Sunday, 24 January 2010

The Singing House

On the eve of her wedding, Rose Lorenzo is handed a ticket to the opera at Covent Garden by an eccentric stranger. The opera is Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.Listening to Wagner's ecstatic, deeply erotic music, Rose realizes that if she goes ahead with her sensible marriage to suitable Martin, everything she has heard in this music will be lost to her forever.


She cancels her wedding and agrees to drive Otto and his equally eccentric twin sister, Eva, on an operatic road trip to the great theatres of Europe. As they drive across a snowbound continent from La Scala in Milan to Venice to King Ludwig's castles in Bavaria, Rose meets and falls in love with Leo dalla Vigna - the greatest operatic bass in the world but a lonely, driven man still inextricably tied to his elusive and unstable wife who lives alone in their villa on Lake Como.

"Unashamedly romantic...crisp and witty," Hilary Mantel

By Val De Beer "Val De Beer" on Amazon - See all my reviews


I was so delighted to find "The Singing House" on amazon.co.uk, for two reasons:
1) Because when my much-loved, much read copy falls apart as it must eventually do, because it's been handled so much by me, I know that there will be another copy for me to buy,
2)Because it is such a pleasure to review this book and to imagine the sheer pleasure when someone reads it for the first time.
You don't have to know about opera in order to enjoy the book, because when the singing referred to in the book is described, it is dealt with so lovingly and sensitively that you are caught up in the joy of the moment.
When Leo dalla Vigna, the great bass singer is in an aeroplane at the height of a storm, he begins to sing - listen to these words: " His voice surged up through his chest and head, pushing out doubt, fear and Das Ende.As always, his voice, the air from within him, wove him into harmony with the whirling air in the world outside....his voice had also filled the cabin and wrapped itself like a muffler around the fear and desperation of the other passengers."
Oh that is so beautiful!!!
It is the story of Rose, who falls in love with Leo, who lives with his stunningly beautiful wife in their loveless marriage and its tragic secret, on the shores of Lake Como.
She travels with a pair of middle-aged twins all over Europe and it is the account of her experiences and of the experiences of Leo and the people who form an integral part of his life, that form the basis of this stunning book.
Janette Griffiths' ability to conjure up images of the atmosphere is uncanny:
"The great winds of the autumn gave way to the great snows of winter. What started as a light sleet that wan December morning in London, spread and rippled and thinly coated France, then folded back upon itself and covered the whole continent...Slow, heavy and deliberate, it fell without ceasing, muffling the rooftops of the great singing houses of Northern Italy, Germany and Austria."
With excitement, we follow Rose as she discovers Leo's secret and remembers his words "I now know that whenever I go out onto a stage to sing, that I sing for you."
She joins the ranks of women who have fallen in love with the "bellissima voce" of opera singers and with the singer as well, but will this be enough to base her life on, this troubled man with the tragic story?
I wish that I were about to read this book for the first time, however, having written this review now, I am inspired to read it yet again for its wonderful narrative and its spectacular imagery.
Don't deny yourself the pleasure of a magnificent story, read it!