Song of the Dove by Errol Broome, illustrated by Sonia Kretschmar
This picture book for older children might remind you of Romeo and Juliet. This is the story of the rise to fame of Italian composer, Vincenzo Bellini.
Bellini falls in love with Maddalena Fumaroli, one of his singing students, but Maddalena’s parents refuse to allow her to marry a poor musician. Bellini and Maddalena agree that if Bellini writes ten great operas, her parents will see what a great musician he is and allow them to marry.
After writing his second opera, Bellini leaves for Naples and continues to write operas. His fame spreads and Maddalena’s parents do realise they have made a mistake. But is it too late for a happy ending?
The illustrations by Sonia Kretschmar are detailed and show how hard it is for Bellini and Maddalena to wait for so long. Through the artwork we also learn a little about the 19th century world—the art, music and fashion of the time. And we see how powerless you were if you were a young woman living then. Maddalena tells Bellini that doves live in pairs for life, and doves in the illustrations and endpapers reflect the couple’s story.
Song of the Dove includes a brief biography of Bellini, and a list of his ten operas.