Mr Hosokawa is a prominent Japanese businessman. Although work takes up most of his life he has had a passion for opera since his father took him to see Verdi's Rigoletto as a child. A birthday party is held in his honour at the home of the vice-president and the opera singer Roxanne Coss has been engaged to sing for the guests.
While the guests are enthralled by the soprano's beautiful voice the house is captured by armed freedom fighters and the guests are held hostage. Eventually the women are released - with the exception of Roxanne Cross - and all of the men, who include prominent diplomats and politicians, are held. A stand-off develops with the police circling the house with loudspeakers and the gunmen refusing to negotiate until their demands are met.
During the siege, relationships between the hostages and terrorists develop and change. Men whose lives normally revolve around work and terrorists devoted to their cause begin to develop their passions for music and chess and there is even a 'hostages v terrorists' football match!
I've just given the briefest outline of the plot because I don't want to introduce spoilers but what I love about this novel is the way Ann Patchett writes about opera. It reminded me a little of Willa Cather's writing about a perfomance of Casta Diva in My Mortal Enemy. I've already started Ann Patchett's latest novel State of Wonder and I can't put it down.