The Maestro's Voice Paperback – 15 Apr 2010
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The compelling new historical novel from the first-ever winner of the Daily Mail First Novel Award.
From the Back Cover
New York, 1926. Rocco Campobello, the great tenor and superstar of his day, has collapsed on stage. As he fights for his life, the world holds its breath. The singer emerges from this brush with death a changed man. Rejecting both celebrity and a glittering career, he returns to his roots in the impoverished backstreets of Naples in order to confront a dark truth from his past and lay its ghost to rest.
But Naples is in the throes of violent change. The brutal new politics of Fascism is on the rise, while the city's Mafia families feel their power slipping away. Caught between them, Campobello rediscovers a passion and an integrity he once feared lost and, in the face of blackmail, brutality and murder, hatches a plan to outmanoeuvre them all and reclaim his life.
Against the spectacular backdrop of Naples' crumbling palaces, decaying streets and ancient catacombs, a master storyteller weaves a rich, compelling tale of corrupted fame, personal crisis, violence and redemption.
Top customer reviews
"New York 1926: Rocco Campobello, the great tenor, one of the most revered entertainers in the world, collapses on stage. He emerges from this brush a changed man: a fallen but enlightened colossus. Casting off the mantle of celebrity, he embarks on ajounrey into his dark and sinister past which takes him back to his impoverished early life and to the city that made him: Naples"
Rocco remembers his father who he abandoned when he became an opera star, he remembers his childhood friend and fellow singer, who he betrayed and also abandoned, a woman he had an affair with who he left and ignored when she told him she was expecting his child - he returns to Naples to make reparation for all his mistakes in his life and in so doing, finds himself at odds with his wife Molly whose life is totally wrapped up in his and whose identity and self esteem depends on her position as the consort of the most famous tenor in the world.
There are also darker forces at work - Mussolini is rising to power, Rocco's old friend and sponsor Don Graziana, in reality a high ranking member of the Family, moves against him when he learns that the Mae tenor has decided that his career is ended. This coincides with the return of his son Bruno, who hates Rocco for being favoured by his father and who is eager to take over his position.
Rocco meets the widow of his childhood friend who has a young,handsome and talented son with a tenor voice who he, in turn, takes under his wing and becomes his mentor. Rocco then finds himself falling in love with the widow......
My goodness me, I thought, this is a true operatic drama with dark forces and jealousy, love and hate all intertwined. The book's narrative moves at a positive operatic pace, each scene seemingly aching for an aria, a duet, a trio, a tenor singing an impassioned love song, an orchestra in full flow. On comes the evil enemy, a bass, has to be and dark cello chords in the orchestra. It is wonderfully done and the writing is also like a piece of music, it enthralls and grips and urges you on to the final conclusion.
The story weaves intricately in and out and round about like counterpoint as plot and counter plot are revealed and Campobello has to be the most cunning of them all to achieve his desire and to outmaneouvre all his enemies.
I have said that this book moves forward like a four act opera and the final act is drama of the highest with the denouement taking place in the opera house itself. By the time the reader reaches these final pages we are all with Campobello and we are willing him to defeat his enemies and emerge victorious. But it all appears to be too late.....or does it?
And at the end, he realises what his talent has done to him:
"I tried to copy him but my father and I were different. He was master of his own soul. But me? My master was something else. I gave my life to the Voice, every ounce of me and so my soul withered away, a hollow little hell inside. With its own rats, eating away, spreading poison.......there's nothing left of me.....I have become an empty man"
Roland Vernon once had aspirations as a tenor himself, has written about opera, and has worked in the recording industry; he can draw on personal experience for his story. Where necessary - in the novel's locale - he proves a diligent researcher. Put together, this should result in a gripping exploration of the collision between culture and crime. Superficially, it succeeds, as reviewers have testified. Other readers may have reason to regret a lost opportunity.
There are many inconsistencies and improbabilities. Overlook the bizarre out-of-body experience in the opening pages; it is still hard to believe the singer's wife being able to burst into the operating theatre where surgeons are carving open Campobello. For the sake of fiction, allow for Milan having other opera venues besides La Scala, concede that one is nearing the first night of a production of La Traviata, accept the Hollywood cliché that the leading tenor has fallen sick - it remains simply too much to swallow Campobello, with eight days' notice, making his stage debut as Alfredo at the age of nineteen! Years later, Mafia manipulation sets up the ailing singer to make one final appearance on the Naples stage. The opera is to be Boito's Mefistofele - important for the mechanics of the book's finale. Now, it is true that celebrated tenors have sung the part of Faust (who has the stage to himself as the curtain falls) but Mefistofele is still the bass's opera.
Perhaps none of this will matter to many readers, but enjoyment of The Maestro's Voice also entails acceptance of the author's style. Characters here do not laugh or cough, they "give out a laugh," or "give out a little cough." And there are the 'rathers.' One adopts "a rather elegant pose," one "stood there rather formally," another "smiled rather nervously," yet another assumed "a rather proprietorial air," and so on. Readers with rather long memories may be rather reminded of Daisy Ashford's The Young Visiters.
Most recent customer reviews