The Black Opera Conrad Scalese is a writer of librettos for operas in a world where music has immense power In the Church the sung mass can bring about actual miracles like healing the sick Opera is musicodrama the

  • Title: The Black Opera
  • Author: Mary Gentle
  • ISBN: 9780575083493
  • Page: 273
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Conrad Scalese is a writer of librettos for operas in a world where music has immense power In the Church, the sung mass can bring about actual miracles like healing the sick Opera is musicodrama, the highest form of music combined with human emotion, and the results of the passion it engenders can be nothing short of magical.

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      Published :2018-09-03T17:58:25+00:00

    One thought on “The Black Opera”

    1. This book began well, with an interesting hook (music influences the natural world) and an unusual character (a librettist who also happens to be an atheist with an interest in the new field of Natural Philosophy, AKA science), but the second half of the book fails to live up to the promise of the first, in my opinion. *SPOILERS BELOW*One of my biggest complaints is how Gentle treats the major premise of the book. It is never entirely clear what the rules are for how music influences the natural [...]

    2. FBC RV:INTRODUCTION: Mary Gentle has written a couple of the most memorable sffnal novels I've read, namely the two alt-history novels A Sundial in the Grave: 1610 and Ilario, both deserving a place on my all time "more favorites list". She also has written the somewhat (in)famous Orthe duology of which the final volume Ancient Light courageously follows the logic of the story to its more natural conclusion, rather than the more standard "it'll be alright in the end" that even last year's Embass [...]

    3. Having recently finished Scott Lynch's 'Lies of Locke Lamora', I was in the mood for Italian-setting historical fantasies, and happy to chance upon Black Opera which filled that craving fabulously! Black Opera is an alternate history novel set in the operatic circles of 19th century Naples - I say 'alternate history' rather than 'fantasy' based on the general feel of the book, its unrelenting effort to immerse you into the politics and passions of the operatic world, even as it sneaks little hin [...]

    4. Naples, in the 1820’s. Conrad Scalese is an up and coming opera librettist, and a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars (which, in this version of Europe, ended in a negotiated peace after Waterloo which allowed Napoleon to keep his throne) He wants nothing more than to write opera, and one day be free of the staggering debts left him by his rakehell father. Conrad is also an atheist, despite the apparent miracles performed by the Catholic Church during their Sung Mass, which include raising ghosts a [...]

    5. I don't even like opera. But after just two distinct (very distinct) examples, I'm really starting to like Mary Gentle's work. I'd actually noticed the striking black spine of The Black Opera on the shelf at my local library quite some time ago, but didn't decide to check it out until after I'd already read Grunts.I was not disappointed.The Black Opera is set in the city of Napoli (known to the English as Naples, and to the Romans as Neapolis), sometime in the 1830s—the exact year is unspecifi [...]

    6. 3.5 starsNow I love Mary gentle. Really. And this I liked, but I didn't love.At 680 tightly packed pages this is too long and winding. A darmatic opera in teh making of an opera, facing paranormal miracles and counter miracles. Mary Gentle does Alternative-history, with oodles of paranormal, very well indeed.I just wish this had been shaved a little.

    7. It is 1835-ish, Naples, with a twist: the Church has miracles down to a science. Or a reliable consequence of the Sung Mass, anyhow; their choristers can cure disease and reshape metal, praise God for His blessings. Only it's not just them. Any opera-goer will tell you that, just occasionally, the *secular* music of the opera-house will *also* invoke a supernatural result -- albeit without the control and direction that the priests can muster.The Church probably isn't happy about that, but, hey, [...]

    8. The Black Opera should have been a firecracker of a book. It's got a marvellously inventive premise: an alternate Naples in the early nineteenth century where the Returned Dead walk the streets and secret societies plot the supernatural eruption of Mount Vesuvius, where opera has the power to catalyse magical reactions and where the librettist Conrad is trying to dodge the Inquisition, his father's ghost, and the unwelcome side effects of being trapped in a love triangle. But Mary Gentle seems t [...]

