Novelist, YA fantasy series in development right now! Stay tuned!
Adapter, Dido and Aeneas, expanded adaptation of Purcell’s opera informed by The Aeneid. (read more)
English librettist, Il sogno d’Arianna, an original full-length opera adapted from the works of Claudio Monteverdi (read more)
Editor, CBLDF Presents Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices (read more)
Editor/Adapter, DMP Digital Manga Guild (various titles) (read more)
Freelance Blogger (read more)
Writer, Editor, Webmaster at Manga Bookshelf October 2007 – Present (read more)
Adapter, Dido and Aeneas, an expanded adaptation of Purcell’s opera informed by The Aeneid:
Based on the fourth book of Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, this expanded adaptation of Purcell’s short opera tells the tragic tale of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and her year-long affair with the Trojan hero, Aeneas. As their lives are manipulated by the gods in the name of Aeneas’ fated future and the gods’ own agendas and petty rivalries, the two are torn apart, with devastating consequences for Dido and Carthage. Includes additional material from King Arthur, The Faerie Queen, and more.
Adapted for 14 singers (SATB), 5 musicians
I’ve often joked that our workshop’s unofficial motto is “If they didn’t want us to mess with it, they shouldn’t have died.” The extreme impertinence really is a joke. I wouldn’t have made a life out of introducing teenagers to this material if I didn’t think it was enduringly brilliant, rich, and well worth their while. But the truth at the core of the joke is that I do believe that a sense of reverence for “classic” works often has the effect of sucking the life out of them, and a vital part of my mission to make these works relevant to young people is to treat them not as untouchable museum relics, but rather as living works of art that are inherently collaborative in nature. Back when composers like Purcell (or Handel, or any of the baroque masters whose work is approachable for younger voices) were alive, they changed their works all the time to suit particular audiences or popular singers of the day, so I feel that it’s very much in the spirit of that culture that our workshop routinely adapts the operas we produce for the singers at hand. In our case, the adaptations we create are at least as much for our teens as human beings as they are for our teens as singers. Yes, I’ll adjust keys or octaves to suit the voices at hand, but what of their voices in the metaphorical sense? It is for these voices that I work with my students to imagine a version of a narrative that suits their sensibilities and their worldview—to dig deep into these very old works and find the stories they want to tell.
With Dido and Aeneas, there were a number of factors I considered when adapting it for this group of teens. From a practical standpoint, the original opera is less than an hour’s worth of singing, which felt honestly scanty compared to the last couple of operas we’ve done. Additionally, some of the characters and relationships seemed gravely underwritten, particularly the relationship between the title characters. Most importantly, I couldn’t push away the discomfort I felt about producing an opera whose female lead, despite being a powerful queen, would end her own life because she got dumped by her boyfriend—one she’d apparently known for about a day, no less! Regressive sexual politics are pretty much the norm when you’re steeped in material from the 17th century (or older), but was this really a story we wanted to tell?
To explore solutions, I turned back to Virgil’s epic poem The Aeneid, the fourth book of which is the basis for the opera’s libretto. There, I found a tale no less tragic, but one in which the gods thoughtlessly manipulate humans on earth to satisfy their own grudges and play out their petty rivalries. It was brutal, rage-inducing, and difficult to read. It was also undeniably, painfully relevant to our lives. This was a story we could tell—one with real meaning, not just for me, but for my students.
The resulting adaptation is a mixture of Purcell’s story and Virgil’s, with a few adjustments of our own design. King Iarbas, for example, whom Virgil depicted as a scorned lover of Dido’s, in our adaptation is a former lover of Aeneas, thanks to my students’ persistent calls to queer up the material. But since Virgil also had the lack of foresight to die, can this really be our fault? (Insert wink emoticon here.) On a more serious note, it’s unfortunate that stories like this, about those in power abusing others for their own personal gain, have failed to become irrelevant. But that’s also why it is important we continue to tell them. I hope you’ll enjoy this one.
Melinda Beasi, Adapter/Director, Dido and Aeneas
English librettist, Il sogno d’Arianna, an original full-length opera adapted from the works of Claudio Monteverdi:
In 2016, Act Too Studio Opera Workshop embarked on a special project, Il sogno d’Arianna, a full-length, original narrative adapted from the works of 17th-century composer Claudio Monteverdi, woven from excerpts from his operas, madrigals, and other works.
