Name: Rollan Wengert
Genre: Historical Romance? Opera Retelling?
Pitch: Dumped and Brokenhearted, Mozart began the Opera Zaide. He never finished it... Taken from her home, Zaide, the sultan's favorite possession, falls in love with Gomatz, a slave. If discovered, they face torture and death.
The power of the picture is dead. Images bombard us, fighting for their place in our brains. (Thinking about killing this darling)
Zaide only had one picture. In those days, you had to be someone important to have one. A portrait. A talented soul painstakingly shaped and shaded each fine feature. If you had been lucky enough to have any, you wouldn’t give it away to a happenstance acquaintance. Zaide kept hers in a pocket close to her heart. She had a love/hate relationship with the portrait. It was beautiful. Everyone said she was beautiful, but this picture carried a different kind of beauty. The picture was a portrait of who she wanted to be, not one of who she thought she was.
Crowded with dirty peasants, the port streets roared of rouges and merchants. Janissary soldiers scanned from various posts. With a cloth fluttering from the top, their high, squared-off hats dared stowaways to press their luck. African eunuchs waited behind Zaide. They wore gray, collarless outfits and their faces were as stoic.
The multi-domed palace loomed high-hilled at the horizon opposite the harbor. Rows of spear-tipped cypresses surrounded the path leading to the commanding center arch. Shrubs and trees dotted the hills that surrounded the palace, clumping thicker in draws.
The docks smelled with foul smells of domesticated creatures. If only, for just one time, spices would be the only imports of the day. But, then Zaide wouldn’t have been there, for her lot was to welcome the new livestock. She stood, trying to rid herself of any emotion. Trying to let herself stay hardened. Trying not to have empathy for the new lot, caring was to be crushed by loss. The wind flailed the hem of her dress against her shins. The sea air strained through her veil filtering no muck vapors. She held her headscarf away from her eyes. She was not required to wear her coverings, but she just couldn’t do her job without it. She couldn’t bear it. The mask freed her to act cruelly.
Osmin faced the Barbary pirate ship. His arms crossed his chest as if they were stamped there. A scourge dangled from underneath his arm. It was his special whip with bits of shrapnel tied into the ends, ‘to make a good first impression.’ Beneath his curled mustache, his smile twisted at each corner parallel. His turban was red and gold. Bright colors to get them to remember him. His face carried the same glee Zaide’s cousins had held on Christmas morning.
Her home crept its way into her mind. Oh Vienna, you were not good to me, but you were a far better cage...
“Do you think there will be any beautiful ones?” Osmin asked Zaide.
Zaide scowled beneath her veil.
“I have to find a wife for an honored slavemaster among this lot.” Osmin chuckled. “I would not want to waste a beautiful one on him.”