    9. This book is full of texture. That's the only way I can describe it. The historical setting, the depth of detail where opera is concerned, the truly Italian feel of it all. I don't know much (nothing) about Opera, at least I didn't before reading this, and now I am very interested. I found myself watching and enjoying PBS broadcasts of opera and coming to appreciate an art form I had never enjoyed. That said, this is primarily a fantasy novel built around a premise that is exceptionally unique. [...]

    10. Such a fantastic read! This is a book that sets such a tone, such a time and place, that you feel you have taken a trip to another world and only just returned when you close the cover. I will be looking for more books by this author.

    11. About 400 pages into this 500 page tome, I finally figured out who this book was written for: undergraduate philosophy students who are convinced, CONVINCED that their skills at debating metaphysical matters could save the world.Okay, it was also written for opera fans, but we'll get to that in a minute.Back to the philosophy students, didn't we all know one of those guys in school? I was a philosophy minor so I know whereof I speak: bucketloads of guys who could not stop debating, no matter the [...]

    12. I loved this book, and I have no idea how to make my review reflect that. You'll just have to trust me. There was something about it, some incredible potential that wasn't so much squandered as buried. I loved uncovering it. I just wish I was a faster reader.1. Was the story fun to read? Truthfully, it was a chore. I had to force myself to finish. The pacing was far too slow for me. There were chapters and chapters of strategic conversation, chapters and chapters of the work that goes into art: [...]

    13. This book was recommended to me by someone dear. I very much loved reading the book the first time around. The story is thoroughly thought-through and sketches a realistic picture of an alternative nineteenth-century Italy, where operas can work miracles. Mary Gentle creates a world in which words and music can unchain strong emotions as well as unleash disruptive forces of nature. Definitely worth a second read.

    14. Black Opera is an exercise in patience. Patience on this reader's behalf while she struggles through 688 pages of bland description upon annoying description upon redundant description upon repetitive description, with about twice as many bloody adjectives as were used in this sentence, and excruciatingly aggravating (and again, unnecessary) internal monologue. Alternative history is more than just a "what if" scenario. It's not just throwing supernatural elements into historical fiction and hop [...]

    15. Read this for book club well, that and because I really like Mary Gentle.Here, in an alternate 19th-century Italy, we encounter Conrad Scalese - a professional opera librettist. Unfortunately, right now, he's being unexpectedly pursued by the Inquisition. You see, last night the hall where his latest opera was being performed was struck by lightning, burned to the ground - and the Inquisition blames his music. Because, as it's well known, religious music can often cause miracles to occur - and, [...]

    16. I have heard good things about Mary Gentle's writing for years now, though this is the first book of hers that I've read. And I have to say, if she is consistently this good, I will definitely be reading more. I was very impressed.It's Naples in the alt-history 1800s, and magic is real. Not just any magic -- music is magic. A Mass can raise the dead, and, on the more secular side of things, an opera can bring the house down. Literally. As the novel opens, our hero, librettist Conrad Scalese, has [...]

    17. Naples, 1822. The opening night of Conrad Scalese's latest opera is a huge success and things finally seem to be looking up for the impoverished librettist. The next morning he wakes up to discover the cast, crew, director and musicians have fled or gone into hiding, the opera house has been struck by lightning and burned to the ground and the Holy Inquisition are pounding on his door. In this version of history, music can cause miracles, including bringing the dead back, but such miracles are s [...]

    18. There was a lot to love about this book. Interesting worldbuilding, compelling characters, and a fascinating story. Plus, as someone who studied opera, I was already pretty predisposed to love it. The staging of the opera itself was very familiar to me, given my background, and added an extra layer of enjoyment to what was already a fascinating story.I must say I was sort of disappointed by the ending, though. I won't spoil anything, but there were several characters who were forgiven far too ea [...]

    19. This fastmoving novel has a mouthwatering premise -- combat opera! -- and lots of expertly-handled twists and turns. I think that it fails at the end, however. It feels like she wrote it on a wing and a prayer, hoping to light upon the exact right conclusion to the plot, and failed to stick the landing. Also, unless you are totally a fan of opera minutiae, you're going to bog down in the middle, when the ardors of composition and staging come to the fore. Still a fascinating work, with its balan [...]