Drawing on the framework of Monteverdi’s “Lamento d’Arianna,” the sole surviving fragment of his opera L’Arianna, Il sogno d’Arianna begins with the tale of Ariadne, princess of Crete, and her abandonment by Athenian hero Theseus on the island of Naxos. Joined by an assembly of women hailing from Monteverdi’s many sources, including Greek myth and Torquato Tasso’s epic 16th-century poem La Gerusalemme liberata (Jerusalem Delivered), Ariadne seeks comfort and meaning in their shared stories, told through both music dance.
In addition to L’Arianna, the piece includes excerpts from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, as well as pieces from his 8th book of madrigals and selected Scherzi Musicali (“Lamento della ninfa,” “Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda,” “Zefiro torna e di soavi accenti,” “Chiome d’oro“ and many more). For this project, the Workshop created its own new editions of these works, including new English adaptations by director Melinda Beasi and Sylvia Simmons, and arrangements adapted specifically for its teen singers.
Though this music dates back centuries, this new English libretto and its original narrative bring Monteverdi’s exquisite work to life for new audiences, and also contribute to what is now a very small number of full-length operatic works suitable for young singers.
Written for 11 singers and 2 dancers, alto, mezzo, and soprano voices.
Twitter reaction from international opera star, Joyce DiDonato.
Edited by Melinda Beasi
Published: December 4, 2013, Dark Horse Comics
Summary: “Made possible with a grant from the Gaiman Foundation, CBLDF Presents Manga is a handbook designed to provide a concise and informed overview of manga—its history, genres, and issues. This educational work delves into the history of manga, its major demographic divisions, its most significant creators, and the challenges it has sometimes faced in North America.
What sets this book apart from other manga guides is its expert panel of writers, including not only scholars of the medium but veterans of the manga industry itself—professionals who have worked from both the North American and Japanese sides of manga in publishing, editing, review, and library services. Edited by Melinda Beasi of Manga Bookshelf, CBLDF Presents Manga is written by Manga Bookshelf columnist Sean Gaffney, Ed Chavez of Vertical, Erica Friedman of Yuricon and ALC Publishing, Shaenon Garrity of Viz Media and Otaku USA, and Robin Brenner and Katherine Dacey of School Library Journal.”
“… no matter which camp you fall into—newbie or seasoned otaku—you’ll find something of interest in the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund [CBLDF]’s latest project, Manga: Introduction, Challenges, and Best Practices. This comprehensive guide features over 100 pages of detailed, relevant information on the history and cultural context of manga, genres and sub-genres, and the ebb and flow of the manga industry in both Japan and North America … In addition, it’s friendly, entertaining, easy to read, and sure to increase any reader’s manga library. Recommended.”
– Amanda Vail, Otaku USA
Melinda possesses an ability to manage large, team-oriented tasks on lean budgets and achieve excellent results. Her work managing an important book-length project for CBLDF exceeded our expectations and will be a major factor in our 2013 program efforts.”
— Charles Brownstein, Executive Director, Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
|English Title: Yuri Sensei Is In A Good Mood Today As Well|
Japanese Title: 由利先生は今日も上機嫌 (Yuria Sensei wa Kyou mo Joukigen)
By Keiko Kinoshita
Volumes: 2 (with sequel, A Lovely Day with Yuri Sensei)
Translation: Aaron Gratton | Editing/Adaptation: Melinda Beasi | Lettering: Morgan Hart
Summary: Young editor Muguruma has his hands full with high-maintenance mystery writer Yuri, whose outrageous demands and reluctance to meet deadlines have become infamous at Sogendo Publishing. But even patient Muguruma is not prepared for the confusion he feels when bad-tempered Yuri tries to woo him. Do his feelings for Yuri run deeper than simple respect and admiration? Set in post-occupation Japan, this meandering love story is as moody and charming as Yuri-sensei himself.
“Kinoshita specializes in real-life, understated characters, people with shortcomings like those you meet in everyday life. To me, that’s quite a huge draw. She also has a sensibility that appeals strongly to me…of the possibility of real love in a flawed world. The feelings in her stories creep up on me and slowly fill me with quiet happiness … The translation, editing, and typesetting are handled with expertise and style … Their work was impressive and thoroughly enjoyable.”
(Sequel) “… I just couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. In addition, the adapters use a lively variety of language that spices up the story and makes it more fun to read … this volume has it all—fun plot, memorable characters, and a beautiful (?) love story. It’s even better than the original. Kudos again for [adaptation team]—they live up to their name by using real, living, fun language to tell a delightful story.”
“I like Keiko Kinoshita more and more with every book I read by her, and I think the Yuri-sensei books are my favorite yet … It’s got the same stuff as a usual BL one-shot, but because it’s Kinoshita, it’s just better … It simply does everything right, and is exactly what I love to read when I pick up a BL book. It’s a shame there’s no print edition available, I would re-buy it in a second.”
