Chapter 1

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Vienna, 1968.

The Vienna opera house is alive with activity. There is a brand new opera production that is about to make its grand debut at the end of the year. The opera, La Bella Rosa, tells the tragic story of a pair of young lovers, who, despite their parents not wanting them to be together, fall in love, leading to a passionate affair. Sadly, the Story does not end well, for the young woman is betrothed to someone else, and cannot marry the man she truly loves.

Gazing at the script before him, 23-year-old tenor Leonardo Domingo cannot help but feel a slight twinge of sadness for the heroine. She should be able to marry the one that she loves, not be forced into a marriage. However, he knows that it is just part of the act. pushing his chestnut brown hair out of his blue eyes, and straightening the collar of his black velvet jacket, he is about to look at his lines one last time, but then stops when the door to the lobby of the opera house opens. He looks up, and his heart flips.

The young woman is absolutely stunning. Honey blonde hair pulled back into a bun at the base of her swanlike neck. Porcelain skin with a touch of pink in her cheeks. Gorgeous dark green eyes. She is wearing a gown of dark emerald velvet, with off the shoulder long sleeves. She has a music binder in her left hand and her purse in her right hand.

Leonardo stares, transfixed by the woman before him. He has never seen anyone more beautiful.

The woman abruptly stops in her walking, her eyes focusing on him. She cannot help but stare, either.

Not wanting to be rude, or look like an idiot, Leonardo rises to his feet, and goes over to her. Hello. Are you here for the auditions?

The woman nods. Yes, I am. Are you?

Leonardo. Yes. Have you learned the sheet music? It's quite complicated.

His companion chuckles. I have, and I must agree with you. It is very complicated. However, it is very beautiful.

Leonardo. I very much agree. The only problem I have with this opera is the ending.

The woman nods. I don't like it either. They deserve to be together, not separated.

Leonardo. My feelings exactly. Would you like to sit beside me while we wait for the rest of the cast to arrive? It's early.

The woman sits down elegantly beside him. Thank you.

Leonardo resumes his seat beside her. You're welcome. Might I ask your name?

The woman gives him a smile. Tatiana Belinski.

Leonardo shakes her hand. Pleasure to meet you. My name is Leonardo Domingo.

Tatiana. Pleasure to meet you. She notices his binder. Do you sing?

Leonardo. Yes, I do. I am a tenor.

Tatiana. I am a soprano. I believe those two voice parts are exactly what the characters are.

Leonardo gazes his sheet music. I believe you are correct.

They sit in silence for a moment, there eyes scanning their sheet music, checking to make sure that all of their notes and rhythms are correct.

Leonardo. Care to do a run through?

Tatiana. I would love that.

They begin to sing the pieces that they have been assigned, listening intently to one another's voices. Soaring high notes from both of them begin to flow throughout the lobby, echoing off the walls like church bells. The sounds cascade about the room like lightning. After they finish, they gaze at each other, completely mesmerized.

Leonardo. You have the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.

Tatiana. Thank you, so do you. I have never heard a voice more rich and beautiful in my life.

Leonardo. Thank you very much. Are you from here? I've never seen you before.

Tatiana. I was born in Russia, and moved here about 10 years ago.

Leonardo. I see.

Tatiana. And what about you?

Leonardo. I live in the country, Tuscany, to be exact. I have a very large house, with a handful of servants and staff, but no one to share it with aside from them. I received it from my father on his deathbed.

Tatiana. I see. I live here in Vienna, close to the opera house. My cottage is not too substantial in size, but it's doable for me.

Leonardo is about to answer, but then pauses as the remainder of the cast soon begins to file into the building.

After introductions are made, and the director arrives, the cast moves into the auditorium to begin rehearsal.

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