    20. Oh dear, oh dear. Such a great premise (especially if you enjoy music), such poor execution. The pacing is all wrong, and the action so jumbled in places I constantly wondered whether I'd missed something. The love triangle makes no sense. The inner monologue is excrutiating. (I'm sorry, but "I am feelingwildered by this!" is NOT how anyone thinks.) I tried and tried to stay with it, because I was enjoying the detailed (and I mean DETAILED) exploration of how opera is made and the physical react [...]

    21. Gentle's prose goes down easy, and I was intrigued by the set up, however Conrad, Leonora, and Roberto all felt half formed? I wish the concept of Conrad's sense of loss of Nora had been established earlier. As a character, she came as a surprise. I did enjoy Gentle's reversal of operatic themes, and how instead of choosing between two lovers, Leonora opts for proto-polyamory. It was a nice turn. Conrad seemed less curious about the returned dead than I would have liked, for all his skepticism o [...]

    22. Whoa this is a crazy one. Several other reviews stated similar things to my final thoughts. This book goes too wide, and cannot recover. Initially, the plot seems interesting and drew me in. But there are some aspects that are glossed over or not explained enough, and it makes for a shaky story later into the book. While I like the main character, I really had a hard time with the decisions he made, especially when it came to his relationship/involvement with his old lover. I managed to finish t [...]

    23. They write operas to perform miracles. yes. Really. I tried hard to get through it but I'm giving up at 40%. Everything is too staged and sequential. It is like an opera about writing one.

    24. In an alternate 19th century Italy,where music can work miracles and the dead occasionally return to annoy the living (and disturb the piece and quiet at libraries), am atheist hero races against the clock to compose a miraculous opera. As usual, Mary Gentle geeks out over every minute detail of her world, and the opera writing process, with all its tropes and cliches ( love triangles, betrayals and reversals, and cross-dressing characters) being mirrored between fiction and reality. Add in some [...]

    25. I have loved Mary Gentle's Ash series and liked her Sundial in the Grave as well. I had high hopes for this one, but I think I'm going to put it aside in frustration for now. Maybe I'll go back to it when my book club book isn't calling to me.The problem I had with this book was that it just didn't seem to generate much tension. Our POV character is an atheist librettist who seems to have accidentally caused a miracle with an opera. There are a bunch of Satan worshippers who are planning to put [...]

    26. The Black Opera is another one of those books where the premise is undermined by the execution.The description sounds very clever (and it is): music can create miracles when it is moving enough. Miracles, like healing people from terminal illness or mortal injury. Both opera and Mass can do this. Other rarer-but-still-common-enough miracles happen in this world, too. People can return from the dead for nebulous reason, becoming the cold and unnerving Returned Dead. Secret societies that influenc [...]

    27. This was a very strange book to read. So well researched and so well written on a technical level, yet brought down by enormous plot holes, pacing issues, and quite possibly the WORST ending I have ever encountered in a book in my life.In this world, music has actual magical powers to build and to destroy. Sung masses heal the sick and raise the dead and our erstwhile hero, librettist Conrad, has just burned down a major theater with his latest work. Conrad is freed from the Inquisition on the c [...]

    28. 4/5 Enjoyable, engrossing novel. Nicely written, though uneven pacing and missed opportunities pull it downl. It isn’t the equal of her 1999 novel “Ash: A Secret History” but it is well worth reading.Atheist opera librettist Conrad has to write and stage an opera in six weeks! It better be good enough to save the world or Italy is toast! As usual, Mary Gentle delivers meticulous, living historical detail, lovely prose, a strongly humanist outlook and loads of great transvestites.(view spoi [...]

    29. Mary Gentle has created an alternate 19th Century Naples afrenzy with the power of Bel Canto opera and the debate between natural philosophy and religion.We have the King of the Two Sicilies, King Ferdinand facing French and Italian intrigues; the inquisition, Darwin's theories, and of course the magical melodies of Rossini, Donizetti, and Bellini slowly giving way to Wagner and Verdi.In the midst of this hot mess we meet Conrad Scalese, atheist librettist celebrating his first (he's not popular [...]

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