Nineteen-year-old Tito Amato returns to Venice after eight long years of training at Conservatorio San Remo. It is 1731, and Tito is the newly hired castrato soprano at Teatro San Stefano. With him is his friend and fellow trainee, Felice Ravello. Sadly, Felice is no longer able to sing, but Tito hopes his father will use his connections to help him find work.
Soon, rehearsals begin, and Tito is introduced to Venice’s elite. He will make his professional debut alongside aging castrato Anton Crivelli, brash and ambitious Caterina Testi, and reigning diva Adelina Belluna, mistress of their patron. Felice finds a position in the opera orchestra. Tragically, a fatal poisoning on opening night leaves one new friend dead and an old one’s life in jeopardy. Aided by his siblings, Annetta and Allesandro, and others, Tito races to identify the real killer before Felice hangs.
I appreciated the use of imagery evocative of 18th century Venice, the perfect setting for mystery and danger. Graves treats the predicament of the castrati with great sympathy, suggesting intensive research. Further, she controls the pace, exploring all the blind alleys before revealing the murderer’s identity. Bravo.