A novel by Peter Danish
A review by Tiziano Thomas Dossena. [L’Idea Magazine, 2014]
Based partially on a true episode of Maria Callas’ life, The Tenor is the riveting story of a young Italian man with a spectacular knack for music and a voice to match, who saved the famed singer’s life under daunting circumstances during WWII. The chronicle embraces a long historical period, starting from the pre-war years, continuing through the war, and ending in 1964.
Peter Danish is effective in conveying the proper feelings of those pre-war years in Italy, charged with promises of a better society and eventually delivering only chaos and destruction. The narrative is well-paced and full of all the necessary flavors that allow it to portray this young man’s growing years, ripe with twists in the rather dynamic existence of Nino, the main character, and of the surrounding residents of his wonderful little town in the Emilian Apennines, bursting with delightful descriptions of regional culinary treats as well as operatic references, satisfying music enthusiasts while explaining every one of the passages for the untrained readers. The balanced usage of all these elements and the sapient inclusion of many Italian expressions, just as in Marianna Randazzo’s book Given Away, A Sicilian Upbringing, make this book more than palatable, offering the reader an experience that only few authors are capable of generating. Whether one likes opera or the Italian landscape, history or entertainment, The Tenor presents such a sensible, realistic account that it is bound to please.
Pino is a pleasant and gifted young tenor who will mesmerize the readers with his formidable determination, his understandable expectations and his early successes, and will move them with his wartime misadventures as a soldier of the Italian invading army in Greece during the war years. His love of music is the main impetus of his life, directing all his actions and thoughts, keeping him sane in a world which had lost its sense of decency, bringing all the ingredients that define his encounter with the then-unknown but already brilliant soprano, keeping his soul alive even through tragedy.
All the characters are well-developed, with a profound analysis of their thoughts and desires and a detailed physical description that allows the reader to visualize them and get involved in their ventures; the locations are the clear product of a thorough research that will impress any reader who has visited Northern Italy and Greece.
Although the central theme is music and the climax seems to be the episode that involves Pino with Maria Callas, there are many topics in the narrative that will capture the readers’ attention, ranging from the Duce’s betrayal of his early promises to his nation to the Nazi-backed Final Solution, from the interaction of the Italian and German armies to the suffering of the invaded Greek population, and from the development of NYC’s Little Italy to the glamorous life of Maria Callas, but most of all the continuous adoration of Pino for the soprano that brings a second chance of a meeting with her and a surprise ending.
There is no repose or standstill in Peter’s smooth and untiring prose and the final effect is a novel which fascinates and engages the reader.
Click to see a book presentation by Peter Danish.