In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

Crimal Underworld meets corrupt opera house?

Dec 19, 2010 10:32:00 PM
By BLO Staff

Don't worry, the corrupt exists in the fictional world of Bradley Garvin's novel, With the Voice of Angels (he sang the role of Scarpia BLO's Tosca!)
Our friends over at Candid Culture wrote a candid, but positive review of the singer's writing debut. KER writes:
In With the Voice of Angels
opera singer Bradley Garvin crafts a murder mystery within the text of
an opera house. Contrasting the elaborate and often absurdly high
drama/high stakes of the opera with the life and death stakes of
organized crime, Garvin creates a world in which the good guys are truly
good and the bad guys are exceptionally bad.

Using common harbingers of
character - generosity, love and humanity abound for all the good guys
while the bad guys are all guys who are either cowardly or violent and
all are greedy. There is no gray area in Garvin's novel - one is either
corrupt and morally defunct or one is righteous and self-sacrificing.
Garvin uses his extensive background as an opera singer to his benefit
as he sets the scene on the opening night of Tosca. Pucccini's
classic, filled with passionate love and betrayals, serves as the ideal
backdrop for the dirty dealings of the novel's villains.
Set at the fictional Chicago Grande Opera - a company recently requiring
monetary rescuing - the story focuses on rising opera star Enzo Santi,
the crime he witnesses and the perpetrators who need him to never speak
of said crime. Santi as witness complicates the perfect crime housed
within the bowels of the opera house, creating seemingly insurmountable
challenges for those pesky bad guys. The bad guys subsequently
complicate Santi's life. Luckily for Santi he loooooooves his wife A LOT
and she loooooooooves him back A LOT. Additionally, one of Santi's old
friends is a private detective, who has a long time friend who gets off
on setting up elaborate surveillance equipment to perfectly capture
activities of the underworld. While those in power at the opera house
and the police may turn a blind eye, Santi has a rag tag team of
indefatigable misfits, who wish to lay down life and limb against an
enormous criminal network. Perhaps Garvin's intent was to exploit the
melodramatic elements of operatic storytelling in his own work as With the Voice of Angels has more than one operatic quality.
Garvin fills his novel with the twists and turns required of such
complex criminal happenings. His style emphasizes heavy description -
from the lavishly rebuilt opera house to the frequent chase/fight scenes
necessitated by the plot. At times I wished for less description and
more clarity regarding the complicated criminal network, however, Garvin
holds out with quite a few surprises in the final moments. While there
is a clear delineation of good and bad in this novel, there were many
moments when my heart sank and I worried that the bad guys had
outsmarted the good guys once and for all! At the outset I was certain
only good would triumph, but Garvin had me guessing.  With a strong
background in the setting and a clear passion for life imitating his
art, Garvin demonstrates potential offstage.
(check out other book, movie and theatre reviews at:

Topics: Student Posts, General Opera

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