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Opera

Alexander Chee's 'The Queen of the Night' is an operatic novel of opera

Alexander Chee's 'The Queen of the Night' is an operatic novel of opera

"When it began, it began as an opera would begin," it begins, and it goes on like one too — a novel vaguely modeled on "The Magic Flute," pressed through the mold of the 18th-century picaresque, with a hint of the charm of Victorian erotica, a marvelously involute plot and a whiff of the circus in the American grain. The novel's terms are set at once: "in a palace, at a ball, in an encounter with a stranger who, you discover, has your fate in his hands."

Let's face it: To truly appreciate the comedy and tragedy of opera, we have to suspend our disbelief up there in the rigging, and so it is here. Once we accept this condition, all the wild...

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