In five months Dolce Quattro, four friends and opera singers, will perform Leoncavallo’s, otherwise known as The Other La Bohème – and in this period we are witness to many rehearsals, setbacks and success in a world filled with love, betrayal, music, poetry and art but, above all, friendship
Seven years after successfully graduating from The Manhatten School of Music, friends and opera singers Jennifer (soprano), Henry (tenor), John (baritone) and Stephanie (mezzo-soprano) face a huge challenge: to perform Leoncavallo’s La Bohème. Whereas Puccini’s performance is widely known, Leoncavallo’s is not, hence the nickname ‘the other’ La Bohème for his opera. The four friends or Dolce Quattro as they call themselves, are very excited to be able to perform such a masterpiece at the The New York Bel Canto Opera. The five months of rehearsals are weighed down with personal and professional troubles, rivalry and betrayal, hurt and loss but through it all, their friendship stays strong as ever.
Whereas everybody has heard of Puccini’s La Bohème, Leoncavallo’s is more or less unknown to the public. According to Dolce Quattro, this could be their chance to break through and that is why each of the four friends has to stay focused on the performance. This is not easy for Jennifer (Mimi); she is engaged to Richard but something happens, making her hurt so much she can barely keep it together. Stephanie (Musette) works as a waitress at Café Momus of which the owner, ‘Père Momus,’ is an art and music lover. No wonder it is visited by “a loyal clientele among connoisseurs of opera and classical music.” When Henry (Marcello) enters the cafe, he spontaneously starts singing and Stephanie is only too pleased to join him – it goes without saying the music is an aria from La Bohème.
We follow the Dolce Quattro in the months leading up to the grand performance – we come to learn where they come from and how that influences their life but also, we perceive their troubles. Jennifer is about to get a nasty shock and it affects her deeply. Will she be able to sing? Stephanie has other things on her mind, she still has not quite come to terms with her mother’s death. During this story, she will discover her true calling (apart from being an opera singer, of course). Henry is in doubt: his career is not going the way he would like it and he has no idea what the future will bring. He just loves to sing opera but is he willing to sacrifice all? Meanwhile, John seems to have it all: the necessary means to pursue his opera career, a lovely and doting wife who is a painter, no worries in the world. If only …
This is a charming book, construed as an opera, starting with the Overture, after which the four Acts follow, to be concluded by the Finale. It is easy to see that the author’s knowledge on the life of an opera singer has provided the perfect ambience for the scenes in the book. I loved the insights into the fascinating world of opera and the deep-felt dedication the opera singers feel – it is a vocation. Whilst the premise of this novel is enchanting I found the narrative at times repetitive and too descriptive. This, in combination with the excerpts from arias (unique in itself) written in both Italian and English, caused the narrative to break up. What I liked best about the book was the connection it made between the real lives of the opera singers and the characters they play. That makes this book almost an opera in itself with one exception … but that would be giving away too much!
About the Author
Yorker Keith lives in Manhattan, New York City. He loves literature, theatre, classical music, opera, and art. He holds an MFA in creative writing from The New School. His literary works have been recognised four times in the William Faulkner – William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition as a finalist or a semi-finalist. His debut novel is Remembrance of Blue Roses (March 2016) which “follows a man and a married couple in New York City, whose intricate relationship oscillates among friendship, love, love-triangle, and even obsession.”
|Publisher||Bookbaby (23 Mar. 2017)|
|eBook||1192 KB (1 Mar. 2017)|