From time to time, I get junk mail addressed to me and Ann Merriman. Credit card offers, complimentary magazines, etc. I’ve never met Ann Merriman, but I guess I know her better than anyone else could.

Who is Ann Merriman?

She’s a character in my opera.

Why do I get mail addressed to the two of us? I have no idea. I didn’t realize that fictional characters could be eligible for promotional interest rates, senior citizen discounts and free coffee mugs.

The other day Ann and I got an offer for a subscription to Forbes Magazine, with a complimentary travel bag, and I suddenly realized that all of the mail she’s been getting is targeted at people with expendable income.

My opera (it’s called Buffa, which should give you a good indication of its tone) is about a small American opera company struggling to deal with tight budgets and fundraising challenges. Ann Merriman is a local donor: enthusiastic and wealthy. In other words, she is exactly the kind of person advertising agencies would be eager to court.

I find it very impressive that Madison Avenue has put together such a focused consumer profile for someone who doesn’t exist.

Is this a common thing? Do all authors get mail addressed to their creations? Did I miss some fine print when I signed that contract with the devil that led me to write an opera in the first place?

Would this be a good subject for my next opera? A composer whose life is overtaken by a fictional mezzo?

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