|Publication date||November 1995|
|Main characters||Perdita, The Opera Ghost, Nanny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax|
|All data relates to the first UK edition.|
The Opera House, Ankh-Morpork ... a huge, rambling building, where masked figures and hooded shadows do wicked deeds in the wings ... where dying the death on stage is a little bit more than just a metaphor ... where innocent young sopranos are lured to their destiny by an evil mastermind in a hideously deformed evening dress ...
Where ... there's a couple of old ladies in pointy hats eating peanuts in the stalls and looking at the big chandelier and saying things like: 'There's an accident waiting to happen if ever I saw one'.
So there's going to be trouble (but nevertheless a good evening's entertainment with murders you can really hum)
3 months after the events of Lords and Ladies, Agnes Nitt travels from Lancre to Ankh Morpork to seek a singing career. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg follow her; they need to collect the money that a publisher owes Nanny from the sales of her cookbook. They also hope to persuade Agnes to join their coven to replace Magrat Garlick, who left the coven when she became Queen of Lancre.
The Opera House is owned by Seldom Bucket and managed with assistance from the musical director Salzella and the chorus master Dr. Undershaft. It is also frequented by a masked "Ghost" who has often sent letters to the management reviewing performances and giving instructions. Lately, the Opera Ghost has also taken to committing murders and sabotaging performances. Agnes Nitt impresses the Undershaft with her powerful and versatile voice, so she joins the chorus. She meets Christine, who is more popular and attractive but far less talented. The ghost wants Christine to take on the next lead role. However, as Agnes is a far better singer, she is asked to sing over Christine, unknown to Christine or the audience.
After obtaining Nanny's payment from the publishers, the witches arrive at the Opera House and begin investigating the actions of the Opera Ghost. Granny disguises herself as a wealthy audience member, while Nanny meets the staff. The Opera Ghost strikes again that evening when Undercroft is murdered and his body appears on display in the middle of performance. Agnes discovers that the caretaker Walter Plinge appears to be the Opera Ghost, but he appears to be harmless and the others are unconvinced. The pianist André is also suspected, but it turns out that he was only a spy for the City Watch.
It is finally revealed that the Opera Ghost was actually being played two different people. Walter Plinge was the original Opera Ghost and that he was responsible for the harmless activities. Nanny also discovers that in the basement of the Opera House, Plinge has composed several operas and musicals of his own. On the other hand, the murders and sabotage that the Opera Ghost committed were committed by Salzella. He used this in order to distract people from his money laundering activities. With the witches' help, Plinge confronts Salzella and defeats him in a swordfight. Salzella dies after making an prolonged and melodramatic monologue about how much he hates opera.
- Christine, a parody of Christine Daae
- Walter Plinge
- Mrs. Plinge
- Seldom Bucket
- Dr. Undershaft
- The Opera Ghost
- Enrico Basilica
- Nanny Ogg
- Granny Weatherwax
- The Librarian
- In the touring exhibition The Art of Josh Kirby, which at the time of writing was in the Walker Gallery in his home town of Liverpool, the full cover art of Maskerade is annotated with a direction to look out for the private jokes the artist built into his work. At least one member of the Opera House audience has realised he is being watched, and is looking not at the action on stage, but directly up at the artist who is drawing the scene... this is visible only on the cover of the hardback book: on the paperback, the relevant section is obscured by a highly inconvenient publisher's blurb.
Btw, the original artworks for the covers are a lot bigger than the books and apparently are reduced down several times for publication. You would be surprised.
This was also the first Discworld Novel where the first editions cover followed the 'letterbox' format used for hardcover reprints of previous books. This only lasted until Jingo.
The Unseen Library Edition of the book was the last in that format, but two editions were printed as the first printing was misspelled as Maskarade on the cover.
Adapted by Stephen Briggs into a stage play in 1998.
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