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Posted April 26, 2012
A dying theater in a declining town mounts an opera production to stay afloat. Don Juan in Hankey, PA is a colorful backstage adventure with a hilarious cast of characters. Something calamitous happens when the leading man (Don Juan/Don Giovanni) pulls out of his contract. Despite many complications, the opera guild recovers and mounts their production.
The book cover promises much and the book delivers. It is a wonderful mosaic of lust, jealousy, laughs, hifalutin egos, outrageous events and wounded hearts. The book is farcical, clever and witty. Although it centers around an eighteenth century opera, the modern-day characters use cellphones, Facebook, buy puppies online and take lithium. Because it is a Don Juan story, expect much bravado and a few sexual references.
For those who don’t know opera, the book is accessible and fun. For those who do, there’s an extra bonus. Puns on opera titles and happenings abound. If you need some light reading, I recommend this great romp.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 2, 2014
Reviewed by Ioana Marza for Readers' Favorite
Don Juan in Hankey, PA by Gale Martin follows the troubles of the Board of Directors of a small town opera company while trying to organise the production of Don Giovanni and save their struggling opera house from financial ruin. Everything that could go wrong for them does from the outset. The singer they were hoping to employ becomes unavailable, one of the directors has a heart attack while the mother of another dies in extraordinary, even unearthly, circumstances. Through their sheer determination and ingenuity, the members of the opera guild tackle the challenges. Their main goal is to make opera accessible to ordinary folk, and they would do anything from lying and impersonating other people, to sending shirtless photos of the baritone to all their patrons. They find a replacement performer, an up and coming irresistible Argentine who is an immense flirt; they bring new members to the guild; and also find (and lose) love in various forms, all of this while more and more obstacles ensue.
While Gale Martin must had done plenty of research into the opera world before writing this, no knowledge of opera is necessary in order to read it. Don Juan in Hankey, PA fits very closely the definition of 'opera buffa' - while still part of the opera world, it was written for and depicts ordinary people. Elaborate language and grandiose opera terms are avoided. In the cast of characters, Gale Martin mixes a cocktail of archetypes from the opera world: the over the top womaniser, the diva, the grieving husband, the elderly rich woman who falls for the unworthy young Don Juan, and even ghosts (good and bad) play a part in this laugh-out-loud comedy. Personally, I was not sure about the inclusion of the ghostly dimension. Nevertheless, if you are after a light read with a different setting, you will find this riotous, slightly crazy slapstick comedy a lot of good fun.
Posted October 7, 2012
I read it to the end. Still wondering what really happened in the first chapter. Other reviewers thought it was hysterical. I would not go that far. It was "cute"Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 8, 2012
I was interested in reading "Don Juan..." because it was written by a local author and set in small town Pennsylvania. Before I started, I was worried that my lack of opera knowledge would hinder my enjoyment of the story line. Happy to say that I enjoyed the characters so much that the opera was simply a setting for their activities! A fun read... I laughed out loud more than once! Looking forward to Gale's next novel!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.