The Black Opera by Mary Gentle

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 6 Critic Reviews



Naples, the 19th Century.

In the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, holy music has power. Under the auspices of the Church, the Sung Mass can bring about actual miracles like healing the sick or raising the dead. But some believe that the musicodramma of grand opera can also work magic by channeling powerful emotions into something sublime. Now the Prince’s Men, a secret society, hope to stage their own black opera to the empower the Devil himself–and change Creation for the better.

Conrad Scalese is a struggling librettist whose latest opera has landed him in trouble with the Holy Office of the Inquisition. Rescued by King Ferdinand II, Conrad finds himself recruited to write and stage a counteropera that will, hopefully, cancel out the apocalyptic threat of the black opera, provided the Prince’s Men, and their spies and saboteurs, don’t get to him first.

And he only has six weeks to do it . . . .


About Mary Gentle

See more books from this Author
Mary Gentle is one of the world's most acclaimed writers of fantasy and science fiction; ASH, the largest single fantasy work ever - longer even than THE LORD OF THE RINGS - combines the authentic details of Bernard Cornwell and the magical storytelling of Terry Goodkind; all editions were Gollancz bestsellers.Mary has a number of academic degrees, including an MA in War Studies, and has hands-on experience of sword-fighting and armour, amongst many other useful talents.She lives in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
Published October 18, 2012 by Gollancz. 550 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Black Opera

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

Conrad Scalese is an atheist and bel canto opera librettist living in an early 19th-century Naples where sung Masses and operas produce miracles, the ghosts who trouble the living have agendas of their own, and sometimes the dead return to life.

Mar 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera


Conrad needs to write an opera so moving, its emotional impact will swamp the 'black opera' — and he has to write this in six weeks.

Apr 26 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera

Strange Horizons

Predictably, the opera's themes echo in the events of the production—enmity between the main female characters is reflected in squabbles between the prima and seconda donna, and as well as the love triangle between Conrad, Roberto, and Leonora, Conrad's sister Isaura (who prefers to dress as a ma...

Jun 15 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera


Mary Gentle isn’t one of the genre’s most prolific authors – Black Opera is her first novel in six years – but a book with her name on the cover is an event worth looking forward to.

Oct 19 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera

Geek Speak Magazine

On the orders of King Ferdinand, Conrad has six weeks to write an opera that will be good enough to stop The Prince’s men and save the world.

May 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera


Conrad Scalese, atheist and opera librettist, is arrested by the Inquisition as a heretic after lightning strikes the opera house in which his opera opened.

Jun 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Black Opera

Reader Rating for The Black Opera

An aggregated and normalized score based on 12 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review