Of the hundreds submitted to the knife at an early age - some sold by their parents, some brought by well-meaning maestros to the conservatoria of Naples to serve the music of the Church and State - few will achieve a voice so sublime, so crystalline, so pure that they will gain entrance to the mysterious, haunting world of the castrati. Here, they will know boundless fame and incredible luxury...but also know grueling dedication and sacrifice - and the tremendous pain of being despised as half-men, freaks. And as you are drawn into the castrati's strange and luminous world, Anne Rice also brings you into the sweep of 18th-century Italian life - its extraordinary decadence, opulence, and brutality.
©1982 by Anne O'Brien Rice; (P)1991 by Random House, Inc.
I gave this as many as 3 stars becasue Tim Curry is an excellent linguist and perfect reader: I enjoyed listening to him. But, thats where the stars stop. True, it was an interesting and somewhat unique subject but I was left with the definite feeling that much was missing in this version. It is so obvious that it has been butchered and I have not even read the unabridged book. It was like going to a movie and all you got to see was the trailer. This was too abridged for me.
I highly recommend this to all Rice fans, and especially to those who are unfamiliar with her work, but curious. Rice puts her considerable descriptive talent to excellent use - she really makes the time period come alive. The story is compelling, and I found the characters to be very accessible, which surprised me. I enjoy the vampire and witchcraft books, but they may seem daunting to many. If you want a sample of Anne Rice's exceptional talent without the substantial commitment that some of her work requires, this is the place to start. Tim Curry gives an outstanding performance. The only reason I didn't give this five stars is that it was too short - I would love to hear the unabridged version.
I would like to recommend this to people who just want a "taste" of Anne Rice or who have read this book before but need a refresher. This story is amazing! THe characters come to life even in this version. But if you do like this...get the hard copy.
I knew castration had been done but I didn't know much about how or why it happened. Although this was fiction, I feel I gained some insight to this dreadful practice and to Italian life in the 18th century. I don't feel I missed anything with the abridged version. It was an enjoyable story, and the narration was superb.
I usually don't like listening to abridged versions of books, but in this case I'm soooo thankful that I only wasted three hours of my life. I expected much more from this novel in terms of historical context, character development, and a glimpse into the world of 18th century opera. What I received was an atrociously bad romance novel populated by despicable, two-dimensional characters playing out a melodrama against a cardboard backdrop. Moreover, Tim Curry's narration was so ridiculously over the top that I could barely stand it. Unless you are a diehard fan of Anne Rice, pass on this one. Otherwise, you will be crying to get your money back.
"The best 20th. century novel I've ever read"
I'm a musician and very hard to please. I found this book by accident. I've recommended it to everybody I think could reach it. It's wonderful... truly wonderful.
It's the searingly moving and intricately informed story of the no-longer-tolerated 'production'(sic), practice and humanly demanding life of a castrato singer. I say no more.
Other books which have attempted to enter such culturally particular spheres have won big prizes. But I have never come across one which doesn't just skip the hard reality of such a life itself in favour of the bits of stories that inevitably attach to it. (Not that such stories do not also attach to the hero of 'Cry to Heaven'.) This book skips nothing.
It's a genuine masterpiece.
And it's been driving me mad, because all I've been able to find by Anne Rice to date is a load of vampires! I'll have another try now. I can't imagine I'll find anything, but if I do I know it can't be as amazing.
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