“A unique and bitter-sweet tale … This is by far one of Digital Manga Guild’s best e-book offerings – with an excellent translation/editorial/lettering from the [localization team] and is highly recommended for readers who look for touching, believable character interaction and exquisitely drawn artwork in their yaoi (it’s 18+.) I would so love to own this – and its sequel – in a printed version as well (Big Hint to DMG!)”
“I am an avid fan of Keiko Kinoshita. Her light, airy style always makes me think of watercolors for some reason. Her stories almost always have depth as well, not just characters doing the horizontal mambo in between mindless fillers. That’s why I am so thrilled DMG is releasing so many of her titles. Set after the War, this is a period piece that seems to wonderfully capture the essence of both the time and people. In regards to the localization, I think the group responsible for this work did an outstanding job … I will be sure to look for more of their titles.”
(Sequel) “After reading “Yuri-sensei is in a Good Mood Today as Well,” I dove right into this sequel. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything I raved about the first book still stands. Did I mention how much I adore Keiko Kinoshita’s art?? The localizers did another fantastic job … Both this title and the first volume are worth the money. Buy them and enjoy!”
Yuri Sensei Is In A Good Mood Today As Well – Yuri Sensei To Itoshiki Hibi © Keiko Kinoshita. Original Japanese edition published in 2009 by Taiyoh Tosho Publishing, Co., Ltd.
By Noriko Yamauchi
Translation: Leighann Harvey | Editing/Adaptation: Melinda Beasi | Lettering: Morgan Hart
Summary: Following a tragic childhood accident, Mitsuki Etou gained the power to read the thoughts of others using only the touch of her right hand. For most of her life, this gift has been a curse, granting her unwelcome access to the dark truths behind people’s smiles. But when a chance meeting with a troubled co-worker throws Mitsuki into the middle of a murder plot, she can’t just let tragedy unfold on its own. Can Mitsuki intervene without revealing her secret?
“Your Gentle Hand‘s mature tone, art style, plotlines and concept make it a rather entertaining series. This digital publication is worth a look, and maybe even worthy of a physical print run.”
“Even though story plots are relatively straight-forward and simple, Yamauchi manages to throw in a decent twist that keeps everything from being too predictable. This is coming from an avid Law and Order: SVU watcher. If I’m not able to guess the culprit from a few pages in, I’m pleasantly surprised … Overall, Your Gentle Hand makes for a decent beach novel read, especially the first volume. The characters are likable and the crimes twisty enough to keep you guessing.”
Your Gentle Hand – Kimi no Yashashii Te © Noriko Yamauchi. Original Japanese edition published in 2010. Digital contents under license from ShusuishaORIGINAL.
Other titles: Career Gate (Syuko Nishimura), What? Sensei (Nayuna Sakurano), Sugar Baby (Mizuho Mizugaki)
Freelance Blogger – Comic Book Resources’ Comics Should Be Good, PopCultureShock, The Hooded Utilitarian, Flashlight Worthy Books, Comics Worth Reading, The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund blog , The Beat, and About.com.
Writer, Editor at Manga Bookshelf
October 2007 – Present
Editor-in-Chief, managing a network of five bloggers, 15-20 active contributors, and occasional guests to produce a broad selection of content, including reviews, roundtables, breaking news, recommendations, essays, and other articles; content management; web design; technical maintenance & support; networking with manga publishers in North America and Japan by e-mail, phone, and at conventions; pursuing ad revenue and other funding for the site; tracking page views and visitor demographics to analyze readership and optimize content; actively engaging with and seeking feedback from readers and industry professionals via e-mail, site comments, and popular social media platforms.
Melinda manages the back end of my blog, MangaBlog, at Manga Bookshelf, and she also curates the entire Manga Bookshelf site, editing articles, coordinating group discussions, etc. Melinda is an excellent editor—and I say this as an editor myself. She can pull together a roundup, edit rough prose into readability, and provide a continuous stream of timely, interesting content for our readers. Melinda demonstrated her journalism skills recently at New York Comic Con, when Heidi MacDonald, one of the highest profile bloggers in the comics world (her blog was just named one of the top 25 of the year by Time) had to leave suddenly because of a family emergency. She asked Melinda to step in and handle two interviews of high-profile manga creators. As someone who does a lot of creator interviews myself, I know how hard it can be to come up with original questions. I was impressed with how quickly Melinda pulled together both interviews on short notice. Her writing is clear and concise, and I am happy to give her my highest recommendation as a writer and editor.”
— Brigid Alverson, Freelance writer, self-employed