“In opera, voice is everything.” [New York Times]
I’m reading it now. This is a fair review, more favorable than the one in the current issue of The New Yorker. Chee’s book is a fun read. Operatic in its improbabilities but a bit cold.
Forget about fictional Lilliet Berne -- the note at the end of the review said the reviewer had written a novel about Julie D’Aubigny, swordswoman and opera singer. Gotta check that out I said so I went to Wikipedia…
Holy Sh*t!!! Why have I never heard of this wild creature!! What a life!!
I have ordered my copy. When do we start the book club?
I’m interested in reading the New Yorker review now because this one was more about the critics thoughts on the style of the narrative dialogue than the actual novel.
I find myself disappointed by a lot of novels that take on opera and music because the authors usually just make it up or don’t have a real understanding of the process. Like when Doris Day picks up the sheet music of a new song in a movie and after glancing at sings the whole thing from memory.
I did enjoy Anne Rice’s ‘Cry to Heaven’ a lot I recall.
Who’s got favorites? I’m curious.
James McCourt MAWDREW CZGOWCHWZ.
It gets rather boring after a while as the protagonist doesn’t appear to have any real challenges to overcome, but the first chapter is without a doubt sheer brilliance and should be on any opera lover’s shelf.
I finally read Mawrdrew Gzgowchwz last week. Alternately exhausting and exhilarating. The description of that Traviata prima is imprinted in my memory.
In my opinion, the real weakness of the novel is the introduction of a second oltrano into the mix. All of a sudden the heroine’s once-in-a-century talent becomes more commonplace. And the ending lacks spice and interest. An immolation would have been far more interesting.
In several attempts, I’ve never managed to get more than about twenty pages into it.
AJ: There’s one chapter early on (maybe the second one) that’s a real trial. But I found it very readable on the whole.
You just keep heading back to your favorite, Kirsten’s autobio? :)
Should be available on prescription, that.
I love Rose Tremain’s Music and Silence, about a court lutenist, plot based around true historical events. Tremain writes beautifully. No opera, but music plays a major part.
Madame Bovary and E.M. Forster’s Where Angels Fear to Tread have memorable opera scenes.
For whole novels about opera, I’ve read Mawrdew Czgowchwz (brilliant in parts), The Metropolis Case (mediocre), Bel Canto (extremely mediocre), and Butterfly’s Child (also extremely mediocre).
I’m partway through Willa Cather’s The Song of the Lark which is pretty good, but as it’s a fictionalized biography (of Olive Fremstad), there is a lot about the heroine’s childhood, and I haven’t actually got to any of the opera parts yet. I’ve been looking for a copy of out-of-print Of Lena Geyer by Marcia Davenport (also about Fremstad) in used bookshops for years, having heard that it’s very good, but have never found one. (Yes, I could order it online but that would spoil the fun.)
The first chapter of Zola’s Nana is a wonderful description of an opening night of “opéra bouffe”.
I have read about a third of it and was taken aback by the author’s dubious command of language- it is sloppily written with syntax that is often awkward and disjointed — alas I can’t back this up with examples because I had to leave the copy somewhere and won’t be able to finish it for a while- for the plot- if he intended it to be purposely outlandish he succeeded, and there is IMO a hole where a living breathing protagonist should be. it’s a run-on series of bizarre and melodramatic travails, triumphs , and coincidences- THAT SAID it still lots of fun to read and there does seem to be a real love and respect for opera and some knowledge of it- anyway- that’s my 2 cents and I certainly intend to finish it- definitely in the guilty but delectable pleasure category for me.
Patrick Mack-I loved Cry to Heaven too! her favorite book of mine. Did you ever see the movie “Farinelli”? it’s fabulous
Donna Leon seems to really know her opera and history. She works with Il Complesso Barocco and has programmed concerts and cds that tie in with her detective novels set in Venice.
As works of fiction are being discussed, BUBBLES deserves mention.
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