The key of Dissimulation:
Dissimulation gives a breathtaking explanation about the real origins of the Fronde, the first French revolution in 1647: it was Cardinal Mazarin who provoked secretly the insurrection with the aim to destroy the power of Parliament and of the aristocracy and increase the power of the King.Dissimulation is a literary crime story based on true facts, and a reflection about the nature of power and the power of books.
The plot:
Dissimulation begins where Mysterium ends. In the spring of 1647 Atto Melani and other characters of Mysterium arrive in the military harbor of Toulon, on a ship of the French military fleet, after all the adventures in the Sea of Tuscany (a boarding of pirates, a shipwreck on a desert island that hides many secrets…) that make the plot of Mysterium.
The group includes Atto´s wise secretary and a group of Italian musicians, his beloved teacher Malagigi (a castrato himself) and the Venetian composer and lute-player Barbara Strozzi (an old flame of Atto). They all travel together to Paris, where they are awaited at the French Court by Cardinal Mazarin, the Queen mother Anna and the little Louis XIV. The Italians are supposed to sing and play in a new and mysterious musical show of which not even the name is known.
According to the rumours, the show should be a ballet in honour of the duc d´Enghien, a great war hero and the most powerful and rich gentleman of the kingdom, cousin of the young Sun King. But Mazarin´s behaviour is enigmatic. He has gathered in Paris lots of well-paid musicians, but he leaves them idle. Composer Luigi Rossi and poet Francesco Buti wait since one year at the French court but Mazarin still doesn´t reveal what they are supposed to write.
This situation is already described in Mysterium. But the mystery is explained only in Dissimulation.
The night before the arrival at the French court, in an inn near Paris, Atto Melani attacks Malagigi after having surprised him in the bed of Barbara Strozzi. Their friendship turns into bitter rivalry.
At their arrival at the Court, Atto and the other characters are informed that only a few days before Mazarin has finally disclosed to artists and musicians their task: a musical setting of the story of Orpheus. The drama shall be the first Italian opera in France [historical frame and details are all true. Mazarin´s Orfeo was the biggest and most discussed musical event of its times. The opera even caused the Fronde, the insurrection against Mazarin of the Parisian people, squeezed by Mazarin´s tax inspectors and scandalized by his immense expenses for singers, musicians and staging].
Italian artists and musicians are desperate: they have only a couple of months to create the opera and rehearse!
Both libretto and music have still to be written. Jacopo Torelli, the Italian architect charged with the special effects, has to conceive the whole choreography and build his machinery in hopeless haste.
What is Mazarin´s real intention? Nobody can explain it. It is only sure that the huge sums of money dissipated by the Cardinal for the gigantic event irritate French people.
One day, during a rehearsal of the Orfeo, an unknown hand cuts the ropes of a big stage machine that collapses down booming on the stage and attempting to the life of Malagigi, who barely survives the ambush.
Mazarin is attending the rehearsal – and the ambush. Number 1 suspected is of course the young Atto, because of the recent love-affair between Malagigi and Atto´s ex-lover Barbara Strozzi.
In the panic after the rumble, Barbara Strozzi pickes up from the floor of the theater a curious printed sheet, fallen from the table where Mazarin is sitting. It looks like a book page and its content arouses the curiosity of the secretary. For unclear reasons, Atto refuses to say where he was in the moment of the ambush. His secretary decides to investigate together with Barbara Strozzi and find out where the strange sheet comes from – and who is the guilty.
The secretary and the charming lady from Venice will discover that the text of the sheet comes from to a book about the coups: Considérations politiques sur les coups d´Etat, written by a certain G.N.P. [the book exists and is a rarity for bibliophiles]. The author is the Parisian Gabriel Naudé, Mazarin´s librarian, who in Mysterium had travelled with the other protagonists of Dissimulation.
If compared, the printed sheet found by Barbara and the corresponding page of the book by Naudé are quite different: in the book version some strange passages have been cut off. Why?
At the end the protagonists will discover that the missing passages of the text are the key of an awful secret of state…