daughter, lyric soprano Ariel Pisturino

Published in the November 2011 issue of Underneath the Juniper Tree. Read it here.

Published on Brooklyn Voice, February 2012. Read it here.

 

Concert for the Dead ill-Troberg

Artwork by Asheka Troberg

 

*“Dido’s Lament,” from Dido & Aeneas by Henry Purcell

**“None but the Lonely Heart,” by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and J.W. Goethe

 Happy Halloween!

 

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A Special Christmas Gift from My Daughter

For Christmas, my daughter took my poem, “Butterfly, Butterfly,” and had it set to music by composer and film maker Barry Gremillion. Then they recorded it for me. I cannot tell you how touched I was by this loving gesture. Thanks, Ariel and Barry!

CD cover: click photo to enlarge

Butterfly CD cover

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Ariel Pisturino on Sound Cloud

Ariel headshot cropped 2013

Ariel Pisturino, Soprano

Hear her latest recordings on Sound Cloud:

http://www.soundcloud.com/arielpisturino

 

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Video: Ariel Pisturino Sings THELMA’S ARIA

Soprano Ariel Pisturino performing THELMA’S ARIA from Gamma Skupinsky’s opera, “The Gilgul,” at the West Hollywood Fiesta Hall Concert, August 20, 2011.
Watch it here!

Click HERE to view it on YouTube.

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Video: Ariel Pisturino sings MONA’S ARIOSO

Soprano Ariel Pisturino sings MONA’S ARIOSO from Gamma Skupinsky’s sci fi opera, “The Zone,” at West Hollywood’s Fiesta Hall Concert, August 20, 2011.
Watch it here!

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Video: Ariel Pisturino Performs Bach and Hindemith

Soprano Ariel Pisturino performing selections by Bach and Hindemith in her Lenten Recital on March 20, 2013 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Glendale, California. Watch it here!

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Video Clip: SUSANNA’S SECRET

THE PRODUCTION WAS A BIG HIT, AND I’M SUPER PROUD OF ARIEL AND SCOTT FOR THEIR INITIATIVE, CREATIVITY, AND HARD WORK.

Good Job!

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SUSANNA’S SECRET

741236_10200175067315166_774457785_o735507_10200175067395168_1763698850_oARIEL PISTURINO (my daughter) and her friend, E. SCOTT LEVIN, recently formed CHAMBER OPERA PLAYERS OF L.A. Their first short production will be SUSANNA’S SECRET, a comic one-act opera written by E. Wolf-Ferrari in 1910. Originally written in Italian, the opera has since been translated into contemporary English. Ariel and Scott are both well-educated, highly-talented performers with the gumption and creativity to succeed. I am enormously proud of them both.

SYNOPSIS: A man who suspects his wife of fooling around discovers the real secret behind his wife’s strange behavior.

Starring ARIEL PISTURINO and E. SCOTT LEVIN. Directed by JOSH SHAW, Artistic Director of Pacific Opera Project.

BUT COME OUT AND SEE IT FOR YOURSELF!

January 25-26, 2013 at 8 pm

ST. MARK’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH
1020 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91202
213-260-0007

performances in the Parlour Hall with reception to follow

ADMISSION FREE! Donations appreciated.

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

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