Andrew Barrow

A tale of cloaks and daggers

Scarpia, Piers Paul Read’s latest novel, skilfully transforms Tosca’s notorious scoundrel into handsome lover and gallant man of action

You don’t need to know the opera Tosca to understand and enjoy this book about Puccini’s most notorious villain, Vitellio Scarpia, portrayed on stage as a ‘sadistic agent of reaction’, a cut-throat murderer who enjoys drinking his victims’ blood from their skulls and, as one of my opera-loving Kensington pals puts it, ‘not a nice bloke at all!’

In fact you may not even recognise him in these pages.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Get your first month free when you subscribe. After that it’s just £1 a week for full website and app access. There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.

Offer ends in: ${days} days ${hours} hrs ${minutes} mins ${seconds} secs

Unlock more articles



Ends tonight:
10 weeks of unlimited digital access for £1

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Get 10 weeks of online and app access for just £1. That's a saving of more than 80% off the usual rate.

Already a subscriber? Log in