This exciting debut romantic comedy comes from eighties icon Roland Orzabal of the new wave band Tears for Fears.
The inspiration for the book comes from Roland’s own experience with trying to sing opera, but brings forward an alter-ego: a semi-retired pop star called Solomon Capri, who thinks he might be able to save his marriage by getting back into the limelight.
So desperate is Solomon to do well on the show, that he secretly employs an opera coach: Dr. Eugene Sparks, an 83-year old ex-professional opera singer who lives on a freezing Dutch barge on the Kennett and Avon canal, east of Bath, with Tilda, his wheelchair-bound wife.
But through his relationship with the wily, old man, and through a string of misadventures involving women, drugs, the ghost of his former guitarist, and an operatic busker, Solomon’s life is changed forever.
Sex, Drugs and Opera comes out on Acorn Digital Press on the 26th of March 2014.
The door opens and Dr Sparks is revealed as a very tall, unshaven, shabbily dressed man, his height only lessened by the way he stoops. He has a remarkable head of hair for his age; grey, mostly, but with a stubborn streak of black running right down the middle. A good quality purple scarf is tied around his neck and tucked into a thick, baggy, coffee-coloured cardigan. His trousers are clearly pyjama bottoms and there are large tartan slippers on his feet. ‘Did you manage to park your van any nearer this time?’ he asks with an unnerving leer. ‘Van?’ ‘Your Tesco delivery van.’ ‘Oh, no. Sorry, my name is Solomon Capri…I sent you an email, left a message on your answering machine?’ ‘I see,’ he replies, clearly confused. ‘My daughter-in-law collects and reads me my emails…anything important, but her computer was stolen from her car. The bastards broke a window. And our telephone…is somewhere on the boat. I hear it ringing, but I still can’t find it amidst the clutter.’ ‘Never mind,’ I reply, ‘let me explain. I found your name on Mozartline. Dr Eugene Sparks, yes? I’m looking for some voice coaching. It’s for a TV show, you see, that takes pop stars – I’m a pop star by the way – and teaches them how to sing opera. You may have seen it?’ Dr Sparks seems disinterested. ‘Hobnobs,’ he says, ‘we ran out five days ago. When I saw you at the door my stomach started rumbling.’ ‘No, look, I’m not from Tesco,’ I chuckle. Here we go again. ‘My name is Solomon Capri, I’ve sung professionally for years and – in my youth – had opera lessons for about six months and now I’d like to get back into it. It’s for a TV show, Popstar to Operastar. It’s a golden opportunity, I’m really excited about it, it feels like my destiny…’ The old man suddenly bristles with rage. He’s clearly upset by something, perhaps because I didn’t bring any Hobnobs. ‘Destiny?’ he bellows. I’m shocked by this sudden change in demeanour. The meek, forgetful old man is now sounding strangely demonic. And the tone of his voice, the power, the volume, is like nothing I’ve ever heard in my life. ‘What do you know about destiny?’ he growls. ‘My son got on the wrong bus, was that his destiny? And my wife…’ Dr Sparks stands back, opening the door completely to reveal, down the far end of the barge, a woman in a wheelchair, the top half of her body wrapped in an off-white shawl, one side of her face drooping badly. I assume she’s suffered a stroke. ‘…Fifty five years we’ve been married,’ he rages, ‘Tilda was one of the finest mezzo-sopranos ever to play Amneris – she made the role her own. Is this a destiny fulfilled? Our son got on the wrong bus…it was the wrong bus. Now get off our barge, you fool, and pursue your destiny elsewhere!’