United Kingdom – Since he was a teenager, writer and thespian Yorker Keith has had a core-deep love for Opera. It’s something that shrouds his life and has brought him immense joy. Still, even with opera’s prevalence in the modern world, it’s extremely rare to find a novel set among this profound area of the arts.
Bucking all trends with gusto, it’s no surprise that Keith has written and published ‘The Other La Bohème’. It’s a novel that tells the inside story of opera through the lives of four tumultuous and perfectly flawed performers, whose lives on and off the stage are equally steeped in drama.
The Other La Bohème is literary fiction that depicts the lives and loves of four friends who pursue opera singers’ careers in present-day New York City. Jennifer (soprano), Stephanie (mezzo-soprano), Henry (tenor), and John (baritone) met in music school in Manhattan, where they performed Puccini’s famous opera La Bohème at their graduation concert. After graduation they banded together as a group called the Dolci Quattro, pledging to support one another in their professional pursuits. Several years later, they have landed the roles of Mimi, Musette, Marcello, and Rodolfo in the nearly forgotten opera La Bohème by Leoncavallo–known as “the other La Bohème”–which is to be produced by the New York Bel Canto Opera.
The novel begins with arias and a duet sung by Henry and Stephanie in the Café Momus. Jennifer and John come in, and they congratulate each other on their new roles. Immediately, though, the thoughts of the current state of their personal lives cool their enthusiasm.
As the story unfolds, Jennifer discovers that her fiancé, Richard, an investment banker and a fiction writer, is having an affair with another woman. Stephanie struggles to find a steady love, while perturbed by a strained relationship with her father, a billionaire hedge fund manager, who abandoned her late mother. Henry faces a pressure from his family to renounce his bohemian life for a more respectful career as he meets his new love, Christine, a poet. John receives a summons for divorce from the lawyer of his wife Michelle, a painter.
Set in the rich artistic backdrop of New York City, the Dolci Quattro’s lives and loves go through ups and downs in joy and despair, while true to their pledge they give one another much-needed moral support. As the opening night nears, the Dolci Quattro make their utmost efforts to perfect their singing for the opera that will determine their future.
“This is as much a story about the human condition as it is a story of the arts,” explains Keith, himself no stranger to lavish performances. “There’s a unique juxtaposition between our four performers’ modern lives and adversities, pitted against the classic time warp of the opera. It’s no surprise that it took ten years to write!”
Continuing, “And I must stress that even the most professional of opera lovers (or performers) will love the narrative. I’ve spent decades learning everything there is to know about the craft, and my goal was to ensure it all channeled into the book.”
Reviews for the volume have been impressive. For example, Hollywood Book Reviews comments, “Mr. Keith structures his novel along the framework of an opera score, beginning with the overture and wrapping the story up in the finale. In between, there are four acts broken up into scenes. It’s a very ingenious way to highlight each character’s unfolding personal drama while interlacing the developing narrative relevant to their impending performance. It’s also an effective way to keep the storyline moving along and engaging. If you’re an opera fan you’ll thoroughly enjoy this novel. Mr. Keith’s clear love for the genre is palpable. If you’re not, a read-through might just make you one.”
Pacific Book Review adds, “I would praise The Other La Bohème as an in-depth look at the captivating world of the opera singer. To author Yorker Keith, I stand in the isle as the curtain closes, applauding, saying ‘bravissimo!'”
‘The Other La Bohème’ is available now: http://amzn.to/2qUaW7X.
About the Author:
Yorker Keith lives in Manhattan, New York City. He holds an MFA in creative writing from The New School. His literary works have been recognized four times in the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition as a finalist or a semifinalist, including this novel, The Other La Bohème.
Opera has been his passion since his adolescent years. He has sung operas in workshops, at private lessons, and with opera companies, both in concert versions and, on many occasions, performing on stage with full costume and makeup. He has studied acting, painting, and drawing. He loves literature and reads widely. He has been living in Manhattan for many years. He knows how challenging life is for opera singers, musicians, artists, actors, writers, and poets. In this novel, The Other La Bohème, he has tried to portray the lives of present-day bohemians as he has lived among them. He is not only the author of this novel, but also part of it.