Antonietta is both the name of the novel and the name given a Stradivarius violin. ANTONIETTA begins in 1699 with Antonio Stradivari—who has recently lost his wife—falling in love with an attractive younger woman by the name of Antonia. His passion for Antonia drives him to create, without the help of his sons, a new violin that will be filled with the passion that sparked its making. Antonia becomes Stradivari’s second wife and the violin Antonietta sings seductively when played. Hersey infuses his prose in this first act with a passion appropriate to the storyline.

ANTONIETTA is divided into a total of five acts. As in the opening movement, the prose in each succeeding act is intended to match the tone of the character and situation being presented. Antonietta becomes the force which affects the lives of its owners. In addition to the five acts, Hersey interjects four intermezzi which detail factual information for the purpose of tying the fictional sections together. Whereas the first act was filled with an overriding passion, the second act introduces Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart as the violin’s new owner. This second act presents many letters of the young Mozart and some of his father’s. Mozart speaks of being intrigued by Antonietta. Hersey seems to know his music history and the composers who inhabit it. Mozart comes across in his letters as a playful child one moment and as a musical genius the next. The violin does inspire Mozart to great...

(The entire section is 410 words.)