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The dazzling city on the lagoon is sailing toward the ruin of her maritime empire, determined to go down in a maelstrom of pleasure, music, and masquerade....
Venice, 1731. Opera is the popular entertainment of the day and the castrati are its reigning divas. Tito Amato, mutilated as a boy to preserve his enchanting soprano voice, returns to the city of his birth with his friend Felice, a castrato whose voice has failed.
Disaster strikes Tito's opera premier when the singer loses one beloved friend to poison and another to unjust accusation and arrest. Alarmed that the merchant-aristocrat who owns the theater is pressing the authorities to close the case, Tito races the executioner to find the real killer. The possible suspects could people the cast of one of his operas: a libertine nobleman and his spurned wife, a jealous soprano, an ambitious composer, and a patrician family bent on the theater's ruin.
With carnival gaiety swirling around him and rousing Venetian passions to an ominous crescendo, Tito finds that the most astonishing secrets lurk behind the masks of his own family and friends.
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Beverle Graves Myers fell in love with opera at age nine, during a marionette production of Rigoletto. A Kentucky native, she studied history at the University of Louisville and went on to earn a degree in medicine. After a career in public psychiatry, she devoted herself to writing mystery fiction full-time. Beverle and husband Lawrence live in Louisville, Kentucky. Interrupted Aria is her first novel in the Baroque Mystery series featuring Tito Amato.Review:
On a chilly day in 1731, two young men arrive in the Italian city of Venice--as besieged then by nature and human frailties as the present-day version so well-chronicled by such mystery writers as Edward Sklepowich and Donna Leon.
Both of the men are castrati--singers who paid the terrible price of sexual mutilation in order to maintain their perfect child soprano voices. One of
them, Tito Amato, returning to his native city after many years in Naples at the famed Conservatorio San Remo, where he perfected his art, is about to become a star. The other, his best friend, Felice Ravello, is a sadder figure: Despite the operation, his voice has cracked and thickened, and he must develop other musical skills to survive.
"Castrati are famous for having the small, delicately formed larynx of a woman and the prodigious lung capacity of a man," says Tito, who is proud of his art but resentful at the price he has paid for it. "I had once witnessed a virtuoso performance by the great Farnelli in Naples. During his arias, all eyes were glued to his face and gestures...Some of the women, and even a few of the men, seemed transported by sensation...They appeared nothing short of enraptured."
The best thing about Beverle Graves Myers' riveting first mystery, which involves the poisoning of a beautiful, aging opera star and the charging of
Ravello with the crime, is how quickly we slip into the world she has so expertly re-created, despite its distance and initial oddness. It's a world where castrati-bashing by gangs of louts on the street (and verbal insults by solid citizens behind closed doors) is a fact of life, where a government would rather have fast action than slow truth, where a powerful businessman buys and sells people along with his other trade goods. Sound like any place you know? -- Dick Adler, Chicago Tribune (3.21.04)
"Myers's absorbing first novel, a historical novel set in 18th-century Italy, introduces a most unusual hero, Tito Amato, who was sold as a child to be castrated and taught to be an opera singer. In late 1731, Tito and a fellow castrato Felice Ravello leave Naples for Tito's native Venice to sing with an opera company owned by a wealthy and powerful family. Myers recreates the opera seria of the time in fascinating detail, from the special stage effects to the vocal pyrotechnics. All Venetians attended the opera and sang the principal arias as popular songs; the narrative was less important and came primarily in spoken recitatifs. During one performance, the prima donna is poisoned, and Felice, who's been working as an instrumentalist since his voice became unstable, is jailed as the chief suspect. Tito is determined to clear his friend and scours the Republic of Venice for evidence of his innocence. Readers familiar with Venice will delight in following Tito through the calli and campi where masked revelers celebrate the Carnivale. (One patrician lady uses a seduction technique that might be useful today.) The complicated plot has twists enough for a 19th-century opera, but Myers neatly ties all the pieces together by the end." --Publishers Weekly
Beverle Graves Myers
Venice shimmering to
life in this fast-paced and
unsettling mystery that
boasts atmosphere, layers
of intrigue and, in Tito
Amato, a most compelling
protagonist. A virtuoso debut.
-- Ross King, author of Brunellschi's Dome
"Bev Myers hits all the right notes with her first mystery, Interupted Aria. She weaves a wonderful addition to the rich world of theatre mysteries with Tito Amato, a rising castrato in 18th Century Venice. The melding of a great mystery and fascinating characters makes me wanting an encore!"--Jeffrey Marks, author of the U.S. Grant mysteries
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